Autoconf and Python: checking for modules

Posted: 2008-08-31 12:04 [Source]
Tags:  foss observations nwu free software

I am currently writing a Python application that makes use of GNU Autotools as build system and noticed that determining whether a specific Python module is installed is not that easy and no usable Autoconf macro exists. So I came up with my own solution, which I would like to share with you.

The AC_CHECK_PYTHON_MODULE macro takes two arguments: The module name and optionally the variable name holding version information. This way it is not only possible to determine whether a module is installed (ie. loads in Python) on the current system, but also retrieve version information from that module.

The following examples checks whether the Crypto module is installed and retrieves its version information from Crypto.__version__:

AC_CHECK_PYTHON_MODULE(Crypto, __version__)

The macro itself does never report and error, but rather only a found/not found result. Error checking is up to the user and can be done via these two Autoconf variables:



PYTHON_<MODULE_NAME> is set to "1" if the module is present and "0" if not present.
PYTHON_<MODULE_NAME>_VERSION is only set when the version variable argument has been set and contains the version information of the module, if the module been found. If the module is not present this variable is also set to "0".

The version variable argument is optional as I wrote, so the following invocation works too and only checks whether the distutils module is present:

As I wrote earlier in this article I would like to share this macro with you. You can download it here.