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5. A Minimal GNU Autotools Project

This chapter describes how to manage a minimal project using the GNU Autotools. A minimal project is defined to be the smallest possible project that can still illustrate a sufficient number of principles in using the tools. By studying a smaller project, it becomes easier to understand the more complex interactions between these tools when larger projects require advanced features.

The example project used throughout this chapter is a fictitious command interpreter called foonly. foonly is written in C, but like many interpreters, uses a lexical analyzer and a parser expressed using the lex and yacc tools. The package will be developed to adhere to the GNUMakefile’ standard, which is the default behavior for Automake.

There are many features of the GNU Autotools that this small project will not utilize. The most noteworthy one is libraries; this package does not produce any libraries of its own, so Libtool will not feature in this chapter. The more complex projects presented in A Small GNU Autotools Project and A Large GNU Autotools Project will illustrate how Libtool participates in the build system. The purpose of this chapter will be to provide a high-level overview of the user-written files and how they interact.

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