Getting Started/Build/KDE4

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Revision as of 13:38, 31 December 2006 by Bram85 (Talk | contribs) (Set Environment Variables: Use $KDEDIR as prefix for CMake)

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

You may be interested in:

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

Become the user kde-devel

useradd kde-devel
mkdir /home/kde-devel
passwd kde-devel
chown kde-devel:kde-devel /home/kde-devel 2>/dev/null || \
chown kde-devel:users /home/kde-devel

Switch to the user kde-devel: (the dash also changes to the new home directory)

su - kde-devel

Set Environment Variables

You have to add some environment variables - add these lines to your shell's configuration file, e.g. ~/.bashrc.

export YACC='byacc -d'
export QTDIR=$HOME/qt-unstable
export KDEDIR=$HOME/kde
export PATH=$QTDIR/bin:$KDEDIR/bin:$PATH
## Uncomment if dbus doesn't work
#alias dbusstart="eval `PATH=$DBUSDIR/bin \
#$DBUSDIR/bin/dbus-launch --auto-syntax`"
function cmakekde { cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=$KDEDIR \
-DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=debugfull $@ && make VERBOSE=1 && make install; }

Check out the software

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

Build D-Bus

tar xvfz dbus-0.94.tar.gz
cd dbus-0.94/
./configure --disable-qt --disable-qt3 --prefix=$DBUSDIR \
--localstatedir=/var && make && make install
dbus-uuidgen --ensure

Build Qt

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

Install CMake

CMake is the build system tool used in KDE4. It replaced the autotools and libtool based system used in previous versions of KDE due to cross platform and performance issues.

Your operating system may provide CMake as an optional package. Check to see if there is a package of cmake 2.4.3 or better available and if so install that. If not, then you can download CMake from the CMake download page and build from source following the instructions below.

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

mkdir kdelibs-build
cd kdelibs-build
cmakekde ../kdelibs

Install Additional CMake Modules

There are additional CMake modules in kdelibs that are necessary for building KDE applications. To install them:

cd kdelibs/cmake/modules
cmake .
make install

You may need to do the last step as root (e.g. using su or sudo), depending on your system setup.


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

If you get "Could NOT find GIF", install the devel package of libungif (the actual name may vary between operating systems).

If the problems persist, try the make-option --keep-going

Build kdepimlibs

Before kdebase you need to install kdepimlibs

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

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)
  • which meinproc has to deliver /home/kde-devel/kde/bin/meinproc
  • if cmakekde cannot find the path of kdepimlibs, edit the file /home/kde-devel/kdebase-build/CMakeCache.txt and manually set KDEPIMLIBS_INCLUDE_DIR:PATH=/home/kde-devel/kdepimlibs-build
  • if you get an error saying "Please set the following variables: X11_XTest_LIB (ADVANCED)", install the devel package of Xtst. On some systems, this is packaged separately from xext and called x11proto-xext-dev or libxtst-dev. You may also need to remove the CMakeCache.txt file in the build dir after installing the package.

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 kde-devel@localhost

Using Xephyr for developing inside KDE 3

Instead of using a full-blown new virtual X for developing software you can use Xephyr to embed your KDE 4 session into your working KDE 3 environment.

Sure you can do this with xnest too, but it cannot handle extensions like Xrender so some people prefer Xephyr over it.

If you want to get a minimal KDE session up and running, just launch Xephyr (available in Kubuntu as xserver-xephyr):

# Xephyr :1&

You can now launch KDE:

export DISPLAY=:1
/path/to/kde4/bin/startkde-modified &

startkde-modified is a copy of the startkde-script which includes the following lines on the top:

export KDEDIRS=`kde4-config --prefix`
export PATH=$KDEDIR/bin/:$PATH
export KDEHOME=~/.kde4

You can also use Xephyr with KDM via the Xdmcp protocol and simply a new KDE 4 session to KDM.

On Kubuntu, you can enable it by changing

# Whether KDM should listen to incoming XDMCP requests.
# Default is true

in /etc/kde3/kdm/kdmrc to

# Whether KDM should listen to incoming XDMCP requests.
# Default is true

and adjust your /etc/kde3/kdm/Xaccess to allow your local machine access. Additionally you should make sure to set up a port blocking policy on all external interfaces for the Xdmcp port if you are doing this on a laptop or a PC in an untrusted environment.

If you are done, simply launch Xephyr:

Xephyr -query localhost :1 -host-cursor -screen 1024x768&

where -host-cursor tries to reuse the host's cursor and -screen sets the screen dimensions.

Additional notes:

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