With some minor exceptions (for example
XFAIL_TESTS) being rewritten to append
‘$(EXEEXT)’), the contents of a Makefile.am is copied to
These copying semantics mean that many problems can be worked around
by simply adding some
make variables and rules to
Makefile.am. Automake will ignore these additions.
Since a Makefile.in is built from data gathered from three
different places (Makefile.am, configure.ac, and
automake itself), it is possible to have conflicting
definitions of rules or variables. When building Makefile.in
the following priorities are respected by
automake to ensure
the user always has the last word:
AC_SUBSTed from configure.ac, and
AC_SUBSTed variables have priority over
automake-defined rule for the same target.
These overriding semantics make it possible to fine tune some default settings of Automake, or replace some of its rules. Overriding Automake rules is often inadvisable, particularly in the topmost directory of a package with subdirectories. The -Woverride option (see automake Invocation) comes in handy to catch overridden definitions.
Note that Automake does not make any distinction between rules with
commands and rules that only specify dependencies. So it is not
possible to append new dependencies to an
target without redefining the entire rule.
However, various useful targets have a ‘-local’ version you can specify in your Makefile.am. Automake will supplement the standard target with these user-supplied targets.
The targets that support a local version are
installcheck and the various
Note that there are no
uninstall-data-local targets; just use
It doesn’t make sense to uninstall just data or just executables.
For instance, here is one way to erase a subdirectory during ‘make clean’ (see Clean).
clean-local: -rm -rf testSubDir
You may be tempted to use
install-data-local to install a file
to some hard-coded location, but you should avoid this
(see Hard-Coded Install Paths).
-local targets, there is no particular guarantee of
execution order; typically, they are run early, but with parallel
make, there is no way to be sure of that.
In contrast, some rules also have a way to run another rule, called a
hook; hooks are always executed after the main rule’s work is done.
The hook is named after the principal target, with ‘-hook’ appended.
The targets allowing hooks are
For instance, here is how to create a hard link to an installed program:
install-exec-hook: ln $(DESTDIR)$(bindir)/program$(EXEEXT) \ $(DESTDIR)$(bindir)/proglink$(EXEEXT)
Although cheaper and more portable than symbolic links, hard links
will not work everywhere (for instance, OS/2 does not have
ln). Ideally you should fall back to ‘cp -p’ when
ln does not work. An easy way, if symbolic links are
acceptable to you, is to add
configure.ac (see Particular Program
Checks in The Autoconf Manual) and use ‘$(LN_S)’ in
For instance, here is how you could install a versioned copy of a program using ‘$(LN_S)’:
install-exec-hook: cd $(DESTDIR)$(bindir) && \ mv -f prog$(EXEEXT) prog-$(VERSION)$(EXEEXT) && \ $(LN_S) prog-$(VERSION)$(EXEEXT) prog$(EXEEXT)
Note that we rename the program so that a new version will erase the
symbolic link, not the real binary. Also we
cd into the
destination directory in order to create relative links.
please bear in mind that the exec/data distinction is based on the
installation directory, not on the primary used (see The Two Parts of Install).
foo_SCRIPTS will be installed by
install-data, and a
barexec_SCRIPTS will be installed by
install-exec. You should define your hooks consequently.