cinamod, did you really mean it when you wrote that "adding two lines in my configure.ac for better win32 libtool support and add a re-implementation of mmap" is trivial ? Do you understand with how much sarcasm the usual Win32 developer is going to read this ?.
Also, I believe that you missed Raph's points regarding error messages. Did you ever tried to hack Auto* scripts seriously. These tools are so brittle that the simplest error is most of the time difficult to spot and understand from the tools' output. In my opinion, Automake holds the crown for cryptic puzzles. Some of this comes from the underlying languages being used and cannot be solved easily. Of course, when they work, these things are amazing; but maybe the fact that they're so hard to program explains why there are so many bad AC_WARN_* and AC_ERROR_* macros out-there; or that most development in these scripts is done by copy-pasting protions from other projects and crossing fingers that it does what it's expected to do.
note to rilian: unfortunately, you cannot progressively get rid of m4 in the Auto-tools, this task would be equivalent to trying to smoothly get rid of C++ in KDE, i.e. it's not going to be easy nor elegant.
Apart from that, I think we call all agree that the good thing about the Auto-tools is that they contain an enormous, though badly documented, amount of knowledge regarding various existing systems and their quircks. As a consequence, they do thing that no other system does at the moment. But the costs associated are also huge and make thing hard to use for too many people, which don't need the whole enchilada.
I hope is it possible to hope for tools that make simple things trivial, and complex one possible without a Ph.D and several dozens hours reading obscure documentation and m4 script files ? And without being the target by ad-hominen attacks too !! Oh well, life's too short I guess...
The phrase "computer literate user" really means the person has been hurt so many times that the scar tissue is thick enough -- Alan Cooper, The Inmates are Running the Asylum