These tools are experimental and subject to breaking changes.

The AutotoolsToolchain is the toolchain generator for Autotools. It will generate shell scripts containing environment variable definitions that the autotools build system can understand.


This class will require very soon to define both the “host” and “build” profiles. It is very recommended to start defining both profiles immediately to avoid future breaking. Furthermore, some features, like trying to cross-compile might not work at all if the “build” profile is not provided.

The AutotoolsToolchain generator can be used by name in conanfiles:
class Pkg(ConanFile):
    generators = "AutotoolsToolchain"

And it can also be fully instantiated in the conanfile generate() method:

from conans import ConanFile
from import AutotoolsToolchain

class App(ConanFile):
    settings = "os", "arch", "compiler", "build_type"

    def generate(self):
        tc = AutotoolsToolchain(self)

The AutotoolsToolchain will generate after a conan install command the or conanautotoolstoolchain.bat files:

$ conan install # default is Release
$ source
# or in Windows
$ conanautotoolstoolchain.bat

This generator will define aggregated variables CPPFLAGS, LDFLAGS, CXXFLAGS, CFLAGS that accumulate all dependencies information, including transitive dependencies, with flags like -stdlib=libstdc++, -std=gnu14, architecture flags, etc.

This generator will also generate a file called conanbuild.conf containing two keys:

  • configure_args: Arguments to call the configure script.

  • make_args: Arguments to call the make script.

The Autotools build helper will use that conanbuild.conf file to seamlessly call the configure and make script using these precalculated arguments.

It supports the following methods and attributes:


def __init__(self, conanfile, namespace=None):
  • conanfile: the current recipe object. Always use self.

  • namespace: this argument avoids collisions when you have multiple toolchain calls in the same recipe. By setting this argument, the conanbuild.conf file used to pass information to the build helper will be named as: <namespace>_conanbuild.conf. The default value is None meaning that the name of the generated file is conanbuild.conf. This namespace must be also set with the same value in the constructor of the Autotools build helper so that it reads the information from the proper file.


You can change some attributes before calling the generate() method if you want to change some of the precalculated values:

from conans import ConanFile
from import AutotoolsToolchain

class App(ConanFile):
    settings = "os", "arch", "compiler", "build_type"

    def generate(self):
        tc = AutotoolsToolchain(self)
  • configure_args (Defaulted to []): Additional arguments to be passed to the configure script.

  • make_args (Defaulted to []): Additional arguments to be passed to he make script.

  • defines (Defaulted to []): Additional defines.

  • cxxflags (Defaulted to []): Additional cxxflags.

  • cflags (Defaulted to []): Additional cflags.

  • ldflags (Defaulted to []): Additional ldflags.

  • default_configure_install_args (Defaulted to False): If True it will pass automatically the following flags to the configure script:

    • --prefix: With the self.package_folder value.

    • --bindir=${prefix}/bin

    • --sbindir=${prefix}/bin

    • --libdir=${prefix}/lib

    • --includedir=${prefix}/include

    • --oldincludedir=${prefix}/includev

    • --datarootdir=${prefix}/share

  • ndebug: “NDEBUG” if the settings.build_type != Debug.

  • gcc_cxx11_abi: “_GLIBCXX_USE_CXX11_ABI” if gcc/libstdc++.

  • libcxx: Flag calculated from settings.compiler.libcxx.

  • fpic: True/False from options.fpic if defined.

  • cppstd: Flag from settings.compiler.cppstd

  • arch_flag: Flag from settings.arch

  • build_type_flags: Flags from settings.build_type

  • apple_arch_flag: Only when cross-building with Apple systems. Flags from settings.arch.

  • apple_isysroot_flag: Only when cross-building with Apple systems. Path to the root sdk.