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Full Description of the compilation of Scilab


Scilab 4 and previous versions compilation process were using an outdated compilation method based on the include of series of Makefiles, I was hard and painful to maintain but also to port the Scilab build process on new platform. Scilab 5 is fully based on the autotools. There are programs which greatly simplify the conception, maintenance and portability of a multi-platform project.

Autotools are composed by a few programs :

Each one is designed for a specific task.


From configure.ac (formely configure.in), autoconf creates the configure script which will check if libraries are available on the computer (or not), set a few flags for the compiler... In theory, if the configure is successful, that ensure that all the mandatory dependencies of Scilab 5 are available on the operating system.


From Makefile.am and indirectly from configure.ac, for each Makefile.am declared in the configure.ac (see the macro AC_CONFIG_FILES) , automake will create the file Makefile.in. It specifies which file must be compiled, with which libs... The autogenerated makefiles contain the directive for the compilation for many compilers, operating systems & archs.


libtool, as its name says, is the tool used to create libraries (static and dynamic) managing the inherent constraints.


There are many advantages to this migration:

Technical description

Important files




Transformed by autoconf to create the famous ./configure, this program handles:
* all the --with-xxx & --without-xxx options
* check if headers are available and usable
* check the versions
* Manages compilation flags
* ...


Contains all the various macros used to perform dedicated checks


Defines a few important operations:
* Create the actual Scilab binary
* Build all Scilab macros
* Build the Scilab documentation
* Build the localization
* Launch all the tests


This file is included in each Makefile.am of a Scilab module.
It contains target for:
* Scilab macros build
* java build
* swig/giws generation
* installation of data files
* Launch tests of a specific module


This file contains the list of the module to build, the creation of the libscilab library

How to regenerate all the files

The best way is to call autoreconf, this command will call all the other commands (aclocal, autoconf, automake...). Otherwise, when working on the source tree, adding the option --enable-maintainer-mode to the ./configure will automatically rebuild Makefile & configure when any changes occurs


Add a new source file for compilation

This command should rebuild Makefile.in from Makefile.am

Add a new module to Scilab

Upgrade the autotools

This command should at least rebuild aclocal, Makefile.in, configure. Other files might also be generated.

2022-09-08 09:27