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This chapter introduces a small--but real--worked example, to illustrate some of the features, and highlight some of the pitfalls, of the GNU Autotools discussed so far. All of the source can be downloaded from the book's web page(5). The text is peppered with my own pet ideas, accumulated over a several years of working with the GNU Autotools and you should be able to easily apply these to your own projects. I will begin by describing some of the choices and problems I encountered during the early stages of the development of this project. Then by way of illustration of the issues covered, move on to showing you a general infrastructure that I use as the basis for all of my own projects, followed by the specifics of the implementation of a portable command line shell library. This chapter then finishes with a sample shell application that uses that library.
Later, in 12. A Large GNU Autotools Project and 20. A Complex GNU Autotools Project, the example introduced here will be gradually expanded as new features of GNU Autotools are revealed.