Build system for KDE4

Chris Lee clee at
Mon Jun 13 05:25:47 BST 2005

We had a discussion in #kde-devel earlier about what KDE's
requirements for a build system are. What are the current
problems we have with autoconf/automake/libtool? What features do
they provide that we really care about? How hard would it be to
replace any/all of them with things that suck less?

I took notes of the discussion. They're below; I'd like to get
more feedback on this.

(One of the first points that I'm sure someone will make is
"auto* is cross-platform! We need to support KDE on platforms
that aren't Linux!" etc. Look, we realize this. However, auto*
provides lots of problems for us on platforms we do care about,
including MacOS X and Windows. (Ask RangerRick or js about them
on IRC, or email them.)

Just because we're using auto* and friends doesn't mean that our
code works; as a matter of fact, RangerRick noted that so far,
all of his issues with the Mac port of the work-in-progress KDE4
have been build issues, and none of them have been code-related yet.

This is clearly a problem and since KDE4 is an aggressive new
major release, we should solve it in the KDE4 timeframe. We don't
want to have to wait until KDE5 for a build system that doesn't
suck, do we?

Without further ado, the notes from the discussion.

Must support:
 - generating binaries (duh)
 - generating shared libs (on all ELF platforms + MacOS X; Windows?)
 - icon installation
 - uic, moc, KConfigXT, etc
 - GCC visibility
 - automatic dependency resolution
 - manual hints for dependency resolution
 - flex/bison
 - non-recursive (flat) builds
 - --enable-final
 - builddir != srcdir
 - simple to the point of being learnable within 5 minutes
 - kdeinit support (?)
 - multiple build targets (libfoo, libbar, libbaz) in one file
 - --compile-slots, like in unsermake
 - pkg-config support
 - support rpath sanely
 - ability to link & run uninstalled binaries
 - easily integrated into KDevelop
 - 'admin' needs to be shipped in KDE instead of in src of each app
   (if we keep the 'admin' dir, that is)

Would be nice, but not necessary:
 - having a standard and distributed build system and test suite
 - ability to build from svn:/trunk/KDE


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