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18.6.2 New Macros

While Autoconf was relatively dormant in the late 1990s, Automake provided Autoconf-like macros for a while. Starting with Autoconf 2.50 in 2001, Autoconf provided versions of these macros, integrated in the AC_ namespace, instead of AM_. But in order to ease the upgrading via autoupdate, bindings to such AM_ macros are provided.

Unfortunately older versions of Automake (e.g., Automake 1.4) did not quote the names of these macros. Therefore, when m4 finds something like ‘AC_DEFUN(AM_TYPE_PTRDIFF_T, …)’ in ‘aclocal.m4’, AM_TYPE_PTRDIFF_T is expanded, replaced with its Autoconf definition.

Fortunately Autoconf catches pre-AC_INIT expansions, and complains, in its own words:

$ cat configure.ac
AC_INIT([Example], [1.0], [bug-example@example.org])
AM_TYPE_PTRDIFF_T
$ aclocal-1.4
$ autoconf
aclocal.m4:17: error: m4_defn: undefined macro: _m4_divert_diversion
aclocal.m4:17: the top level
autom4te: m4 failed with exit status: 1
$

Modern versions of Automake no longer define most of these macros, and properly quote the names of the remaining macros. If you must use an old Automake, do not depend upon macros from Automake as it is simply not its job to provide macros (but the one it requires itself):

$ cat configure.ac
AC_INIT([Example], [1.0], [bug-example@example.org])
AM_TYPE_PTRDIFF_T
$ rm aclocal.m4
$ autoupdate
autoupdate: `configure.ac' is updated
$ cat configure.ac
AC_INIT([Example], [1.0], [bug-example@example.org])
AC_CHECK_TYPES([ptrdiff_t])
$ aclocal-1.4
$ autoconf
$

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