(autoconf.info)Setting Output Variables

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7.2 Setting Output Variables

Another way to record the results of tests is to set "output
variables", which are shell variables whose values are substituted into
files that `configure' outputs.  The two macros below create new output
variables.  Note: Preset Output Variables, for a list of output
variables that are always available.

     Create an output variable from a shell variable.  Make `AC_OUTPUT'
     substitute the variable VARIABLE into output files (typically one
     or more makefiles).  This means that `AC_OUTPUT' replaces
     instances of `@VARIABLE@' in input files with the value that the
     shell variable VARIABLE has when `AC_OUTPUT' is called.  The value
     can contain any non-`NUL' character, including newline.  Variable
     occurrences should not overlap: e.g., an input file should not
     contain `@VAR1@VAR2@' if VAR1 and VAR2 are variable names.  The
     substituted value is not rescanned for more output variables;
     occurrences of `@VARIABLE@' in the value are inserted literally
     into the output file.  (The algorithm uses the special marker
     `|#_!!_#|' internally, so neither the substituted value nor the
     output file may contain `|#_!!_#|'.)

     If VALUE is given, in addition assign it to VARIABLE.

     The string VARIABLE is passed to `m4_pattern_allow' (*note
     Forbidden Patterns::).

     Another way to create an output variable from a shell variable.
     Make `AC_OUTPUT' insert (without substitutions) the contents of
     the file named by shell variable VARIABLE into output files.  This
     means that `AC_OUTPUT' replaces instances of `@VARIABLE@' in
     output files (such as `Makefile.in') with the contents of the file
     that the shell variable VARIABLE names when `AC_OUTPUT' is called.
     Set the variable to `/dev/null' for cases that do not have a file
     to insert.  This substitution occurs only when the `@VARIABLE@' is
     on a line by itself, optionally surrounded by spaces and tabs.  The
     substitution replaces the whole line, including the spaces, tabs,
     and the terminating newline.

     This macro is useful for inserting makefile fragments containing
     special dependencies or other `make' directives for particular host
     or target types into makefiles.  For example, `configure.ac' could


     and then a `Makefile.in' could contain:


     The string VARIABLE is passed to `m4_pattern_allow' (*note
     Forbidden Patterns::).

   Running `configure' in varying environments can be extremely
dangerous.  If for instance the user runs `CC=bizarre-cc ./configure',
then the cache, `config.h', and many other output files depend upon
`bizarre-cc' being the C compiler.  If for some reason the user runs
`./configure' again, or if it is run via `./config.status --recheck',
(Note: Automatic Remaking, and *note config.status Invocation::),
then the configuration can be inconsistent, composed of results
depending upon two different compilers.

   Environment variables that affect this situation, such as `CC'
above, are called "precious variables", and can be declared as such by

     Declare VARIABLE is a precious variable, and include its
     DESCRIPTION in the variable section of `./configure --help'.

     Being precious means that
        - VARIABLE is substituted via `AC_SUBST'.

        - The value of VARIABLE when `configure' was launched is saved
          in the cache, including if it was not specified on the command
          line but via the environment.  Indeed, while `configure' can
          notice the definition of `CC' in `./configure CC=bizarre-cc',
          it is impossible to notice it in `CC=bizarre-cc ./configure',
          which, unfortunately, is what most users do.

          We emphasize that it is the _initial_ value of VARIABLE which
          is saved, not that found during the execution of `configure'.
          Indeed, specifying `./configure FOO=foo' and letting
          `./configure' guess that `FOO' is `foo' can be two different

        - VARIABLE is checked for consistency between two `configure'
          runs.  For instance:

               $ ./configure --silent --config-cache
               $ CC=cc ./configure --silent --config-cache
               configure: error: `CC' was not set in the previous run
               configure: error: changes in the environment can compromise \
               the build
               configure: error: run `make distclean' and/or \
               `rm config.cache' and start over

          and similarly if the variable is unset, or if its content is
          changed.  If the content has white space changes only, then
          the error is degraded to a warning only, but the old value is

        - VARIABLE is kept during automatic reconfiguration (*note
          config.status Invocation::) as if it had been passed as a
          command line argument, including when no cache is used:

               $ CC=/usr/bin/cc ./configure var=raboof --silent
               $ ./config.status --recheck
               running CONFIG_SHELL=/bin/sh /bin/sh ./configure var=raboof \
                 CC=/usr/bin/cc  --no-create --no-recursion

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