[arch-dev-public] Building mplayer

Thomas Bächler thomas at archlinux.org
Tue Jan 22 12:05:55 EST 2008

I have been maintaining mplayer for a while now. Unfortunately, during
my absence mplayer had to be rebuilt by someone else. The x86_64 version
(built by Eric) is fine, but the i686 (built by someone who doesn't know
what the "Packager" option in makepkg.conf is for) version is missing
features (bug #9288).

The mplayer build system sucks. Seriously, it is the worst idea people
have ever had, but the guys who are currently maintaining it are proud
of it (I had the pleasure of arguing with one of them about autotools
vs. mplayer during a two hour car trip last summer).

Here is the thing:
In autotools, you can use --enable-FOO to force configure to enable a
feature. However, configure still checks if all libraries and headers
are present and will add the needed options to gcc, or abort if a check

In mplayer, --enable-FOO forces the build system to enable a feature,
but also skips all checks and doesn't add any options to the compiler,
thus making 'make' fail unless you modify Makefiles by hand. This is not
only unintuitive but also completely inconsistent with the way autotools
work. The only way to properly enable a feature in mplayer is to put no
--enable or --disable flag in and hope that configure's autodetection
detects it properly. And of course you have to check if everything went
fine after configure finished by reading the output summary. I don't
have to tell you that this is very distributior-unfriendly.

Since there is no way to force mplayer's configure to abort if something
we want is missing, we must have the necessary makedepends listed -
which we don't, as they are not easy to determine. The only way to
properly build mplayer is to watch everything it does carefully and
abort if something is wrong.

For a while, a "we need clean build chroots so that our packages are not
corrupted" attitude has spread, and this is exactly what broke mplayer
(I have no idea which makedepend may be missing though).

So please, unless you know exactly what you are doing and have much time
to check everything, don't build mplayer!

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