Gnu autoconf (https://www.gnu.org/software/autoconf/) attempts to create a makefile that makes sense for the OS you are compiling a software package on. It's not perfect (try compiling many Linux packages on a SCO Unix system, for example), but it's a heck of a lot better than hand editing makefiles.
If the code you downloaded has a "configure" script, "autoconf" probably created it.
Got something to add? Send me email.
More Articles by Tony Lawrence © 2011-03-20 Tony Lawrence