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8.1.1 Defining program sources

In a directory containing source that gets built into a program (as opposed to a library or a script), the PROGRAMS primary is used. Programs can be installed in bindir, sbindir, libexecdir, pkglibexecdir, or not at all (noinst_). They can also be built only for ‘make check’, in which case the prefix is ‘check_’.

For instance:

bin_PROGRAMS = hello

In this simple case, the resulting will contain code to generate a program named hello.

Associated with each program are several assisting variables that are named after the program. These variables are all optional, and have reasonable defaults. Each variable, its use, and default is spelled out below; we use the “hello” example throughout.

The variable hello_SOURCES is used to specify which source files get built into an executable:

hello_SOURCES = hello.c version.c getopt.c getopt1.c getopt.h system.h

This causes each mentioned .c file to be compiled into the corresponding .o. Then all are linked to produce hello.

If hello_SOURCES is not specified, then it defaults to the single file hello.c (see Default _SOURCES).

Multiple programs can be built in a single directory. Multiple programs can share a single source file, which must be listed in each _SOURCES definition.

Header files listed in a _SOURCES definition will be included in the distribution but otherwise ignored. In case it isn’t obvious, you should not include the header file generated by configure in a _SOURCES variable; this file should not be distributed. Lex (.l) and Yacc (.y) files can also be listed; see Yacc and Lex.

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