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Autotools: a practitioner's guide to autoconf, automake and libtool

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There are few people who would deny that autoconf, automake and libtool have revolutionized the free software world. While there are many thousands of Autotools advocates, some developers absolutely hate the Autotools, with a passion.

This book is written for the open source software package maintainer. I’m purposely not using the terms “free software” or “proprietary software that’s free”. The use of the term “open source” is critical in this context. You see, open source defines a type of software distribution channel.

Most packages are built using makefiles, and the make utility is as pervasive a tool as anything else that’s available. It’s very easy to type make—but that’s not the problem. The problem crops up when the package doesn’t build successfully, because of some unanticipated difference between the user’s system and the developer’s system.

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