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4.8 Configuration Header Files

When a package contains more than a few tests that define C preprocessor symbols, the command lines to pass `-D' options to the compiler can get quite long. This causes two problems. One is that the make output is hard to visually scan for errors. More seriously, the command lines can exceed the length limits of some operating systems. As an alternative to passing `-D' options to the compiler, configure scripts can create a C header file containing `#define' directives. The AC_CONFIG_HEADERS macro selects this kind of output. It should be called right after AC_INIT.

The package should `#include' the configuration header file before any other header files, to prevent inconsistencies in declarations (for example, if it redefines const). Use `#include <config.h>' instead of `#include "config.h"', and pass the C compiler a `-I.' option (or `-I..'; whichever directory contains `config.h'). That way, even if the source directory is configured itself (perhaps to make a distribution), other build directories can also be configured without finding the `config.h' from the source directory.

Macro: AC_CONFIG_HEADERS (header ..., [cmds], [init-cmds])
This macro is one of the instantiating macros; see 4.5 Performing Configuration Actions. Make AC_OUTPUT create the file(s) in the whitespace-separated list header containing C preprocessor #define statements, and replace `@DEFS@' in generated files with `-DHAVE_CONFIG_H' instead of the value of DEFS. The usual name for header is `config.h'.

If header already exists and its contents are identical to what AC_OUTPUT would put in it, it is left alone. Doing this allows making some changes in the configuration without needlessly causing object files that depend on the header file to be recompiled.

Usually the input file is named `header.in'; however, you can override the input file name by appending to header a colon-separated list of input files. Examples:


Doing this allows you to keep your file names acceptable to MS-DOS, or to prepend and/or append boilerplate to the file.

See section 4.5 Performing Configuration Actions, for more details on header.

4.8.1 Configuration Header Templates  Input for the configuration headers
4.8.2 Using autoheader to Create `config.h.in'  How to create configuration templates
4.8.3 Autoheader Macros  How to specify CPP templates

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