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6.6 Checking Run Time Behavior

Sometimes you need to find out how a system performs at run time, such as whether a given function has a certain capability or bug. If you can, make such checks when your program runs instead of when it is configured. You can check for things like the machine's endianness when your program initializes itself.

If you really need to test for a run-time behavior while configuring, you can write a test program to determine the result, and compile and run it using AC_RUN_IFELSE. Avoid running test programs if possible, because this prevents people from configuring your package for cross-compiling.

Macro: AC_RUN_IFELSE (input, [action-if-found], [action-if-not-found], [action-if-cross-compiling])
If program compiles and links successfully and returns an exit status of 0 when executed, run shell commands action-if-true. Otherwise, run shell commands action-if-false.

The input can be made by AC_LANG_PROGRAM and friends. This macro uses CFLAGS or CXXFLAGS, CPPFLAGS, LDFLAGS, and LIBS

If the compiler being used does not produce executables that run on the system where configure is being run, then the test program is not run. If the optional shell commands action-if-cross-compiling are given, they are run instead. Otherwise, configure prints an error message and exits.

In the action-if-false section, the exit status of the program is available in the shell variable `$?', but be very careful to limit yourself to positive values smaller than 127; bigger values should be saved into a file by the program. Note also that you have simply no guarantee that this exit status is issued by the program, or by the failure of its compilation. In other words, use this feature if sadist only, it was reestablished because the Autoconf maintainers grew tired of receiving "bug reports".

It is customary to report unexpected failures with AC_MSG_FAILURE.

Try to provide a pessimistic default value to use when cross-compiling makes run-time tests impossible. You do this by passing the optional last argument to AC_RUN_IFELSE. autoconf prints a warning message when creating configure each time it encounters a call to AC_RUN_IFELSE with no action-if-cross-compiling argument given. You may ignore the warning, though users will not be able to configure your package for cross-compiling. A few of the macros distributed with Autoconf produce this warning message.

To configure for cross-compiling you can also choose a value for those parameters based on the canonical system name (see section 11. Manual Configuration). Alternatively, set up a test results cache file with the correct values for the host system (see section 7.3 Caching Results).

To provide a default for calls of AC_RUN_IFELSE that are embedded in other macros, including a few of the ones that come with Autoconf, you can test whether the shell variable cross_compiling is set to `yes', and then use an alternate method to get the results instead of calling the macros.

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