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6.5 Running the Linker

To check for a library, a function, or a global variable, Autoconf configure scripts try to compile and link a small program that uses it. This is unlike Metaconfig, which by default uses nm or ar on the C library to try to figure out which functions are available. Trying to link with the function is usually a more reliable approach because it avoids dealing with the variations in the options and output formats of nm and ar and in the location of the standard libraries. It also allows configuring for cross-compilation or checking a function's runtime behavior if needed. On the other hand, it can be slower than scanning the libraries once, but accuracy is more important than speed.

AC_LINK_IFELSE is used to compile test programs to test for functions and global variables. It is also used by AC_CHECK_LIB to check for libraries (see Libraries), by adding the library being checked for to LIBS temporarily and trying to link a small program.

— Macro: AC_LINK_IFELSE (input, [action-if-true], [action-if-false])

Run the compiler (and compilation flags) and the linker of the current language (see Language Choice) on the input, run the shell commands action-if-true on success, action-if-false otherwise. The input can be made by AC_LANG_PROGRAM and friends. If needed, action-if-true can further access the just-linked program file conftest$EXEEXT.

LDFLAGS and LIBS are used for linking, in addition to the current compilation flags.

It is customary to report unexpected failures with AC_MSG_FAILURE. This macro does not try to execute the program; use AC_RUN_IFELSE if you need to do that (see Runtime).

The AC_LINK_IFELSE macro cannot be used for Erlang tests, since Erlang programs are interpreted and do not require linking.