A variable is a name defined in a makefile to represent a string
of text, called the variable’s value. These values are
substituted by explicit request into targets, prerequisites, recipes,
and other parts of the makefile. (In some other versions of
variables are called macros.)
Variables and functions in all parts of a makefile are expanded when
read, except for in recipes, the right-hand sides of variable
definitions using ‘
=’, and the bodies of variable definitions
Variables can represent lists of file names, options to pass to compilers, programs to run, directories to look in for source files, directories to write output in, or anything else you can imagine.
A variable name may be any sequence of characters not containing
=’, or whitespace. However, variable names
containing characters other than letters, numbers, and underscores
should be considered carefully, as in some shells they cannot be
passed through the environment to a sub-
(see Communicating Variables to a
make). Variable names beginning with ‘
.’ and an
uppercase letter may be given special meaning in future versions of
Variable names are case-sensitive. The names ‘
Foo’ all refer to different variables.
It is traditional to use upper case letters in variable names, but we recommend using lower case letters for variable names that serve internal purposes in the makefile, and reserving upper case for parameters that control implicit rules or for parameters that the user should override with command options (see Overriding Variables).
A few variables have names that are a single punctuation character or just a few characters. These are the automatic variables, and they have particular specialized uses. See Automatic Variables.
|• Reference||How to use the value of a variable.|
|• Flavors||Variables come in two flavors.|
|• Advanced||Advanced features for referencing a variable.|
|• Values||All the ways variables get their values.|
|• Setting||How to set a variable in the makefile.|
|• Appending||How to append more text to the old value
of a variable.
|• Override Directive||How to set a variable in the makefile even if
the user has set it with a command argument.
|• Multi-Line||An alternate way to set a variable
to a multi-line string.
|• Undefine Directive||How to undefine a variable so that it appears
as if it was never set.
|• Environment||Variable values can come from the environment.|
|• Target-specific||Variable values can be defined on a per-target
|• Pattern-specific||Target-specific variable values can be applied
to a group of targets that match a pattern.
|• Suppressing Inheritance||Suppress inheritance of variables.|
|• Special Variables||Variables with special meaning or behavior.|