Some Reasons I Dislike Autotools

January 10, 2009

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not in love with the autotools (autoconf, automake, libtool, etc), but they often get the job done. I spent a few hours trying to move the libstrophe build system from SCons to autotools, and it reminded me of why I dislike this tool chain so much.

I ended up getting a libtool-free system up and running, after trying desperately to get something else besides autotools working.

Some things have gotten better though. Specifically dealing with external dependencies in autoconf is much nicer than I remember now that pkg-config is basically standard. That used to be a mess back in 2001 or so.

I think that, in general, automake has the right idea; something should be generating native build machinery for make or various IDEs from simple input files. It’s just unfortunate that the result is a big mess.

Some Reasons I Dislike Autotools - January 10, 2009 - Jack Moffitt