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bug#31157: Advice for help2man does not work for parallel builds

From: Reuben Thomas
Subject: bug#31157: Advice for help2man does not work for parallel builds
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2018 07:52:02 +0100

On 21 April 2018 at 16:13, Mathieu Lirzin <address@hidden> wrote:
Hello Reuben,

Reuben Thomas <address@hidden> writes:

> In the manual, we are given the following pattern for using help2man
> without breaking make distcheck:
> foo.1: foo.c $(top_srcdir)/configure.ac
> help2man --output=foo.1 ./foo$(EXEEXT)
> The problem is that with make -j this can result in two attempts to
> make a library in parallel (suppose that we have:
> foo_LDADD = libfoo.la
> lib_LTLIBRARIES = libfoo.la
> ). This can fail, and in any case is wasteful.

Have you identified the reason why this can fail?  because

​Because two independent parallel invocations of make ​can end up trying to build the library (which is wasteful anyway) and some needed file can be deleted by one invocation when the other is trying to use it to link the library.

This is not ideal since this result in making ‘help2man’ (and ‘perl’
transitively) a build dependency for tarball builders.

​I'm increasingly of the view this is not a problem. Perl is increasingly reasonable as a build dep (it seems to be in most base systems now), and help2man is small. Further, it's increasingly common to build from git sources, or a tarball of git, or, as Debian does, to rerun autoreconf/bootstrap at build time.​ However, for now I am being conservative!

$(srcdir)/foo.1: foo.c foo$(EXEEXT)
        address@hidden '$?' in \
$(AM_V_P) && set -x || echo "  HELP2MAN $@"; \
                   LANGUAGE= help2man --output="$(srcdir)/foo.1" ./foo$(EXEEXT);; \
          *) : ;; \

Nice! The one thing I don't understand: why is "-" needed at the start (i.e. why do we need to ignore failure of this command?).

Combining the above with what I originally posted, I get:

beetle.1: tbl_opts.h beetle$(EXEEXT)
## Exit gracefully if beetle.1 is not writeable, such as during distcheck!
    @if ( touch address@hidden && rm -f address@hidden; ) >/dev/null 2>&1; then \
        case '$?' in \
          *tbl_opts.h*) $(AM_V_P) && set -x || echo "  HELP2MAN $@"; \
          $(top_srcdir)/build-aux/missing --run $(HELP2MAN) --no-info \
            --name="Forth virtual machine" \
            --output=$@ ./beetle$(EXEEXT);; \
          *) : ;; \
        esac; \


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