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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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In each case, I’ve provided a graphic depiction of the flow of data from hand-coded input files, to final output files.

Pick up the manuals. However, without looking, I submit that similar questions have probably been asked dozens of times in the last 5 years. Perhaps the authors were targeting an audience that had already graduated to more advanced topics.

In either case, the Goat Prwctitioner, while being very complete from a content perspective, is definitely not a great learning resource for the beginner. I’ve left a LOT of details out of this book, because my purpose is to quickly get you up to speed on understanding and using the Autotools.

But, as fast as free software moves these days, a book published in might as well have been published in Just basic math skills. You need a solid understanding of the tools upon which the Autotools are built in order to become proficient with the Autotools themselves.

The problem crops up when the package doesn’t build successfully, practtitioner of some unanticipated difference between the user’s system and the developer’s system.

But open source software implies source-level distribution. I just didn’t have the background I needed.


After reading this book, they should be a cake walk. Hand-coded configure scripts helped, but they weren’t the final answer.

Doing is by far the best way to learn. They’re generally quiet on mailing lists–asking an occasional well-considered question when they really need to–but lurking and learning, for the most part.

For example, here’s a message I came across a few days ago while Gkide was perusing the Autoconf mailing list: Between them and the free software community, the Autotools were born. The details will become clear later.

See what other experts have done. Alright, suppose he does; either way, he’s clearly not an m4 expert or he wouldn’t have needed help with this issue to begin with. This book is written for the open source software package maintainer.

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

Take sedfor example: Free software may be published in binary form. Finally, the References section includes relevant links to the best material on Autotools available on the internet, including manuals and tutorials.

Let me try to explain with an analogy. The most basic single-line Makefile. They fixed about 65 percent of the problems resulting from system configuration differences–and they were a pain in the neck to write properly.

I understood the theory, but I had trouble with the homework. Regardless, you can bet there are other mailing list readers who experienced far more confusion over this exchange. Each of those maintainers probably uses or has tried to use the Autotools.

Given the high-level nature of configure. One in which the primary method of obtaining software functionality is downloading a source archive, unpacking, building and installing the built products on your system. What to do, what to do The Goat Book does cover the m4 macro processor in great detail, but it’s not clear to the uninitiated that one might do well to start with Chapter With these concepts, you’ll be prepared to understand some of the most fundamental rationale behind architectural decisions made by the Autotools developers.


While there are many thousands of Autotools advocates, some developers absolutely hate the Autotools, with a passion. 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. You’d think it wouldn’t have made that much difference, but it really does.

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

This time I did very well–finishing the class with a solid A grade. Chapter 1 presents a general overview of the packages that are considered part of the GNU Autotools. You can instead use dnl to ignore the trailing whitespace, provided the closing paren is in column 1. No open source project was ever successful until it had a well-established user base, and you don’t get there by alienating your users.

Who should read this book This book is written for the open source software package maintainer. 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.