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Re: How can Autoconf help with the transition to stricter compilation de

From: Sam James
Subject: Re: How can Autoconf help with the transition to stricter compilation defaults?
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2022 09:15:43 +0000

> On 10 Nov 2022, at 17:16, Zack Weinberg <> wrote:
> I’m the closest thing Autoconf has to a lead maintainer at present.
> It’s come to my attention (via and
> that GCC and
> Clang both plan to disable several “legacy” C language features by
> default in a near-future release (GCC 14, Clang 16) (see the Fedora
> wiki link for a list).  I understand that this change potentially
> breaks a lot of old dusty code, and in particular that
> Autoconf-generated configure scripts use constructs that may *silently
> give the wrong answer to a probe* when a stricter compiler is in use.

Thank you for asking. The fixes in git get us there, I think, as far
as you can, with the exception of the stuff you (and I) mention below.

> [...]
> The biggest remaining (potential) problem, that I’m aware of, is that
> AC_CHECK_FUNC unconditionally declares the function we’re probing for
> as ‘char NAME (void)’, and asks the compiler to call it with no
> arguments, regardless of what its prototype actually is.  It is not
> clear to me whether this will still work with the planned changes to
> the compilers.  Both GCC 12 and Clang 14 have on-by-default warnings
> triggered by ‘extern char memcpy(void);’ (or any other standard
> library function whose prototype is coded into the compiler) and this
> already causes problems for people who run configure scripts with
> CC='cc -Werror'.  Unfortunately this is very hard to fix — we would
> have to build a comprehensive list of library functions into Autoconf,
> mapping each to either its documented prototype or to a header where
> it ought to be declared; in the latter case we would also have to make
> e.g. AC_CHECK_FUNCS([getaddrinfo]) imply AC_CHECK_HEADERS([sys/types.h
> sys/socket.h netdb.h]) which might mess up configure scripts that
> aren’t expecting headers to be probed at that point.
> How important do you think it is for this to be fixed?
> Are there any other changes you would like to see in a near-future
> Autoconf 2.72 in order to make this transition easier?

This might be a WONTFIX but let me mention it just for
the record:
1. AC_CHECK_FUNCS is, as you've noticed, very noisy.

I would support having a hardcoded list for certain CHOSTs
as Rich suggests to reduce noise, but I don't think we can
do this accurately very quickly.

I think for Gentoo's efforts, I might just build up a set
of cache variables for glibc/musl on each arch to
reduce the noise in logs. But that's time consuming
and brittle still, so I'm not sure.

(Note that Gentoo and Fedora are taking two complementary
but different approaches here:
we're diffing config.logs and other compiler
output, in addition to build logs, while Florian for Fedora
Is building a list of functions which *we know* are available
In a specific environment and patching gcc to spit out
logs when something in said list is missing. This mitigates
noise for things like functions in libbsd, which I'm finding
a bit of a pain.)

I'll see what others say.

2. I often have to set the following cache variables to
reduce noise in logs:
* ac_cv_c_undeclared_builtin_options="none needed"
* ac_cv_header_sys_types_h_makedev=no
* gl_cv_compiler_check_decl_option="-Werror=implicit-function-declaration" 
(obviously this is gnulib)
* gl_cv_minmax_in_limits_h=no

I don't know if we can do anything to make these tests smarter
or just leave it as-is. It's fine if we can't, as exporting the cache
vars is not a bad workaround for us when doing testing.

> zw
> p.s. GCC and Clang folks: As long as you’re changing the defaults out
> from under people, can you please also remove the last few predefined
> user-namespace macros (-Dlinux, -Dunix, -Darm, etc) from all the
> -std=gnuXX modes?

I support this as well. This kind of thing has led to endless
bugs in userland, see

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