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2 An Introduction to the Autotools

If you are new to Automake, maybe you know that it is part of a set of tools called The Autotools. Maybe you’ve already delved into a package full of files named ‘configure’, ‘configure.ac’, ‘Makefile.in’, ‘Makefile.am’, ‘aclocal.m4’, . . . , some of them claiming to be generated by Autoconf or Automake. But the exact purpose of these files and their relations is probably fuzzy. The goal of this chapter is to introduce you to this machinery, to show you how it works and how powerful it is. If you’ve never installed or seen such a package, do not worry: this chapter will walk you through it.

If you need some teaching material, more illustrations, or a less automake-centered continuation, some slides for this introduction are available in Alexandre Duret-Lutz’s Autotools Tutorial. This chapter is the written version of the first part of his tutorial.


 

2.1 Introducing the GNU Build System2.2 Use Cases for the GNU Build System2.2.1 Basic Installation2.2.3 Standard Directory Variables2.2.4 Standard Configuration Variables2.2.5 Overriding Default Configuration Setting with ‘config.site’2.2.6 Parallel Build Trees (a.k.a. VPATH Builds)2.2.7 Two-Part Installation2.2.8 Cross-Compilation2.2.9 Renaming Programs at Install Time2.2.10 Building Binary Packages Using DESTDIR2.2.11 Preparing Distributions2.2.12 Automatic Dependency Tracking2.2.13 Nested Packages2.3 How Autotools Help2.4 A Small Hello World