GNU Astronomy Utilities

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3.1.2 Optional dependencies

The libraries listed here are only used for very specific applications, therefore if you don’t want these operations, Gnuastro will be built and installed without them and you don’t have to have the dependencies.

If the ./configure script can’t find these requirements, it will warn you in the end that they are not present and notify you of the operation(s) you can’t do due to not having them. If the output you request from a program requires a missing library, that program is going to warn you and abort. In the case of program dependencies (like GPL GhostScript), if you install them at a later time, the program will run. This is because if required libraries are not present at build time, the executables cannot be built, but an executable is called by the built program at run time so if it becomes available, it will be used. If you do install an optional library later, you will have to rebuild Gnuastro and reinstall it for it to take effect.

GNU Libtool

Libtool is a program to simplify managing of the libraries to build an executable (a program). GNU Libtool has some added functionality compared to other implementations. If GNU Libtool isn’t present on your system at configuration time, a warning will be printed and BuildProgram won’t be built or installed. The configure script will look into your search path (PATH) for GNU Libtool through the following executable names: libtool (acceptable only if it is the GNU implementation) or glibtool. See Installation directory for more on PATH.

GNU Libtool (the binary/executable file) is a low-level program that is probably already present on your system, and if not, is available in your operating system package manager53. If you want to install GNU Libtool’s latest version from source, please visit its webpage.

Gnuastro’s tarball is shipped with an internal implementation of GNU Libtool. Even if you have GNU Libtool, Gnuastro’s internal implementation is used for the building and installation of Gnuastro. As a result, you can still build, install and use Gnuastro even if you don’t have GNU Libtool installed on your system. However, this internal Libtool does not get installed. Therefore, after Gnuastro’s installation, if you want to use BuildProgram to compile and link your own C source code which uses the Gnuastro library, you need to have GNU Libtool available on your system (independent of Gnuastro). See Review of library fundamentals to learn more about libraries.


Git is one of the most common version control systems (see Version controlled source). When libgit2 is present, and Gnuastro’s programs are run within a version controlled directory, outputs will contain the version number of the working directory’s repository for future reproducibility. See the COMMIT keyword header in Output FITS files for a discussion.


libjpeg is only used by ConvertType to read from and write to JPEG images, see Recognized file formats. libjpeg is a very basic library that provides tools to read and write JPEG images, most Unix-like graphic programs and libraries use it. Therefore you most probably already have it installed. libjpeg-turbo is an alternative to libjpeg. It uses Single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) instructions for ARM based systems that significantly decreases the processing time of JPEG compression and decompression algorithms.


libtiff is used by ConvertType and the libraries to read TIFF images, see Recognized file formats. libtiff is a very basic library that provides tools to read and write TIFF images, most Unix-like operating system graphic programs and libraries use it. Therefore even if you don’t have it installed, it must be easily available in your package manager.

GPL Ghostscript

GPL Ghostscript’s executable (gs) is called by ConvertType to compile a PDF file from a source PostScript file, see ConvertType. Therefore its headers (and libraries) are not needed. With a very high probability you already have it in your GNU/Linux distribution. Unfortunately it does not follow the standard GNU build style so installing it is very hard. It is best to rely on your distribution’s package managers for this.



Note that we want the binary/executable Libtool program which can be run on the command-line. In Debian-based operating systems which separate various parts of a package, you want want libtool-bin, the libtool package won’t contain the executable program.

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