Section: User Commands (1)
Updated: 28 February 2016
Return to Main Contents
make - GNU make utility to maintain groups of programs
utility will determine automatically which pieces of a large program need to
be recompiled, and issue the commands to recompile them. The manual describes
the GNU implementation of
which was written by Richard Stallman and Roland McGrath, and is currently
maintained by Paul Smith. Our examples show C programs, since they are very
common, but you can use
with any programming language whose compiler can be run with a shell command.
is not limited to programs. You can use it to describe any task where some
files must be updated automatically from others whenever the others change.
To prepare to use
you must write a file called the
that describes the relationships among files in your program, and the states
the commands for updating each file. In a program, typically the executable
file is updated from object files, which are in turn made by compiling source
Once a suitable makefile exists, each time you change some source files,
this simple shell command:
suffices to perform all necessary recompilations.
program uses the makefile description and the last-modification times of the
files to decide which of the files need to be updated. For each of those
files, it issues the commands recorded in the makefile.
executes commands in the
to update one or more target
is typically a program.
option is present,
will look for the makefiles
in that order.
Normally you should call your makefile either
because it appears prominently near the beginning of a directory
listing, right near other important files such as
The first name checked,
is not recommended for most makefiles. You should use this name if you have a
makefile that is specific to GNU
and will not be understood by other versions of
is '-', the standard input is read.
updates a target if it depends on prerequisite files
that have been modified since the target was last modified,
or if the target does not exist.
- -b, -m
These options are ignored for compatibility with other versions of
- -B, --always-make
Unconditionally make all targets.
- -C dir, --directory=dir
Change to directory
before reading the makefiles or doing anything else.
options are specified, each is interpreted relative to the
is equivalent to
This is typically used with recursive invocations of
Print debugging information in addition to normal processing.
The debugging information says which files are being considered for
remaking, which file-times are being compared and with what results,
which files actually need to be remade, which implicit rules are
considered and which are applied---everything interesting about how
decides what to do.
Print debugging information in addition to normal processing.
are omitted, then the behavior is the same as if
for all debugging output (same as using
for basic debugging,
for more verbose basic debugging,
for showing implicit rules,
for details on invocation of commands, and
for debugging while remaking makefiles. Use
to disable all previous debugging flags.
- -e, --environment-overrides
Give variables taken from the environment precedence
over variables from makefiles.
- -f file, --file=file, --makefile=FILE
as a makefile.
- -i, --ignore-errors
Ignore all errors in commands executed to remake files.
- -I dir, --include-dir=dir
Specifies a directory
to search for included makefiles.
options are used to specify several directories, the directories are
searched in the order specified.
Unlike the arguments to other flags of
directories given with
flags may come directly after the flag:
is allowed, as well as
This syntax is allowed for compatibility with the C
- -j [jobs], --jobs[=jobs]
Specifies the number of
(commands) to run simultaneously.
If there is more than one
option, the last one is effective.
option is given without an argument,
will not limit the number of jobs that can run simultaneously.
- -k, --keep-going
Continue as much as possible after an error.
While the target that failed, and those that depend on it, cannot
be remade, the other dependencies of these targets can be processed
all the same.
- -l [load], --load-average[=load]
Specifies that no new jobs (commands) should be started if there are
others jobs running and the load average is at least
(a floating-point number).
With no argument, removes a previous load limit.
- -L, --check-symlink-times
Use the latest mtime between symlinks and target.
- -n, --just-print, --dry-run, --recon
Print the commands that would be executed, but do not execute them (except in
- -o file, --old-file=file, --assume-old=file
Do not remake the file
even if it is older than its dependencies, and do not remake anything
on account of changes in
Essentially the file is treated as very old and its rules are ignored.
- -O[type], --output-sync[=type]
When running multiple jobs in parallel with -j, ensure the output of
each job is collected together rather than interspersed with output from
other jobs. If
is not specified or is
the output from the entire recipe for each target is grouped together. If
the output from each command line within a recipe is grouped together.
output from an entire recursive make is grouped together. If
output synchronization is disabled.
- -p, --print-data-base
Print the data base (rules and variable values) that results from
reading the makefiles; then execute as usual or as otherwise
This also prints the version information given by the
switch (see below).
To print the data base without trying to remake any files, use
make -p -f/dev/null.
- -q, --question
Do not run any commands, or print anything; just return an exit status
that is zero if the specified targets are already up to date, nonzero
- -r, --no-builtin-rules
Eliminate use of the built-in implicit rules.
Also clear out the default list of suffixes for suffix rules.
- -R, --no-builtin-variables
Don't define any built-in variables.
- -s, --silent, --quiet
Silent operation; do not print the commands as they are executed.
- -S, --no-keep-going, --stop
Cancel the effect of the
This is never necessary except in a recursive
might be inherited from the top-level
via MAKEFLAGS or if you set
in MAKEFLAGS in your environment.
- -t, --touch
Touch files (mark them up to date without really changing them)
instead of running their commands.
This is used to pretend that the commands were done, in order to fool
future invocations of
Information about the disposition of each target is printed (why the target is
being rebuilt and what commands are run to rebuild it).
- -v, --version
Print the version of the
program plus a copyright, a list of authors and a notice that there
is no warranty.
- -w, --print-directory
Print a message containing the working directory
before and after other processing.
This may be useful for tracking down errors from complicated nests of
even if it was turned on implicitly.
- -W file, --what-if=file, --new-file=file, --assume-new=file
Pretend that the target
has just been modified.
When used with the
flag, this shows you what would happen if you were to modify that file.
it is almost the same as running a
command on the given file before running
except that the modification time is changed only in the imagination of
Warn when an undefined variable is referenced.
exits with a status of zero if all makefiles were successfully parsed
and no targets that were built failed. A status of one will be returned
flag was used and
determines that a target needs to be rebuilt. A status of two will be
returned if any errors were encountered.
The full documentation for
is maintained as a Texinfo manual. If the
programs are properly installed at your site, the command
should give you access to the complete manual.
See the chapter ``Problems and Bugs'' in
The GNU Make Manual
This manual page contributed by Dennis Morse of Stanford University.
Further updates contributed by Mike Frysinger. It has been reworked by Roland
McGrath. Maintained by Paul Smith.
Copyright © 1992-1993, 1996-2016 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
This file is part of
GNU Make is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the
terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software
Foundation; either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later
GNU Make is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY
WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR
A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.
You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with
this program. If not, see