i attempted to compile the new version of emacs today. it only sortof worked.
grabbed the new emacs-21 and leim tarballs, unpacked them on my mandrake box at work, ran ./configure and make bootstrap and make install. the compilation succeeded but there were lots of warnings about X related things (font libs, etc). i can get the new version to run but only in console mode; no nice X windows mode. :(
i was particularly disappointed in the quality of the INSTALL doc that came in the tarball. for a project that's been around as long as emacs, i'd have figured that it would at least contain instructions for a basic compile with the standard options enabled. actually, if you follow the instructions in INSTALL, you can't even compile emacs on a basic linux box. it says to do ./configure, make (which will not work), and make install; no mention at all of make bootstrap.
actually, i've noticed this kind of problem with the documentation for a lot of open source projects. i feel like i have a much better chance of finding an answer to my problem if my problem is advanced and obscure than if it is something simple. i can't even count how many times i've compiled an app or installed it from a tarball only to find that the executable installed doesn't have a guessable name. so i've installed a program on my system and now i have no idea how to run it or get any info on it (man doesn't work too well if you don't know the name of the program). luckily, i'm savvy enough to do a quick find for the newest executable files on my system or to read through several levels of complex makefiles and install scripts to figure out what went where, but i can imagine the frustration of a user who didn't know how to do this.
so basically, i'm going to try on my projects to always make sure i include all the documentation that a user needs to get up and running with the standard options enabled on a basic system without too much fuss. it doesn't seem like it should be that hard.