[SOLVED] How can I use Bash syntax in Makefile targets?

Issue

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) > [email protected]

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

Solution

From the GNU Make documentation,

5.3.2 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.

Answered By – derobert

Answer Checked By – Clifford M. (BugsFixing Volunteer)

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