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A Makefile for Arduino Sketches

This is a very simple Makefile which knows how to build Arduino sketches. It defines entire workflows for compiling code, flashing it to Arduino and even communicating through Serial monitor. You don’t need to change anything in the Arduino sketches.


  • Very robust
  • Highly customizable
  • Supports all official AVR-based Arduino boards
  • Supports chipKIT
  • Works on all three major OS (Mac, Linux, Windows)
  • Auto detects serial baud rate and libraries used
  • Support for *.ino and *.pde sketches as well as raw *.c and *.cpp
  • Support for Arduino Software versions 1.0.x as well as 0.x. Support for Arduino 1.5.x is still work in progress
  • Automatic dependency tracking. Referred libraries are automatically included in the build process. Changes in *.h files lead to recompilation of sources which include them


Through package

If you’re using FreeBSD, Debian or Ubuntu, you can find this in the arduino-mk package which can be installed using apt-get or aptitude.

From source

  • Download the latest release
  • Or clone it from Github using the command git clone
  • Check the usage section in this readme about setting usage options


You need to have the Arduino IDE. You can either install it through the installer or download the distribution zip file and extract it.

The Makefile also delegates resetting the board to a short Python program. You’ll need to install pySerial to use it though.

On Debian or Ubuntu:

   apt-get install python-serial

On Fedora:

   yum install pyserial

On openSUSE:

  zypper install python-serial

On Mac using MacPorts:

  sudo port install py27-serial

On Windows:

You need to install Cygwin and its packages for Make, Perl and the following Serial library.

   pySerial can be downloaded from PyPi

On other systems:

   pip install pyserial


   easy_install -U pyserial


You can also find more detailed instructions in this guide.

You can also checkout the sample makefiles inside the examples/ directory, e.g. Makefile-example.

Download a copy of this repo some where in your system or install it through a package.

On the Mac you might want to set:

ARDUINO_DIR   = /Applications/
ARDMK_DIR     = /usr/local
MONITOR_PORT  = /dev/ttyACM0
BOARD_TAG     = mega2560

On Linux (if you have installed through package), you shouldn’t need to set anything other than your board type and port:

BOARD_TAG     = mega2560
MONITOR_PORT  = /dev/ttyACM0

On Windows (using cygwin), you might want to set:

ARDUINO_DIR   = ../../arduino
ARDMK_DIR     = path/to/mkfile
BOARD_TAG     = mega2560

It is recommended in Windows that you create a symbolic link to avoid problems with file naming conventions on Windows. For example, if your your Arduino directory is in:

c:\Program Files (x86)\Arduino

You will get problems with the special characters on the directory name. More details about this can be found in issue #94

To create a symbolic link, you can use the command “mklink” on Windows, e.g.

mklink /d c:\Arduino c:\Program Files (x86)\Arduino

After which, the variables should be:


Instead of:

ARDUINO_DIR=../../../../../Program\ Files\ \(x86\)/Arduino
  • BOARD_TAG - Type of board, for a list see boards.txt or make show_boards
  • MONITOR_PORT - The port where your Arduino is plugged in, usually /dev/ttyACM0 or /dev/ttyUSB0 in Linux or Mac OS X and com3, com4, etc. in Windows.
  • ARDUINO_DIR - Path to Arduino installation. In Cygwin in Windows this path must be relative, not absolute (e.g. “../../arduino” and not “/c/cygwin/Arduino”).
  • ARDMK_DIR - Path where the *.mk are present. If you installed the package, then it is usually /usr/share/arduino
  • AVR_TOOLS_DIR - Path where the avr tools chain binaries are present. If you are going to use the binaries that came with Arduino installation, then you don’t have to set it. Otherwise set it realtive and not absolute.

The list of all variables that can be overridden is available at file.

Including Libraries

You can specify space separated list of libraries that are needed for your sketch to the variable ARDUINO_LIBS.

ARDUINO_LIBS = Wire SoftwareSerial

The libraries will be searched in the following places in the following order.

  • /libraries directory inside your sketchbook directory. Sketchbook directory will be auto detected from your Arduino preference file. You can also manually set it through ARDUINO_SKETCHBOOK.
  • /libraries directory inside your Arduino directory, which is read from ARDUINO_DIR.

The libraries inside user directories will take precedence over libraries present in Arduino core directory.

The makefile can autodetect the libraries that are included from your sketch and can include them automatically. But it can’t detect libraries that are included from other libraries. (see issue #93)


To upload compiled files, avrdude is used. This Makefile tries to find avrdude and it’s config (avrdude.conf) below ARDUINO_DIR. If you like to use the one installed on your system instead of the one which came with Arduino, you can try to set the variables AVRDUDE and AVRDUDE_CONF. On a typical Linux system these could be set to

  AVRDDUDE     = /usr/bin/avrdude
  AVRDUDE_CONF = /etc/avrdude.conf


It is possible to use colorgcc with this makefile. Check out this comment to find usage instructions.

Emacs/Flymake support

On-the-fly syntax checking in Emacs using the Flymake minor mode is now possible.

First, the flymake mode must be configured to recognize ino files :

Edit the flymake configuration :

    M-x customize-option RET
    flymake-allowed-file-name-masks RET

Add the line :

      ("\\.ino\\'" flymake-simple-make-init)

Then click on “Apply and Save” button

Then, the following line must be added to the project Makefile :

        $(CXX_NAME) -c -include Arduino.h   -x c++ $(CXXFLAGS)   $(CPPFLAGS)  -fsyntax-only $(CHK_SOURCES)


The current version of the makefile is 1.3.4. You can find the full history in the file

This project adheres to Semantic Versioning 2.0.


This makefile and the related documentation and examples are free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2.1 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.


All contributions (even documentation) are welcome :) Open a pull request and I would be happy to merge them. Also checkout the contribution guide for more details.

If you are looking for ideas to work on, then check out the following TODO items or the issue tracker.

Limitations / Know Issues / TODO’s

  • Doesn’t work with Arduino 1.5.x yet. Follow issue #45 for progress.
  • Since it doesn’t do any pre processing like Arduino IDE, you have to declare all methods before you use them (issue #59)
  • More than one .ino or .pde file is not supported yet (issue #49)
  • When you compile for the first time, it builds all libs inside Arduino directory even if it is not needed. But while linking only the relevant files are linked. (issue #29). Even Arduino IDE does the same thing though.

If you find an issue or have an idea for a feature then log them in the issue tracker


This makefile was originally created by Martin Oldfield and he maintained it till v0.10.2. From May 2013, it is maintained by Sudar

Similar works

  • It’s not a derivative of this, but Alan Burlison has written a similar thing.
  • Alan’s Makefile was used in a Pragmatic Programmer’s article.
  • Rei Vilo wrote to tell me that he’s using the Makefile ina Xcode 4 template called embedXcode. Apparently it supports many platforms and boards, including AVR-based Arduino, AVR-based Wiring, PIC32-based chipKIT, MSP430-based LaunchPad and ARM3-based Maple.