Ideally, Babel will configure and make “out-of-the-box” on most Unix-like machines. If the configuration process detects that certain resources are unavailable, it will correctly disable support for languages or features needing those resources. If this instance of correct behavior is not the intended behavior, then the installer is left to install the external resources and then re-configure, make, and install Babel. This chapter is intended to provide help and reassurance that Babel is indeed configured and installed correctly.
These instructions assume you have a “tarball” (e. g. *.tar.gz file). We have volunteers who put together and manage RedHat RPMs and Debian *.deb distributions of Babel. If you have one of these distros, read their documentation first as it may have details that supersede our own.
A typical build is a simple sequence of
% ./configure -C
# lots of stuff
# lots more stuff
% make install
# not so much stuff
The -C tells configure to cache its results in a file. This improves the overall speed of configuration because the runtime configure script reuses the results of the top-level configure.
There are many circumstances where the configuration step will properly terminate with an error, but if the configuration works, the build and installation shouldn’t terminate abnormally. If you have problems or note bugs during configuration, installation or later Babel usage, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org including the version of babel you are working with, if possible the output from babel-config --version-full, and the exact output that indicates the presence of a bug. babel-config is Bourne shell script that the configure creates in the bin directory. If your current directory is the top directory of the Babel distribution, normally you can invoke babel-config as follows:
% bin/babel-config --version-full
There are two main choices to be made at configure time: “Where does the software get built?” and “Where does the software get installed?”. The mechanisms for effecting these choices are quite different.
If you want to build software in a separate directory from where the tarball was untarred, this is called a “VPATH build”. VPATH builds are useful if you want to build Babel multiple times with various compilers, flags, or you have a shared filesystem across multiple platforms. It separates the code you generate from things that you were given. The downside is that it is more complex to remember where to edit what since original sources will be in the source directory tree and the generated sources and compiled assets will be in the build directory tree.
If you run configure in the directory it appears, (i. e. you typed ./configure) you are performing an “non-VPATH build”. To do a VPATH build, simply cd to the directory you want to be the build directory root, then launch configure from there. The following sequence demonstrates a vpath build
% tar zxvf babel-x.x.x.tar.gz
% mkdir babel-linux-build
% cd babel-linux-build
% ../babel-x.x.x/configure -C
Note that the directory where you build Babel should be different from the directory where you install Babel. The default install directory is /usr/local, but can be set to any directory that you have read/write access to. To change the install directory, run configure with the --prefix option. Since many people do not have root access on their machine (or prefer to install in a local directory when dealing with unfamiliar software), this option is probably the second most heavily used option for configure (first being --help, which is a good one to try also.)
At the time of this writing (1.1.0), there are two configure scripts in Babel, about 47K lines of shell script each. These configure scripts will then propagate the information they acquire to Makefiles by performing approximately 190 sed substitutions (per Makefile), to the source code by setting approximately 170 preprocessor macros in babel_config.h, and various bits of shell script in the build that do not get propagated to the install directory. The configure script does not modify any source code in Babel’s runtime system or code generator. This means that source code generated by a different Babel installation is usable as long as it gets compiled against the local babel_config.h and linked with the local Babel runtime libraries.
The makefiles are generated by the configure script from Makefile.in templates. The configure script is generated by a tool called autoconf. The Makefile.in’s are generated from Makefile.am files by a separate, related tool called automake. We also use a tool called libtool to help with libraries. Libtool is written in shell, automake in perl, and autoconf in m4.
After a successful configuration step, if your build fails it is most likely that there is a bug in Babel, autoconf, libtool, or a library of m4 macros from any of the above. It is less likely to be an issue with automake, but possible. Perl and m4 themselves are no longer involved in the process after the configure script is produced, so while there may be a nascent bug in the files they generated, it is unlikely.
This is an exhaustive check that can take hours to complete on an average workstation. The number of actual tests run depends on the number of languages that are enabled. In general a driver and an implementation of each test is generated in each enabled language. Then each combination of driver and implementation are run (both statically linked libraries and dynamically loaded libraries, as appropriate) and tested. A test script can actually launch multiple tests, and tests can have multiple parts. At the time of this writing (babel-0.9.3) there are over 13,000 parts tested when all languages are enabled.
This transfers built software to the final installation directory. Examples and tests are not installed, nor are Makefiles or dozens of other types of files. Make install also builds javadoc documentation for Babel’s code generator. Since some libraries are built with install paths in mind, libtool uses a lot of scripts to make things work in their build directory with binaries actually hidden in .lib subdirectories. Make install strips this extra scaffolding away as well.
This is the same test suite as with make check. The only difference is that it is run against the code in the install directories, not the build directories.
Babel builds on a lot of available software; some optional, some required. Some we ship in our tarball, some we require users to install separately.
One important gotcha is a special case where non-python applications create Babel objects implemented in python. In this case, the Babel runtime needs to dynamically load the python virtual machine (libpython.so). Unfortunately, python does not always build a dynamically loadable version of this library by default. If the Babel configure script cannot find a libpython.so, it will disable server-side Python support.
At the time of this writing, Python cannot be coerced to build a libpython.so on AIX.
These packages are used by Babel maintainers in the course of normal development. You’ll need these only if you start rewriting code in Babel’s distribution.