I understood the difference between make clean and make mrproper.

make clean will only remove the generated files (.o/.ko) but not the configuration files and the files in include/generated, include/config.

make mrproper will remove the configuration files as well as files in include/generated, include/config.

What is the purpose of make distclean? make help says

mrproper + remove editor backup and patch files

I added a patch file using git format-patch -1, but it wasn't deleted when make distclean was executed.

  • Your new file was not deleted because the Makefiles had no way of knowing it should not exist.
    – Kusalananda
    Nov 5, 2019 at 13:37
  • What is the patch files which make help is referring to
    – md.jamal
    Nov 5, 2019 at 13:45

1 Answer 1


make distclean builds on top of make mrproper (so it deletes everything that make mrproper deletes) and in addition:

  • deletes temporary code navigation files: tags TAGS cscope* GPATH GTAGS GRTAGS GSYMS;
  • deletes backup files: *~ #*# *%;
  • deletes what could more accurately be referred to as “patch artifacts”, i.e. files generated as a side-effect of working with patches: *.orig *.rej *.bak;
  • deletes core dumps.

It doesn’t delete files with a .patch extension, such as those generated by git format-patch.

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