The AutoTools are a collection of GNU tools to manage the build environment for highly portable projects.

They include:

  • Autoconf (the thing that generates configure scripts)
  • Automake (the thing that generates MakeFiles from sources)

If you think about it, Automake is basically an extra layer added to patch up limitations in the original Makefile concept. Some development projects have been moving to alternatives to Make and parts of Autotools, such as CMake and Jam.

configure file

configure probes the systems for required functions, libraries, and tools and then it generates a config.h file with all #defines as well as MakeFiles to build the package.


If you get weird errors like: error: possibly undefined macro: AM_INIT_AUTOMAKE
      If this token and others are legitimate, please use m4_pattern_allow.
      See the Autoconf documentation. error: possibly undefined macro: AM_CONFIG_HEADER error: possibly undefined macro: AC_PROG_LIBTOOL error: possibly undefined macro: AM_CONDITIONAL

then this means you probably need to upgrade automake(1).


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