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Including Other Makefiles
The `include' directive tells `make' to suspend reading the current
makefile and read one or more other makefiles before continuing. The
directive is a line in the makefile that looks like this:
FILENAMES can contain shell file name patterns.
Extra spaces are allowed and ignored at the beginning of the line,
but a tab is not allowed. (If the line begins with a tab, it will be
considered a command line.) Whitespace is required between `include'
and the file names, and between file names; extra whitespace is ignored
there and at the end of the directive. A comment starting with `#' is
allowed at the end of the line. If the file names contain any variable
or function references, they are expanded. *Note How to Use Variables:
For example, if you have three `.mk' files, `a.mk', `b.mk', and
`c.mk', and `$(bar)' expands to `bish bash', then the following
include foo *.mk $(bar)
is equivalent to
include foo a.mk b.mk c.mk bish bash
When `make' processes an `include' directive, it suspends reading of
the containing makefile and reads from each listed file in turn. When
that is finished, `make' resumes reading the makefile in which the
One occasion for using `include' directives is when several programs,
handled by individual makefiles in various directories, need to use a
common set of variable definitions (Note: Setting Variables.)
or pattern rules (Note: Defining and Redefining Pattern Rules
Another such occasion is when you want to generate dependencies from
source files automatically; the dependencies can be put in a file that
is included by the main makefile. This practice is generally cleaner
than that of somehow appending the dependencies to the end of the main
makefile as has been traditionally done with other versions of `make'.
Note: Automatic Dependencies.
If the specified name does not start with a slash, and the file is
not found in the current directory, several other directories are
searched. First, any directories you have specified with the `-I' or
`--include-dir' option are searched (Note: Summary of Options
Summary.). Then the following directories (if they exist) are
searched, in this order: `PREFIX/include' (normally
`/usr/local/include') `/usr/gnu/include', `/usr/local/include',
If an included makefile cannot be found in any of these directories,
a warning message is generated, but it is not an immediately fatal
error; processing of the makefile containing the `include' continues.
Once it has finished reading makefiles, `make' will try to remake any
that are out of date or don't exist. *Note How Makefiles Are Remade:
Remaking Makefiles. Only after it has tried to find a way to remake a
makefile and failed, will `make' diagnose the missing makefile as a
If you want `make' to simply ignore a makefile which does not exist
and cannot be remade, with no error message, use the `-include'
directive instead of `include', like this:
This is acts like `include' in every way except that there is no
error (not even a warning) if any of the FILENAMES do not exist.
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