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The --gnu option (or gnu in the
AUTOMAKE_OPTIONS variable) causes automake to check
If the --add-missing option is given, automake will add a generic version of the INSTALL file as well as the COPYING file containing the text of the current version of the GNU General Public License existing at the time of this Automake release (version 3 as this is written, http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html). However, an existing COPYING file will never be overwritten by automake.
Note that this option will be extended in the future to do even more checking; it is advisable to be familiar with the precise requirements of the GNU standards. Also, --gnu can require certain non-standard GNU programs to exist for use by various maintainer-only rules; for instance, in the future pathchk might be required for ‘make dist’.
The --gnits option does everything that --gnu does, and checks the following as well:
VERSIONis checked to make sure its format complies with Gnits standards.
VERSIONindicates that this is an alpha release, and the file README-alpha appears in the topmost directory of a package, then it is included in the distribution. This is done in --gnits mode, and no other, because this mode is the only one where version number formats are constrained, and hence the only mode where Automake can automatically determine whether README-alpha should be included.