The GNU Autotools (the GNU Build System) is a group of utilities designed to make it easy for developers to create software that is portable across many Unix-like operating systems.

Unfortunately, most Autotools documentation is merely reference material, and a serious guide to the tools is needed. With its solution-oriented instruction and cookbook-style approach, Autotools: A Practical Guide is the first book to offer programmers a tutorial-based guide to the Autotools. Beginning with high-level concepts, the book discusses many use-cases and examples, and ends with more advanced details, like using the M4 Macro Processor with Autoconf, extending the framework provided by Automake, building Java and CSharp sources, and more.

The book also shows readers how to structure and organize open source software, master the Autotools framework and functional project configuration scripts, use extensions to Autoconf, convert an existing, complex open source project from a custom build system to an Autotools build system, and write their own Autotools macros. Rather than teach specific Autotools, Autotools: A Practical Guide focuses on the key Autotools concepts.