"make" and "make install" never work

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http://askubuntu.com – I have been trying it from a long time now and this time it got my nerves... The commands make and make install used to install a program from an extracted tar ball never work for some reason... The make command gives me the error- make: *** No targets specified and no makefile found. Stop. and the make install command gives me the error make: *** No rule to make target `install'. Stop. Why are these commands not executing? What should I do to solve this issue? (HowTos)