13.2 What goes in
Automake tries to make creating a distribution as easy as possible. The
rules are set up by default to distribute those things which Automake
knows belong in a distribution. For instance, Automake always
distributes your `configure' script and your `NEWS' file. All
the files Automake automatically distributes are shown by
Automake also distributes some files about which it has no built-in knowledge, but about which it learns from your `Makefile.am'. For instance, the source files listed in a `_SOURCES' variable go into the distribution. This is why you ought to list uninstalled header files in the `_SOURCES' variable: otherwise you'll just have to introduce another variable to distribute them -- Automake will only know about them if you tell it.
Not all primaries are distributed by default. The rule is arbitrary, but pretty simple: of all the primaries, only `_TEXINFOS' and `_HEADERS' are distributed by default. (Sources that make up programs and libraries are also distributed by default, but, perhaps confusingly, `_SOURCES' is not considered a primary.)
While there is no rhyme, there is a reason: defaults were chosen based on feedback from users. Typically, `enough' reports of the form `I auto-generate my `_SCRIPTS'. How do I prevent them from ending up in the distribution?' would cause a change in the default.
Although the defaults are adequate in many situations, sometimes you
have to distribute files which aren't covered automatically.
It is easy to add additional files to a distribution; simply list them in
the macro `EXTRA_DIST'. You can list files in subdirectories
here. You can also list a directory's name here and the entire contents
will be copied into the distribution by
If a primary is not distributed by default, but in your case it ought to be, you can easily correct it with `EXTRA_DIST':
The next major Automake release (28) will have a better method for controlling whether primaries do or do not go into the distribution. In 1.5 you will be able to use the `dist' and `nodist' prefixes to control distribution on a per-variable basis. You will even be able to simultaneously use both prefixes with a given primary to include some files and omit others: