Once you've done it a few times, writing a basic makefile for a new project is fairly simple. But problems may occur when you try to do more than just the basics. And let's face it—what project maintainer has ever been satisfied with just a basic makefile?

Attention to detail is what makes an open source project successful. Users lose interest in a project fairly easily—especially when functionality they expect is missing or improperly written. For example, users have come to expect makefiles to support certain standard targets or goals, specified on the make command line, like this:

$ make install

Common make targets include all, clean, and install. In this example, install is the target. But you should realize that none of these are

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