"Most UNIX and Linux programs are built by running make. The
make utility reads a file (generally named either 'makefile' or
'Makefile,' but hereafter merely referred to as 'a makefile') that
contains instructions and performs various actions to build a
program. In many build processes, the makefile is itself generated
entirely by other software; for instance, the autoconf/automake
programs are used to develop build routines. Other programs may ask
you to directly edit a makefile, and of course, new development may
require you to write one.
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