critics and salesmen
when a critic attempts to sell their own solution, it taints the critique.
It also sounds a bit like an infomercial.
It's unfortunate, for I was going with it up to the point where the selling began.
You hit the nail almost exactly on the head
I almost toally agree with you - Emacs is the only thing GNU almost got completely right, and neither the autofoo suite nor their completely annoying insistence on their own stupid documentation format are an example of anything they've done that are even useful.
Typical GNU (Gnu's Not Upgradable) software whines if something's older than three weeks old, and, like perl, the other half of their stuff needs a specific version for stuff because, SURPRISE, it's not forward portable. The common rant I hear at the office involves the label "That week's release". Take a look at the lovely incompatibility between pre-3.2 GCC and post-3.2 GCC for a great example of why no business should ever put any money into any GNU product. They simply know nothing of backward or forward compatibility, nor how to work with the greater populace at large (cf .info, above). Nevermind RMS's bid to have GNU mentioned alongside Linux, which is quite obviously a different mentality.
BUT, and this is where my opinion diverges from yours: I like Make files. I like that they can be used to automatically figure a bunch of stuff. Heck, I like imakefiles, too, but I'm barely scratching the surface there. Makefiles, for me, are about the best and most portable method of shipping something with software that makes it easy to build.
Imho, makefiles - and the equivalent file of ONE ratified new replacement for makefiles - should accompany any software project, and only when the makefiles (or whatever) blow chunks hard should the developer need to consider a Configure solution, and only if that fails should the user need to consider an autoconf, and only when that fails... In short, enough of this 'rebuild our whole tool chain' crap or 'install this whole new redundant, non-standardized and pointless language of the week just to make makefiles' crap; we need a solution that's gonna work now and in a decade.
What it all boils down to is the problem that we, as Real World Software People, maintain stuff that was built 10 years ago, and we drag it out every year to rebuild it under this year's OS release and to check it for strcpy and obvious problems like that. We don't want ot have to upgrade (or downgrade) the entire friggin' tool chain, breed in random problems into other software projects that absolutely require a newer version, only so we can re-up/downgrade the tool chain when we're done. It's a waste of time, and time is like money that can better be spent on the security checking rather than the build headaches.
In all, though, A really excellent illumination of one of the biggest warts on the Open-Source software radar, and one that should be fixed - gradually and in a manner that's backward compatible.
I now have .sig fodder, and a rant to which I can point people when I'm tired of saying the same thing over, and over again. "Yes, I understand, GNU is great and holy, but, as I was saying..."
Thanks for an almost perfect article. You totally made my night.