Compiling non-trivial programs

Posted on 2007-07-19
Last Modified: 2013-11-13
Hi, I downloaded an some source code and I want to recompile it.  There's a subfolder called "SRC" with a bunch of header files and .cpp files.  There's also a makefile in there.

I tried to compile it with Visual Studio 2005 Express but there was no project solution file.  I also can't just open up the main.cpp file and go to "build" because the option is grayed out.

Then I gave up on VS2005 and I tried using the Makefile.  However, the last time I used a makefile was in UNIX at school so I had very little success using getting it to work in Windows or even Linux (Ubuntu distribution).

My questions are how can I compile this program and can a Makefile also work for other OS besides UNIX?  I know it's a stupid question but I haven't really programmed any non-trivial programs before.

Thanks for all your help in advance.

Question by:another_steve
    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    what program you are trying to build ?
    if it is written for linux/unix etc and not meant for win machines , it may not be trivial to get it to compile on windows without some modifications.
    for example some library functions are only available on linux machnes and vice versa.

    if you give the application and from where you downloaded experts here can have a look.

    Makefiles can work on other OSes but may not work out of the box.

    btw you can also try to instal cygwin so that you can then directly compile linux apps using the normal make/make install  ( in most cases )


    Author Comment

    It's a game called Atomic Tanks: source code can be downloaded from

    if you can show me how to compile this, that would be great

    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    do you really need to compile it yourself cos for windows they have precompiled exe files which you can run

    secondly i checked from the website that one of the requirements is Allegro game library i
    hope you have installed that already

    Author Comment

    i want to make some modifications to the game, later then i'll have to recompile it

    thanks for the heads up about the Allegro game library, i downloaded it and extracted the file to my VS2005 folder but i still can't compile it.  i opened up the files "atank.cpp" and tried compiling but the "start debugging"  option was grayed out

    LVL 11

    Accepted Solution

    you simply cannot take a file and build the application.;
    you have to take care of the dependencies as in the files need to be compiled in particular order and then all the compiled object files can later be linked to create one application

    I notice that there is a file in the src directory
    but since windows dont have a default make program maybe you can try to download and install nmake from

    and then later try

    make ( or nmake if thats the command ) -f

    note: it may not be the -f options to pass the name of the makefile you would need to look at the documentation
    LVL 1

    Expert Comment

    Forced accept.

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