How can I use Bash syntax in Makefile targets?


Question

I often find Bash syntax very helpful, e.g. process substitution like in diff <(sort file1) <(sort file2).

Is it possible to use such Bash commands in a Makefile? I'm thinking of something like this:

file-differences:
    diff <(sort file1) <(sort file2) > $@

In my GNU Make 3.80 this will give an error since it uses the shell instead of bash to execute the commands.

1
186
6/27/2016 11:01:31 AM

Accepted Answer

From the GNU Make documentation,

5.3.1 Choosing the Shell
------------------------

The program used as the shell is taken from the variable `SHELL'.  If
this variable is not set in your makefile, the program `/bin/sh' is
used as the shell.

So put SHELL := /bin/bash at the top of your makefile, and you should be good to go.

BTW: You can also do this for one target, at least for GNU Make. Each target can have its own variable assignments, like this:

all: a b

a:
    @echo "a is $$0"

b: SHELL:=/bin/bash   # HERE: this is setting the shell for b only
b:
    @echo "b is $$0"

That'll print:

a is /bin/sh
b is /bin/bash

See "Target-specific Variable Values" in the documentation for more details. That line can go anywhere in the Makefile, it doesn't have to be immediately before the target.

340
4/4/2016 4:10:32 PM

You can call bash directly, use the -c flag:

bash -c "diff <(sort file1) <(sort file2) > $@"

Of course, you may not be able to redirect to the variable $@, but when I tried to do this, I got -bash: $@: ambiguous redirect as an error message, so you may want to look into that before you get too into this (though I'm using bash 3.2.something, so maybe yours works differently).


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