Since pkg-config has been the recommended method of detecting libraries for some time, it's time to consider properly deprecating icu-config.
In order to make this transition as easy as possible, I've written a patch that makes the installation of icu-config optional. In other words, users must pass --enable-icu-config to configure if they want icu-config to be installed.
For background information:
Debian and Ubuntu have been working to make all of their packages multi-arch compatible for several years now. Multi-arch support allows packages from foreign architectures to be installed on the native architecture host and to be used for cross-compiling or running non-native programs. So users can co-install i386 packages and programs on their native amd64 system, for example.
As part of the multi-arch process, maintainers must ensure that header files and executables (binaries, scripts, etc.) do not conflict.
Unfortunately, icu-config conflicts across architectures, due to variables such as the hard-coded libdir path and host_cpu.
The script's presence also makes cross-compiling difficult, since icu-config outputs values for the native architecture, not the foreign architecture (depending on the order of installation, which is almost always native first).
For these reasons, Debian has decided to remove legacy -config scripts in favour of pkg-config.
Given ICU's preference for pkg-config, I kindly ask you to apply the attached patch to make the installation of icu-config optional.