Do Makefiles Use Bash

Shell Programming

Makefiles are an essential component of many software projects. They are used to automate the build process, making it easier to compile and link source code into executable programs. In this article, I will delve into the question: “Do Makefiles use Bash?”

Understanding Makefiles

Before diving into the question at hand, let’s first understand what a Makefile is. A Makefile is a script that specifies how to compile and link a program. It consists of rules and dependencies, and it is written in a special syntax that is interpreted by the make utility. When executed, make reads the Makefile and performs the necessary actions to build the specified target.

Makefiles and Shell Commands

Makefiles can indeed utilize shell commands, and this is where Bash comes into play. By default, the commands in a Makefile are interpreted by the shell specified by the SHELL variable, which is usually set to /bin/sh. On most Unix-like systems, including Linux, /bin/sh is often a symbolic link to the Bash shell.

As a developer, I have found this flexibility to be incredibly useful. I can leverage the power of Bash within the Makefile to perform various tasks such as file manipulation, environment variable setup, and invoking other command-line tools.

Using Bash in Makefiles

When writing a Makefile, I often find myself using Bash-specific syntax within the commands. For instance, I can employ the $(shell ...) construct to execute Bash commands and capture their output into Makefile variables. This is handy for dynamically obtaining information from the system or from external tools, and using it within the build process.

Furthermore, I can employ conditionals, loops, and other advanced features of Bash within the commands of a Makefile. This allows for complex build scenarios to be expressed concisely and elegantly, leveraging the full power of the shell.


So, do Makefiles use Bash? The answer is a resounding yes. Bash is the default shell for interpreting commands within Makefiles, and its rich feature set enables developers to orchestrate complex build processes efficiently.

As a software developer, I have come to appreciate the seamless integration of Bash within Makefiles. It provides a powerful and familiar environment to automate the build process, and its flexibility allows for the creation of sophisticated build workflows.