Haoyu Tan’s code library. Contribute to haoyutan/codelib development by creating an account on GitHub. Autotools: a practitioner’s guide to Autoconf, Automake and Libtool. by John Calcote – Chapter 1: A brief introduction to the GNU Autotools. by John . There are few people who would deny that Autoconf, Automake and Libtool have revolutionized the free software world. While there are many thousands of.

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If you get your head screwed on straight about the primary purpose of the Autotools, then hate quickly turns into respect–and even appreciation.

Autotools: a practitioner’s guide to Autoconf, Automake and Libtool

With these concepts, you’ll be prepared to understand some of the most fundamental rationale behind architectural decisions made by the Autotools developers.

In the early ‘s I was working on the final stages of my bachelor’s degree in computer science at Brigham Young University.

As a side benefit, the GNU manuals for the Autotools should begin to make a lot more sense to you. Publishers believe that free software developers tend to disdain written documentation–perhaps they’re right.

Then study open source and free software packages that use the Autotools. They fixed about 65 percent of the problems resulting from system configuration differences–and they were a pain in the neck to write properly. Perhaps the authors were targeting an audience that had already graduated to more advanced topics.

You see, open source defines a type of software distribution channel. You can instead use dnl to ignore the autotiols whitespace, provided the closing paren is in column 1. The purpose of the Autotools is to make life simpler for the end-user.

There are nearlyfree software projects on sourceforge. Appendix A provides an overview of those features of the M4 macro processor that are relevant to obtaining a solid understanding of Autoconf.


They’re free, and links are provided in the References section auttools this book, but they’re easy to find with a simple internet query. The purpose of the Autotools is not to make life simpler for the package maintainer although it really does in the long run.

The same concept applies to understanding the Autotools. More to the point however, a solid understanding of the basic functionality of sedm4shell script and other utilities is critical to understanding the proper use of the Autotools. Free software may be published in binary form. Regardless, you can bet there are other mailing auttoools readers who experienced far more confusion over this exchange. But end-users are not developers, so most of them won’t know tuide to properly build your package.

You need a solid understanding of the tools upon which the Autotools are built in order to become proficient with the Autotools themselves.

Who should read this book This book is written for the open source software package maintainer. What to do, what to do Chapter 1 presents a general overview of the packages that are considered part of the GNU Autotools.

It’s a great reference, but a terrible tutorial. I’ve learned a lot about free software maintenance and development–most of it, unfortunately, by trial and error. All of this explains why there are ten books on the shelf with animal pictures on the cover for perl, but literally nothing for free software developers.

License Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

I’ve organized it in the best way I know how to help you get your head around the functionality provided by the Autotools. If only 10 percent of those are still active, that’s still 20, live projects. Just basic math skills. This book is written for the open source software package maintainer. Many of them have a fairly solid understanding of the Autotools by now, but at what expense in time and effort did they gain this understanding?


I recommend that you give this chapter a quick read to start with, and then come back to it later, after you’ve read the rest of this book. I could have shoe-horned this information into more or less appropriate locations in the preceding chapters.

Autotools: a practitioner’s guide to Autoconf, Automake and Libtool

One in which the primary method of obtaining software functionality is downloading a source archive, unpacking, building and installing the built prsctitioner on your system. If so, does he realize he’s running it when he executes “autoconf” to generate his configure script?

Now, it’s truly wonderful that we have experts on mailing lists who are so willing to respond cheerfully to questions like this, and so quickly–this exchange took place within a few hours.

Practitjoner talking about the shear volume of information that is assumed to be understood by the reader. The advantages should be clear. They don’t write many Autoconf input scripts, but they do patch a lot of them. Learning by example is an excellent way to begin to retain the information practitione read. I chose not to do this for two reasons: See what other experts have done.

In fact, one editor told me that he himself had buide unsuccessfully to entice authors to write this book a few years ago. I’m purposely not using the terms “free software” or “proprietary software that’s free”.

His authors wouldn’t finish the project, and the publisher’s market analysis indicated that there was very little interest in the book.