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autoconf and multiple source/output directories

From: Joseph Stockman
Subject: autoconf and multiple source/output directories
Date: Thu, 24 Apr 2008 14:43:22 -0700 (PDT)

I've been going over the archives, and if there is a hint to a solution, I
have not yet found it. if it exists, please point me towards it and I will
happily read and leave everyone else alone.

We have a very very messy source tree for a cross-platform project. Without
going into the politics of it, just take it on faith that I cannot move the
existing files within the tree.

|- External libraries and header files
|- Windows specific files
   |- Windows source code
|- Common files
   | - Common header files and source files
|- Linux files
   | - Linux header files and source files

(repeat ad nauseum)

My problem is that I need to be able to mix and match the locations of
header and source files when building (I know part of this is an automake
issue and I will move on to that board once I've figured this out). What I
need, from beginning to end, is some way to explicitly define the source
paths and the output paths (did I mention that the source tree is on a file
server where we can't generate files?).

I know the correct solution would be to redo the source tree to make it
conform to some reasonable standard. I have been told that is not going to
happen. Period.

Any pointers on where to start? I've been reading and rereading the latest
GNU documentation on the make tools and going through every mailing list
archive I can find. I have the strange feeling the solution will be both
obvious and simple, but it eludes me.

Thank you for your time.
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