Say I have a makefile called Foo, and it has a variable called Bar.

in Foo I have:

Bar := /some/initial/path
Other_var := ${Bar}/more/paths

and then in my main makefile I use Foo

include Path/to/Foo

But How can I make it such in my main makefile I can set Bar and have my value of Bar be the one used in Foo? I tried using eval but the := is a real challenge. A big goal is to not change the source of Foo.

2 Answers 2


My GNU make 4.0 online info says if you use the override keyword on an assignment, normally used to override command line var=value settings, then the value will not be changed by further assignments which do not use the override keyword.

So you could try in your main makefile:

override Bar := myvalueforbar
include Path/to/Foo
  • Yes! this was correct, override was my next thought to try out too
    – c-o-d
    Mar 3, 2016 at 17:35

If you define Bar before including Foo in your Makefile, then the Bar is available in Foo.

E.g. I have the following in each of my Makefile's for Python packages (the first two lines differing per Makefile of course):

VERSION:=$(shell python setup.py --version)

include ~/.config/ruamel_util_new/Makefile.inc

And in the Makefile.inc I have generic routines that among other things now how to create a distribution file:


$(DIST): $(SRC)
        make check
        python setup.py sdist
  • I don't understand how this answers the question.  Your Makefile.inc doesn't (re)define PKGNAME or VERSION.  The OP's Foo (subordinate makefile) does (re)define Bar, and he has a goal of not modifying Foo.
    – Scott
    Mar 3, 2016 at 10:53
  • as I understand it the OP wants to know how to create Makefile and Foo so that Foo doesn't need changing after that even if Bar changes.
    – Anthon
    Mar 3, 2016 at 13:23
  • Well, we interpreted the question differently.  The answer that the OP accepted suggests that my interpretation was correct (which seems to happen slightly more than 51% of the time    :-)    ).
    – Scott
    Mar 3, 2016 at 21:35

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