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6.1 Recursing subdirectories

In packages with subdirectories, the top level `Makefile.am' must tell Automake which subdirectories are to be built. This is done via the SUBDIRS variable.

The SUBDIRS variable holds a list of subdirectories in which building of various sorts can occur. Many targets (e.g. all) in the generated `Makefile' will run both locally and in all specified subdirectories. Note that the directories listed in SUBDIRS are not required to contain `Makefile.am's; only `Makefile's (after configuration). This allows inclusion of libraries from packages which do not use Automake (such as gettext).

In packages that use subdirectories, the top-level `Makefile.am' is often very short. For instance, here is the `Makefile.am' from the GNU Hello distribution:

SUBDIRS = doc intl po src tests

When Automake invokes make in a subdirectory, it uses the value of the MAKE variable. It passes the value of the variable AM_MAKEFLAGS to the make invocation; this can be set in `Makefile.am' if there are flags you must always pass to make.

The directories mentioned in SUBDIRS must be direct children of the current directory. For instance, you cannot put `src/subdir' into SUBDIRS. Instead you should put SUBDIRS = subdir into `src/Makefile.am'. Automake can be used to construct packages of arbitrary depth this way.

By default, Automake generates `Makefiles' which work depth-first (`postfix'). However, it is possible to change this ordering. You can do this by putting `.' into SUBDIRS. For instance, putting `.' first will cause a `prefix' ordering of directories. All `clean' targets are run in reverse order of build targets.

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