As described in bug 784841 comment #265 and later, our Unicode story for config.status is lacking. Notably, Python 3 compatibility is going to be very challenging since we have a lot of code that works in Python 3 mode where strings are Unicode and a lot of (mostly older) code that uses str/bytes. We should decide whether we want config.status dealing with bytes or Unicode then go from there. There is also a hybrid solution where we could add/modify autoconf macros to state the value is explicitly bytes or Unicode. From there, we could normalize to UTF-8 or something. If we decide config.status is to be bytes only, we should change config.status.m4 to emit b'' strings so Python 3 works as expected. This is kind of a wavy hands bug. I don't expect movement on it until we get serious about Python 3 compatibility.
I would love to transition configure to a Python script at some point, which would let us be more explicit about things. We could probably do it piecemeal by replacing just some autoconf macros with Python invocations.
I actually started working on a configure replacement in python, and I'm already thinking about the possibility of an incremental transition. I think we're likely to switch away from autoconf before we ever switch to python 3, so maybe WONTFIX?
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