And everybody's build system is utterly fucked. Not, like, a few people's here and there. At every place I've worked the answer to the question "I want to start a new project -- how?" is very long and nowhere in it is "check the documentation". Not only is it word of mouth, it's *faulty* word of mouth and the short answer is "try stuff until something seems to work".
Are build systems really that hard? I mean, what's up with that? Yeah, okay, they're nontrivial. But so's compiling a source file, and that mostly works. So's source control (aka revision control aka configuration management), and *that* mostly works.
I'm going ahead and getting the O'Reilly book on Make for my own use. It's how I set up projects at home, it works, it's not fucked. It required many hours of my time to figure out *how* to do it and it's certainly not the "one true way" of configuration in the long term. But after this many jobs of Visual Studio Hell, it starts to look pretty damn attractive. "I don't want to learn Make, it's too hard" pales in comparison to trying to get a new project set up and running in Visual Studio. It's just evil, evil, evil.