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Checks for an OpenGL implementation. If a valid OpenGL implementation is found, this macro would set C preprocessor symbol HAVE_GL to 1.

If either a valid OpenGL header or library was not found, by default the configuration would exits on error. This behavior can be overwritten by providing a custom "ACTION-IF-NOT-FOUND" hook.

If the header, library was found, and been tested for compiling and linking the configuration would export the required compiler flags to "GL_CFLAGS" and "GL_LIBS". These two variables can also be overwritten by user from the command line if they want to link against the library they specified instead of having the configuration script to detect the flags automatically. Note that having "GL_CFLAGS" or "GL_LIBS" set doesn’t mean it can compile or link with the flags, since it could be overwritten by user. However the "HAVE_GL" symbol and "ACTION-IF-FOUND" hook is always guaranteed to reflect a valid OpenGL implementation.

If user didn’t specify the "ACTION-IF-FOUND" hook, the configuration would prepend "GL_CFLAGS" and "GL_LIBS" to "CFLAGS" and "LIBS", like many other autoconf macros do.

OpenGL is one of the libraries that has different header names on different platforms. This macro does the header detection, and will export the following symbol: "HAVE_GL_GL_H" for having "GL/gl.h" or "HAVE_OPENGL_GL_H" for having "OpenGL/gl.h". To write a portable OpenGL code, you should include OpenGL header like so:

  #if defined(HAVE_WINDOWS_H) && defined(_WIN32)
  # include <windows.h>
  #ifdef HAVE_GL_GL_H
  # include <GL/gl.h>
  #elif defined(HAVE_OPENGL_GL_H)
  # include <OpenGL/gl.h>
  # error no gl.h

On the OSX platform, there’s two possible OpenGL implementation. One is the OpenGL that ships with OSX, the other comes with X11/XQuartz ( To use the xquartz variant, user can use the option –with-xquartz-gl[=path to xquartz root]. By default the configuration will check "/opt/X11", which is the default X11 install location on OSX.

Source Code

Download the latest version of ax_check_gl.m4 or browse the macro’s revision history.


Copyright © 2009 Braden McDaniel
Copyright © 2012 Bastien Roucaries
Copyright © 2016 Felix Chern

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see <>.

As a special exception, the respective Autoconf Macro’s copyright owner gives unlimited permission to copy, distribute and modify the configure scripts that are the output of Autoconf when processing the Macro. You need not follow the terms of the GNU General Public License when using or distributing such scripts, even though portions of the text of the Macro appear in them. The GNU General Public License (GPL) does govern all other use of the material that constitutes the Autoconf Macro.

This special exception to the GPL applies to versions of the Autoconf Macro released by the Autoconf Archive. When you make and distribute a modified version of the Autoconf Macro, you may extend this special exception to the GPL to apply to your modified version as well.

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