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GNU Make

GNU Make


What is GNU Make?

GNU Make is an open source and free build automation tool.

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GNU Make is a versatile tool that has found numerous use cases among its users. It is commonly used for automating software builds and …
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What is GNU Make?

GNU Make is an open source and free build automation tool.

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Community Insights

TrustRadius Insights are summaries of user sentiment data from TrustRadius reviews and, when necessary, 3rd-party data sources. Have feedback on this content? Let us know!

GNU Make is a versatile tool that has found numerous use cases among its users. It is commonly used for automating software builds and managing server configurations. Many users have relied on GNU Make to build C programs and applications written in other languages, allowing them to efficiently compile and run programs across different platforms without the need for dual booting. Its multi-language support has made it an invaluable tool for project development purposes.

One key use case of GNU Make is its ability to automate validation and verification scenarios, improving overall code quality. Users have found it helpful in automating rebuilds of modules in production systems and seamlessly rolling them out. Additionally, GNU Make has been effective in speeding up code deployments and change processes for large programs, making it a time-saving tool for developers.

Another important use case of GNU Make is its role in building scripts and handling projects with multiple code files. It enables users to package their code into a single makefile, simplifying the build process and facilitating project management. Moreover, GNU Make has been used to automate the building of static websites and internal documentation systems, streamlining the publishing process.

Furthermore, GNU Make is chosen as a solution for managing the building of source code in various programming languages such as Go, C, and Fortran-based projects. Users appreciate its simplicity and extensibility compared to other tools available for different languages. It allows them to write build scripts with powerful configuration options, empowering others to build development programs locally.

Overall, GNU Make provides a wide range of capabilities and solutions for software developers and project managers. With its ability to automate builds, manage server configurations, and support multiple programming languages, it has become an indispensable tool in the software development industry.

  1. Many users recommend investing the necessary time to learn GNU Make and understand its capabilities. They believe that this effort will save more trouble down the line.

  2. Reviewers highly recommend GNU Make for building and installing packages, as well as software development. They suggest it as a valuable tool for building or writing code for in-house products.

  3. Some users advise using GNU Make for projects with a smaller number of files or code. They mention that it provides better customization and code structure, especially for users who are unfamiliar with it. However, users do not recommend GNU for bigger projects.

Attribute Ratings


(1-2 of 2)
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Jonathan Yu | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Our team uses GNU Make to build any of our software projects once they have reached a reasonable level of complexity. We use it to build Go, C, and Fortran-based projects to provide simple "make build" or "make test" steps to compile code and run tests. It's an old-fashioned tool, and I wish there were better tools available, but none of the contenders seem to have the simplicity and extensibility that Make does. Other devices seem to be language-specific and specialized for specific ecosystems (e.g., maven or Gradle are great for Java, but not for C projects). Batch files are simpler but don't perform as well and don't provide as much out-of-the-box flexibility (e.g., ability to compile only specific files rather than a full build).
  • Dependency tracking (only re-build files if needed)
  • Simple to integrate with existing command-line tools
  • No dependency management tools (but there are no cross-platform tools of this type anyway)
  • Tedious to do cross-compilation (Debug & Release builds, 32- and 64-bit builds, x86/ARM builds)
GNU Make is a great tool for simple builds where language-specific options are not available, or to provide shortcuts for common commands (e.g., "make build" as shorthand for "go build ..." with a bunch of flags). However, it is complementary to other build systems. It does not replace them, which is perhaps one of its greatest strengths as well (works with existing ecosystem instead of trying to do everything). GMU Make it simple to get started with, and the philosophy of understanding how sources map to outputs, as well as the dependency graph, are beneficial.
  • Easier to onboard new developers
  • Straightforward integration with CI/CD systems
I'm a full-stack developer that has used various build tools, including Maven, Gradle, and NPM/yarn. For our C projects, I also investigated CMake and Ninja, but they seemed more difficult to learn and more tedious to work with. GNU Make is a single binary that can be easily downloaded, even for Windows under MingW32, is straightforward to learn, and works pretty well despite its age.
I don't think anyone is actively developing GNU Make anymore, but it is available everywhere and does not seem to have any significant bugs or unresolved defects. Linux packages are available, and it is a cross-platform tool, even working pretty well on Windows under MingW32. A lot of people have used Make and know how it works, so it should be easy to hire people to modify or extend your Makefiles, even if nobody remembers how it works.
December 23, 2019

GNU Make evaluation

Score 6 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
GNU Make is being used as a build script in our product software development, specifically for embedded software development.
  • Performance and accuracy of cross-module dependencies.
  • Simple to write and easy to understand.
  • Constrained by the tab to start for command.
  • Cannot append something on the end of a variable.
Makefiles are machine-readable documentation that make your workflow reproducible. If the build process is a very continuous flow of operations within scope, it will do it well and also act as a documentation of all the dependence. For some long-term projects, Make has been used extensively and being maintained to do the job.
  • Streamline the build based on a lot of existing component being done, reusable.
  • Commonly understandable, therefore, rampup effort is small.
A lot of existing projects we had been running are based on GNU Make, it does not make sense to move away from that. To build on top of those, GNU Make had been used. A lot of experienced engineers in the team are already familiar with the GNU Make syntax and structure and no rampup time required.
In general, it is fair to say the support is sufficient although we do not deal with support directly. There are a lot of forum people chiming in with suggestions or recommendations of particular usage or issues we run into. Since it is open software, patch and fixes will be available from time to time. A lot of information is available in the web now for knowing GNU Make from learning, example, teaching, etc.
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