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bmake — maintain program dependencies


bmake [-BeikNnqrstWwX] [-C directory] [-D variable] [-d flags] [-f makefile] [-I directory]
[-J private] [-j max_jobs] [-m directory] [-T file] [-V variable] [variable=value]
[target ...]


bmake is a program designed to simplify the maintenance of other programs. Its input is a
list of specifications as to the files upon which programs and other files depend. If no -f
makefile makefile option is given, bmake will try to open ‘makefile’ then ‘Makefile’ in
order to find the specifications. If the file ‘.depend’ exists, it is read (see mkdep(1)).

This manual page is intended as a reference document only. For a more thorough description
of bmake and makefiles, please refer to PMake - A Tutorial.

bmake will prepend the contents of the MAKEFLAGS environment variable to the command line
arguments before parsing them.

The options are as follows:

-B Try to be backwards compatible by executing a single shell per command and by
executing the commands to make the sources of a dependency line in sequence.

-C directory
Change to directory 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.

-D variable
Define variable to be 1, in the global context.

-d [-]flags
Turn on debugging, and specify which portions of bmake are to print debugging
information. Unless the flags are preceded by ‘-’ they are added to the MAKEFLAGS
environment variable and will be processed by any child make processes. By default,
debugging information is printed to standard error, but this can be changed using
the F debugging flag. The debugging output is always unbuffered; in addition, if
debugging is enabled but debugging output is not directed to standard output, then
the standard output is line buffered. Flags is one or more of the following:

A Print all possible debugging information; equivalent to specifying all of
the debugging flags.

a Print debugging information about archive searching and caching.

C Print debugging information about current working directory.

c Print debugging information about conditional evaluation.

d Print debugging information about directory searching and caching.

e Print debugging information about failed commands and targets.

Specify where debugging output is written. This must be the last flag,
because it consumes the remainder of the argument. If the character
immediately after the ‘F’ flag is ‘+’, then the file will be opened in
append mode; otherwise the file will be overwritten. If the file name is
‘stdout’ or ‘stderr’ then debugging output will be written to the standard
output or standard error output file descriptors respectively (and the ‘+’
option has no effect). Otherwise, the output will be written to the named
file. If the file name ends ‘.%d’ then the ‘%d’ is replaced by the pid.

f Print debugging information about loop evaluation.

g1 Print the input graph before making anything.

g2 Print the input graph after making everything, or before exiting on error.

g3 Print the input graph before exiting on error.

j Print debugging information about running multiple shells.

l Print commands in Makefiles regardless of whether or not they are prefixed
by ‘@’ or other "quiet" flags. Also known as "loud" behavior.

M Print debugging information about "meta" mode decisions about targets.

m Print debugging information about making targets, including modification

n Don't delete the temporary command scripts created when running commands.
These temporary scripts are created in the directory referred to by the
TMPDIR environment variable, or in /tmp if TMPDIR is unset or set to the
empty string. The temporary scripts are created by mkstemp(3), and have
names of the form makeXXXXXX. NOTE: This can create many files in TMPDIR or
/tmp, so use with care.

p Print debugging information about makefile parsing.

s Print debugging information about suffix-transformation rules.

t Print debugging information about target list maintenance.

V Force the -V option to print raw values of variables.

v Print debugging information about variable assignment.

x Run shell commands with -x so the actual commands are printed as they are

-e Specify that environment variables override macro assignments within makefiles.

-f makefile
Specify a makefile to read instead of the default ‘makefile’. If makefile is ‘-’,
standard input is read. Multiple makefiles may be specified, and are read in the
order specified.

-I directory
Specify a directory in which to search for makefiles and included makefiles. The
system makefile directory (or directories, see the -m option) is automatically
included as part of this list.

-i Ignore non-zero exit of shell commands in the makefile. Equivalent to specifying
-’ before each command line in the makefile.

-J private
This option should not be specified by the user.

When the j option is in use in a recursive build, this option is passed by a make to
child makes to allow all the make processes in the build to cooperate to avoid
overloading the system.

-j max_jobs
Specify the maximum number of jobs that bmake may have running at any one time. The
value is saved in .MAKE.JOBS. Turns compatibility mode off, unless the B flag is
also specified. When compatibility mode is off, all commands associated with a
target are executed in a single shell invocation as opposed to the traditional one
shell invocation per line. This can break traditional scripts which change
directories on each command invocation and then expect to start with a fresh
environment on the next line. It is more efficient to correct the scripts rather
than turn backwards compatibility on.

-k Continue processing after errors are encountered, but only on those targets that do
not depend on the target whose creation caused the error.

-m directory
Specify a directory in which to search for sys.mk and makefiles included via the
file⟩-style include statement. The -m option can be used multiple times to form a
search path. This path will override the default system include path:
/usr/share/mk. Furthermore the system include path will be appended to the search
path used for "file"-style include statements (see the -I option).

If a file or directory name in the -m argument (or the MAKESYSPATH environment
variable) starts with the string ".../" then bmake will search for the specified
file or directory named in the remaining part of the argument string. The search
starts with the current directory of the Makefile and then works upward towards the
root of the filesystem. If the search is successful, then the resulting directory
replaces the ".../" specification in the -m argument. If used, this feature allows
bmake to easily search in the current source tree for customized sys.mk files (e.g.,
by using ".../mk/sys.mk" as an argument).

-n Display the commands that would have been executed, but do not actually execute them
unless the target depends on the .MAKE special source (see below).

-N Display the commands which would have been executed, but do not actually execute any
of them; useful for debugging top-level makefiles without descending into

-q Do not execute any commands, but exit 0 if the specified targets are up-to-date and
1, otherwise.

-r Do not use the built-in rules specified in the system makefile.

-s Do not echo any commands as they are executed. Equivalent to specifying ‘@’ before
each command line in the makefile.

-T tracefile
When used with the -j flag, append a trace record to tracefile for each job started
and completed.

-t Rather than re-building a target as specified in the makefile, create it or update
its modification time to make it appear up-to-date.

-V variable
Print bmake's idea of the value of variable, in the global context. Do not build
any targets. Multiple instances of this option may be specified; the variables will
be printed one per line, with a blank line for each null or undefined variable. If
variable contains a ‘$’ then the value will be expanded before printing.

-W Treat any warnings during makefile parsing as errors.

-w Print entering and leaving directory messages, pre and post processing.

-X Don't export variables passed on the command line to the environment individually.
Variables passed on the command line are still exported via the MAKEFLAGS
environment variable. This option may be useful on systems which have a small limit
on the size of command arguments.

Set the value of the variable variable to value. Normally, all values passed on the
command line are also exported to sub-makes in the environment. The -X flag
disables this behavior. Variable assignments should follow options for POSIX
compatibility but no ordering is enforced.

There are seven different types of lines in a makefile: file dependency specifications,
shell commands, variable assignments, include statements, conditional directives, for loops,
and comments.

In general, lines may be continued from one line to the next by ending them with a backslash
(‘\’). The trailing newline character and initial whitespace on the following line are
compressed into a single space.


Dependency lines consist of one or more targets, an operator, and zero or more sources.
This creates a relationship where the targets “depend” on the sources and are usually
created from them. The exact relationship between the target and the source is determined
by the operator that separates them. The three operators are as follows:

: A target is considered out-of-date if its modification time is less than those of any
of its sources. Sources for a target accumulate over dependency lines when this
operator is used. The target is removed if bmake is interrupted.

! Targets are always re-created, but not until all sources have been examined and re-
created as necessary. Sources for a target accumulate over dependency lines when this
operator is used. The target is removed if bmake is interrupted.

:: If no sources are specified, the target is always re-created. Otherwise, a target is
considered out-of-date if any of its sources has been modified more recently than the
target. Sources for a target do not accumulate over dependency lines when this
operator is used. The target will not be removed if bmake is interrupted.

Targets and sources may contain the shell wildcard values ‘?’, ‘*’, ‘[]’, and ‘{}’. The
values ‘?’, ‘*’, and ‘[]’ may only be used as part of the final component of the target or
source, and must be used to describe existing files. The value ‘{}’ need not necessarily be
used to describe existing files. Expansion is in directory order, not alphabetically as
done in the shell.


Each target may have associated with it one or more lines of shell commands, normally used
to create the target. Each of the lines in this script must be preceded by a tab. (For
historical reasons, spaces are not accepted.) While targets can appear in many dependency
lines if desired, by default only one of these rules may be followed by a creation script.
If the ‘::’ operator is used, however, all rules may include scripts and the scripts are
executed in the order found.

Each line is treated as a separate shell command, unless the end of line is escaped with a
backslash (‘\’) in which case that line and the next are combined. If the first characters
of the command are any combination of ‘@’, ‘+’, or ‘-’, the command is treated specially. A
@’ causes the command not to be echoed before it is executed. A ‘+’ causes the command to
be executed even when -n is given. This is similar to the effect of the .MAKE special
source, except that the effect can be limited to a single line of a script. A ‘-’ in
compatibility mode causes any non-zero exit status of the command line to be ignored.

When bmake is run in jobs mode with -j max_jobs, the entire script for the target is fed to
a single instance of the shell. In compatibility (non-jobs) mode, each command is run in a
separate process. If the command contains any shell meta characters
(‘#=|^(){};&<>*?[]:$`\\n’) it will be passed to the shell; otherwise bmake will attempt
direct execution. If a line starts with ‘-’ and the shell has ErrCtl enabled then failure
of the command line will be ignored as in compatibility mode. Otherwise ‘-’ affects the
entire job; the script will stop at the first command line that fails, but the target will
not be deemed to have failed.

Makefiles should be written so that the mode of bmake operation does not change their
behavior. For example, any command which needs to use “cd” or “chdir” without potentially
changing the directory for subsequent commands should be put in parentheses so it executes
in a subshell. To force the use of one shell, escape the line breaks so as to make the
whole script one command. For example:

@echo Building $@ in `pwd`
@(cd ${.CURDIR} && ${MAKE} $@)
@echo Back in `pwd`

@echo Building $@ in `pwd`; \
(cd ${.CURDIR} && ${MAKE} $@); \
echo Back in `pwd`

Since bmake will chdir(2) to ‘.OBJDIR’ before executing any targets, each child process
starts with that as its current working directory.


Variables in make are much like variables in the shell, and, by tradition, consist of all
upper-case letters.

Variable assignment modifiers
The five operators that can be used to assign values to variables are as follows:

= Assign the value to the variable. Any previous value is overridden.

+= Append the value to the current value of the variable.

?= Assign the value to the variable if it is not already defined.

:= Assign with expansion, i.e. expand the value before assigning it to the variable.
Normally, expansion is not done until the variable is referenced. NOTE: References
to undefined variables are not expanded. This can cause problems when variable
modifiers are used.

!= Expand the value and pass it to the shell for execution and assign the result to the
variable. Any newlines in the result are replaced with spaces.

Any white-space before the assigned value is removed; if the value is being appended, a
single space is inserted between the previous contents of the variable and the appended

Variables are expanded by surrounding the variable name with either curly braces (‘{}’) or
parentheses (‘()’) and preceding it with a dollar sign (‘$’). If the variable name contains
only a single letter, the surrounding braces or parentheses are not required. This shorter
form is not recommended.

If the variable name contains a dollar, then the name itself is expanded first. This allows
almost arbitrary variable names, however names containing dollar, braces, parenthesis, or
whitespace are really best avoided!

If the result of expanding a variable contains a dollar sign (‘$’) the string is expanded

Variable substitution occurs at three distinct times, depending on where the variable is
being used.

1. Variables in dependency lines are expanded as the line is read.

2. Variables in shell commands are expanded when the shell command is executed.

3. “.for” loop index variables are expanded on each loop iteration. Note that other
variables are not expanded inside loops so the following example code:

.for i in 1 2 3
a+= ${i}
j= ${i}
b+= ${j}

@echo ${a}
@echo ${b}

will print:

1 2 3
3 3 3

Because while ${a} contains “1 2 3” after the loop is executed, ${b} contains “${j}
${j} ${j}” which expands to “3 3 3” since after the loop completes ${j} contains “3”.

Variable classes
The four different classes of variables (in order of increasing precedence) are:

Environment variables
Variables defined as part of bmake's environment.

Global variables
Variables defined in the makefile or in included makefiles.

Command line variables
Variables defined as part of the command line.

Local variables
Variables that are defined specific to a certain target.

Local variables are all built in and their values vary magically from target to target. It
is not currently possible to define new local variables. The seven local variables are as

.ALLSRC The list of all sources for this target; also known as ‘>’.

.ARCHIVE The name of the archive file; also known as ‘!’.

.IMPSRC In suffix-transformation rules, the name/path of the source from which the
target is to be transformed (the “implied” source); also known as ‘<’. It
is not defined in explicit rules.

.MEMBER The name of the archive member; also known as ‘%’.

.OODATE The list of sources for this target that were deemed out-of-date; also known
as ‘?’.

.PREFIX The file prefix of the target, containing only the file portion, no suffix
or preceding directory components; also known as ‘*’. The suffix must be
one of the known suffixes declared with .SUFFIXES or it will not be

.TARGET The name of the target; also known as ‘@’.

The shorter forms (‘>’, ‘!’, ‘<’, ‘%’, ‘?’, ‘*’, and ‘@’) are permitted for backward
compatibility with historical makefiles and legacy POSIX make and are not recommended.

Variants of these variables with the punctuation followed immediately by ‘D’ or ‘F’, e.g.
$(@D)’, are legacy forms equivalent to using the ‘:H’ and ‘:T’ modifiers. These forms are
accepted for compatibility with AT&T System V UNIX makefiles and POSIX but are not

Four of the local variables may be used in sources on dependency lines because they expand
to the proper value for each target on the line. These variables are ‘.TARGET’, ‘.PREFIX’,

Additional built-in variables
In addition, bmake sets or knows about the following variables:

$ A single dollar sign ‘$’, i.e. ‘$$’ expands to a single dollar sign.

.ALLTARGETS The list of all targets encountered in the Makefile. If evaluated during
Makefile parsing, lists only those targets encountered thus far.

.CURDIR A path to the directory where bmake was executed. Refer to the description
of ‘PWD’ for more details.

The directory of the file this Makefile was included from.

The filename of the file this Makefile was included from.

MAKE The name that bmake was executed with (argv[0]). For compatibility bmake
also sets .MAKE with the same value. The preferred variable to use is the
environment variable MAKE because it is more compatible with other versions
of bmake and cannot be confused with the special target with the same name.

Names the makefile (default ‘.depend’) from which generated dependencies are

A boolean that controls the default behavior of the -V option.

.MAKE.EXPORTED The list of variables exported by bmake.

.MAKE.JOBS The argument to the -j option.

If bmake is run with j then output for each target is prefixed with a token
‘--- target ---’ the first part of which can be controlled via
.MAKE.JOB.PREFIX. If .MAKE.JOB.PREFIX is empty, no token is printed.
For example: .MAKE.JOB.PREFIX=${.newline}---${.MAKE:T}[${.MAKE.PID}] would
produce tokens like ‘---make[1234] target ---’ making it easier to track the
degree of parallelism being achieved.

MAKEFLAGS The environment variable ‘MAKEFLAGS’ may contain anything that may be
specified on bmake's command line. Anything specified on bmake's command
line is appended to the ‘MAKEFLAGS’ variable which is then entered into the
environment for all programs which bmake executes.

.MAKE.LEVEL The recursion depth of bmake. The initial instance of bmake will be 0, and
an incremented value is put into the environment to be seen by the next
generation. This allows tests like: .if ${.MAKE.LEVEL} == 0 to protect
things which should only be evaluated in the initial instance of bmake.

The ordered list of makefile names (default ‘makefile’, ‘Makefile’) that
bmake will look for.

The list of makefiles read by bmake, which is useful for tracking
dependencies. Each makefile is recorded only once, regardless of the number
of times read.

.MAKE.MODE Processed after reading all makefiles. Can affect the mode that bmake runs
in. It can contain a number of keywords:

compat Like -B, puts bmake into "compat" mode.

meta Puts bmake into "meta" mode, where meta files are created for
each target to capture the command run, the output generated and
if filemon(4) is available, the system calls which are of
interest to bmake. The captured output can be very useful when
diagnosing errors.

curdirOk= bf Normally bmake will not create .meta files in ‘.CURDIR’. This
can be overridden by setting bf to a value which represents

env For debugging, it can be useful to inlcude the environment in
the .meta file.

verbose If in "meta" mode, print a clue about the target being built.
This is useful if the build is otherwise running silently. The
message printed the value of: .MAKE.META.PREFIX.

ignore-cmd Some makefiles have commands which are simply not stable. This
keyword causes them to be ignored for determining whether a
target is out of date in "meta" mode. See also .NOMETA_CMP.

silent= bf If bf is True, when a .meta file is created, mark the target

In "meta" mode, provides a list of prefixes which match the directories
controlled by bmake. If a file that was generated outside of .OBJDIR but
within said bailiwick is missing, the current target is considered out-of-

In "meta" mode, this variable contains a list of all the meta files updated.
If not empty, it can be used to trigger processing of .MAKE.META.FILES.

In "meta" mode, this variable contains a list of all the meta files used
(updated or not). This list can be used to process the meta files to
extract dependency information.

Provides a list of path prefixes that should be ignored; because the
contents are expected to change over time. The default list includes: ‘/dev
/etc /proc /tmp /var/run /var/tmp

Defines the message printed for each meta file updated in "meta verbose"
mode. The default value is:
Building ${.TARGET:H:tA}/${.TARGET:T}

.MAKEOVERRIDES This variable is used to record the names of variables assigned to on the
command line, so that they may be exported as part of ‘MAKEFLAGS’. This
behaviour can be disabled by assigning an empty value to ‘.MAKEOVERRIDES
within a makefile. Extra variables can be exported from a makefile by
appending their names to ‘.MAKEOVERRIDES’. ‘MAKEFLAGS’ is re-exported
whenever ‘.MAKEOVERRIDES’ is modified.

If bmake was built with filemon(4) support, this is set to the path of the
device node. This allows makefiles to test for this support.

.MAKE.PID The process-id of bmake.

.MAKE.PPID The parent process-id of bmake.

value should be a boolen that controls wether ‘$$’ are preserved when doing
‘:=’ assignments. The default is false, for backwards compatability. Set
to true for compatability with other makes. If set to false, ‘$$’ becomes
‘$’ per normal evaluation rules.

When bmake stops due to an error, it prints its name and the value of
.CURDIR’ as well as the value of any variables named in

.newline This variable is simply assigned a newline character as its value. This
allows expansions using the :@ modifier to put a newline between iterations
of the loop rather than a space. For example, the printing of
MAKE_PRINT_VAR_ON_ERROR’ could be done as

.OBJDIR A path to the directory where the targets are built. Its value is
determined by trying to chdir(2) to the following directories in order and
using the first match:


(Only if ‘MAKEOBJDIRPREFIX’ is set in the environment or on the command


(Only if ‘MAKEOBJDIR’ is set in the environment or on the command

3. ${.CURDIR}/obj.${MACHINE}

4. ${.CURDIR}/obj

5. /usr/obj/${.CURDIR}

6. ${.CURDIR}

Variable expansion is performed on the value before it's used, so
expressions such as
may be used. This is especially useful with ‘MAKEOBJDIR’.

.OBJDIR’ may be modified in the makefile via the special target ‘.OBJDIR’.
In all cases, bmake will chdir(2) to the specified directory if it exists,
and set ‘.OBJDIR’ and ‘PWD’ to that directory before executing any targets.

.PARSEDIR A path to the directory of the current ‘Makefile’ being parsed.

.PARSEFILE The basename of the current ‘Makefile’ being parsed. This variable and
.PARSEDIR’ are both set only while the ‘Makefiles’ are being parsed. If
you want to retain their current values, assign them to a variable using
assignment with expansion: (‘:=’).

.PATH A variable that represents the list of directories that bmake will search
for files. The search list should be updated using the target ‘.PATH
rather than the variable.

PWD Alternate path to the current directory. bmake normally sets ‘.CURDIR’ to
the canonical path given by getcwd(3). However, if the environment variable
‘PWD’ is set and gives a path to the current directory, then bmake sets
.CURDIR’ to the value of ‘PWD’ instead. This behaviour is disabled if
‘MAKEOBJDIRPREFIX’ is set or ‘MAKEOBJDIR’ contains a variable transform.
‘PWD’ is set to the value of ‘.OBJDIR’ for all programs which bmake

.TARGETS The list of targets explicitly specified on the command line, if any.

VPATH Colon-separated (“:”) lists of directories that bmake will search for files.
The variable is supported for compatibility with old make programs only, use
.PATH’ instead.

Variable modifiers
Variable expansion may be modified to select or modify each word of the variable (where a
“word” is white-space delimited sequence of characters). The general format of a variable
expansion is as follows:


Each modifier begins with a colon, which may be escaped with a backslash (‘\’).

A set of modifiers can be specified via a variable, as follows:


In this case the first modifier in the modifier_variable does not start with a colon, since
that must appear in the referencing variable. If any of the modifiers in the
modifier_variable contain a dollar sign (‘$’), these must be doubled to avoid early

The supported modifiers are:

:E Replaces each word in the variable with its suffix.

:H Replaces each word in the variable with everything but the last component.

Select only those words that match pattern. The standard shell wildcard characters
(‘*’, ‘?’, and ‘[]’) may be used. The wildcard characters may be escaped with a
backslash (‘\’). As a consequence of the way values are split into words, matched, and
then joined, a construct like
will normalise the inter-word spacing, removing all leading and trailing space, and
converting multiple consecutive spaces to single spaces.

This is identical to ‘:M’, but selects all words which do not match pattern.

:O Order every word in variable alphabetically. To sort words in reverse order use the
:O:[-1..1]’ combination of modifiers.

:Ox Randomize words in variable. The results will be different each time you are referring
to the modified variable; use the assignment with expansion (‘:=’) to prevent such
behaviour. For example,

LIST= uno due tre quattro

@echo "${RANDOM_LIST}"
@echo "${RANDOM_LIST}"
may produce output similar to:

quattro due tre uno
tre due quattro uno
due uno quattro tre
due uno quattro tre

:Q Quotes every shell meta-character in the variable, so that it can be passed safely
through recursive invocations of bmake.

:R Replaces each word in the variable with everything but its suffix.

The value is a format string for strftime(3), using the current gmtime(3).

Compute a 32bit hash of the value and encode it as hex digits.

The value is a format string for strftime(3), using the current localtime(3).

:tA Attempt to convert variable to an absolute path using realpath(3), if that fails, the
value is unchanged.

:tl Converts variable to lower-case letters.

Words in the variable are normally separated by a space on expansion. This modifier
sets the separator to the character c. If c is omitted, then no separator is used.
The common escapes (including octal numeric codes), work as expected.

:tu Converts variable to upper-case letters.

:tW Causes the value to be treated as a single word (possibly containing embedded white
space). See also ‘:[*]’.

:tw Causes the value to be treated as a sequence of words delimited by white space. See
also ‘:[@]’.

Modify the first occurrence of old_string in the variable's value, replacing it with
new_string. If a ‘g’ is appended to the last slash of the pattern, all occurrences in
each word are replaced. If a ‘1’ is appended to the last slash of the pattern, only
the first word is affected. If a ‘W’ is appended to the last slash of the pattern,
then the value is treated as a single word (possibly containing embedded white space).
If old_string begins with a caret (‘^’), old_string is anchored at the beginning of
each word. If old_string ends with a dollar sign (‘$’), it is anchored at the end of
each word. Inside new_string, an ampersand (‘&’) is replaced by old_string (without
any ‘^’ or ‘$’). Any character may be used as a delimiter for the parts of the
modifier string. The anchoring, ampersand and delimiter characters may be escaped with
a backslash (‘\’).

Variable expansion occurs in the normal fashion inside both old_string and new_string
with the single exception that a backslash is used to prevent the expansion of a dollar
sign (‘$’), not a preceding dollar sign as is usual.

The :C modifier is just like the :S modifier except that the old and new strings,
instead of being simple strings, are an extended regular expression (see regex(3))
string pattern and an ed(1)-style string replacement. Normally, the first occurrence
of the pattern pattern in each word of the value is substituted with replacement. The
‘1’ modifier causes the substitution to apply to at most one word; the ‘g’ modifier
causes the substitution to apply to as many instances of the search pattern pattern as
occur in the word or words it is found in; the ‘W’ modifier causes the value to be
treated as a single word (possibly containing embedded white space). Note that ‘1’ and
‘g’ are orthogonal; the former specifies whether multiple words are potentially
affected, the latter whether multiple substitutions can potentially occur within each
affected word.

As for the :S modifier, the pattern and replacement are subjected to variable expansion
before being parsed as regular expressions.

:T Replaces each word in the variable with its last component.

:u Remove adjacent duplicate words (like uniq(1)).

If the variable name (not its value), when parsed as a .if conditional expression,
evaluates to true, return as its value the true_string, otherwise return the
false_string. Since the variable name is used as the expression, :? must be the first
modifier after the variable name itself - which will, of course, usually contain
variable expansions. A common error is trying to use expressions like
which actually tests defined(NUMBERS), to determine is any words match "42" you need to
use something like:
${"${NUMBERS:M42}" != "":?match:no}.

This is the AT&T System V UNIX style variable substitution. It must be the last
modifier specified. If old_string or new_string do not contain the pattern matching
character % then it is assumed that they are anchored at the end of each word, so only
suffixes or entire words may be replaced. Otherwise % is the substring of old_string
to be replaced in new_string.

Variable expansion occurs in the normal fashion inside both old_string and new_string
with the single exception that a backslash is used to prevent the expansion of a dollar
sign (‘$’), not a preceding dollar sign as is usual.

This is the loop expansion mechanism from the OSF Development Environment (ODE) make.
Unlike .for loops expansion occurs at the time of reference. Assign temp to each word
in the variable and evaluate string. The ODE convention is that temp should start and
end with a period. For example.
${LINKS:@.LINK.@${LN} ${TARGET} ${.LINK.}@}

However a single character variable is often more readable:

If the variable is undefined newval is the value. If the variable is defined, the
existing value is returned. This is another ODE make feature. It is handy for setting
per-target CFLAGS for instance:
If a value is only required if the variable is undefined, use:

If the variable is defined newval is the value.

:L The name of the variable is the value.

:P The path of the node which has the same name as the variable is the value. If no such
node exists or its path is null, then the name of the variable is used. In order for
this modifier to work, the name (node) must at least have appeared on the rhs of a

The output of running cmd is the value.

:sh If the variable is non-empty it is run as a command and the output becomes the new

The variable is assigned the value str after substitution. This modifier and its
variations are useful in obscure situations such as wanting to set a variable when
shell commands are being parsed. These assignment modifiers always expand to nothing,
so if appearing in a rule line by themselves should be preceded with something to keep
bmake happy.

The ‘::’ helps avoid false matches with the AT&T System V UNIX style := modifier and
since substitution always occurs the ::= form is vaguely appropriate.

As for ::= but only if the variable does not already have a value.

Append str to the variable.

Assign the output of cmd to the variable.

Selects one or more words from the value, or performs other operations related to the
way in which the value is divided into words.

Ordinarily, a value is treated as a sequence of words delimited by white space. Some
modifiers suppress this behaviour, causing a value to be treated as a single word
(possibly containing embedded white space). An empty value, or a value that consists
entirely of white-space, is treated as a single word. For the purposes of the ‘:[]
modifier, the words are indexed both forwards using positive integers (where index 1
represents the first word), and backwards using negative integers (where index -1
represents the last word).

The range is subjected to variable expansion, and the expanded result is then
interpreted as follows:

index Selects a single word from the value.

Selects all words from start to end, inclusive. For example, ‘:[2..-1]’ selects
all words from the second word to the last word. If start is greater than end,
then the words are output in reverse order. For example, ‘:[-1..1]’ selects all
the words from last to first.

* Causes subsequent modifiers to treat the value as a single word (possibly
containing embedded white space). Analogous to the effect of "$*" in Bourne

0 Means the same as ‘:[*]’.

@ Causes subsequent modifiers to treat the value as a sequence of words delimited
by white space. Analogous to the effect of "$@" in Bourne shell.

# Returns the number of words in the value.


Makefile inclusion, conditional structures and for loops reminiscent of the C programming
language are provided in bmake. All such structures are identified by a line beginning with
a single dot (‘.’) character. Files are included with either .includefile⟩ or .include
"file". Variables between the angle brackets or double quotes are expanded to form the file
name. If angle brackets are used, the included makefile is expected to be in the system
makefile directory. If double quotes are used, the including makefile's directory and any
directories specified using the -I option are searched before the system makefile directory.
For compatibility with other versions of bmake ‘include file ...’ is also accepted.

If the include statement is written as .-include or as .sinclude then errors locating and/or
opening include files are ignored.

If the include statement is written as .dinclude not only are errors locating and/or opening
include files ignored, but stale dependencies within the included file will be ignored just

Conditional expressions are also preceded by a single dot as the first character of a line.
The possible conditionals are as follows:

.error message
The message is printed along with the name of the makefile and line number, then
bmake will exit.

.export variable ...
Export the specified global variable. If no variable list is provided, all globals
are exported except for internal variables (those that start with ‘.’). This is not
affected by the -X flag, so should be used with caution. For compatibility with
other bmake programs ‘export variable=value’ is also accepted.

Appending a variable name to .MAKE.EXPORTED is equivalent to exporting a variable.

.export-env variable ...
The same as ‘.export’, except that the variable is not appended to .MAKE.EXPORTED.
This allows exporting a value to the environment which is different from that used
by bmake internally.

.export-literal variable ...
The same as ‘.export-env’, except that variables in the value are not expanded.

.info message
The message is printed along with the name of the makefile and line number.

.undef variable
Un-define the specified global variable. Only global variables may be un-defined.

.unexport variable ...
The opposite of ‘.export’. The specified global variable will be removed from
.MAKE.EXPORTED. If no variable list is provided, all globals are unexported, and

Unexport all globals previously exported and clear the environment inherited from
the parent. This operation will cause a memory leak of the original environment, so
should be used sparingly. Testing for .MAKE.LEVEL being 0, would make sense. Also
note that any variables which originated in the parent environment should be
explicitly preserved if desired. For example:

.if ${.MAKE.LEVEL} == 0
.export PATH

Would result in an environment containing only ‘PATH’, which is the minimal useful
environment. Actually ‘.MAKE.LEVEL’ will also be pushed into the new environment.

.warning message
The message prefixed by ‘warning:’ is printed along with the name of the makefile
and line number.

.if [!]expression [operator expression ...]
Test the value of an expression.

.ifdef [!]variable [operator variable ...]
Test the value of a variable.

.ifndef [!]variable [operator variable ...]
Test the value of a variable.

.ifmake [!]target [operator target ...]
Test the target being built.

.ifnmake [!] target [operator target ...]
Test the target being built.

.else Reverse the sense of the last conditional.

.elif [!] expression [operator expression ...]
A combination of ‘.else’ followed by ‘.if’.

.elifdef [!]variable [operator variable ...]
A combination of ‘.else’ followed by ‘.ifdef’.

.elifndef [!]variable [operator variable ...]
A combination of ‘.else’ followed by ‘.ifndef’.

.elifmake [!]target [operator target ...]
A combination of ‘.else’ followed by ‘.ifmake’.

.elifnmake [!]target [operator target ...]
A combination of ‘.else’ followed by ‘.ifnmake’.

.endif End the body of the conditional.

The operator may be any one of the following:

|| Logical OR.

&& Logical AND; of higher precedence than “||”.

As in C, bmake will only evaluate a conditional as far as is necessary to determine its
value. Parentheses may be used to change the order of evaluation. The boolean operator ‘!
may be used to logically negate an entire conditional. It is of higher precedence than

The value of expression may be any of the following:

defined Takes a variable name as an argument and evaluates to true if the variable has been

make Takes a target name as an argument and evaluates to true if the target was
specified as part of bmake's command line or was declared the default target
(either implicitly or explicitly, see .MAIN) before the line containing the

empty Takes a variable, with possible modifiers, and evaluates to true if the expansion
of the variable would result in an empty string.

exists Takes a file name as an argument and evaluates to true if the file exists. The
file is searched for on the system search path (see .PATH).

target Takes a target name as an argument and evaluates to true if the target has been

Takes a target name as an argument and evaluates to true if the target has been
defined and has commands associated with it.

Expression may also be an arithmetic or string comparison. Variable expansion is performed
on both sides of the comparison, after which the integral values are compared. A value is
interpreted as hexadecimal if it is preceded by 0x, otherwise it is decimal; octal numbers
are not supported. The standard C relational operators are all supported. If after
variable expansion, either the left or right hand side of a ‘==’ or ‘!=’ operator is not an
integral value, then string comparison is performed between the expanded variables. If no
relational operator is given, it is assumed that the expanded variable is being compared
against 0 or an empty string in the case of a string comparison.

When bmake is evaluating one of these conditional expressions, and it encounters a (white-
space separated) word it doesn't recognize, either the “make” or “defined” expression is
applied to it, depending on the form of the conditional. If the form is ‘.ifdef’,
.ifndef’, or ‘.if’ the “defined” expression is applied. Similarly, if the form is
.ifmake’ or ‘.ifnmake, the’ “make” expression is applied.

If the conditional evaluates to true the parsing of the makefile continues as before. If it
evaluates to false, the following lines are skipped. In both cases this continues until a
.else’ or ‘.endif’ is found.

For loops are typically used to apply a set of rules to a list of files. The syntax of a
for loop is:

.for variable [variable ...] in expression

After the for expression is evaluated, it is split into words. On each iteration of the
loop, one word is taken and assigned to each variable, in order, and these variables are
substituted into the make-rules inside the body of the for loop. The number of words must
come out even; that is, if there are three iteration variables, the number of words provided
must be a multiple of three.


Comments begin with a hash (‘#’) character, anywhere but in a shell command line, and
continue to the end of an unescaped new line.


.EXEC Target is never out of date, but always execute commands anyway.

.IGNORE Ignore any errors from the commands associated with this target, exactly as if
they all were preceded by a dash (‘-’).

.MADE Mark all sources of this target as being up-to-date.

.MAKE Execute the commands associated with this target even if the -n or -t options were
specified. Normally used to mark recursive bmakes.

.META Create a meta file for the target, even if it is flagged as .PHONY, .MAKE, or
.SPECIAL. Usage in conjunction with .MAKE is the most likely case. In "meta"
mode, the target is out-of-date if the meta file is missing.

.NOMETA Do not create a meta file for the target. Meta files are also not created for
.PHONY, .MAKE, or .SPECIAL targets.

Ignore differences in commands when deciding if target is out of date. This is
useful if the command contains a value which always changes. If the number of
commands change, though, the target will still be out of date. The same effect
applies to any command line that uses the variable .OODATE, which can be used for
that purpose even when not otherwise needed or desired:

@echo this will be compared
@echo this will not ${.OODATE:M.NOMETA_CMP}
@echo this will also be compared

The :M pattern suppresses any expansion of the unwanted variable.

.NOPATH Do not search for the target in the directories specified by .PATH.

.NOTMAIN Normally bmake selects the first target it encounters as the default target to be
built if no target was specified. This source prevents this target from being

If a target is marked with this attribute and bmake can't figure out how to create
it, it will ignore this fact and assume the file isn't needed or already exists.

.PHONY The target does not correspond to an actual file; it is always considered to be
out of date, and will not be created with the -t option. Suffix-transformation
rules are not applied to .PHONY targets.

When bmake is interrupted, it normally removes any partially made targets. This
source prevents the target from being removed.

Synonym for .MAKE.

.SILENT Do not echo any of the commands associated with this target, exactly as if they
all were preceded by an at sign (‘@’).

.USE Turn the target into bmake's version of a macro. When the target is used as a
source for another target, the other target acquires the commands, sources, and
attributes (except for .USE) of the source. If the target already has commands,
the .USE target's commands are appended to them.

Exactly like .USE, but prepend the .USEBEFORE target commands to the target.

.WAIT If .WAIT appears in a dependency line, the sources that precede it are made before
the sources that succeed it in the line. Since the dependents of files are not
made until the file itself could be made, this also stops the dependents being
built unless they are needed for another branch of the dependency tree. So given:

x: a .WAIT b
echo x
echo a
b: b1
echo b
echo b1

the output is always ‘a’, ‘b1’, ‘b’, ‘x’.
The ordering imposed by .WAIT is only relevant for parallel makes.


Special targets may not be included with other targets, i.e. they must be the only target

.BEGIN Any command lines attached to this target are executed before anything else is

This is sort of a .USE rule for any target (that was used only as a source) that
bmake can't figure out any other way to create. Only the shell script is used.
The .IMPSRC variable of a target that inherits .DEFAULT's commands is set to the
target's own name.

.END Any command lines attached to this target are executed after everything else is

.ERROR Any command lines attached to this target are executed when another target fails.
The .ERROR_TARGET variable is set to the target that failed. See also

.IGNORE Mark each of the sources with the .IGNORE attribute. If no sources are specified,
this is the equivalent of specifying the -i option.

If bmake is interrupted, the commands for this target will be executed.

.MAIN If no target is specified when bmake is invoked, this target will be built.

This target provides a way to specify flags for bmake when the makefile is used.
The flags are as if typed to the shell, though the -f option will have no effect.

.NOPATH Apply the .NOPATH attribute to any specified sources.

Disable parallel mode.

Synonym for .NOTPARALLEL, for compatibility with other pmake variants.

.OBJDIR The source is a new value for ‘.OBJDIR’. If it exists, bmake will chdir(2) to it
and update the value of ‘.OBJDIR’.

.ORDER The named targets are made in sequence. This ordering does not add targets to the
list of targets to be made. Since the dependents of a target do not get built
until the target itself could be built, unless ‘a’ is built by another part of the
dependency graph, the following is a dependency loop:

.ORDER: b a
b: a

The ordering imposed by .ORDER is only relevant for parallel makes.

.PATH The sources are directories which are to be searched for files not found in the
current directory. If no sources are specified, any previously specified
directories are deleted. If the source is the special .DOTLAST target, then the
current working directory is searched last.

Like .PATH but applies only to files with a particular suffix. The suffix must
have been previously declared with .SUFFIXES.

.PHONY Apply the .PHONY attribute to any specified sources.

Apply the .PRECIOUS attribute to any specified sources. If no sources are
specified, the .PRECIOUS attribute is applied to every target in the file.

.SHELL Sets the shell that bmake will use to execute commands. The sources are a set of
field=value pairs.

name This is the minimal specification, used to select one of the builtin
shell specs; sh, ksh, and csh.

path Specifies the path to the shell.

hasErrCtl Indicates whether the shell supports exit on error.

check The command to turn on error checking.

ignore The command to disable error checking.

echo The command to turn on echoing of commands executed.

quiet The command to turn off echoing of commands executed.

filter The output to filter after issuing the quiet command. It is typically
identical to quiet.

errFlag The flag to pass the shell to enable error checking.

echoFlag The flag to pass the shell to enable command echoing.

newline The string literal to pass the shell that results in a single newline
character when used outside of any quoting characters.

.SHELL: name=ksh path=/bin/ksh hasErrCtl=true \
check="set -e" ignore="set +e" \
echo="set -v" quiet="set +v" filter="set +v" \
echoFlag=v errFlag=e newline="'\n'"

.SILENT Apply the .SILENT attribute to any specified sources. If no sources are specified,
the .SILENT attribute is applied to every command in the file.

.STALE This target gets run when a dependency file contains stale entries, having .ALLSRC
set to the name of that dependency file.

Each source specifies a suffix to bmake. If no sources are specified, any
previously specified suffixes are deleted. It allows the creation of suffix-
transformation rules.


cc -o ${.TARGET} -c ${.IMPSRC}


bmake uses the following environment variables, if they exist: MACHINE, MACHINE_ARCH,

MAKEOBJDIRPREFIX and MAKEOBJDIR may only be set in the environment or on the command line to
bmake and not as makefile variables; see the description of ‘.OBJDIR’ for more details.

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