Autoconf [7] changed this paradigm almost overnight. David MacKenzie started the Autoconf project in 1991, but a look at the AUTHORS file in the Savannah Autoconf project[8] repository will give you an idea of the number of people that had a hand in making the tool. Although configuration scripts were long and complex, users only needed to specify a few variables when executing them. Most of these variables were simply choices about components, features, and options, such as: Where can the build system find libraries and header files? Where do I want to install my finished products? Which optional components do I want to build into my products?

Instead of modifying and debugging hundreds of lines of supposedly portable shell script, developers ...

Get Autotools now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.