The unofficial Autobook webpage


Warning! I no longer maintain the unofficial Autobook package (since 2005-09). If you'd like to take over maintenance, I'll be happy to give you the CVS history. Mail me at joostvb dash autobook at mdcc dot cx.


This webpage hosts a package holding a book titled "Autoconf, Automake and Libtool" aka The Autobook: a tutorial for the GNU Autotools by Gary V. Vaughan, Ben Elliston, Tom Tromey and Ian Lance Taylor: some of the principal Autotools developers. The Autotools -- Autoconf, Automake and Libtool -- are packages for making your software more portable and to simplify building it -- usually on someone else's system. The book describes how these tools work together.

The UNofficial Autobook

There is an official Autobook webpage. The book is published on paper by New Riders (ISBN 1-57870-190-2).

Until 2001-09-05, this package was maintained by Gary V. Vaughan, Tom Tromey, Ian Lance Taylor and Ben Elliston. In 2004-09, Gary Vaughan has done some more work and has released autobook-1.4.tar.gz. In 2006-02, thanks to Gary V. Vaughan, the official download webpage was updated: the examples have been updated to be somewhat more compliant with autoconf 2.59, automake 1.9.6 and libtool 1.5.22; the official autobook 1.5 tar.gz was released.

You'll like this unofficial version of the Autobook if you prefer to read the book in PDF or Info format, and feel having HTML only is too limiting. I've made some other changes to the sources I've found in the CVS too; see ChangeLog for the details, and maintain the sources via CVS on Subscribe to the autobook-commit (a) lists (.) mdcc (.) cx mailing list (sent an email with subject "subscribe" to autobook-commit-request (a) lists (.) mdcc (.) cx) if you'd like to keep informed about changes to the CVS.

Download, packages, license

The package available for download here is not blessed by the maintainers of autobook-1.5.tar.gz. (This is the unofficial Autobook page, remember.) Therefore, I take responsiblity for all errors you might find in this package. Of course, all credit should go to Vaughan, Tromey, Taylor and Elliston for their excellent work.

The autobook is released under the Open Publication License Draft v0.4, 8 June 1999. This license is not compatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines. See also Debian Bug #328219. However, it is considered a free documentation license by the FSF. You choose whether this is free enough for you.

Until 2005-11, Anibal Monsalve Salazar maintained the autobook Debian package.

In 2002-07, autobook entered the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. The Debian etch and lenny releases shipped with autobook 1.4.4-unofficial-4. In 2008-12, autobook got removed from the Debian distribution.

Autobook 1.4.4-unofficial-4 is shipped with Ubuntu dapper, feisty, gutsy, hardy, intrepid and jaunty.


Beware! The Autobook is getting somewhat obsolete, I'm afraid: the text has not seen major updates since 2001-09. Autobook talks likely about autoconf version 2.13, automake version 1.4 and libtool version 1.3.5 (see Appendix A.2: Downloading GNU Autotools). As of january 2004, released are autoconf 2.59, automake 1.8 and libtool 1.5. Therefore, regard the texinfo documentation shipped with these tools as the authoritive source of information. HTML-browsable copies of a recent autoconf, automake and libtool are available from


In early 2006, Ling "lonecat" Li is working on a translation of the Autobook in Chinese: the autobook-zh project.


Kinuko YASUDA has made a presentation on The GNU Autotools (in Japanese).

Scott James Remnant has made a presentation on The GNU Build System.

A nice (and much smaller) document handling about the Autotools is autotut: Using GNU auto{conf,make,header} by Felipe Bergo.

Some notes on using the Autotools are in the document Versiebeheer en software-packages: Waarom en hoe (yes, that's in Dutch).

An alternative for the Autotools is SCons.

A very nice overview of alternatives, by Adrian Neagu, is available from "Make alternatives" on freshmeat.

Joost van Baal
$Id: index.html 1612 2008-12-15 04:30:54Z joostvb $