Autotools
A Practioner's Guide to GNU Autoconf, Automake, and Libtool
Publisher: No Starch Press
Final Release Date: July 2010
Pages: 360

The GNU Autotools make it easy for developers to create software that is portable across many Unix-like operating systems. Although the Autotools are used by thousands of open source software packages, they have a notoriously steep learning curve. And good luck to the beginner who wants to find anything beyond a basic reference work online.

Autotools Autotools is the first book to offer programmers a tutorial-based guide to the GNU build system. Author John Calcote begins with an overview of high-level concepts and a quick hands-on tour of the philosophy and design of the Autotools. He then tackles more advanced details, like using the M4 macro processor with Autoconf, extending the framework provided by Automake, and building Java and C# sources. He concludes the book with detailed solutions to the most frequent problems encountered by first-time Autotools users.

You'll learn how to:

  • Master the Autotools build system to maximize your software's portability
  • Generate Autoconf configuration scripts to simplify the compilation process
  • Produce portable makefiles with Automake
  • Build cross-platform software libraries with Libtool
  • Write your own Autoconf macros

Autotools focuses on two projects: Jupiter, a simple "Hello, world!" program, and FLAIM, an existing, complex open source effort containing four separate but interdependent subprojects. Follow along as the author takes Jupiter's build system from a basic makefile to a full-fledged Autotools project, and then as he converts the FLAIM projects from complex hand-coded makefiles to the powerful and flexible GNU build system.

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No Starch PressAutotools
 
4.3

(based on 3 reviews)

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100%

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Pros

  • Concise (3)
  • Easy to understand (3)

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4.0

Great book to get you started with Autotools

By Christoffer

from Västerås, Sweden

About Me Developer

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Concise
  • Easy to understand

Cons

  • Figures Hard To Grasp

Best Uses

  • Beginner Packager
  • Intermediate Developer

Comments about No Starch Press Autotools:

I've been a GNU/Linux user for almost a decade and I use the package repository available on the local system daily for upgrades and new installations, from time to time a local compilation is required. When I earlier this year was reading "21st Century C" by Ben Klemens a chapter in the book gave me a short high-level introduction to what actually is behind the invaluable "./configure", "make" and "make install" commands. For a recent new C project, Autotools was chosen and I needed a deeper understanding of Autotools so I turned to "John Calcote" Autotools book as an intermediate developer and beginner when it comes to configuring build systems and packaging applications.

John goes through everything from the basic building blocks of the Autotools suite (autoconf, automake and libtool) to converting a pre-existing application to be built with autotools. After reading this book I was able to set up a simple build system with unit tests and immediately take advantage of a continous delivery system calling "make check/distcheck/dist" warning me when something goes wrong or creating a distributable tarball. I now also understand the purpose and responsibility of the invaluable "./configure", "make" and "make install" commands that I often use as a user.

I was afraid that a book from 2010 would be too old but so far I've not seen any outdated information that sent me off in completely wrong direction. The one big improvement I see that could be made better is the figures available in the book. I had and still have a hard time understanding how different parts of the autotools interact with each other in detail, maybe that will be clearer on a second read-thru and when I start using the tools more on a daily basis. As a first time reader I would have liked that the figures used throughout the book (especially in chapter 1) would grow by the section instead of immediately showing the complete picture. A step by step increase of complexity in the figures would probably have conveyed more information to me as I read.

 
4.0

Very goof

By Dynnamitt

from Jaren Hadeland

About Me Developer, Sys Admin

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written

Cons

  • Not comprehensive enough

Best Uses

  • Expert
  • Intermediate

Comments about No Starch Press Autotools:

The best i found. Never did see how they fit together before this book.

(7 of 7 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

The missing piece !

By SR-71

from Rome, Italy

About Me Developer

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Easy to understand
  • Helpful examples
  • Well-written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Intermediate

    Comments about No Starch Press Autotools:

    This book is the missing piece in the open source development tools environment.

    It is a must for every developer working with the most complicated and obscure (but indeed not eludible) software ever developed: the Autotools.

    The book reveals all the secrets of this evil thing, leading you very deeply into caves of Autotools.

    Definitively a great book, one of best I ever bought in the O'Reilly collection.

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