make -- maintain, update and regenerate groups of programs


make is as specified in the SUS but with differences as listed below. The GNU make command contains syntax extensions beyond those specified in the SUS.


-C dir

changes to directory dir before reading the makefiles or doing anything else. If multiple -C options are specified, each is interpreted relative to the previous one: -C / -C etc is equivalent to -C /etc. This is typically used with recursive invocations of make.


prints debugging information in addition to normal processing. The debugging information says which files are being considered for remaking, which filetimes are being compared and with what results, which files actually need to be remade, which implicit rules are considered and which are applied---everything interesting about how make decides what to do.

-I dir

specifies a directory dir to search for included makefiles. If several -I options are used to specify several directories, the directories are searched in the order specified. Unlike the arguments to other flags of make, directories given with -I flags may come directly after the flag: -Idir is allowed, as well as -I dir. This syntax is allowed for compatibility with the C preprocessor's -I flag.

-j jobs

specifies the number of jobs (commands) to run simultaneously. If there is more than one -j option, the last one is effective. If the -j option is given without an argument, make will not limit the number of jobs that can run simultaneously.

-l [load]

specifies that no new jobs (commands) should be started if there are others jobs running and the load average is at least load (a floating-point number). With no argument, removes a previous load limit.

-o file

does not remake the file file even if it is older than its dependencies, and do not remake anything on account of changes in file. Essentially the file is treated as very old and its rules are ignored.


prints the version of the make program plus a copyright, a list of authors and a notice that there is no warranty.


prints a message containing the working directory before and after other processing. This may be use­ ful for tracking down errors from complicated nests of recursive make commands.

-W file

pretends that the target file has just been modified. When used with the -n flag, this shows you what would happen if you were to modify that file. Without -n, it is almost the same as running a touch command on the given file before running make, except that the modification time is changed only in the imagination of make.