A short while ago, Marc Espie (espie@) wrote to the ports mailinglist with a short rant about autoconf. His mail gives good insights into the problems porters face when dealing with GNU software, especially those using autoconf."
This actually describes one of the many reasons I despise working a lot of other 'programmers' in this world, many of whom exhibit even greater levels of brain injury then that post takes as examples.
In my not so humble opinion: GNU autotools is either a good idea gone horrible wrong (in practice), or a royal brain fuck that just got out of hand. Users who can use such tools properly, seem to be falling by attrition to younger developers, many of whom (in my experinces anyway) wouldn't know portability if it strung them on the keester like sitting on a scorpion. The GNU build system can an extremely good tool chain to work with, or it can be your worst freaking nightmare; a lot of people just don't seem to care any more. My policy has always been, to support what I use (BSD/Win), and trying to minimise the heartache of getting code built on another platform.
Although the GNU project is perhaps the largest distributor of infectious disease on the Internet, I blame the developer idiocy I see around me, on the youth and not on the software. Most "Old wizards" seem to actually know their tools.....
Mario: Treat your tools like a friend. Keep 'em by you. Never let 'em down, and they're always at your side.
Luigi: Hey, Mario, how is it that for every situation that could possibly come up, you always got a saying about tools?
Mario: I got 'em from Papa.
Both: He got 'em from Grandpapa!