debian-rules-missing-recommended-target, dh, and dumb make

Lintian now has a warning for debian/rules missing build-arch and build-indep targets. As a dh user, I was surprised that some of my dh-using packages had this problem. And when looking at the source, I remembered how I came to this: GNU make is stupid.

Considering the following excerpt of the GNU make manual:

The prerequisites of the special target .PHONY are considered to be phony targets. When it is time to consider such a target, make will run its recipe unconditionally, regardless of whether a file with that name exists or what its last-modification time is.

And considering the following debian/rules:

.PHONY: build
        dh $@

What do you think happens when you run debian/rules build in a directory containing a build file or directory?

make: Nothing to be done for `build’.

However, an explicit rule, like the following, works:

.PHONY: build
        dh $@

It happens that many of the packages I maintain contain a build subdirectory in their source. As such, to work around the aforementioned issue, I just declared the dh rules explicitely, as in:

.PHONY: build binary binary-arch binary-indep (...)
build binary binary-arch binary-indep (...):
        dh $@

And this obviously doesn’t scale for new rules such as build-arch and build-indep.

To be future-proof, I’ll use the following instead:

.PHONY: build
build %:
        dh $@

I don’t know why I didn’t do that the first time…

2011-07-23 10:48:07+0200


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