14.7 Setting Site Defaults
Autoconf-generated configure scripts allow your site to provide
default values for some configuration values. You do this by creating
site- and system-wide initialization files.
If the environment variable
CONFIG_SITE is set, configure
uses its value as the name of a shell script to read. Otherwise, it
reads the shell script prefix/share/config.site if it exists,
then prefix/etc/config.site if it exists. Thus,
settings in machine-specific files override those in machine-independent
ones in case of conflict.
Site files can be arbitrary shell scripts, but only certain kinds of
code are really appropriate to be in them. Because configure
reads any cache file after it has read any site files, a site file can
define a default cache file to be shared between all Autoconf-generated
configure scripts run on that system (see Cache Files). If
you set a default cache file in a site file, it is a good idea to also
set the output variable
CC in that site file, because the cache
file is only valid for a particular compiler, but many systems have
You can examine or override the value set by a command line option to
configure in a site file; options set shell variables that have
the same names as the options, with any dashes turned into underscores.
The exceptions are that --without- and --disable- options
are like giving the corresponding --with- or --enable-
option and the value ‘no’. Thus, --cache-file=localcache
sets the variable
cache_file to the value ‘localcache’;
--enable-warnings=no or --disable-warnings sets the variable
enable_warnings to the value ‘no’; --prefix=/usr sets the
prefix to the value ‘/usr’; etc.
Site files are also good places to set default values for other output
variables, such as
CFLAGS, if you need to give them non-default
values: anything you would normally do, repetitively, on the command
line. If you use non-default values for prefix or
exec_prefix (wherever you locate the site file), you can set them
in the site file if you specify it with the
You can set some cache values in the site file itself. Doing this is
useful if you are cross-compiling, where it is impossible to check features
that require running a test program. You could “prime the cache” by
setting those values correctly for that system in
prefix/etc/config.site. To find out the names of the cache
variables you need to set, look for shell variables with ‘_cv_’ in
their names in the affected configure scripts, or in the Autoconf
M4 source code for those macros.
The cache file is careful to not override any variables set in the site
files. Similarly, you should not override command-line options in the
site files. Your code should check that variables such as
cache_file have their default values (as set near the top of
configure) before changing them.
Here is a sample file /usr/share/local/gnu/share/config.site. The
command ‘configure --prefix=/usr/share/local/gnu’ would read this
CONFIG_SITE is not set to a different file).
# config.site for configure
# Change some defaults.
test "$prefix" = NONE && prefix=/usr/share/local/gnu
test "$exec_prefix" = NONE && exec_prefix=/usr/local/gnu
test "$sharedstatedir" = '$prefix/com' && sharedstatedir=/var
test "$localstatedir" = '$prefix/var' && localstatedir=/var
# Give Autoconf 2.x generated configure scripts a shared default
# cache file for feature test results, architecture-specific.
if test "$cache_file" = /dev/null; then
# A cache file is only valid for one C compiler.