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This macro searches for a GNU version of make. If a match is found, the makefile variable ‘ifGNUmake’ is set to the empty string, otherwise it is set to "#". This is useful for including a special features in a Makefile, which cannot be handled by other versions of make. The variable _cv_gnu_make_command is set to the command to invoke GNU make if it exists, the empty string otherwise.

Here is an example of its use: might contain:

  # A failsafe way of putting a dependency rule into a makefile
          $(CC) -MM $(srcdir)/*.c > $(DEPEND)
  @ifGNUmake@ ifeq ($(DEPEND),$(wildcard $(DEPEND)))
  @ifGNUmake@ include $(DEPEND)
  @ifGNUmake@ endif

Then would normally contain:


Then perhaps to cause gnu make to override any other make, we could do something like this (note that GNU make always looks for GNUmakefile first):

  if  ! test x$_cv_gnu_make_command = x ; then
          mv Makefile GNUmakefile
          echo .DEFAULT: > Makefile ;
          echo \  $_cv_gnu_make_command \$@ >> Makefile;

Then, if any (well almost any) other make is called, and GNU make also exists, then the other make wraps the GNU make.

Source Code

Download the latest version of ax_check_gnu_make.m4 or browse the macro’s revision history.


Copyright © 2008 John Darrington

Copying and distribution of this file, with or without modification, are permitted in any medium without royalty provided the copyright notice and this notice are preserved. This file is offered as-is, without any warranty.

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