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GNU Make on Windows

Why use make in the first place?

  • In our team, some use Windows while others use Mac and steps to run are in a Makefile.
  • The CI/CD environment supports both Windows and Linux-based steps.
  • I’d like such one file that I can run locally and on CI, on Windows and on Mac.

Which version of make should I use for Windows?

Which shell to use?

  • On Windows, use PowerShell Core because it’s cross platform - works on Linx and Mac too. Windows PowerShell comes with Windows but is not cross platform. Differences are listed here in the docs
  • After downloading the Zip, I extract it to C:\opt\PowerShell\7\ and add it to the PATH

Things to note:

  • Tabs vs Spaces. Stackoverflow has the explanation.
    • Without fixing this, when make runs, it reports error, *** missing separator.
    • Enable this in VSCode: View -> Render Whitespace
    • Because of this, I add an .editorconfig(see utils/.editorconfig) that enforces tabs for Makefiles and manually add spaces when needed.
    • As an example of this mix, take a look at https://github.com/juliusgb/utils/blob/main/make/Makefile
    • Because of this, I run Make files in PowerShell or CMD and not in Git Bash.
  • When in a Makefile, use the inbuild variable $(MAKE) to run other make commands/files.

Next steps

The next step would be to detect which shell I’m using.

This post is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by the author.

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