makefile - mac - sudo make install




What's the opposite of 'make install', i.e. how do you uninstall a library in Linux? (6)

While running

./configure --prefix=/mingw 

on a MinGW/MSYS system for a library I had previously run

'./configure --prefix=/mingw && make && make install' 

I came across this message:

WARNING: A version of the Vamp plugin SDK is already installed. Expect worries and sorrows if you install a new version without removing the old one first. (Continuing)

This had me worried. What's the opposite of 'make install', i.e. how is a library uninstalled in Linux? Will 'make clean' do the job, or are there other steps involved?


How to uninstall after "make install"

Method #1 (make uninstall)

Step 1: You only need to follow this step if you've deleted/altered the build directory in any way: Download and make/make install using the exact same procedure as you did before.

Step 2: try make uninstall.

cd $SOURCE_DIR 
sudo make uninstall

If this succeeds you are done. If you're paranoid you may also try the steps of "Method #3" to make sure make uninstall didn't miss any files.

Method #2 (checkinstall -- only for debian based systems)

Overview of the process

In debian based systems (e.g. Ubuntu) you can create a .deb package very easily by using a tool named checkinstall. You then install the .deb package (this will make your debian system realize that the all parts of your package have been indeed installed) and finally uninstall it to let your package manager properly cleanup your system.

Step by step

sudo apt -y install checkinstall
cd $SOURCE_DIR 
sudo checkinstall

At this point checkinstall will prompt for a package name. Enter something a bit descriptive and note it because you'll use it in a minute. It will also prompt for a few more data that you can ignore. If it complains about the version not been acceptable just enter something reasonable like 1.0. When it completes you can install and finally uninstall:

sudo dpkg -i $PACKAGE_NAME_YOU_ENTERED 
sudo dpkg -r $PACKAGE_NAME_YOU_ENTERED

Method #3 (install_manifest.txt)

If a file install_manifest.txt exists in your source dir it should contain the filenames of every single file that the installation created.

So first check the list of files and their mod-time:

cd $SOURCE_DIR 
sudo xargs -I{} stat -c "%z %n" "{}" < install_manifest.txt

You should get zero errors and the mod-times of the listed files should be on or after the installation time. If all is OK you can delete them in one go:

cd $SOURCE_DIR 
mkdir deleted-by-uninstall
sudo xargs -I{} mv -t deleted-by-uninstall "{}" < install_manifest.txt

User Merlyn Morgan-Graham however has a serious notice regarding this method that you should keep in mind (copied here verbatim): "Watch out for files that might also have been installed by other packages. Simply deleting these files [...] could break the other packages.". That's the reason that we've created the deleted-by-uninstall dir and moved files there instead of deleting them.


99% of this post existed in other answers. I just collected everything useful in a (hopefully) easy to follow how-to and tried to give extra attention to important details (like quoting xarg arguments and keeping backups of deleted files).


make clean generally only cleans built files in the directory containing the source code itself, and rarely touches any installed software.

Makefiles generally don't contain a target for uninstallation -- you usually have to do that yourself, by removing the files from the directory into which they were installed. For example, if you built a program and installed it (using make install) into /usr/local, you'd want to look through /usr/local/bin, /usr/local/libexec, /usr/local/share/man, etc., and remove the unwanted files. Sometimes a Makefile includes an uninstall target, but not always.

Of course, typically on a Linux system you install software using a package manager, which is capable of uninstalling software "automagically".


Depending on how well the makefile/configure script/autofoo magic of the program in question is the following might solve your problem:

make uninstall

The problem is that you should execute this on the source tree of the version you've got installed and with exactly the same configuration that you used for installing.


If sudo make uninstall is unavailable:

In a Debian based system, instead of (or after*) doing make install you can run sudo checkinstall to make a .deb file that gets automatically installed. You can then remove it using the system package manager (e.g. apt/synaptic/aptitude/dpkg). Checkinstall also supports creating other types of package, e.g. RPM.

See also http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/162 and some basic checkinstall usage and debian checkinstall package.


*: If you're reading this after having installed with make install you can still follow the above instructions and do a dpkg -r $PACKAGE_NAME_YOU_CHOSEN afterwards.



There is no standard unfortunately, this is one of the perils of installing from source. Some Makefiles will include an "uninstall", so

make uninstall

from the source directory may work. Otherwise, it may be a matter of manually undoing whatever the make install did.

make clean usually just cleans up the source directory - removing generated/compiled files and the like, probably not what you're after.







uninstall