Rules For Installation Targets

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The general point of these rules is to ensure that the installation process follows generally accepted practice, particularly for GNU tools. Much of this happens "automatically" because of the use of configure and simplemake, but special-purpose targets must follow these rules. In addition, there are some goals that are more challenging and may involve trade-offs between generality and convenience (see directory independence below).

Some of the items are:


DESTDIR is used to allow a user to stage the installation into an intermediate directory, using the command

make DESTDIR=dirname install

Installation targets should contains $(DESTDIR) before any installation directory name.

make -n

Users should be able to use make -n install to see what commands will be executed. This means that commands in the install target should not suppress output (@ in make) without providing an echo command to display the command.

Default --prefix

One suggestion is that the default installation prefix (i.e., the directories used when configure is used with a --prefix option select the build directory rather than /usr/local (or NONE, which happens when some values of $prefix are used within configure without checking that no other value has been set).

The install program is not standardized under Unix, and a number of incompatible and partially broken versions exist. For this reason, configure may choose to use a script,, to provide the install function. Because we have had trouble with CVS occasionally losing the execute bit, it is important to check that this file is executable before using it. However, do not assume that you can always chmod it; in a VPATH build, the source files may be owned by another user, causing a chmod to fail. In that case, if the execute bit is missing and the script is needed, an error message about the missing execute bit should be generated. The best time to do this is during the configure step, since this is when may be selected.

Directory independence of installed files

Particularly for third-party installations, it is valuable to have an installation that can be copied to a new location without changes and still run properly (i.e., no directory paths within the executables or libraries). There are some trade-offs here; we may want an option to support this at the cost of requiring an environment variable be set to the installed location (some commercial tools use this approach).

Testing the install

The make target installcheck is the recommended way to perform tests on an installation. To add code to this target when using simplemake, add your code to the under the target installcheck-local.

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