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7.3 The easy primaries

This section describes the common primaries that are relatively easy to understand; the more complicated ones are discussed in the next section.


This is the easiest primary to understand. A macro of this type lists a number of files which are installed verbatim. These files can appear either in the source directory or the build directory.


Macros of this type list header files. These are separate from DATA macros because this allows for extra error checking in some cases.


This is used for executable scripts (interpreted programs). These are different from DATA because they are installed with different permissions and because they have the program name transform applied to them (e.g., the ‘--program-transform-name’ argument to configure). Scripts are also different from compiled programs because the latter can be stripped while scripts cannot.


This lists man pages. Installing man pages is more complicated than you might think due to the lack of a single common practice. One developer might name a man page in the source tree ‘foo.man’ and then rename to the real name (‘foo.1’) at install time. Another developer might instead use numeric suffixes in the source tree and install using the same name. Sometimes an alphabetic code follows the numeric suffix (e.g., ‘quux.3n’); this code must be stripped before determining the correct install directory (this file must still be installed in ‘$(man3dir)’). Automake supports all of these modes of operation:


GNU programs traditionally use the Texinfo documentation format, not man pages. Automake has full support for Texinfo, including some additional features such as versioning and install-info support. We won’t go into that here except to mention that it exists. See the Automake reference manual for more information.

Automake supports a variety of lesser-used primaries such as JAVA and LISP (and, in the next major release, PYTHON). See the reference manual for more information on these.

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