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18. Obsolete Constructs

Autoconf changes, and throughout the years some constructs have been obsoleted. Most of the changes involve the macros, but in some cases the tools themselves, or even some concepts, are now considered obsolete.

You may completely skip this chapter if you are new to Autoconf. Its intention is mainly to help maintainers updating their packages by understanding how to move to more modern constructs.


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18.1 Obsolete `config.status' Invocation

`config.status' now supports arguments to specify the files to instantiate; see config.status Invocation, for more details. Before, environment variables had to be used.

Variable: CONFIG_COMMANDS

The tags of the commands to execute. The default is the arguments given to AC_OUTPUT and AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS in `configure.ac'.

Variable: CONFIG_FILES

The files in which to perform `@variable@' substitutions. The default is the arguments given to AC_OUTPUT and AC_CONFIG_FILES in `configure.ac'.

Variable: CONFIG_HEADERS

The files in which to substitute C #define statements. The default is the arguments given to AC_CONFIG_HEADERS; if that macro was not called, `config.status' ignores this variable.

Variable: CONFIG_LINKS

The symbolic links to establish. The default is the arguments given to AC_CONFIG_LINKS; if that macro was not called, `config.status' ignores this variable.

In config.status Invocation, using this old interface, the example would be:

 
config.h: stamp-h
stamp-h: config.h.in config.status
        CONFIG_COMMANDS= CONFIG_LINKS= CONFIG_FILES= \
          CONFIG_HEADERS=config.h ./config.status
        echo > stamp-h

Makefile: Makefile.in config.status
        CONFIG_COMMANDS= CONFIG_LINKS= CONFIG_HEADERS= \
          CONFIG_FILES=Makefile ./config.status

(If `configure.ac' does not call AC_CONFIG_HEADERS, there is no need to set CONFIG_HEADERS in the make rules. Equally for CONFIG_COMMANDS, etc.)


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18.2 `acconfig.h'

In order to produce `config.h.in', autoheader needs to build or to find templates for each symbol. Modern releases of Autoconf use AH_VERBATIM and AH_TEMPLATE (see section Autoheader Macros), but in older releases a file, `acconfig.h', contained the list of needed templates. autoheader copied comments and #define and #undef statements from `acconfig.h' in the current directory, if present. This file used to be mandatory if you AC_DEFINE any additional symbols.

Modern releases of Autoconf also provide AH_TOP and AH_BOTTOM if you need to prepend/append some information to `config.h.in'. Ancient versions of Autoconf had a similar feature: if `./acconfig.h' contains the string `@TOP@', autoheader copies the lines before the line containing `@TOP@' into the top of the file that it generates. Similarly, if `./acconfig.h' contains the string `@BOTTOM@', autoheader copies the lines after that line to the end of the file it generates. Either or both of those strings may be omitted. An even older alternate way to produce the same effect in ancient versions of Autoconf is to create the files `file.top' (typically `config.h.top') and/or `file.bot' in the current directory. If they exist, autoheader copies them to the beginning and end, respectively, of its output.

In former versions of Autoconf, the files used in preparing a software package for distribution were:

 
configure.ac --.   .------> autoconf* -----> configure
               +---+
[aclocal.m4] --+   `---.
[acsite.m4] ---'       |
                       +--> [autoheader*] -> [config.h.in]
[acconfig.h] ----.     |
                 +-----'
[config.h.top] --+
[config.h.bot] --'

Using only the AH_ macros, `configure.ac' should be self-contained, and should not depend upon `acconfig.h' etc.


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18.3 Using autoupdate to Modernize `configure.ac'

The autoupdate program updates a `configure.ac' file that calls Autoconf macros by their old names to use the current macro names. In version 2 of Autoconf, most of the macros were renamed to use a more uniform and descriptive naming scheme. See section Macro Names, for a description of the new scheme. Although the old names still work (see section Obsolete Macros, for a list of the old macros and the corresponding new names), you can make your `configure.ac' files more readable and make it easier to use the current Autoconf documentation if you update them to use the new macro names.

If given no arguments, autoupdate updates `configure.ac', backing up the original version with the suffix `~' (or the value of the environment variable SIMPLE_BACKUP_SUFFIX, if that is set). If you give autoupdate an argument, it reads that file instead of `configure.ac' and writes the updated file to the standard output.

autoupdate accepts the following options:

`--help'
`-h'

Print a summary of the command line options and exit.

`--version'
`-V'

Print the version number of Autoconf and exit.

`--verbose'
`-v'

Report processing steps.

`--debug'
`-d'

Don't remove the temporary files.

`--force'
`-f'

Force the update even if the file has not changed. Disregard the cache.

`--include=dir'
`-I dir'

Also look for input files in dir. Multiple invocations accumulate. Directories are browsed from last to first.

`--prepend-include=dir'
`-B dir'

Prepend directory dir to the search path. This is used to include the language-specific files before any third-party macros.


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18.4 Obsolete Macros

Several macros are obsoleted in Autoconf, for various reasons (typically they failed to quote properly, couldn't be extended for more recent issues, etc.). They are still supported, but deprecated: their use should be avoided.

During the jump from Autoconf version 1 to version 2, most of the macros were renamed to use a more uniform and descriptive naming scheme, but their signature did not change. See section Macro Names, for a description of the new naming scheme. Below, if there is just the mapping from old names to new names for these macros, the reader is invited to refer to the definition of the new macro for the signature and the description.

Macro: AC_AIX

This macro is a platform-specific subset of AC_USE_SYSTEM_EXTENSIONS (see AC_USE_SYSTEM_EXTENSIONS).

Macro: AC_ALLOCA

Replaced by AC_FUNC_ALLOCA (see AC_FUNC_ALLOCA).

Macro: AC_ARG_ARRAY

Removed because of limited usefulness.

Macro: AC_C_CROSS

This macro is obsolete; it does nothing.

Macro: AC_C_LONG_DOUBLE

If the C compiler supports a working long double type with more range or precision than the double type, define HAVE_LONG_DOUBLE.

You should use AC_TYPE_LONG_DOUBLE or AC_TYPE_LONG_DOUBLE_WIDER instead. See section Particular Type Checks.

Macro: AC_CANONICAL_SYSTEM

Determine the system type and set output variables to the names of the canonical system types. See section Getting the Canonical System Type, for details about the variables this macro sets.

The user is encouraged to use either AC_CANONICAL_BUILD, or AC_CANONICAL_HOST, or AC_CANONICAL_TARGET, depending on the needs. Using AC_CANONICAL_TARGET is enough to run the two other macros (see section Getting the Canonical System Type).

Macro: AC_CHAR_UNSIGNED

Replaced by AC_C_CHAR_UNSIGNED (see AC_C_CHAR_UNSIGNED).

Macro: AC_CHECK_TYPE (type, default)

Autoconf, up to 2.13, used to provide this version of AC_CHECK_TYPE, deprecated because of its flaws. First, although it is a member of the CHECK clan, it does more than just checking. Secondly, missing types are defined using #define, not typedef, and this can lead to problems in the case of pointer types.

This use of AC_CHECK_TYPE is obsolete and discouraged; see Generic Type Checks, for the description of the current macro.

If the type type is not defined, define it to be the C (or C++) builtin type default, e.g., `short int' or `unsigned int'.

This macro is equivalent to:

 
AC_CHECK_TYPE([type], [],
  [AC_DEFINE_UNQUOTED([type], [default],
     [Define to `default'
      if <sys/types.h> does not define.])])

In order to keep backward compatibility, the two versions of AC_CHECK_TYPE are implemented, selected using these heuristics:

  1. If there are three or four arguments, the modern version is used.
  2. If the second argument appears to be a C or C++ type, then the obsolete version is used. This happens if the argument is a C or C++ builtin type or a C identifier ending in `_t', optionally followed by one of `[(* ' and then by a string of zero or more characters taken from the set `[]()* _a-zA-Z0-9'.
  3. If the second argument is spelled with the alphabet of valid C and C++ types, the user is warned and the modern version is used.
  4. Otherwise, the modern version is used.

You are encouraged either to use a valid builtin type, or to use the equivalent modern code (see above), or better yet, to use AC_CHECK_TYPES together with

 
#ifndef HAVE_LOFF_T
typedef loff_t off_t;
#endif
Macro: AC_CHECKING (feature-description)

Same as

 
AC_MSG_NOTICE([checking feature-description…]

See AC_MSG_NOTICE.

Macro: AC_COMPILE_CHECK (echo-text, includes,   function-body, action-if-true, [action-if-false]@c)

This is an obsolete version of AC_TRY_COMPILE itself replaced by AC_COMPILE_IFELSE (see section Running the Compiler), with the addition that it prints `checking for echo-text' to the standard output first, if echo-text is non-empty. Use AC_MSG_CHECKING and AC_MSG_RESULT instead to print messages (see section Printing Messages).

Macro: AC_CONST

Replaced by AC_C_CONST (see AC_C_CONST).

Macro: AC_CROSS_CHECK

Same as AC_C_CROSS, which is obsolete too, and does nothing :-).

Macro: AC_CYGWIN

Check for the Cygwin environment in which case the shell variable CYGWIN is set to `yes'. Don't use this macro, the dignified means to check the nature of the host is using AC_CANONICAL_HOST (see section Getting the Canonical System Type). As a matter of fact this macro is defined as:

 
AC_REQUIRE([AC_CANONICAL_HOST])[]dnl
case $host_os in
  *cygwin* ) CYGWIN=yes;;
         * ) CYGWIN=no;;
esac

Beware that the variable CYGWIN has a special meaning when running Cygwin, and should not be changed. That's yet another reason not to use this macro.

Macro: AC_DECL_SYS_SIGLIST

Same as:

 
AC_CHECK_DECLS([sys_siglist], [], [],
[#include <signal.h>
/* NetBSD declares sys_siglist in unistd.h.  */
#ifdef HAVE_UNISTD_H
# include <unistd.h>
#endif
])

See AC_CHECK_DECLS.

Macro: AC_DECL_YYTEXT

Does nothing, now integrated in AC_PROG_LEX (see AC_PROG_LEX).

Macro: AC_DIR_HEADER

Like calling AC_FUNC_CLOSEDIR_VOID (see AC_FUNC_CLOSEDIR_VOID) and AC_HEADER_DIRENT (see AC_HEADER_DIRENT), but defines a different set of C preprocessor macros to indicate which header file is found:

Header

Old Symbol

New Symbol

`dirent.h'

DIRENT

HAVE_DIRENT_H

`sys/ndir.h'

SYSNDIR

HAVE_SYS_NDIR_H

`sys/dir.h'

SYSDIR

HAVE_SYS_DIR_H

`ndir.h'

NDIR

HAVE_NDIR_H

Macro: AC_DYNIX_SEQ

If on DYNIX/ptx, add `-lseq' to output variable LIBS. This macro used to be defined as

 
AC_CHECK_LIB([seq], [getmntent], [LIBS="-lseq $LIBS"])

now it is just AC_FUNC_GETMNTENT (see AC_FUNC_GETMNTENT).

Macro: AC_EXEEXT

Defined the output variable EXEEXT based on the output of the compiler, which is now done automatically. Typically set to empty string if Posix and `.exe' if a DOS variant.

Macro: AC_EMXOS2

Similar to AC_CYGWIN but checks for the EMX environment on OS/2 and sets EMXOS2. Don't use this macro, the dignified means to check the nature of the host is using AC_CANONICAL_HOST (see section Getting the Canonical System Type).

Macro: AC_ENABLE (feature, action-if-given,   [action-if-not-given]@c)

This is an obsolete version of AC_ARG_ENABLE that does not support providing a help string (see AC_ARG_ENABLE).

Macro: AC_ERROR

Replaced by AC_MSG_ERROR (see AC_MSG_ERROR).

Macro: AC_FIND_X

Replaced by AC_PATH_X (see AC_PATH_X).

Macro: AC_FIND_XTRA

Replaced by AC_PATH_XTRA (see AC_PATH_XTRA).

Macro: AC_FOREACH

Replaced by m4_foreach_w (see m4_foreach_w).

Macro: AC_FUNC_CHECK

Replaced by AC_CHECK_FUNC (see AC_CHECK_FUNC).

Macro: AC_FUNC_SETVBUF_REVERSED

Do nothing. Formerly, this macro checked whether setvbuf takes the buffering type as its second argument and the buffer pointer as the third, instead of the other way around, and defined SETVBUF_REVERSED. However, the last systems to have the problem were those based on SVR2, which became obsolete in 1987, and the macro is no longer needed.

Macro: AC_FUNC_WAIT3

If wait3 is found and fills in the contents of its third argument (a `struct rusage *'), which HP-UX does not do, define HAVE_WAIT3.

These days portable programs should use waitpid, not wait3, as wait3 has been removed from Posix.

Macro: AC_GCC_TRADITIONAL

Replaced by AC_PROG_GCC_TRADITIONAL (see AC_PROG_GCC_TRADITIONAL).

Macro: AC_GETGROUPS_T

Replaced by AC_TYPE_GETGROUPS (see AC_TYPE_GETGROUPS).

Macro: AC_GETLOADAVG

Replaced by AC_FUNC_GETLOADAVG (see AC_FUNC_GETLOADAVG).

Macro: AC_GNU_SOURCE

This macro is a platform-specific subset of AC_USE_SYSTEM_EXTENSIONS (see AC_USE_SYSTEM_EXTENSIONS).

Macro: AC_HAVE_FUNCS

Replaced by AC_CHECK_FUNCS (see AC_CHECK_FUNCS).

Macro: AC_HAVE_HEADERS

Replaced by AC_CHECK_HEADERS (see AC_CHECK_HEADERS).

Macro: AC_HAVE_LIBRARY (library, [action-if-found]@c,   [action-if-not-found]@c, [other-libraries]@c)

This macro is equivalent to calling AC_CHECK_LIB with a function argument of main. In addition, library can be written as any of `foo', `-lfoo', or `libfoo.a'. In all of those cases, the compiler is passed `-lfoo'. However, library cannot be a shell variable; it must be a literal name. See AC_CHECK_LIB.

Macro: AC_HAVE_POUNDBANG

Replaced by AC_SYS_INTERPRETER (see AC_SYS_INTERPRETER).

Macro: AC_HEADER_CHECK

Replaced by AC_CHECK_HEADER (see AC_CHECK_HEADER).

Macro: AC_HEADER_EGREP

Replaced by AC_EGREP_HEADER (see AC_EGREP_HEADER).

Macro: AC_HELP_STRING

Replaced by AS_HELP_STRING (see AS_HELP_STRING).

Macro: AC_INIT (unique-file-in-source-dir)

Formerly AC_INIT used to have a single argument, and was equivalent to:

 
AC_INIT
AC_CONFIG_SRCDIR(unique-file-in-source-dir)

See AC_INIT and AC_CONFIG_SRCDIR.

Macro: AC_INLINE

Replaced by AC_C_INLINE (see AC_C_INLINE).

Macro: AC_INT_16_BITS

If the C type int is 16 bits wide, define INT_16_BITS. Use `AC_CHECK_SIZEOF(int)' instead (see AC_CHECK_SIZEOF).

Macro: AC_IRIX_SUN

If on IRIX (Silicon Graphics Unix), add `-lsun' to output LIBS. If you were using it to get getmntent, use AC_FUNC_GETMNTENT instead. If you used it for the NIS versions of the password and group functions, use `AC_CHECK_LIB(sun, getpwnam)'. Up to Autoconf 2.13, it used to be

 
AC_CHECK_LIB([sun], [getmntent], [LIBS="-lsun $LIBS"])

now it is defined as

 
AC_FUNC_GETMNTENT
AC_CHECK_LIB([sun], [getpwnam])

See AC_FUNC_GETMNTENT and AC_CHECK_LIB.

Macro: AC_ISC_POSIX

This macro adds `-lcposix' to output variable LIBS if necessary for Posix facilities. Sun dropped support for the obsolete INTERACTIVE Systems Corporation Unix on 2006-07-23. New programs need not use this macro. It is implemented as AC_SEARCH_LIBS([strerror], [cposix]) (see AC_SEARCH_LIBS).

Macro: AC_LANG_C

Same as `AC_LANG([C])' (see AC_LANG).

Macro: AC_LANG_CPLUSPLUS

Same as `AC_LANG([C++])' (see AC_LANG).

Macro: AC_LANG_FORTRAN77

Same as `AC_LANG([Fortran 77])' (see AC_LANG).

Macro: AC_LANG_RESTORE

Select the language that is saved on the top of the stack, as set by AC_LANG_SAVE, remove it from the stack, and call AC_LANG(language). See section Language Choice, for the preferred way to change languages.

Macro: AC_LANG_SAVE

Remember the current language (as set by AC_LANG) on a stack. The current language does not change. AC_LANG_PUSH is preferred (see AC_LANG_PUSH).

Macro: AC_LINK_FILES (source…, dest…)

This is an obsolete version of AC_CONFIG_LINKS (see AC_CONFIG_LINKS. An updated version of:

 
AC_LINK_FILES(config/$machine.h config/$obj_format.h,
              host.h            object.h)

is:

 
AC_CONFIG_LINKS([host.h:config/$machine.h
                object.h:config/$obj_format.h])
Macro: AC_LN_S

Replaced by AC_PROG_LN_S (see AC_PROG_LN_S).

Macro: AC_LONG_64_BITS

Define LONG_64_BITS if the C type long int is 64 bits wide. Use the generic macro `AC_CHECK_SIZEOF([long int])' instead (see AC_CHECK_SIZEOF).

Macro: AC_LONG_DOUBLE

If the C compiler supports a working long double type with more range or precision than the double type, define HAVE_LONG_DOUBLE.

You should use AC_TYPE_LONG_DOUBLE or AC_TYPE_LONG_DOUBLE_WIDER instead. See section Particular Type Checks.

Macro: AC_LONG_FILE_NAMES

Replaced by

 
AC_SYS_LONG_FILE_NAMES

See AC_SYS_LONG_FILE_NAMES.

Macro: AC_MAJOR_HEADER

Replaced by AC_HEADER_MAJOR (see AC_HEADER_MAJOR).

Macro: AC_MEMORY_H

Used to define NEED_MEMORY_H if the mem functions were defined in `memory.h'. Today it is equivalent to `AC_CHECK_HEADERS([memory.h])' (see AC_CHECK_HEADERS). Adjust your code to depend upon HAVE_MEMORY_H, not NEED_MEMORY_H; see Standard Symbols.

Macro: AC_MINGW32

Similar to AC_CYGWIN but checks for the MinGW compiler environment and sets MINGW32. Don't use this macro, the dignified means to check the nature of the host is using AC_CANONICAL_HOST (see section Getting the Canonical System Type).

Macro: AC_MINIX

This macro is a platform-specific subset of AC_USE_SYSTEM_EXTENSIONS (see AC_USE_SYSTEM_EXTENSIONS).

Macro: AC_MINUS_C_MINUS_O

Replaced by AC_PROG_CC_C_O (see AC_PROG_CC_C_O).

Macro: AC_MMAP

Replaced by AC_FUNC_MMAP (see AC_FUNC_MMAP).

Macro: AC_MODE_T

Replaced by AC_TYPE_MODE_T (see AC_TYPE_MODE_T).

Macro: AC_OBJEXT

Defined the output variable OBJEXT based on the output of the compiler, after .c files have been excluded. Typically set to `o' if Posix, `obj' if a DOS variant. Now the compiler checking macros handle this automatically.

Macro: AC_OBSOLETE (this-macro-name, [suggestion]@c)

Make M4 print a message to the standard error output warning that this-macro-name is obsolete, and giving the file and line number where it was called. this-macro-name should be the name of the macro that is calling AC_OBSOLETE. If suggestion is given, it is printed at the end of the warning message; for example, it can be a suggestion for what to use instead of this-macro-name.

For instance

 
AC_OBSOLETE([$0], [; use AC_CHECK_HEADERS(unistd.h) instead])dnl

You are encouraged to use AU_DEFUN instead, since it gives better services to the user (see AU_DEFUN).

Macro: AC_OFF_T

Replaced by AC_TYPE_OFF_T (see AC_TYPE_OFF_T).

Macro: AC_OUTPUT ([file]

The use of AC_OUTPUT with arguments is deprecated. This obsoleted interface is equivalent to:

 
AC_CONFIG_FILES(file…)
AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS([default],
                   extra-cmds, init-cmds)
AC_OUTPUT

See AC_CONFIG_FILES, AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS, and AC_OUTPUT.

Macro: AC_OUTPUT_COMMANDS (extra-cmds, [init-cmds]@c)

Specify additional shell commands to run at the end of `config.status', and shell commands to initialize any variables from configure. This macro may be called multiple times. It is obsolete, replaced by AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS (see AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS).

Here is an unrealistic example:

 
fubar=27
AC_OUTPUT_COMMANDS([echo this is extra $fubar, and so on.],
                   [fubar=$fubar])
AC_OUTPUT_COMMANDS([echo this is another, extra, bit],
                   [echo init bit])

Aside from the fact that AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS requires an additional key, an important difference is that AC_OUTPUT_COMMANDS is quoting its arguments twice, unlike AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS. This means that AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS can safely be given macro calls as arguments:

 
AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS(foo, [my_FOO()])

Conversely, where one level of quoting was enough for literal strings with AC_OUTPUT_COMMANDS, you need two with AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS. The following lines are equivalent:

 
AC_OUTPUT_COMMANDS([echo "Square brackets: []"])
AC_CONFIG_COMMANDS([default], [[echo "Square brackets: []"]])
Macro: AC_PID_T

Replaced by AC_TYPE_PID_T (see AC_TYPE_PID_T).

Macro: AC_PREFIX

Replaced by AC_PREFIX_PROGRAM (see AC_PREFIX_PROGRAM).

Macro: AC_PROGRAMS_CHECK

Replaced by AC_CHECK_PROGS (see AC_CHECK_PROGS).

Macro: AC_PROGRAMS_PATH

Replaced by AC_PATH_PROGS (see AC_PATH_PROGS).

Macro: AC_PROGRAM_CHECK

Replaced by AC_CHECK_PROG (see AC_CHECK_PROG).

Macro: AC_PROGRAM_EGREP

Replaced by AC_EGREP_CPP (see AC_EGREP_CPP).

Macro: AC_PROGRAM_PATH

Replaced by AC_PATH_PROG (see AC_PATH_PROG).

Macro: AC_REMOTE_TAPE

Removed because of limited usefulness.

Macro: AC_RESTARTABLE_SYSCALLS

This macro was renamed AC_SYS_RESTARTABLE_SYSCALLS. However, these days portable programs should use sigaction with SA_RESTART if they want restartable system calls. They should not rely on HAVE_RESTARTABLE_SYSCALLS, since nowadays whether a system call is restartable is a dynamic issue, not a configuration-time issue.

Macro: AC_RETSIGTYPE

Replaced by AC_TYPE_SIGNAL (see AC_TYPE_SIGNAL), which itself is obsolete when assuming C89 or better.

Macro: AC_RSH

Removed because of limited usefulness.

Macro: AC_SCO_INTL

If on SCO Unix, add `-lintl' to output variable LIBS. This macro used to do this:

 
AC_CHECK_LIB([intl], [strftime], [LIBS="-lintl $LIBS"])

Now it just calls AC_FUNC_STRFTIME instead (see AC_FUNC_STRFTIME).

Macro: AC_SETVBUF_REVERSED

Replaced by

 
AC_FUNC_SETVBUF_REVERSED

See AC_FUNC_SETVBUF_REVERSED.

Macro: AC_SET_MAKE

Replaced by AC_PROG_MAKE_SET (see AC_PROG_MAKE_SET).

Macro: AC_SIZEOF_TYPE

Replaced by AC_CHECK_SIZEOF (see AC_CHECK_SIZEOF).

Macro: AC_SIZE_T

Replaced by AC_TYPE_SIZE_T (see AC_TYPE_SIZE_T).

Macro: AC_STAT_MACROS_BROKEN

Replaced by AC_HEADER_STAT (see AC_HEADER_STAT).

Macro: AC_STDC_HEADERS

Replaced by AC_HEADER_STDC (see AC_HEADER_STDC).

Macro: AC_STRCOLL

Replaced by AC_FUNC_STRCOLL (see AC_FUNC_STRCOLL).

Macro: AC_STRUCT_ST_BLKSIZE

If struct stat contains an st_blksize member, define HAVE_STRUCT_STAT_ST_BLKSIZE. The former name, HAVE_ST_BLKSIZE is to be avoided, as its support will cease in the future. This macro is obsoleted, and should be replaced by

 
AC_CHECK_MEMBERS([struct stat.st_blksize])

See AC_CHECK_MEMBERS.

Macro: AC_STRUCT_ST_RDEV

If struct stat contains an st_rdev member, define HAVE_STRUCT_STAT_ST_RDEV. The former name for this macro, HAVE_ST_RDEV, is to be avoided as it will cease to be supported in the future. Actually, even the new macro is obsolete and should be replaced by:

 
AC_CHECK_MEMBERS([struct stat.st_rdev])

See AC_CHECK_MEMBERS.

Macro: AC_ST_BLKSIZE

Replaced by AC_CHECK_MEMBERS (see AC_CHECK_MEMBERS).

Macro: AC_ST_BLOCKS

Replaced by AC_STRUCT_ST_BLOCKS (see AC_STRUCT_ST_BLOCKS).

Macro: AC_ST_RDEV

Replaced by AC_CHECK_MEMBERS (see AC_CHECK_MEMBERS).

Macro: AC_SYS_RESTARTABLE_SYSCALLS

If the system automatically restarts a system call that is interrupted by a signal, define HAVE_RESTARTABLE_SYSCALLS. This macro does not check whether system calls are restarted in general--it checks whether a signal handler installed with signal (but not sigaction) causes system calls to be restarted. It does not check whether system calls can be restarted when interrupted by signals that have no handler.

These days portable programs should use sigaction with SA_RESTART if they want restartable system calls. They should not rely on HAVE_RESTARTABLE_SYSCALLS, since nowadays whether a system call is restartable is a dynamic issue, not a configuration-time issue.

Macro: AC_SYS_SIGLIST_DECLARED

This macro was renamed AC_DECL_SYS_SIGLIST. However, even that name is obsolete, as the same functionality is now acheived via AC_CHECK_DECLS (see AC_CHECK_DECLS).

Macro: AC_TEST_CPP

This macro was renamed AC_TRY_CPP, which in turn was replaced by AC_PREPROC_IFELSE (see AC_PREPROC_IFELSE).

Macro: AC_TEST_PROGRAM

This macro was renamed AC_TRY_RUN, which in turn was replaced by AC_RUN_IFELSE (see AC_RUN_IFELSE).

Macro: AC_TIMEZONE

Replaced by AC_STRUCT_TIMEZONE (see AC_STRUCT_TIMEZONE).

Macro: AC_TIME_WITH_SYS_TIME

Replaced by AC_HEADER_TIME (see AC_HEADER_TIME).

Macro: AC_TRY_COMPILE (includes, function-body,   [action-if-true]@c, [action-if-false]@c)

Same as:

 
AC_COMPILE_IFELSE(
  [AC_LANG_PROGRAM([[includes]],
     [[function-body]])],
  [action-if-true],
  [action-if-false])

See section Running the Compiler.

This macro double quotes both includes and function-body.

For C and C++, includes is any #include statements needed by the code in function-body (includes is ignored if the currently selected language is Fortran or Fortran 77). The compiler and compilation flags are determined by the current language (see section Language Choice).

Macro: AC_TRY_CPP (input, [action-if-true]@c, [action-if-false]@c)

Same as:

 
AC_PREPROC_IFELSE(
  [AC_LANG_SOURCE([[input]])],
  [action-if-true],
  [action-if-false])

See section Running the Preprocessor.

This macro double quotes the input.

Macro: AC_TRY_LINK (includes, function-body,   [action-if-true]@c, [action-if-false]@c)

Same as:

 
AC_LINK_IFELSE(
  [AC_LANG_PROGRAM([[includes]],
     [[function-body]])],
  [action-if-true],
  [action-if-false])

See section Running the Compiler.

This macro double quotes both includes and function-body.

Depending on the current language (see section Language Choice), create a test program to see whether a function whose body consists of function-body can be compiled and linked. If the file compiles and links successfully, run shell commands action-if-found, otherwise run action-if-not-found.

This macro double quotes both includes and function-body.

For C and C++, includes is any #include statements needed by the code in function-body (includes is ignored if the currently selected language is Fortran or Fortran 77). The compiler and compilation flags are determined by the current language (see section Language Choice), and in addition LDFLAGS and LIBS are used for linking.

Macro: AC_TRY_LINK_FUNC (function, [action-if-found]@c,   [action-if-not-found]@c)

This macro is equivalent to

 
AC_LINK_IFELSE([AC_LANG_CALL([], [function])],
  [action-if-found], [action-if-not-found])

See AC_LINK_IFELSE.

Macro: AC_TRY_RUN (program, [action-if-true]@c,   [action-if-false]@c, [action-if-cross-compiling]@c)

Same as:

 
AC_RUN_IFELSE(
  [AC_LANG_SOURCE([[program]])],
  [action-if-true],
  [action-if-false],
  [action-if-cross-compiling])

See section Checking Runtime Behavior.

Macro: AC_TYPE_SIGNAL

If `signal.h' declares signal as returning a pointer to a function returning void, define RETSIGTYPE to be void; otherwise, define it to be int. These days, it is portable to assume C89, and that signal handlers return void, without needing to use this macro or RETSIGTYPE.

When targetting older K&R C, it is possible to define signal handlers as returning type RETSIGTYPE, and omit a return statement:

 
RETSIGTYPE
hup_handler ()
{
…
}
Macro: AC_UID_T

Replaced by AC_TYPE_UID_T (see AC_TYPE_UID_T).

Macro: AC_UNISTD_H

Same as `AC_CHECK_HEADERS([unistd.h])' (see AC_CHECK_HEADERS).

Macro: AC_USG

Define USG if the BSD string functions are defined in `strings.h'. You should no longer depend upon USG, but on HAVE_STRING_H; see Standard Symbols.

Macro: AC_UTIME_NULL

Replaced by AC_FUNC_UTIME_NULL (see AC_FUNC_UTIME_NULL).

Macro: AC_VALIDATE_CACHED_SYSTEM_TUPLE ([cmd]@c)

If the cache file is inconsistent with the current host, target and build system types, it used to execute cmd or print a default error message. This is now handled by default.

Macro: AC_VERBOSE (result-description)

Replaced by AC_MSG_RESULT (see AC_MSG_RESULT).

Macro: AC_VFORK

Replaced by AC_FUNC_FORK (see AC_FUNC_FORK).

Macro: AC_VPRINTF

Replaced by AC_FUNC_VPRINTF (see AC_FUNC_VPRINTF).

Macro: AC_WAIT3

This macro was renamed AC_FUNC_WAIT3. However, these days portable programs should use waitpid, not wait3, as wait3 has been removed from Posix.

Macro: AC_WARN

Replaced by AC_MSG_WARN (see AC_MSG_WARN).

Macro: AC_WITH (package, action-if-given,   [action-if-not-given]@c)

This is an obsolete version of AC_ARG_WITH that does not support providing a help string (see AC_ARG_WITH).

Macro: AC_WORDS_BIGENDIAN

Replaced by AC_C_BIGENDIAN (see AC_C_BIGENDIAN).

Macro: AC_XENIX_DIR

This macro used to add `-lx' to output variable LIBS if on Xenix. Also, if `dirent.h' is being checked for, added `-ldir' to LIBS. Now it is merely an alias of AC_HEADER_DIRENT instead, plus some code to detect whether running XENIX on which you should not depend:

 
AC_MSG_CHECKING([for Xenix])
AC_EGREP_CPP([yes],
[#if defined M_XENIX && !defined M_UNIX
  yes
#endif],
             [AC_MSG_RESULT([yes]); XENIX=yes],
             [AC_MSG_RESULT([no]); XENIX=])

Don't use this macro, the dignified means to check the nature of the host is using AC_CANONICAL_HOST (see section Getting the Canonical System Type).

Macro: AC_YYTEXT_POINTER

This macro was renamed AC_DECL_YYTEXT, which in turn was integrated into AC_PROG_LEX (see AC_PROG_LEX).


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18.5 Upgrading From Version 1

Autoconf version 2 is mostly backward compatible with version 1. However, it introduces better ways to do some things, and doesn't support some of the ugly things in version 1. So, depending on how sophisticated your `configure.ac' files are, you might have to do some manual work in order to upgrade to version 2. This chapter points out some problems to watch for when upgrading. Also, perhaps your configure scripts could benefit from some of the new features in version 2; the changes are summarized in the file `NEWS' in the Autoconf distribution.


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18.5.1 Changed File Names

If you have an `aclocal.m4' installed with Autoconf (as opposed to in a particular package's source directory), you must rename it to `acsite.m4'. See section Using autoconf to Create configure.

If you distribute `install.sh' with your package, rename it to `install-sh' so make builtin rules don't inadvertently create a file called `install' from it. AC_PROG_INSTALL looks for the script under both names, but it is best to use the new name.

If you were using `config.h.top', `config.h.bot', or `acconfig.h', you still can, but you have less clutter if you use the AH_ macros. See section Autoheader Macros.


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18.5.2 Changed Makefiles

Add `@CFLAGS@', `@CPPFLAGS@', and `@LDFLAGS@' in your `Makefile.in' files, so they can take advantage of the values of those variables in the environment when configure is run. Doing this isn't necessary, but it's a convenience for users.

Also add `@configure_input@' in a comment to each input file for AC_OUTPUT, so that the output files contain a comment saying they were produced by configure. Automatically selecting the right comment syntax for all the kinds of files that people call AC_OUTPUT on became too much work.

Add `config.log' and `config.cache' to the list of files you remove in distclean targets.

If you have the following in `Makefile.in':

 
prefix = /usr/local
exec_prefix = $(prefix)

you must change it to:

 
prefix = @prefix@
exec_prefix = @exec_prefix@

The old behavior of replacing those variables without `@' characters around them has been removed.


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18.5.3 Changed Macros

Many of the macros were renamed in Autoconf version 2. You can still use the old names, but the new ones are clearer, and it's easier to find the documentation for them. See section Obsolete Macros, for a table showing the new names for the old macros. Use the autoupdate program to convert your `configure.ac' to using the new macro names. See section Using autoupdate to Modernize `configure.ac'.

Some macros have been superseded by similar ones that do the job better, but are not call-compatible. If you get warnings about calling obsolete macros while running autoconf, you may safely ignore them, but your configure script generally works better if you follow the advice that is printed about what to replace the obsolete macros with. In particular, the mechanism for reporting the results of tests has changed. If you were using echo or AC_VERBOSE (perhaps via AC_COMPILE_CHECK), your configure script's output looks better if you switch to AC_MSG_CHECKING and AC_MSG_RESULT. See section Printing Messages. Those macros work best in conjunction with cache variables. See section Caching Results.


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18.5.4 Changed Results

If you were checking the results of previous tests by examining the shell variable DEFS, you need to switch to checking the values of the cache variables for those tests. DEFS no longer exists while configure is running; it is only created when generating output files. This difference from version 1 is because properly quoting the contents of that variable turned out to be too cumbersome and inefficient to do every time AC_DEFINE is called. See section Cache Variable Names.

For example, here is a `configure.ac' fragment written for Autoconf version 1:

 
AC_HAVE_FUNCS(syslog)
case "$DEFS" in
*-DHAVE_SYSLOG*) ;;
*) # syslog is not in the default libraries.  See if it's in some other.
  saved_LIBS="$LIBS"
  for lib in bsd socket inet; do
    AC_CHECKING(for syslog in -l$lib)
    LIBS="-l$lib $saved_LIBS"
    AC_HAVE_FUNCS(syslog)
    case "$DEFS" in
    *-DHAVE_SYSLOG*) break ;;
    *) ;;
    esac
    LIBS="$saved_LIBS"
  done ;;
esac

Here is a way to write it for version 2:

 
AC_CHECK_FUNCS([syslog])
if test "x$ac_cv_func_syslog" = xno; then
  # syslog is not in the default libraries.  See if it's in some other.
  for lib in bsd socket inet; do
    AC_CHECK_LIB([$lib], [syslog], [AC_DEFINE([HAVE_SYSLOG])
      LIBS="-l$lib $LIBS"; break])
  done
fi

If you were working around bugs in AC_DEFINE_UNQUOTED by adding backslashes before quotes, you need to remove them. It now works predictably, and does not treat quotes (except back quotes) specially. See section Setting Output Variables.

All of the Boolean shell variables set by Autoconf macros now use `yes' for the true value. Most of them use `no' for false, though for backward compatibility some use the empty string instead. If you were relying on a shell variable being set to something like 1 or `t' for true, you need to change your tests.


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18.5.5 Changed Macro Writing

When defining your own macros, you should now use AC_DEFUN instead of define. AC_DEFUN automatically calls AC_PROVIDE and ensures that macros called via AC_REQUIRE do not interrupt other macros, to prevent nested `checking…' messages on the screen. There's no actual harm in continuing to use the older way, but it's less convenient and attractive. See section Macro Definitions.

You probably looked at the macros that came with Autoconf as a guide for how to do things. It would be a good idea to take a look at the new versions of them, as the style is somewhat improved and they take advantage of some new features.

If you were doing tricky things with undocumented Autoconf internals (macros, variables, diversions), check whether you need to change anything to account for changes that have been made. Perhaps you can even use an officially supported technique in version 2 instead of kludging. Or perhaps not.

To speed up your locally written feature tests, add caching to them. See whether any of your tests are of general enough usefulness to encapsulate them into macros that you can share.


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18.6 Upgrading From Version 2.13

The introduction of the previous section (see section Upgrading From Version 1) perfectly suits this section....

Autoconf version 2.50 is mostly backward compatible with version 2.13. However, it introduces better ways to do some things, and doesn't support some of the ugly things in version 2.13. So, depending on how sophisticated your `configure.ac' files are, you might have to do some manual work in order to upgrade to version 2.50. This chapter points out some problems to watch for when upgrading. Also, perhaps your configure scripts could benefit from some of the new features in version 2.50; the changes are summarized in the file `NEWS' in the Autoconf distribution.


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18.6.1 Changed Quotation

The most important changes are invisible to you: the implementation of most macros have completely changed. This allowed more factorization of the code, better error messages, a higher uniformity of the user's interface etc. Unfortunately, as a side effect, some construct which used to (miraculously) work might break starting with Autoconf 2.50. The most common culprit is bad quotation.

For instance, in the following example, the message is not properly quoted:

 
AC_INIT
AC_CHECK_HEADERS(foo.h, ,
  AC_MSG_ERROR(cannot find foo.h, bailing out))
AC_OUTPUT

Autoconf 2.13 simply ignores it:

 
$ autoconf-2.13; ./configure --silent
creating cache ./config.cache
configure: error: cannot find foo.h
$

while Autoconf 2.50 produces a broken `configure':

 
$ autoconf-2.50; ./configure --silent
configure: error: cannot find foo.h
./configure: exit: bad non-numeric arg `bailing'
./configure: exit: bad non-numeric arg `bailing'
$

The message needs to be quoted, and the AC_MSG_ERROR invocation too!

 
AC_INIT([Example], [1.0], [bug-example@example.org])
AC_CHECK_HEADERS([foo.h], [],
  [AC_MSG_ERROR([cannot find foo.h, bailing out])])
AC_OUTPUT

Many many (and many more) Autoconf macros were lacking proper quotation, including no less than… AC_DEFUN itself!

 
$ cat configure.in
AC_DEFUN([AC_PROG_INSTALL],
[# My own much better version
])
AC_INIT
AC_PROG_INSTALL
AC_OUTPUT
$ autoconf-2.13
autoconf: Undefined macros:
***BUG in Autoconf--please report*** AC_FD_MSG
***BUG in Autoconf--please report*** AC_EPI
configure.in:1:AC_DEFUN([AC_PROG_INSTALL],
configure.in:5:AC_PROG_INSTALL
$ autoconf-2.50
$

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18.6.2 New Macros

While Autoconf was relatively dormant in the late 1990s, Automake provided Autoconf-like macros for a while. Starting with Autoconf 2.50 in 2001, Autoconf provided versions of these macros, integrated in the AC_ namespace, instead of AM_. But in order to ease the upgrading via autoupdate, bindings to such AM_ macros are provided.

Unfortunately older versions of Automake (e.g., Automake 1.4) did not quote the names of these macros. Therefore, when m4 finds something like `AC_DEFUN(AM_TYPE_PTRDIFF_T, …)' in `aclocal.m4', AM_TYPE_PTRDIFF_T is expanded, replaced with its Autoconf definition.

Fortunately Autoconf catches pre-AC_INIT expansions, and complains, in its own words:

 
$ cat configure.ac
AC_INIT([Example], [1.0], [bug-example@example.org])
AM_TYPE_PTRDIFF_T
$ aclocal-1.4
$ autoconf
aclocal.m4:17: error: m4_defn: undefined macro: _m4_divert_diversion
aclocal.m4:17: the top level
autom4te: m4 failed with exit status: 1
$

Modern versions of Automake no longer define most of these macros, and properly quote the names of the remaining macros. If you must use an old Automake, do not depend upon macros from Automake as it is simply not its job to provide macros (but the one it requires itself):

 
$ cat configure.ac
AC_INIT([Example], [1.0], [bug-example@example.org])
AM_TYPE_PTRDIFF_T
$ rm aclocal.m4
$ autoupdate
autoupdate: `configure.ac' is updated
$ cat configure.ac
AC_INIT([Example], [1.0], [bug-example@example.org])
AC_CHECK_TYPES([ptrdiff_t])
$ aclocal-1.4
$ autoconf
$

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18.6.3 Hosts and Cross-Compilation

Based on the experience of compiler writers, and after long public debates, many aspects of the cross-compilation chain have changed:


The relationship between build, host, and target have been cleaned up: the chain of default is now simply: target defaults to host, host to build, and build to the result of config.guess. Nevertheless, in order to ease the transition from 2.13 to 2.50, the following transition scheme is implemented. Do not rely on it, as it will be completely disabled in a couple of releases (we cannot keep it, as it proves to cause more problems than it cures).

They all default to the result of running config.guess, unless you specify either `--build' or `--host'. In this case, the default becomes the system type you specified. If you specify both, and they're different, configure enters cross compilation mode, so it doesn't run any tests that require execution.

Hint: if you mean to override the result of config.guess, prefer `--build' over `--host'. In the future, `--host' will not override the name of the build system type. Whenever you specify `--host', be sure to specify `--build' too.


For backward compatibility, configure accepts a system type as an option by itself. Such an option overrides the defaults for build, host, and target system types. The following configure statement configures a cross toolchain that runs on NetBSD/alpha but generates code for GNU Hurd/sparc, which is also the build platform.

 
./configure --host=alpha-netbsd sparc-gnu

In Autoconf 2.13 and before, the variables build, host, and target had a different semantics before and after the invocation of AC_CANONICAL_BUILD etc. Now, the argument of `--build' is strictly copied into build_alias, and is left empty otherwise. After the AC_CANONICAL_BUILD, build is set to the canonicalized build type. To ease the transition, before, its contents is the same as that of build_alias. Do not rely on this broken feature.

For consistency with the backward compatibility scheme exposed above, when `--host' is specified but `--build' isn't, the build system is assumed to be the same as `--host', and `build_alias' is set to that value. Eventually, this historically incorrect behavior will go away.


The former scheme to enable cross-compilation proved to cause more harm than good, in particular, it used to be triggered too easily, leaving regular end users puzzled in front of cryptic error messages. configure could even enter cross-compilation mode only because the compiler was not functional. This is mainly because configure used to try to detect cross-compilation, instead of waiting for an explicit flag from the user.

Now, configure enters cross-compilation mode if and only if `--host' is passed.

That's the short documentation. To ease the transition between 2.13 and its successors, a more complicated scheme is implemented. Do not rely on the following, as it will be removed in the near future.

If you specify `--host', but not `--build', when configure performs the first compiler test it tries to run an executable produced by the compiler. If the execution fails, it enters cross-compilation mode. This is fragile. Moreover, by the time the compiler test is performed, it may be too late to modify the build-system type: other tests may have already been performed. Therefore, whenever you specify `--host', be sure to specify `--build' too.

 
./configure --build=i686-pc-linux-gnu --host=m68k-coff

enters cross-compilation mode. The former interface, which consisted in setting the compiler to a cross-compiler without informing configure is obsolete. For instance, configure fails if it can't run the code generated by the specified compiler if you configure as follows:

 
./configure CC=m68k-coff-gcc

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18.6.4 AC_LIBOBJ vs. LIBOBJS

Up to Autoconf 2.13, the replacement of functions was triggered via the variable LIBOBJS. Since Autoconf 2.50, the macro AC_LIBOBJ should be used instead (see section Generic Function Checks). Starting at Autoconf 2.53, the use of LIBOBJS is an error.

This change is mandated by the unification of the GNU Build System components. In particular, the various fragile techniques used to parse a `configure.ac' are all replaced with the use of traces. As a consequence, any action must be traceable, which obsoletes critical variable assignments. Fortunately, LIBOBJS was the only problem, and it can even be handled gracefully (read, "without your having to change something").

There were two typical uses of LIBOBJS: asking for a replacement function, and adjusting LIBOBJS for Automake and/or Libtool.


As for function replacement, the fix is immediate: use AC_LIBOBJ. For instance:

 
LIBOBJS="$LIBOBJS fnmatch.o"
LIBOBJS="$LIBOBJS malloc.$ac_objext"

should be replaced with:

 
AC_LIBOBJ([fnmatch])
AC_LIBOBJ([malloc])

When used with Automake 1.10 or newer, a suitable value for LIBOBJDIR is set so that the LIBOBJS and LTLIBOBJS can be referenced from any `Makefile.am'. Even without Automake, arranging for LIBOBJDIR to be set correctly enables referencing LIBOBJS and LTLIBOBJS in another directory. The LIBOBJDIR feature is experimental.


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18.6.5 AC_ACT_IFELSE vs. AC_TRY_ACT

Since Autoconf 2.50, internal codes uses AC_PREPROC_IFELSE, AC_COMPILE_IFELSE, AC_LINK_IFELSE, and AC_RUN_IFELSE on one hand and AC_LANG_SOURCES, and AC_LANG_PROGRAM on the other hand instead of the deprecated AC_TRY_CPP, AC_TRY_COMPILE, AC_TRY_LINK, and AC_TRY_RUN. The motivations where:

In addition to the change of syntax, the philosophy has changed too: while emphasis was put on speed at the expense of accuracy, today's Autoconf promotes accuracy of the testing framework at, ahem…, the expense of speed.

As a perfect example of what is not to be done, here is how to find out whether a header file contains a particular declaration, such as a typedef, a structure, a structure member, or a function. Use AC_EGREP_HEADER instead of running grep directly on the header file; on some systems the symbol might be defined in another header file that the file you are checking includes.

As a (bad) example, here is how you should not check for C preprocessor symbols, either defined by header files or predefined by the C preprocessor: using AC_EGREP_CPP:

 
AC_EGREP_CPP(yes,
[#ifdef _AIX
  yes
#endif
], is_aix=yes, is_aix=no)

The above example, properly written would (i) use AC_LANG_PROGRAM, and (ii) run the compiler:

 
AC_COMPILE_IFELSE([AC_LANG_PROGRAM(
[[#ifndef _AIX
 error: This isn't AIX!
#endif
]])],
                   [is_aix=yes],
                   [is_aix=no])

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