Getting Started/Build/KDE4

Build instructions

This article shows how to download, build, install and start KDE 4 from subversion. It consolidates howtos from various sites, e.g. This topic shows one way that works. It does not intend to explain the obvious background behind it.

To reduce complexity, we use the bash-shell (standard) throughout the tutorial.

Become the user kde-devel

useradd kde-devel
mkdir /home/kde-devel
chown kde-devel:kde-devel /home/kde-devel 2>/dev/null || chown kde-devel:users /home/kde-devel{CODE}

Change to the user kde-devel:

su - kde-devel

Setting the environment

You have to add some environment variables - add these lines to ~/.bashrc.

export YACC='byacc -d'
export QTDIR=$HOME/qt-unstable
export KDEDIR=$HOME/kde
export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=$DBUSDIR/lib/pkgconfig:\ 
export PATH=$QTDIR/bin:$KDEDIR/bin:$PATH
alias dbusstart="eval `PATH=$DBUSDIR/bin \
$DBUSDIR/bin/dbus-launch --auto-syntax`"
function cmakekde { cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=$HOME/kde \
-DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=debugfull [email protected] && make VERBOSE=1 && make install}

Check out the software

svn co svn://
svn co svn://

Build DBus

tar xvfz dbus-0.91.tar.gz
cd dbus-0.91/
./configure --disable-qt --disable-qt3 --prefix=$DBUSDIR \
--localstatedir=/var && make && make install

__Make sure the dbus session is running__ Otherwise some parts of the build will fail, e.g. kxml_compiler based file processing in kdepim.


Build Qt

cd ~/qt-copy && \
./configure -qt-gif -no-exceptions -debug -fast \
-prefix $QTDIR -qdbus && make && make install{CODE}

Build and install CMake

The default prefix is /usr/local, make sure /usr/local/bin is in your PATH.

tar zxf cmake-2.4.3.tar.gz
mkdir cmake-build
cd cmake-build
sudo make install

Build KDElibs

cd ~/
mkdir kdelibs_build
cd kdelibs_build
cmakekde ../kdelibs


If you have problems compiling this, first make sure the following commands can be executed: aclocal, autoconf, autoheader, gcc, g++, pkg-config.

Note : If you get "Could NOT find GIF", install the devel package of libungif (the actual name may vary on distribution).

If the problems persist, try the make-option


Build kdepimlibs

Before KDEBase you need to install kdepimlibs

svn co svn://
mkdir kdepimlibs-build
cd kdepimlibs-build
cmakekde ../kdepimlibs


To compile against kdelibs (not the snapshot) add


to the CMakeLists.txt before 'find_package(KDE4 REQUIRED)'

Build KDEbase

You may need KDEbase for some kioslaves.

svn co svn://
mkdir kdebase-build
cd kdebase-build
cmakekde ../kdebase


If you have troubles compiling this:

  • Make sure you have the libxss headers installed. (Usually you got undefined references on xscreensaver objects if you haven't those headers)
  • Make sure you compiled and installed kdelibs4_snapshot including the kdoctools.
which meinproc

has to deliver


Start KDE 4 programs

To start the desktop environment itself, do:

X :1 & export DISPLAY=:1

Maybe you are logged in as your normal user (not kde-devel), want to stay in your current environment (KDE 3.5, gnome, whatever) and start a KDE 4 program. To start only kwrite from KDE 4, do:

ssh -X [email protected]
Note: This page is about KDE 4. It isn't applicable for KDE 3 development.

This page was last edited on 20 March 2011, at 16:34. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.