Right I also spent a lot of time getting a few dozen basic packages to crossbuild in the past (good luck with perl!), that's part of the reason I am such an enthusiastic convert to native build approach.
The autoblah stuff did get better over time, if the project came ready to work with newer autoblah it was possible to inform ./configure that you were building cross and it might even take care of most things. A lot of projects come with their own build approaches, eg webkit, sometimes they can be coerced into doing cross but each time it's a new different mountain to climb to understand exactly "how".
Native build eliminates all that and you can just do ./configure again because you're not having to trick anything. Combined with realizing you don't have to put up with cut-down anything any more like busybox ash vs actual bash, most of the special-case magic about "embedded" disappears and it's like working on a normal box with corresponding smoothing of development process and increase in dev speed.
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