In June 1991 I was maintaining many of the GNU utilities for the Free
Software Foundation. As they were ported to more platforms and more
programs were added, the number of `-D' options that users had to
select in the `Makefile' (around 20) became burdensome. Especially
for me--I had to test each new release on a bunch of different systems.
So I wrote a little shell script to guess some of the correct settings
for the fileutils package, and released it as part of fileutils 2.0.
configure script worked well enough that the next month I
adapted it (by hand) to create similar
configure scripts for
several other GNU utilities packages. Brian Berliner also adapted one
of my scripts for his CVS revision control system.
Later that summer, I learned that Richard Stallman and Richard Pixley
were developing similar scripts to use in the GNU compiler tools; so I
configure scripts to support their evolving interface:
using the file name `Makefile.in' as the templates; adding
`+srcdir', the first option (of many); and creating
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