view doc/gnulib-readme.texi @ 17321:896204e6fbfc

extensions: port better to MINUX 3, HP-UX, autoheader 2.62 Some of these changes are merged in from git Autoconf. * m4/extensions.m4 (AC_USE_SYSTEM_EXTENSIONS): When deciding whether to define _XOPEN_SOURCE, inspect the preprocessor macro __hpux instead of the more-heavyweight operation of requiring AC_CANONICAL_HOST. Define _NETBSD_HOST on MINUX, for MINUX 3. Use USE_SYSTEM_EXTENSIONS, not __EXTENSIONS__, as the key for __EXTENSIONS__.
author Paul Eggert <>
date Wed, 06 Feb 2013 22:41:08 -0800
parents e542fd46ad6f
children 1d9362a18c34
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@c Gnulib README

@c Copyright 2001, 2003-2013 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

@c Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
@c under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.3
@c or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation;
@c with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover
@c Texts.  A copy of the license is included in the ``GNU Free
@c Documentation License'' file as part of this distribution.

* Gnulib Basics::
* git and CVS::
* Keeping Up-to-date::
* Contributing to Gnulib::
* High Quality::
@end menu

@node Gnulib Basics
@section Gnulib Basics

While portability across operating systems is not one of GNU's primary
goals, it has helped introduce many people to the GNU system, and is
worthwhile when it can be achieved at a low cost.  This collection helps
lower that cost.

Gnulib is intended to be the canonical source for most of the important
``portability'' and/or common files for GNU projects.  These are files
intended to be shared at the source level; Gnulib is not a typical
library meant to be installed and linked against.  Thus, unlike most
projects, Gnulib does not normally generate a source tarball
distribution; instead, developers grab modules directly from the
source repository.

The easiest, and recommended, way to do this is to use the
@command{gnulib-tool} script.  Since there is no installation
procedure for Gnulib, @command{gnulib-tool} needs to be run directly
in the directory that contains the Gnulib source code.  You can do
this either by specifying the absolute filename of
@command{gnulib-tool}, or by using a symbolic link from a place inside
your @env{PATH} to the @command{gnulib-tool} file of your preferred
Gnulib checkout.  For example:

$ ln -s $HOME/gnu/src/gnulib.git/gnulib-tool $HOME/bin/gnulib-tool
@end example

@node git and CVS
@section git and CVS

Gnulib is available for anonymous checkout.  In any Bourne-shell the
following should work:

$ git clone git://
@end example

For a read-write checkout you need to have a login on
@samp{} and be a member of the Gnulib project at
@url{}.  Then, instead of the
URL @url{git://}, use the URL
@samp{ssh://@var{user}} where
@var{user} is your login name on

git resources:

@table @asis
@item Overview:
@item Homepage:
@end table

When you use @code{git annotate} or @code{git blame} with Gnulib, it's
recommended that you use the @option{-w} option, in order to ignore
massive whitespace changes that happened in 2009.

CVS checkouts are also supported:

$ cvs -d co -d gnulib HEAD
@end example

@node Keeping Up-to-date
@section Keeping Up-to-date

The best way to work with Gnulib is to check it out of git.
To synchronize, you can use @code{git pull},
or @code{cvs update -dP} if you are still using CVS.

Subscribing to the @email{} mailing list will help
you to plan when to update your local copy of Gnulib (which you use to
maintain your software) from git.  You can review the archives,
subscribe, etc., via

Sometimes, using an updated version of Gnulib will require you to use
newer versions of GNU Automake or Autoconf.  You may find it helpful
to join the autotools-announce mailing list to be advised of such

@node Contributing to Gnulib
@section Contributing to Gnulib

All software here is copyrighted by the Free Software Foundation---you need
to have filled out an assignment form for a project that uses the
module for that contribution to be accepted here.

If you have a piece of code that you would like to contribute, please
email @email{}.

Generally we are looking for files that fulfill at least one of the
following requirements:

If your @file{.c} and @file{.h} files define functions that are broken or
missing on some other system, we should be able to include it.

If your functions remove arbitrary limits from existing
functions (either under the same name, or as a slightly different
name), we should be able to include it.
@end itemize

If your functions define completely new but rarely used functionality,
you should probably consider packaging it as a separate library.

* Gnulib licensing::
* Indent with spaces not TABs::
* How to add a new module::
* Portability guidelines::
@end menu

@node Gnulib licensing
@subsection Gnulib licensing

Gnulib contains code both under GPL and LGPL@.  Because several packages
that use Gnulib are GPL, the files state they are licensed under GPL@.
However, to support LGPL projects as well, you may use some of the
files under LGPL@.  The ``License:'' information in the files under
modules/ clarifies the real license that applies to the module source.

Keep in mind that if you submit patches to files in Gnulib, you should
license them under a compatible license, which means that sometimes
the contribution will have to be LGPL, if the original file is
available under LGPL via a ``License: LGPL'' information in the
projects' modules/ file.

@node Indent with spaces not TABs
@subsection Indent with spaces not TABs

We use space-only indentation in nearly all files. This includes all
@file{*.h}, @file{*.c}, @file{*.y} files, except for the @code{regex}
module. Makefile and ChangeLog files are excluded, since TAB
characters are part of their format.

In order to tell your editor to produce space-only indentation, you
can use these instructions.

For Emacs: Add these lines to your Emacs initialization file
(@file{$HOME/.emacs} or similar):

;; In Gnulib, indent with spaces everywhere (not TABs).
;; Exceptions: Makefile and ChangeLog modes.
(add-hook 'find-file-hook '(lambda ()
  (if (and buffer-file-name
           (string-match "/gnulib\\>" (buffer-file-name))
           (not (string-equal mode-name "Change Log"))
           (not (string-equal mode-name "Makefile")))
      (setq indent-tabs-mode nil))))
@end example

For vi (vim): Add these lines to your @file{$HOME/.vimrc} file:

" Don't use tabs for indentation. Spaces are nicer to work with.
set expandtab
@end example

For Makefile and ChangeLog files, compensate for this by adding this
to your @file{$HOME/.vim/after/indent/make.vim} file, and similarly
for your @file{$HOME/.vim/after/indent/changelog.vim} file:

" Use tabs for indentation, regardless of the global setting.
set noexpandtab
@end example

For Eclipse: In the ``Window|Preferences'' dialog (or ``Eclipse|Preferences''
dialog on Mac OS),

Under ``General|Editors|Text Editors'', select the ``Insert spaces for tabs''

Under ``C/C++|Code Style'', select a code style profile that has the
``Indentation|Tab policy'' combobox set to ``Spaces only'', such as the
``GNU [built-in]'' policy.
@end enumerate

If you use the GNU indent program, pass it the option @option{--no-tabs}.
@end itemize

@node How to add a new module
@subsection How to add a new module

Add the header files and source files to @file{lib/}.

If the module needs configure-time checks, write an Autoconf
macro for it in @file{m4/@var{module}.m4}. See @file{m4/README} for details.

Write a module description @file{modules/@var{module}}, based on

If the module contributes a section to the end-user documentation,
put this documentation in @file{doc/@var{module}.texi} and add it to the ``Files''
section of @file{modules/@var{module}}.  Most modules don't do this; they have only
documentation for the programmer (= Gnulib user).  Such documentation
usually goes into the @file{lib/} source files.  It may also go into @file{doc/};
but don't add it to the module description in this case.

Add the module to the list in @file{}.
@end itemize

You can test that a module builds correctly with:

$ ./gnulib-tool --create-testdir --dir=/tmp/testdir module1 ... moduleN
$ cd /tmp/testdir
$ ./configure && make
@end example

Other things:

Check the license and copyright year of headers.

Check that the source code follows the GNU coding standards;
see @url{}.

Add source files to @file{config/srclist*} if they are identical to upstream
and should be upgraded in Gnulib whenever the upstream source changes.

Include header files in source files to verify the function prototypes.

Make sure a replacement function doesn't cause warnings or clashes on
systems that have the function.

Autoconf functions can use @samp{gl_*} prefix. The @samp{AC_*} prefix is for
autoconf internal functions.

Build files only if they are needed on a platform.  Look at the
@code{alloca} and @code{fnmatch} modules for how to achieve this.  If
for some reason you cannot do this, and you have a @file{.c} file that
leads to an empty @file{.o} file on some platforms (through some big
@code{#if} around all the code), then ensure that the compilation unit
is not empty after preprocessing.  One way to do this is to
@code{#include <stddef.h>} or @code{<stdio.h>} before the big
@end itemize

@node Portability guidelines
@subsection Portability guidelines

Gnulib code is intended to be portable to a wide variety of platforms,
not just GNU platforms.  See the documentation section ``Target Platforms''
for details.

Many Gnulib modules exist so that applications need not worry about
undesirable variability in implementations.  For example, an
application that uses the @code{malloc} module need not worry about
@code{malloc@ (0)} returning @code{NULL} on some Standard C
platforms; and @code{time_r} users need not worry about
@code{localtime_r} returning @code{int} (not @code{char@ *}) on some
platforms that predate POSIX 1003.1-2001.

Currently we assume at least a freestanding C89 compiler, possibly
operating with a C library that predates C89.  The oldest environments
currently ported to are probably HP-UX 10.20 and IRIX 5.3, though we
are not testing these platforms very often.

Because we assume a freestanding C89 compiler, Gnulib code can include
@code{<float.h>}, @code{<limits.h>}, @code{<stdarg.h>}, and
@code{<stddef.h>} unconditionally.  It can also assume the existence
of @code{<ctype.h>}, @code{<errno.h>}, @code{<fcntl.h>},
@code{<locale.h>}, @code{<signal.h>}, @code{<stdio.h>},
@code{<stdlib.h>}, @code{<string.h>}, and @code{<time.h>}.  Similarly,
many modules include @code{<sys/types.h>} even though it's not even in
C99; that's OK since @code{<sys/types.h>} has been around nearly

Even if the include files exist, they may not conform to C89.
However, GCC has a @command{fixincludes} script that attempts to fix most
C89-conformance problems.  So Gnulib currently assumes include files
largely conform to C89 or better.  People still using ancient hosts
should use fixincludes or fix their include files manually.

Even if the include files conform to C89, the library itself may not.
For example, @code{strtod} and @code{mktime} have some bugs on some platforms.
You can work around some of these problems by requiring the relevant
modules, e.g., the Gnulib @code{mktime} module supplies a working and
conforming @code{mktime}.

The GNU coding standards allow one departure from strict C99: Gnulib
code can assume that standard internal types like @code{size_t} are no wider
than @code{long}.  POSIX 1003.1-2001 and the GNU coding standards both
require @code{int} to be at least 32 bits wide, so Gnulib code assumes this
as well.  Gnulib code makes the following additional assumptions:

Signed integer arithmetic is two's complement.

Previously, Gnulib code sometimes assumed that signed integer
arithmetic wraps around, but modern compiler optimizations
sometimes do not guarantee this, and Gnulib code with this
assumption is now considered to be questionable.
@xref{Integer Properties}.

Some Gnulib modules contain explicit support for the other signed
integer representations allowed by C99 (ones' complement and signed
magnitude), but these modules are the exception rather than the rule.
All practical Gnulib targets use two's complement.

There are no ``holes'' in integer values: all the bits of an integer
contribute to its value in the usual way.

Addresses and sizes behave as if objects reside in a flat address space.
In particular:

If two nonoverlapping objects have sizes @var{S} and @var{T} represented as
@code{size_t} values, then @code{@var{S} + @var{T}} cannot overflow.

A pointer @var{P} points within an object @var{O} if and only if
@code{(char *) &@var{O} <= (char *) @var{P} && (char *) @var{P} <
(char *) (&@var{O} + 1)}.

If an existing object has size @var{S}, and if @var{T} is sufficiently
small (e.g., 8 KiB), then @code{@var{S} + @var{T}} cannot overflow.
Overflow in this case would mean that the rest of your program fits
into @var{T} bytes, which can't happen in realistic flat-address-space

Objects with all bits zero are treated as 0 or NULL@.  For example,
@code{memset@ (A, 0, sizeof@ A)} initializes an array @code{A} of
pointers to NULL.

Adding zero to a null pointer does not change the pointer.
For example, @code{0 + (char *) NULL == (char *) NULL}.
@end itemize
@end itemize

The above assumptions are not required by the C or POSIX standards but
hold on all practical porting targets that we're familiar with.  If
you have a porting target where these assumptions are not true, we'd
appreciate hearing of any fixes.  We need fixes that do not increase
runtime overhead on standard hosts and that are relatively easy to

With the above caveats, Gnulib code should port without problem to new
hosts, e.g., hosts conforming to C99 or to recent POSIX standards.
Hence Gnulib code should avoid using constructs (e.g., undeclared
functions return @code{int}) that do not conform to C99.

@node High Quality
@section High Quality

We develop and maintain a testsuite for Gnulib.  The goal is to have a
100% firm interface so that maintainers can feel free to update to the
code in git at @emph{any} time and know that their application will not
break.  This means that before any change can be committed to the
repository, a test suite program must be produced that exposes the bug
for regression testing.  All experimental work should be done on
branches to help promote this.