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icmbuild(1) Icmake’s generic program maintenance facility icmbuild(1)


icmbuild - A generic, C++/C program maintenance facility


icmbuild [-h] [-c] args


Icmbuild is a small C program calling icmake(1) to do program maintenance as defined by the icmbuild script that’s (commonly) found in /usr/lib/icmake.

Icmbuild’s actions are tailored through a configuration file (icmconf) which must be present in the directory where program maintenance is requested. This file is automatically installed by icmstart(1). Refer to icmconf(7)’s man-page for details about this file.

Icmbuild assumes that your sources exist in and below the current working directory. The file icmconf in icmake(1)’s distribution provides an example of an icmconf file that can be used by icmbuild. In that example it is assumed that C++ sources are maintained, but program maintenance for, e.g., C sources can also easily be configured. If icmbuild is called, but icmconf is not available it displays a usage-summary after which icm() ends.

Icmbuild() handles the maintenance for all sources in each of the subdirectories named in the file CLASSES, and also of all sources in the current working directory. `Maintenance’ involves compiling all as yet uncompiled source files, recompilation of modified source files, optionally library maintenance and optionally the pre-compilation of header files, which normally results in a marked reduction of source compilation times.

When source files are compiled object modules are produced which may be stored in a library, against which the object module of the program’s main function is linked. It is also possible to specify additional libraries against which the program must be linked.

If a library is constructed it is kept up to date by icmbuild. When a source is successfully compiled its new object module replaces the old one in the library. At that point the separate object files are no longer required and are removed by icmbuild.


To use icmbuild do as follows:

Install icmbuild in your path (icmake’s installation procedure should already have taken care of that);
Copy icmconf (and probably a file CLASSES) to your project’s base directory (i.e., the directory where and below which the project’s sources are found). Usually this has already been taken care of by the (icmstart) script;


Modify the #defines in the file icmconf to taste;
Enter the names of subdirectories containing sources on separate lines in the file CLASSES
Note that the order of the classes mentioned in CLASSES is relevant in that new class (subdirectory) names can always be added to the end of the file CLASSES, but reordering the lines in the CLASSES file should be avoided as that may easily result in overwriting identically named object files from already existing directories.
If reordering is necessary, then first run the command icmbuild clean to remove all files that were thus far created by icmbuild. Recompilation is necessary as the names of the object files contain class order-numbers for identification. These class-order numbers prevent file-name collisions (e.g., two classes might use a file and because of the number-prefixes replacement of a file x.o from class A by file x.o from class B is prevented;
Start icmbuild.

The next section covers icmbuild’s modes of operation.


Icmbuild recognizes three options of which only one can be specified. See the following section for information about which option is recognized by by which icmbuild command.

-h: display usage information (which is also automatically shown when the current directory does not contain a file icmconf) and terminate icmbuild;
-c: clear the screen (by calling tput clear) before starting the compilation process;
-s: strip the compiled program or library at its installation directory (see the various install modes below).


Icmbuild recognizes the following commands (possible options are shown between square brackets). With the install commands a path argument must be specified, which must be an existing user-writable directory:

clean up remnants of previous actions (the directory specified by the TMP_DIR define in icmconf is removed). If precompiled headers were created (i.e., PRECOMP in icmconf was specified) then all files having extension .gch in the main directory and in the directories listed in the CLASSES file are also removed. If USE_ALL was specified then those files are also removed;
all .gch files that were precompiled are removed (whether existing in the gch subdirectory of the TMP_DIR directory (specified in icmconf), or in directories specified in the CLASSES file, or in the project’s main directory). If icmconf does not specify PRECOMP then nothing happens;
same as icmbuild clean, but the .gch files and files specified by the USE_ALL define in icmconf are not removed;
[-s] install program path
install the constructed program in the specified path (to be used after issuing icmbuild program, see below). Path can be absolute or relative and may optionally specify the name of the installed program. Example:

icmbuild install program ~/bin/prog
This installs the constructed binary program in the user’s bin directory with the name prog;
[-s] install static path
install the constructed static library in the specified path (to be used after issuing icmbuild library, see below). Path can be absolute or relative and may optionally specify the name of the installed library. Example:

icmbuild install static /usr/lib/
This installs the constructed static library (assume its name is libspecial.a) in /usr/lib as /usr/lib/libspecial.a.

[-s] install shared path when using this installation command, icmconf must contain #define SHARED (cf. icmconf(7)). It installs the constructed shared library in the specified path (to be used after issuing icmbuild library). Path can be absolute or relative, and must specify an existing directory. Example:

icmbuild install shared /usr/lib/
This installs the constructed binary shared library (e.g. in /usr/lib as /usr/lib/ In addition, the soft-links -> ->
are defined in /usr/lib, where X.Y.Z are the major, minor and subminor versions defined in the file VERSION.
[-c] library
do library maintenance (builds a static and optionally (if icmconf defines SHARED) a shared (dynamic) library);
[-c] program
do program maintenance (builds a program from the sources in the current working directory and from the sources in the directories specified in the file CLASSES);
If no commands are specified (but optionally only -c) then the DEFCOM specification in the icmconf is inspected. Recognized specifications are:

#define DEFCOM "program"
which is quivalent to the command icmbuild [-c] program;
if DEFCOM is specified as

#define DEFCOM "library"
then this is quivalent to the command icmbuild [-c] library.

If an explicit command is passed to icmbuild then DEFCOM specifications are ignored.


Class dependencies are handled by icmake’s support program icm-dep. It can be called from icmake by passing it the option -d. All options and arguments following -d are forwared to icm-dep.

The program icm-dep is automatically called by icmbuild to handle class dependencies. Consider two classes Options and Process. If Process uses Options and if precompiled header files are used, then in addition to Option’s header file, Process’s header must also be precompiled if Option’s header file changes. Likewise, if Option’s data organization is altered and Option defines inline members used by Process or Process defines an Option data member then, in addition to Option’s sources sources Process’s sources must also be compiled. For the latter case icmconf provides the USE_ALL specification: if a `USE_ALL’ file exists in a directory, then all sources of that directory are recompiled.

The program icm_dep determines the program’s class dependencies, and recompiles class header files of all classes depending on classes whose header files must be recompiled. Furthermore, if a `USE_ALL’ file exists in a directory then all sources of classes depending on that directory’s class are also recompiled.

Icm-dep’s options are described in icmake(1)’s man-page.

To start its work, icm_dep needs one command-line argument: go. Any other argument results in icm_dep performing a `dry run’: it performs all its duties (and verbose messages are displayed as if go had been specified), but no files (precompiled headers or USE_ALL files) are touched or removed. If neither options nor arguments are specified icm_dep writes its usage summary to the standard output.

By default icmbuild calls icmake -d -V go: icm_dep is called to perform its duties and to show its actions on the standard output stream. By specifying a #define ICM_DEP parameter in the icmconf file this default can be overruled (cf. icmconf(7)).


The mentioned paths are sugestive only and may be installation dependent:

/usr/share/icmake/icmconf Unabbreviated example of an icmbuild configuration file;
/usr/share/icmake/CLASSES Example of an icmbuild CLASSES file.


Here is an example of the configuration file icmconf for a concrete program, using facilities of the bobcat library:

#define CLS
#define LIBRARY "modules"
#define MAIN ""
#define SOURCES "*.cc"
#define OBJ_EXT ".o"
#define SHAREDREQ ""
#define TMP_DIR "tmp"
#define USE_ALL "a"
#define USE_ECHO ON
#define CXX "g++"
#define CXXFLAGS " --std=c++20 -Wall -O2 -pthread" " -fdiagnostics-color=never "
#define IH ".ih"
#define PRECOMP "-x c++-header"
#define REFRESH
#define LDFLAGS ""
#define ADD_LIBRARIES "bobcat"

#define DEFCOM "program"


icmake(1), icmconf(7), icmstart(1), icmstart.rc(7)


None reported


This is free software, distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).


Frank B. Brokken (

1992-2022 icmake.10.03.00