John Calcote's articles

Chapter 5: Building shared libraries with Libtool

The person who invented the concept of shared libraries should be given a raise... and a bonus. The person who decided that shared library management and naming conventions should be left to the implementation should be flogged.

This opinion is the result of too much negative experience on my part with building shared libraries for multiple platforms without the aid of Libtool. The very existence of Libtool stands as a witness to the truth of this sentiment.

Libtool exists for one purpose only--to provide a standardized, abstract interface for developers desiring to create portable shared libraries. It abstracts both the shared library build process, and the programming interfaces used to dynamically load and access shared libraries at run time.

Chapter 4: Automatically writing makefiles with Automake

Most of the general complaints I've ever seen aimed at the Autotools are ultimately associated with Automake, in the final analysis. The reason for this is simple: Automake provides the highest level of abstraction over the build system. This high level of abstraction is both apparent, and actual. And yet a solid understanding of the inner workings of Automake can provide you with the one of the most satisfying auto-generated build system experiences, because you can feel comfortable using the features of Automake to their maximum potential, and extending it where your projects require.

Chapter 2: Project management and the GNU coding standards

In Chapter 1, I gave a brief overview of the Autotools and some of the resources that are currently available to help reduce the learning curve. In this chapter, we're going to step back a little and examine project organization techniques that are applicable to all projects, not just those whose build system is managed by the Autotools.

Chapter 1: A brief introduction to the GNU Autotools

I'm going to make a rather broad and sweeping statement here: If you're writing free or open source software targeting Unix or Linux systems, then you should be using the GNU Autotools. I'm sure I sound a bit biased, but I'm not. And I shouldn't be, given the number of long nights I've spent working around what appeared to be shortcomings in the Autotools system. Normally, I would have been angry enough to toss the entire project out the window and write a good hand-coded makefile and configure script.

Chapter 7: A catalog of reusable solutions

This chapter started out as a catalog of reusable solutions--canned macros, if you will. But as I finished chapter after chapter preceeding this one, it became clear to me that I really needed to broaden my definition of a "canned solution". Instead of just cataloging interesting macros here (which has been done before anyway), this chapter lists several unrelated, but important tips for creating great projects in general. Some of these are related to the GNU Autotools, but others are merely good programming practice with respect to open source and free software projects.

Chapter 6: FLAIM: an Autotools example

In this book, I've taken you on a whirlwind tour of the main features of Autoconf, Automake and Libtool. I believe I've explained them in a manner that was not only simple to digest, but also to retain--especially if you had the time and inclination to follow my lead with your own copies of the examples. I've always believed that no form of learning comes anywhere close to the learning that happens while doing.

This chapter has downloads!

In this chapter, I'll continue this learning-by-doing pattern by converting an existing open source project to use the GNU Autotools.

Running a free software project

Running a free software project can be a rewarding experience if you begin with your eyes open. In my personal experience, starting a free software project with only a head-on view of a few existing free software projects is not really enough. Some basic background information can really help get you started in the right direction.

(Note: using software project management will definitely help too!)


No one would argue that software auditing is not an important feature of mission critical applications. If a software based process is critical to the life of your company, then so is the security and access control surrounding resources managed by that software based process. Auditing is the way you track who did what to what and when it happened. Lately, however, the software industry has been lackadaisical at best regarding auditing. Off the shelf software developers either care about auditing, or they don’t.

Configuring a Linux home internet gateway

My family is hooked on Windows. I’ve thought about trying to coerce them into switching to GNU/Linux, but the very thought of what I’d have to put up with for the next year just makes my head ache. I’m not talking about software maintenance issues. I’m talking about trying to defend my position time and time again as they complain that they can’t run their favorite games or applications. Telling them to change their favorites is like spitting into the wind—it’s sort of masochistic.

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