imake - C preprocessor interface to the make utility
imake [ -Ddefine ] [ -Idir ] [ -Udefine ] [ -Ttemplate ] [ -f filename ] [ -C filename ] [
-s filename ] [ -e ] [ -v ]
Imake is used to generate Makefiles from a template, a set of cpp macro functions, and a
per-directory input file called an Imakefile. This allows machine dependencies (such as
compiler options, alternate command names, and special make rules) to be kept separate
from the descriptions of the various items to be built.
The following command line options may be passed to imake:
This option is passed directly to cpp. It is typically used to set directory-spe-
cific variables. For example, the X Window System used this flag to set TOPDIR to
the name of the directory containing the top of the core distribution and CURDIR
to the name of the current directory, relative to the top.
This option is passed directly to cpp. It is typically used to indicate the
directory in which the imake template and configuration files may be found.
This option is passed directly to cpp. It is typically used to unset variables
when debugging imake configuration files.
This option specifies the name of the master template file (which is usually
located in the directory specified with -I) used by cpp. The default is
This option specifies the name of the per-directory input file. The default is
This option specifies the name of the .c file that is constructed in the current
directory. The default is Imakefile.c.
This option specifies the name of the make description file to be generated but
make should not be invoked. If the filename is a dash (-), the output is written
to stdout. The default is to generate, but not execute, a Makefile.
-e This option indicates the imake should execute the generated Makefile. The
default is to leave this to the user.
-v This option indicates that imake should print the cpp command line that it is
using to generate the Makefile.
HOW IT WORKS
Imake invokes cpp with any -I or -D flags passed on the command line and passes the name
of a file containing the following 3 lines:
#define IMAKE_TEMPLATE "Imake.tmpl"
#define INCLUDE_IMAKEFILE <Imakefile>
where Imake.tmpl and Imakefile may be overridden by the -T and -f command options, respec-
The IMAKE_TEMPLATE typically reads in a file containing machine-dependent parameters
(specified as cpp symbols), a site-specific parameters file, a file defining variables, a
file containing cpp macro functions for generating make rules, and finally the Imakefile
(specified by INCLUDE_IMAKEFILE) in the current directory. The Imakefile uses the macro
functions to indicate what targets should be built; imake takes care of generating the
Imake configuration files contain two types of variables, imake variables and make vari-
ables. The imake variables are interpreted by cpp when imake is run. By convention they
are mixed case. The make variables are written into the Makefile for later interpretation
by make. By convention make variables are upper case.
The rules file (usually named Imake.rules in the configuration directory) contains a vari-
ety of cpp macro functions that are configured according to the current platform. Imake
replaces any occurrences of the string ``@@'' with a newline to allow macros that generate
more than one line of make rules. For example, the macro
#define program_target(program, objlist) @@\
program: objlist @@\
$(CC) -o $@ objlist $(LDFLAGS)
when called with program_target(foo, foo1.o foo2.o) will expand to
foo: foo1.o foo2.o
$(CC) -o $@ foo1.o foo2.o $(LDFLAGS)
Imake also replaces any occurrences of the word ``XCOMM'' with the character ``#'' to per-
mit placing comments in the Makefile without causing ``invalid directive'' errors from the
Some complex imake macros require generated make variables local to each invocation of the
macro, often because their value depends on parameters passed to the macro. Such vari-
ables can be created by using an imake variable of the form XVARdefn, where n is a single
digit. A unique make variable will be substituted. Later occurrences of the variable
XVARusen will be replaced by the variable created by the corresponding XVARdefn.
On systems whose cpp reduces multiple tabs and spaces to a single space, imake attempts to
put back any necessary tabs (make is very picky about the difference between tabs and spa-
ces). For this reason, colons (:) in command lines must be preceded by a backslash (\).
USE WITH THE X WINDOW SYSTEM
The X Window System used imake extensively up through the X11R6.9 release, for both full
builds within the source tree and external software. X has since moved to GNU autoconf
and automake for its build system in X11R7.0 and later releases, but still maintains imake
for building existing external software programs that have not yet converted.
As mentioned above, two special variables, TOPDIR and CURDIR, are set to make referencing
files using relative path names easier. For example, the following command is generated
automatically to build the Makefile in the directory lib/X/ (relative to the top of the
% ../.././config/imake -I../.././config \
When building X programs outside the source tree, a special symbol UseInstalled is defined
and TOPDIR and CURDIR are omitted. If the configuration files have been properly
installed, the script xmkmf(1) may be used.
Here is a summary of the files read by imake as used by X. The indentation shows what
files include what other files.
Imake.tmpl generic variables
site.def site-specific, BeforeVendorCF defined
*Lib.rules shared library rules
site.def site-specific, AfterVendorCF defined
Project.tmpl X-specific variables
*Lib.tmpl shared library variables
Library.tmpl library rules
Server.tmpl server rules
Threads.tmpl multi-threaded rules
Note that site.def gets included twice, once before the *.cf file and once after.
Although most site customizations should be specified after the *.cf file, some, such as
the choice of compiler, need to be specified before, because other variable settings may
depend on them.
The first time site.def is included, the variable BeforeVendorCF is defined, and the sec-
ond time, the variable AfterVendorCF is defined. All code in site.def should be inside an
#ifdef for one of these symbols.
Imakefile.c temporary input file for cpp
/tmp/Imf.XXXXXX temporary Makefile for -s
/tmp/IIf.XXXXXX temporary Imakefile if specified Imakefile uses # comments
/usr/bin/cpp default C preprocessor
Paul DuBois, imake-Related Software and Documentation, http://www.snake.net/soft-
Paul DuBois, Software Portability with imake, Second Edition, O'Reilly & Associates, 1996.
S. I. Feldman, Make -- A Program for Maintaining Computer Programs
The following environment variables may be set, however their use is not recommended as
they introduce dependencies that are not readily apparent when imake is run:
If defined, this specifies a ``-I'' include argument to pass to the C preprocessor.
If defined, this should be a valid path to a preprocessor program. E.g.,
``/usr/local/cpp''. By default, imake will use cc -E or /usr/bin/cpp, depending on
the OS specific configuration.
If defined, this should be a valid path to a make program, such as
``/usr/local/make''. By default, imake will use whatever make program is found using
execvp(3). This variable is only used if the ``-e'' option is specified.
Todd Brunhoff, Tektronix and MIT Project Athena; Jim Fulton, MIT X Consortium
X Version 11 imake 1.0.5 IMAKE(1)