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developerWorks: Debugging Configure: What To Do When Programs Won't Compile

Dec 08, 2003, 05:30 (2 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Peter Seebach)

[ Thanks to Idean for this link. ]

"A lot of open source programs come with configure scripts these days. One purpose of such a script is to automate the guesswork of targeting a new system. In times of yore, programs came with a Makefile that had half a dozen different sets of compiler flags or options, all but one of which were commented out, and a note saying "select the appropriate flags for your system." For more comprehensive sets of configuration options, there might also have been a large C header called config.h containing a few dozen flags to set, depending on host system variables.

"The first approach was simply to have #ifdefs in code for the two systems supported; for instance, BSD and System V. As the number of Unix variants increased, it became more practical to have #ifdefs for each feature..."

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