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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 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).
These are the recommended installation directories for the different situations:
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.
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. http://www.omat.nl/2010/07/07/move-to-git-the-progress-so-far/
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 http://kdesrc-build.kde.org and more here kdesrc-build, and here is a list of working configuration files.
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.
After KDE has been built, you'll want a good way to launch apps and perform your regular development tasks:
Your system won't know to use your new KDE until you tell it how to find the KDE applications and libraries.
You will likely want to use a stable package from your distribution instead of the ones of the KDE version you are working on.
For most development topics, and documentation, see Development
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.