Getting Started/Build

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Getting Started/Build

Here you will find instructions for compiling and installing KDE from source and suggestions for when compilation doesn't go so smoothly.


Extra Information

The build process described in these pages is kept as simple and generic as possible, but it is generally assumed you are building KDE4 on Linux. Extra information about building KDE under specific distributions, platforms or conditions can be found at the following links:

Build Basics

This section will briefly explain the steps involved in building software so you understand the concepts so you are not being asked to blindly follow some recipes you do not understand.

It is assumed you are at least familiar with the basics of using the command line.


The checkout step is obtaining a local copy of the source code that you want to build. While you can download tarball snapshots of the code as at a given time or release to build, it is more common for doing development work to check a copy of the code out directly from the code repository.




Example Recipe

The following example recipe shows the sequence of commands you would need to enter into the command line to build a typical KDE module:

cd ~/kde-devel/src
git clone
mkdir ~/kde-devel/build/kdelibs
cd ~/kde-devel/build/kdelibs
cmake ~/kde-devel/src/kdelibs \
      -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=debugfull \
make install

Let's break that recipe down and explain each step.

Checkout Example

First you navigate to a convenient folder to save the code in:

cd ~/kde-devel/src

Then request a copy of the code from the KDE source repository, in this example a copy of kdelibs from Git:

git clone

This may take some time to process. For Git you will see out output similar to:

myuser@mybox:~/kde-devel/src> git clone
Initialized empty Git repository in /home/myuser/kde-devel/src/kdelibs/.git/
remote: Counting objects: 722134, done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (138759/138759), done.
remote: Total 722134 (delta 586243), reused 715797 (delta 580373)
Receiving objects: 100% (722134/722134), 140.90 MiB | 706 KiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (586243/586243), done.

This example will create a folder called ~/kde-devel/src/kdelibs containing all the kdelibs source code and all its history since KDE began.

For an SVN checkout you will instead see output similar to:

myuser@mybox:~/kde-devel/src> svn checkout svn://
A    kdesdk/cmake
A    kdesdk/cmake/samples
A    kdesdk/cmake/samples/kpager
A    kdesdk/cmake/samples/kpager/CMakeLists.txt
A    kdesdk/COPYING.LIB
U   kdesdk
Checked out revision 1223739.

Configure Example

First you create a convenient folder to build the code in:

mkdir ~/kde-devel/build/kdelibs
cd ~/kde-devel/build/kdelibs

Next you need to run CMake to create the configuration files to be used in the build:

cmake ~/kde-devel/src/kdelibs \
      -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=debugfull \

The first line tells CMake where it can find the source code that is to be built. The second line tells CMake what type of build is required, in this example a debugfull build that will include useful information for when we are debugging any the software. The third line tells CMake we also want the unit tests to be built. The fourth line tells CMake where to install the software. Other options can be passed to CMake to control how a project gets built, but these are the most common.

Build Example

Scripted Builds

The easiest way to build the KDE SC from scratch is to use one of the build scripts that are available. This approach is highly recommended for those new to building KDE SC as it takes care of the Checkout, Configure, Build, Install and Update steps for you. The builds remain compatible with the manual methods of building KDE SC so you can change later if you want.

Getting Ready

Manually building KDE Software requires that you first set up the build environment and install the required development tools and libraries.

Building From Source

Troubleshooting The Build

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 read the instructions carefully.

Please review your logs and do searches for fixes. If you cannot find a solution, try the Troubleshooting page. If you still cannot resolve the problem then please ask for help on IRC or a Mailing List.

Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.