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Autotools, the GNU Build System, is a collection of tools to enable cross-system development of programs and libraries. The system prepares a shell script configure which can be used to set various options for compilers and paths for found libraries.

The base Autotools system is available on Apocrita without loading any modules. The additional macros provided as part of the Autoconf Archive are available after loading the module autoconf-archive.

Using Autotools

Configuring released software

If a released software package contains the script configure in its root it can be run according to the package's instructions without further effort. However, it should be noted that often the modules on Apocrita do not set all environment variables on which the configuration script relies. For example, when using Intel MPI with the Intel compilers it may be necessary to set additional variables when configuring:

module load intelmpi intel
./configure MPIFC=mpiifort

Preparing software configuration

To use Autotools to generate the configuration script configure it is necessary to create the file with the appropriate detail (see the manual and other learning resources for Autoconf for a description of this file). Once is as desired autoreconf may be used. It is at this point where the autoconf-archive module should be loaded if required:

module load autoconf-archive
autoreconf -i

If the module is not loaded at this point one may see errors relating to the missing macros when running configure. For example the file:


will produce a configure script even without loading the module, but this script may then fail with a message such as:

./configure: line 1659: syntax error near unexpected token `11'
./configure: line 1659: ` AX_CXX_COMPILE_STDCXX(11)'