I made a new release since the package is listed as otherwise unmaintained
There's a Makefile at the root of the package that is not being used anywhere. Also, there's a bootstrap and configure.base files but no configure script anywhere so the release does not look complete to me.
Finally, the NEWS file is quite incomplete. A look at the repository logs will show other changes since the last release.
Should I just remove Makefile, src/bootstrap, src/configure.base? The package compiles fine on my machine without them, but I don't know if there are circumstances under which they have a use.
I don't have the time this weeks to take a look at the build of the GSL package.
My experience from the other packages is that the Makefile at the root of the package is either cruft from when there were monolithic releases, or something required to build the documentation prior to a release.
The bootstrap and configure.base scripts in src should be run before a release to create a configure script. This will check for the presence of required libraries and possibly configure the build for whatever less canonical system the user may have. It should probably not be removed, only made to work.
OK, I can run bootstrap and create a configure script. Should I keep bootstrap and configure.base in the release though?
Whatever the configure script is doing it wrong. I don't have the GSL library and failed to identity that its missing. Plus, it has a lot of weird things that looks to me like leftovers from the monolhitic and could be removed.
After I installed the gsl library the install did work. But when I ran the tests in src I still got failing tests.
I don't really have the time these days to go and look at what is going on, or what configure should be doing. Maybe you could get someone to help you on #octave in IRC.