This text is filled with the nuts-and-bolts details of running these three utilities, including command-line switches and the actual, generated files that automate the build process and help programmers port code between different environments. As such, this title will be appreciated by those at their workstations who want a hands-on guide to using the autotools.
There's a danger of missing the forest for the trees here, with all of this necessary detail, but the middle sections of this book pull back a little with several useful chapters on the bigger picture of code "portability." Chapters on both C and C++ portability explore language features that likely will cause trouble when code is moved between different versions of Unix (or even between Unix and Windows). A similar section also discusses the issues when developing portable shell scripts.
Readers will appreciate also sections that are devoted to actual source code that's built with the autotools. Starting out simply, the authors also provide examples of more complex source-code modules (including projects that make use of dynamic loading and cross-platform builds). The genius of the autotools utilities is certainly in the details of command-line switches, and the expert tips that are offered here. But it's good also to get a perspective on why you use these tools, and what they do for the working Unix developer.
By covering both the nitty-gritty and the higher level issues of "portability" in a broader sense, this title succeeds as both a hands-on reference and as a guide to understanding how to write more portable code generally. It'll be a virtual must-have for any serious Unix C/C++ programmer. Although it's not a book you necessarily read from cover to cover, it's chock-full of useful advice that can save considerable time for anyone who writes software for Unix and Linux. --Richard Dragan
These highly regarded experts in the use of Autoconf have provided information that is both authoritative and up to date. -- Ross Johnson, Software Services Manager, University of Canberra, Australia
This book stands a level above the software packages, giving the expertise of its authors in using this whole system to its fullest. -- David Mackenzie, Principle designer and author of Autoconf