The GNU Autotools have been around for a long time. My own introduction to Autoconf was back in 1999, around the same time I began my first foray into the world of Open Source Software. I had obtained employment in a research lab using the Java language to control FPGA hardware, and one of my co-workers showed me a program he had found, jikes, which compiled our project nearly 10 times faster than javac from Sun. But it crashed on one corner case of string concatenation, and I was assigned to figure out why. The jikes compiler was an Open Source project from IBM written in C++, and I soon found and fixed the problem, and got the pleasure of seeing my patch accepted upstream.

What’s more, since jikes used GNU Autoconf ...

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