Macos – How to install Autoconf, Automake and related tools on Mac OS X from source

autoconfmacos

I want to install autoconf, automake, m4, etc… from the source on a Mac OS X 10.7.2 machine running Xcode 4.2.1. The problem is anything that I try and install I have to rely on autoconf. Therefore, I am trying to install autoconf I get:

configure.ac:30: require Automake 1.11, but have 1.10

I try to install automake, the bootstrap reports:

configure.ac:20: error: Autoconf version 2.68 or higher is required
configure.ac:20: the top level
autom4te: /usr/bin/gm4 failed with exit status: 63
aclocal.tmp: error: autom4te failed with exit status: 63

Currently installed autoconf version: autoconf (GNU Autoconf) 2.61

Currently installed automake version: automake (GNU automake) 1.10

Best Answer

Update: Just use Homebrew to install these packages and move on with life.

Install Homebrew and just install the autoconf, automake and libtool packages like this:

brew install autoconf automake libtool

When I wrote this answer about 3+ years ago, it was to correct a previous answer that was outdated, link-only and vague in explanation. At that time I preferred to use raw source compilation on macOS for a task like this rather than a package manager like Homebrew because I simply found Homebrew and MacPorts to be a tad immature back then.

Now I use Homebrew (aka brew) on macOS as regularly as I use apt-get on Ubuntu and yum on CentOS. I would recommend avoiding compiling anything from raw source code on macOS unless you really have no choice.

Old answer content below for reference purposes.


I realize this question is about 3+ years old, but the accepted answer is a link only answer and that link is now dead. And the other answer is technically correct, but it still does not explain the actual hands-on process required to install the GNU versions of autoconf, automake and libtool in Mac OS X.

First, Xcode—since at least version 4.3 I believe—no longer includes the GNU versions of autoconf, automake and libtool. This doesn’t mean you can’t install GNU tools on your own. And here is how.

I’ve used this process on Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), 10.7 (Lion), 10.8 (Mountain Lion) and 10.9 (Mavericks) without issue.

Install Xcode and Xcode command line tools.

The first prerequisite is to have Xcode installed along with the Xcode command line tools as well. Chances are if you need autoconf, automake and libtool installed, you already have Xcode and the command line tools installed, but just pointing that out for those who don’t have that setup yet.

Now, onto the show! Just note that version numbers of downloads are based on what is current (as of April 2015) and works well as of the time of this post. Adjust to other versions if you need to:


Install autoconf 2.69.

Set the working directory to your home directory:

cd

Get the source code and decompress it:

curl -O -L http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/autoconf/autoconf-2.69.tar.gz
tar -xzf autoconf-2.69.tar.gz

Go into the uncompressed source code directory:

cd autoconf-*

Run the configure script on the source code:

./configure

Now run make to compile it:

make

Now install it:

sudo make install

Check the newly installed autoconf version to confirm all went well:

autoconf --version

Response should be something like this:

autoconf 2.69


Install automake 1.15.

Set the working directory to your home directory:

cd

Get the source code and decompress it:

curl -O -L http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/automake/automake-1.15.tar.gz
tar -xzf automake-1.15.tar.gz

Go into the uncompressed source code directory:

cd automake-*

Run the configure script on the source code:

./configure

Now run make to compile it:

make

Now install it:

sudo make install

Check the newly installed automake version to confirm all went well:

automake --version

Response should be something like this:

automake 1.15


Install libtool 2.4.6.

Set the working directory to your home directory:

cd

Get the source code and decompress it:

curl -OL http://ftpmirror.gnu.org/libtool/libtool-2.4.6.tar.gz
tar -xzf libtool-2.4.6.tar.gz

Go into the uncompressed source code directory:

cd libtool-*

Run the configure script on the source code:

./configure

Now run make to compile it:

make

Now install it:

sudo make install

Check the newly installed libtool version—via the man page—to confirm all went well:

man libtool

On the first page of the man page there should be something like this:

libtool - manual page for libtool 2.4.6

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