If you’re new to the world of Linux, you might have heard the term “make” thrown around in conversation or seen it referenced in documentation. But what exactly is make, and how can you use it to build programs on Linux? In this article, we’ll explore the basics of make and how to use it to create your own programs.
Make is a build automation tool that is widely used in the Linux world. It is used to automate the process of compiling source code into an executable program. The tool was first developed in the 1970s and has since been refined to become one of the most powerful and flexible build automation tools available.
To get started with make, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of the Linux command line. If you’re new to Linux, you may want to take a few tutorials on the command line before diving into make.
Once you’re comfortable with the command line, you can start using make to build your programs. To use make, you’ll need to create a file called a “makefile”. The makefile contains a set of rules that tell make how to build your program. Each rule consists of a target, a set of dependencies, and a set of commands.
The target is the name of the file that make will create when it builds your program. The dependencies are the files that the target depends on. If any of the dependencies have changed since the last time the program was built, make will rebuild the program. The commands are the instructions that make uses to build the program.
Here’s an example makefile for a simple C program:
hello.c gcc -o hello hello.c
In this makefile, “hello” is the target and “hello.c” is the only dependency. The command “gcc -o hello hello.c” is used to build the program.
To use make with this makefile, simply navigate to the directory containing the makefile and run the “make” command. Make will read the makefile and build the program if necessary.
Make also has a number of built-in variables and functions that you can use in your makefiles. These can be used to set compiler flags, specify directories, and perform other tasks. For example, the variable $(CC) is used to specify the C compiler to use.
In addition to its basic functionality, make can also be extended with plugins and scripts. There are a number of plugins available that add new functionality to make, such as support for different programming languages and build systems.
In conclusion, make is a powerful and flexible tool for building programs on Linux. By using make and creating your own makefiles, you can automate the process of building your programs and save time and effort. With a little practice, you’ll be able to master make and build complex programs with ease.