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An Alternative Approach to Subdirectories

If you've ever read Peter Miller's excellent paper, Recursive Make Considered Harmful, the preceding section on the use of subdirectories will probably come as unwelcome advice. For those who haven't read the paper, Miller's main thesis is that recursive make invocations are both slow and error-prone.

Automake provides sufficient cross-directory support 1 to enable you to write a single for a complex multi-directory package.

By default an installable file specified in a subdirectory will have its directory name stripped before installation. For instance, in this example, the header file will be installed as $(includedir)/stdio.h:

     include_HEADERS = inc/stdio.h

However, the nobase_ prefix can be used to circumvent this path stripping. In this example, the header file will be installed as $(includedir)/sys/types.h:

     nobase_include_HEADERS = sys/types.h

nobase_ should be specified first when used in conjunction with either dist_ or nodist_ (see Dist). For instance:

     nobase_dist_pkgdata_DATA = images/vortex.pgm


  1. We believe. This work is new and there are probably warts. See Introduction, for information on reporting bugs.