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Autotools is a build system often used for open source projects. Autotools is a particularly mature project, very commonly preinstalled on modern unix-like systems. Though it has the advantage of being almost ubiquitous, Autotools isn't necessarily a user friendly system. Alternatives have been written over the years, and some projects have attempted to avoid this build system.[1]

Gentoo development

The following sections explain eclasses related to autotools.


autotools eclass provides functions and dependencies necessary to reconfigure (bootstrap) autotools files in packages. These are usually used in live ebuilds and when applying patches to or files.

CODE Example ebuild code using autotools.eclass
inherit autotools

src_prepare() {

The eautoreconf function, similarly to autoreconf -vi, regenerates configure and template files used by autotools. It automatically detects use of the following tools and calls necessary auto-reconfiguration commands for them:

  • autoconf,
  • automake,
  • libtool,
  • gettext,
  • glib-gettext,
  • intltool,
  • gtk-doc,
  • gnome-doc.

It also detects the use of the AC_CONFIG_SUBDIRS variable and performs the recursive auto-reconfiguration in that case.


You don't usually need to use libtool.eclass yourself. It is called by default in eautoreconf.eclass.

The libtool.eclass is an eclass providing means to apply Gentoo-specific patches and fixes to libtool used in package build system without the need for regenerating build system completely.

See also

External resources