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2.4.1 Creating ‘amhello-1.0.tar.gz

Here is how we can recreate ‘amhello-1.0.tar.gz’ from scratch. The package is simple enough so that we will only need to write 5 files. (You may copy them from the final ‘amhello-1.0.tar.gz’ that is distributed with Automake if you do not want to write them.)

Create the following files in an empty directory.

Once you have these five files, it is time to run the Autotools to instantiate the build system. Do this using the autoreconf command as follows:

~/amhello % autoreconf --install
configure.ac: installing `./install-sh'
configure.ac: installing `./missing'
src/Makefile.am: installing `./depcomp'

At this point the build system is complete.

In addition to the three scripts mentioned in its output, you can see that autoreconf created four other files: ‘configure’, ‘config.h.in’, ‘Makefile.in’, and ‘src/Makefile.in’. The latter three files are templates that will be adapted to the system by configure under the names ‘config.h’, ‘Makefile’, and ‘src/Makefile’. Let’s do this:

~/amhello % ./configure
checking for a BSD-compatible install... /usr/bin/install -c
checking whether build environment is sane... yes
checking for gawk... no
checking for mawk... mawk
checking whether make sets $(MAKE)... yes
checking for gcc... gcc
checking for C compiler default output file name... a.out
checking whether the C compiler works... yes
checking whether we are cross compiling... no
checking for suffix of executables...
checking for suffix of object files... o
checking whether we are using the GNU C compiler... yes
checking whether gcc accepts -g... yes
checking for gcc option to accept ISO C89... none needed
checking for style of include used by make... GNU
checking dependency style of gcc... gcc3
configure: creating ./config.status
config.status: creating Makefile
config.status: creating src/Makefile
config.status: creating config.h
config.status: executing depfiles commands

You can see ‘Makefile’, ‘src/Makefile’, and ‘config.h’ being created at the end after configure has probed the system. It is now possible to run all the targets we wish (see section Standard ‘Makefile’ Targets). For instance:

~/amhello % make
…
~/amhello % src/hello
Hello World!
This is amhello 1.0.
~/amhello % make distcheck
…
=============================================
amhello-1.0 archives ready for distribution:
amhello-1.0.tar.gz
=============================================

Note that running autoreconf is only needed initially when the GNU Build System does not exist. When you later change some instructions in a ‘Makefile.am’ or ‘configure.ac’, the relevant part of the build system will be regenerated automatically when you execute make.

autoreconf is a script that calls autoconf, automake, and a bunch of other commands in the right order. If you are beginning with these tools, it is not important to figure out in which order all these tools should be invoked and why. However, because Autoconf and Automake have separate manuals, the important point to understand is that autoconf is in charge of creating ‘configure’ from ‘configure.ac’, while automake is in charge of creating ‘Makefile.in’s from ‘Makefile.am’s and ‘configure.ac’. This should at least direct you to the right manual when seeking answers.


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