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GNU Make Richard M Stallman, Roland McGrath and Paul D Smith
Published by GNU Press
ISBN:1-882114-83-3
183 pages
£ 13.97
Published: 30th June 2004
reviewed by John Collins
   in the December 2004 issue (pdf), (html)
bookcover  

GNU Make is the GNU version of the ``make'' program originally offered by Version 7 (or so) Unix with many variants since. Make is a program to build a target, usually a program executable, from a series of dependencies, rebuilding as needed only the parts that have changed and things dependent upon them. A ``Makefile'' defines which parts depend upon which other parts.

GNU Make has all sorts of potentially useful extensions, such as conditional constructs, pattern matching and substitution etc. I say ``potentially useful'' because of course, like extensions to standard languages, those who want their software to be portable to other systems without GNU Make cannot safely use them. (Although in my experience GNU Make is more reliable than standard ``makes'' on many systems, so I usually port it anyhow).

The book is modelled closely on the ``Info'' documentation for GNU make. In most places the text, and the order in which it appears, are identical. Headings are altered slightly in a few places.

This is a good manual, but if you have access to a recent ``Info'' online description of it, and can find your way around it, you probably won't need to buy this book as well. One nit I might pick with both this and the online documentation is that it doesn't remember to warn you all the time where extensions to the ``standard'' make are being described.

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