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7.2 Conditional Subdirectories

It is possible to define the SUBDIRS variable conditionally if, like in the case of GNU Inetutils, you want to only build a subset of the entire package.

To illustrate how this works, let’s assume we have two directories src/ and opt/. src/ should always be built, but we want to decide in configure whether opt/ will be built or not. (For this example we will assume that opt/ should be built when the variable ‘$want_opt’ was set to ‘yes’.)

Running make should thus recurse into src/ always, and then maybe in opt/.

However ‘make dist’ should always recurse into both src/ and opt/. Because opt/ should be distributed even if it is not needed in the current configuration. This means opt/Makefile should be created unconditionally.

There are two ways to setup a project like this. You can use Automake conditionals (see Conditionals) or use Autoconf AC_SUBST variables (see Setting Output Variables in The Autoconf Manual). Using Automake conditionals is the preferred solution. Before we illustrate these two possibilities, let’s introduce DIST_SUBDIRS.