Configure scripts are an automated method of modifying source code before compilation in order to produce code tailored to the system on which a binary executable is to be compiled and run. Configure scripts are typically run immediately before compilation on the machine on which the software is to be used.
Configure scripts are generated by the Autotools suite of build management tools. These scripts query the system on which they run for environment settings, platform architecture, and the existence and location of required build and runtime dependencies. They then use the gathered information to process and fill out templates, customarily ending in
.in. After successful completion, it is common for configure scripts to print a report to the developer invoking them.
Because of the platform independence and broad developer experience with the configure script interface, many popular pieces of free software and proprietary software use this system during their system detection and makefile generation phase. After configure scripts have been created, building software that makes use of them is as simple as
./configure && make && make install
And many more.
(These are difficult to cite due to the nature of proprietary software.)