Autotools

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File Format
Name Autotools
Ontology
Extension(s) .ac, .am, .in, others
Released ~1991

Autotools (or GNU Autotools; also called the GNU Build System) is a collective name for autoconf, automake, and libtool. Together, they constitute a toolkit used to help create source packages, and compile and install such packages, on a wide variety of Unix-like computer systems.

Autotools is sometimes considered to include additional utilities beyond the "big three" listed above, such as pkg-config or gettext.

Autotools is frequently criticized for being overly complicated and messy. But its flexibility and portability have proven difficult to replicate, so unfortunately there is often no better option available.

Contents

Discussion

Autotools uses shell scripting, make, M4, and Perl. Each source package is expected to include the Autotools components necessary to compile and install it, so Autotool does not have to be installed locally in order to use it for these purposes. However, if the included components find a local copy of Autotools, they may decide to use parts of it (with consequences that could be good or bad).

Files

Characteristic filenames used by Autotools include the following:

aclocal.m4
AUTHORS
ChangeLog
compile
config.h.in
config.guess
config.log
config.status
config.sub
configure
configure.ac
configure.in
COPYING
COPYING.LESSER
COPYING.LIB
depcomp
INSTALL
install-sh
libtool
libtool.m4
ltmain.sh
lt*.m4
Makefile.am
Makefile.in
missing
NEWS
README
stamp-h
stamp-h.in
TODO

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