Building an autosetup-enabled Project


The purpose of autosetup is to adapt a project build to the local development environment, including compilers, libraries, and selected user options.

Building an autosetup-enabled project is almost identical to building an autoconf-enabled project except it is faster and simpler.

Your project will include an autosetup wrapper, configure, and an autosetup control file, auto.def at the top level. autosetup is invoked via the configure script.

$ ./configure

A more complex example might be:

$ ./configure --host=arm-linux --utf8 --with-ext="regexp tree" --prefix=/usr CFLAGS="-g -Os"


autosetup-enabled projects support various command-line options to control the configuration process. These options include both standard autosetup options and project-specific options.

Use configure --help for a full list of the supported options.

Usage: configure [options] [settings]

   This is autosetup, a faster, better alternative to autoconf.
   Use the --manual option for the full autosetup manual.

  --help?=local?       display help and options. Optionally specify a module name, such
                       as --help=system
  --version            display the version of autosetup
  --manual?=text?      display the autosetup manual. Other formats: 'wiki', 'asciidoc',
  --debug              display debugging output as autosetup runs
  --install            install autosetup to the current directory (in the 'autosetup/'
  --init               create an initial 'configure' script if none exists
  --host=host-alias    a complete or partial cpu-vendor-opsys for the system where the
                       application will run (defaults to the same value as --build)
  --build=build-alias  a complete or partial cpu-vendor-opsys for the system where the
                       application will be built (defaults to the result of running
  --prefix=dir         the target directory for the build (defaults to /usr/local)
  Local Options:
  --shared             Create a shared library
  --disable-utf8       Disable utf8 support
  --disable-largefile  Disable large file support

In many cases, configure can be run without any arguments to select the default options. Once the configuration process is complete, make is typically used to build the project. Thus the typical configuration and build process is:

$ ./configure
$ make

Note that configure need only be run once unless the compiler or environment changes, or different options need to be selected.


There two types of options, boolean options and string options. boolean options simply enable or disable a feature, while string options take an additional parameter.

Boolean Options

Boolean options are either enabled or disabled by default. The following output from configure --help shows two boolean options.

--shared             Create a shared library
--disable-utf8       Disable utf8 support

Here, shared is an option which is disabled by default, while utf8 is an option which is enabled by default.

For convenience, boolean options may be enabled or disabled in various ways. To enable an option:


To disable an option:


String Options

String options take a parameter, however a default value may be provided for the the parameter. The following output from configure --help shows two string options.

--manual?=text?      display the autosetup manual. Other formats: 'wiki', 'asciidoc',
--host=host-alias    a complete or partial cpu-vendor-opsys for the system where the
                     application will run (defaults to the same value as --build)

Here, manual is a string option with a default parameter value (text), while host is a string option which requires a parameter.

Environment Variables

The configure command line may specify additional environment variable settings after any options.

From example, consider the following:

$ ./configure --utf8 CFLAGS="-Os"

In this case, the setting for CFLAGS overrides the default (-g -O2).

Environment variables are checked in the following priority order:

  1. Values specified on the command line
  2. Values from the environment
  3. System defaults, possibly derived from other settings

In addition to project-specific environment variables (which should be documented with the project), some modules have environment variables which can be changed. For example, from the cc module reference:

The following environment variables are used if set:

CC       - C compiler
CXX      - C++ compiler
CCACHE   - Set to "none" to disable automatic use of ccache
CFLAGS   - Additional C compiler flags
CXXFLAGS - Additional C++ compiler flags
LDFLAGS  - Additional compiler flags during linking
LIBS     - Additional libraries to use (for all tests)
CROSS    - Tool prefix for cross compilation

The following variables are defined from the corresponding
environment variables if set.