Like other GNU configure scripts, Autoconf-generated configure scripts can make decisions based on a canonical name for the system type, which has the form: ‘cpu-vendor-os’, where os can be ‘system’ or ‘kernel-system’
configure can usually guess the canonical name for the type of
system it's running on. To do so it runs a script called
config.guess, which infers the name using the
command or symbols predefined by the C preprocessor.
Alternately, the user can specify the system type with command line arguments to configure. Doing so is necessary when cross-compiling. In the most complex case of cross-compiling, three system types are involved. The options to specify them are:
If you mean to override the result of config.guess, use --build, not --host, since the latter enables cross-compilation. For historical reasons, passing --host also changes the build type. Therefore, whenever you specify --host, be sure to specify --build too; this will be fixed in the future. So, to enter cross-compilation mode, use a command like this
./configure --build=i686-pc-linux-gnu --host=m68k-coff
Note that if you do not specify --host, configure fails if it can't run the code generated by the specified compiler. For example, configuring as follows fails:
In the future, when cross-compiling Autoconf will not
accept tools (compilers, linkers, assemblers) whose name is not
prefixed with the host type. The only case when this may be
useful is when you really are not cross-compiling, but only
building for a least-common-denominator architecture: an example
is building for
i386-pc-linux-gnu while running on an
i686-pc-linux-gnu architecture. In this case, some particular
pairs might be similar enough to let you get away with the system
compilers, but in general the compiler might make bogus assumptions
on the host: if you know what you are doing, please create symbolic
links from the host compiler to the build compiler.
configure recognizes short aliases for many system types; for example, ‘decstation’ can be used instead of ‘mips-dec-ultrix4.2’. configure runs a script called config.sub to canonicalize system type aliases.
This section deliberately omits the description of the obsolete interface; see Hosts and Cross-Compilation.