This page explains how to download and install KDE 3.1.x from sources.
To compile KDE you need:
In order to run KDE applications, you need the Qt, arts, and kdelibs packages. For a simple desktop (with a window manager, panel, etc), you will also need kdebase. The other packages contain many other applications by topic: networking, graphics, multimedia, games, utilities, toys, software development, etc.
You can find the Qt library (version 3.1.x) at ftp://ftp.trolltech.com/qt/source/
KDE 3.1.x is available from http://download.kde.org/stable/
Unlike most compiled software, Qt is compiled in the place where it will stay instead of using a 'make install'. Please read the INSTALL instructions in the Qt package. You need to set the QTDIR and KDEDIR to the locations where Qt and KDE will be installed, respectively. Also, append $QTDIR/bin and $KDEDIR/bin to your $PATH and $LD_LIBRARY_PATH. Alternatively, instead of using $LD_LIBRARY_PATH, you may add your Qt and KDE library paths to /etc/ld.so.conf, but don't forget to run ldconfig as root after installing Qt and kdelibs, otherwise configure scripts will fail to find the newly installed libraries!
tar xvf qt-x11-3.1.1.tar cd qt-x11-3.1.1 less INSTALL # Set up QTDIR, KDEDIR, PATH, and LD_LIBRARY_PATH cd $QTDIR ./configure -system-zlib -qt-gif -system-libpng \ -system-libjpeg -plugin-imgfmt-mng -thread -no-stl \ -no-xinerama -no-g++-exceptions make
Note that -thread is required (KDE will not run or even compile if you omit it), that -no-xinerama is only if you're not using xinerama, and -no-g++-exceptions is strongly recommended if you're using gcc.
Make sure to compile and install first arts, and afterwards kdelibs before any other packages. Also, if you want to use kdeaddons, it should be compiled last as it requires kdebase, kdemultimedia, etc.
For each KDE package:
bunzip2 <package>.tar.bz2 tar xvf <package>.tar cd <package> ./configure make make install
See the KDE 3.1 Info Page for some common encountered problems when running KDE 3.1.