How to check for python GObject Introspection modules in Autotools

When we are using compiled languages – we are usually depending on pkg-config files. For example, “PKG_CHECK_MODULES(GLIB, glib2)”, but what if we are using Python?

Autoconf Archive has AX_PYTHON_MODULE macros. We can use it very easy.

How about Python + GObject Introspection? Let’s take GTK+ as an example. I wrote special m4 file (see below), you can place it in “m4” directory. Then you just need add “AX_PYTHON_GI(Gtk, 3.0)” into “” and autoconf will check if GI works and Gtk-3.0.typelib is usable.

P.S. note that I’m not m4 expert, but it works for me.

#   AX_PYTHON_GI(gi_module, version[, python])
#   Checks for Python GObject Introspection and GI module with the given
#   version.
#    Copyright (C) 2015 Igor Gnatenko <>
#    Copying and distribution of this file, with or without modification, are
#    permitted in any medium without royalty provided the copyright notice
#    and this notice are preserved. This file is offered as-is, without any
#    warranty.

    AC_MSG_CHECKING([for bindings for GObject Introspection])
    AX_PYTHON_MODULE([gi], [required], [$3])
    AC_MSG_CHECKING([for version $2 of $1 GObject Introspection module])
    $PYTHON -c "import gi; gi.require_version('$1', '$2')" 2> /dev/null
    AS_IF([test $? -eq 0], [], [
        AC_MSG_ERROR([You need version $2 of the $1 GObject Introspection module.])

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  1. Planning on submitting this to autoconf-archive? :-)

  2. The contribution process is pretty easy. Just checkout autoconf-archive, create the new m4 file, ensure the documentation and copyrights are correct, commit it, then send a push request.

    I can’t really submit your work for you!

    • When I again read documentation it should add “install-exec-hook”, not just check for something. I will try to make this m4 better and will submit to upstream. Thanks!