Getting Started


Determine Your Needs

KDE versions are split into branches off of the Trunk. The steps to build most branches are very similar. However, each branch has different prerequisites.

You will need to know what version you want, how often you will use the development environment (more work upfront may be justified if you intend to use it more).

Our content is generally written with KDE4 and Linux in mind. For Windows, BSD, and KDE3 look at the other Supported Platforms page.

Choose Version

Distribution synchronized
To ease finding dependencies, See Distributions with KDE, or you may have a requirement to support a version supplied by a vendor.
As a developer looking to develop a patch against an existing application, you might want to look at this.
Latest Features for production
branch (stable / beta)
Core Development
trunk Where new features grow (may have build problems on Mondays)
Browse availability

Choose Location

Choose where you want to put the KDE installation, and keep source and build directories. (The QCA plugin may have to be installed as root if using system Qt).

Source and Build Directories

suggested: ~/kde/src and ~/kde/build (where ~ is the home directory of the user who runs KDE)
possibly /usr/src/ if building as root.

Installation Directory

These are the recommended installation directories for the different situations:

Casual Curiosity
development user home if you do not want to mess up your production KDE
your home directory if you are willing to use environment variables to keep versions separate (using scripts) or have no other access to the machine
As root not advised unless you have a dedicated machine
Application Developer
development user home same as for curious user
as root will be more useful to simulate environment of customers
your home directory may simplify your development
Distribution Manager
To test KDM, you may want to install as root and/or on a virtual machine so you do not damage a production system.
keeping your system similar to other developers will help make troubleshooting easier, see Developer Setups

Gather Prerequisites

Your build will fail if you are missing one of them, and the list changes. There are some options, however the make system can often find optional packages even if you do not intend to use them, so you may need to pass disable options.


System Qt
Often the easiest way to go, because most people have it already, you may have to install the QCA plugin as root though.
Previously known as qt-copy -- This is the minimum version of Qt any of your users are expected to have. Some bugs may be fixed in new Qt, so you may have to work-around bugs in lower versions, including this one.
Main Qt
Get it straight from Nokia, experience the latest cool features, but note that many people will be using older distributions with older Qt.

Getting the Source

We are migrating from SVN to git. We have extensive infrastructure that is being converted, but please know that this is a much anticipated, complex, and popular change.

Build it

Manual Steps
augmented with bash functions.
Specific examples:Build KDE4.6 on Kubuntu
distribution specific

There may be pre-made builds for your distribution, For example, in Kubuntu, Project Neon, aims to provide a recent trunk build environment, and PPA's provide latest branch versions.


This script will do most of the downloading and compiling for you. It can be configured to build most versions, by default it builds Trunk. There full-process instructions at and more here kdesrc-build, and here is a list of working configuration files.

Troubleshooting the build

Troubleshooting information is similar between branches as well.

Compile and Linking errors are frequent sources of discouragement. Make careful note of the first occurrence of an error in your build process. It could be as simple as a bad environment variable, an unexpected version of a library or missing prerequisite.

Please review your logs and do searches for fixes. If you cannot find a solution, try Build/KDE4/Errors, the IRC channel, and the mailing lists. Build/Stories

Using your KDE

After KDE has been built, you'll want a good way to launch apps and perform your regular development tasks:

Environment Variables

Your system won't know to use your new KDE until you tell it how to find the KDE applications and libraries.

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Set up Development Tools

You may need to set up or use, you will likely want to use a stable package from your distribution.

it is unclear if the kde-devel user or your normal user will be running the development tools. Please Help

For most development topics, and documentation, see Development

Opening and creating KDE project files

This is a stub, please help.


You may not need the latest bleeding-edge version of KDE with which to develop. Much of the code will be similar between versions and your patch might work. However, Trunk is where major changes are introduced, and branches are mostly for maintenance/bug fixes.

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This page was last edited on 7 September 2020, at 15:50. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.