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2.2 Gnulib

GNU software has a well-deserved reputation for running on many different types of systems. While our primary goal is to write software for the GNU system, many users and developers have been introduced to us through the systems that they were already using.

Gnulib is a central location for common GNU code, intended to be shared among free software packages. Its components are typically shared at the source level, rather than being a library that gets built, installed, and linked against. The idea is to copy files from Gnulib into your own source tree. There is no distribution tarball; developers should just grab source modules from the repository. The source files are available online, under various licenses, mostly GNU GPL or GNU LGPL.

Gnulib modules typically contain C source code along with Autoconf macros used to configure the source code. For example, the Gnulib stdbool module implements a stdbool.h header that nearly conforms to C99, even on old-fashioned hosts that lack stdbool.h. This module contains a source file for the replacement header, along with an Autoconf macro that arranges to use the replacement header on old-fashioned systems.