genmkfile: turn generic makefile into a build dependency to reduce code duplication


ID: 217
PHID: PHID-TASK-2tzdnjmls5ayggelm67x
Author: Patrick
Status at Migration Time: resolved
Priority at Migration Time: Normal



Having the same Makefile and make-helper.bsh in every package is less than ideal.

  • It’s a giant code duplication (although packaging-helper-script’s function pkg_packaging_files_diff helps to check if they all match).
  • Cumbersome to update.
  • Requires package version bump just because makefile generic was updated even if that update is not required for that package.

Instead a genmkfile package that ships a file /usr/bin/genmkfile could be installed. Instead of make deb-pkg etc., we could then type genmkfile deb-pkg.


  • much less code duplication
  • when grepping the code, fewer results are shown
  • easier to update generic make files
  • in most cases (unrelated generic make file updates), packages would stay the same, would still have an identical hash
  • much less packages have to be updated when updating makefile generic


  • new package to be created
  • packages would be no longer “standalone” (they are not anyhow, a lot other build dependencies required to create Debian packages)
  • new build dependency that we would either, and/or:
    ** require builders to install before building,
    ** or requiring builders to at least adding genmkfile to PATH, [1]
    ** or by typing for example /path/to/somewhere/genmkfile deb-pkg instead of make deb-pkg [1]

Why should always all generic makefile be updated?

Otherwise it would be hard to audit ~100 slightly different generic makefiles for non-maliciousness. Since they all match, the following can be used to automate auditing them.

./debug-steps/packaging-helper-scrip pkg_packaging_files_diff

(Or perhaps others are using other custom scripts for such tasks.)


Debian’s UpstreamGuide (a pre-condition to get stuff merged into Debian) wants:

  • Out-of-Tree Builds

Maybe it’s not all that simple.

  • Major: Debian build tools expect common make targets such as make install and make clean. By having a /usr/bin/genmkfile most likely changes to debian/rules would be required.
  • Minor: having a Makefile around enables make’s / bash’s competition feature. If we were to expect a genmkfile package by default, we could also ship a bash complementation snippet.

Brainstorming welcome!

[1] Not possible, otherwise would be an “optional build dependency”, which would be strange. Either we will be using Build-Depends: genmkfile or not. Making it optional is not possible in any clean way.



2015-03-07 00:34:25 UTC


2015-04-01 17:24:58 UTC


2015-04-02 18:11:10 UTC


2015-04-02 18:48:26 UTC


2015-04-02 18:59:11 UTC