2004-04-01 · in Ideas · 127 words

While the GNU autotools family (automake, autoconf and libtool) is powerful and fairly straightforward to use, it's also very slow and causes vast bloat in distributed source code. For instance, my freedt package contains several small programs, but the configure script that autoconf generates is three times larger than all the source code put together.

An alternative would be to keep the Makefile.am and configure.in formats as they are, but write a program that can interpret them rather than compiling them to standard Makefiles and shell scripts. This should be much faster -- since it could optimise configure tests and avoid the shell overhead for many operations, and avoid the need for recursive make usage -- and reduce the need to ship the vast autotools output in source tarballs.