KiCad PCB EDA Suite
Building KiCad from Source

If you are a user and not a developer, please consider using one of the prebuilt packages of KiCad which can be found at the download page on the KiCad website. Building KiCad from source is not for the faint of heart and is not recommended unless you have reasonable software development experience. This document contains the instructions on how to build KiCad from source on the supported platforms. It is not intended as a guide for installing or building library dependencies. Please consult your platforms documentation for installing packages or the source code when building the library dependencies. Currently the supported platforms are Windows Versions 7-10, just about any version of Linux, and macOS 10.9-10.13. You may be able to build KiCad on other platforms but it is not supported. On Windows and Linux the GNU GCC is the only supported compiler and on macOS Clang is the only supported compiler.

Development Tools

Before you begin building KiCad, there are a few tools required in addition to your compiler. Some of these tools are required to build from source and some are optional.

CMake Build Configuration Tool

CMake is the build configuration and makefile generation tool used by KiCad. It is required.

GIT Version Control System

The official source code repository is hosted on Launchpad and requires git to get the latest source. If you prefer to use GitHub there is a read only mirror of the official KiCad repository. Do not submit pull requests to GitHub. Changes should be sent to the KiCad developer's mailing list using git format-patch and attaching the patch with [PATCH] at the beginning of the subject or using git send-email to send your commit directly to the developer's mailing list.

Doxygen Code Documentation Generator

The KiCad source code is documented using Doxygen which parses the KiCad source code files and builds a dependency tree along with the source documentation into HTML. Doxygen is only required if you are going to build the KiCad documentation.

SWIG Simplified Wrapper and Interface Generator

SWIG is used to generate the Python scripting language extensions for KiCad. SWIG is not required if you are not going to build the KiCad scripting extension.

Library Dependencies

This section includes a list of library dependencies required to build KiCad. It does not include any dependencies of the libraries. Please consult the library's documentation for any additional dependencies. Some of these libraries are optional depending on you build configuration. This is not a guide on how to install the library dependencies using you systems package management tools or how to build the library from source. Consult the appropriate documentation to perform these tasks.

wxWidgets Cross Platform GUI Library

wxWidgets is the graphical user interface (GUI) library used by KiCad. The current minimum version is 3.0.0. However, 3.0.2 should be used whenever possible as there are some known bugs in prior versions that can cause problems on some platforms. Please note that there are also some platform specific patches that must be applied before building wxWidgets from source. These patches can be found in the patches folder in the KiCad source. These patches are named by the wxWidgets version and platform name they should be applied against. wxWidgets must be built with the –with-opengl option. If you installed the packaged version of wxWidgets on your system, verify that it was built with this option.

Boost C++ Libraries

The Boost C++ library is required only if you intend to build KiCad with the system installed version of Boost instead of the default internally built version. If you use the system installed version of Boost, version 1.56 or greater is required. Please note there are some platform specific patches required to build a working Boost library. These patches can be found in the patches folder in the KiCad source. These patches are named by the platform name they should be applied against.

GLEW OpenGL Extension Wrangler Library

The OpenGL Extension Wrangler is an OpenGL helper library used by the KiCad graphics abstraction library [GAL] and is always required to build KiCad.

GLM OpenGL Mathematics Library

The OpenGL Mathematics Library is an OpenGL helper library used by the KiCad graphics abstraction library [GAL] and is always required to build KiCad.

GLUT OpenGL Utility Toolkit Library

The OpenGL Utility Toolkit is an OpenGL helper library used by the KiCad graphics abstraction library [GAL] and is always required to build KiCad.

Cairo 2D Graphics Library

The Cairo 2D graphics library is used as a fallback rendering canvas when OpenGL is not available and is always required to build KiCad.

Python Programming Language

The Python programming language is used to provide scripting support to KiCad. It needs to be installed unless the KiCad scripting build configuration option is disabled.

wxPython Library

The wxPython library is used to provide a scripting console for Pcbnew. It needs to be installed unless the wxPython scripting build configuration option is disabled. When building KiCad with wxPython support, make sure the version of the wxWidgets library and the version of wxPython installed on your system are the same. Mismatched versions have been known to cause runtime issues.

Curl Multi-Protocol File Transfer Library

The Curl Multi-Protocol File Transfer Library is used to provide secure internet file transfer access for the GitHub plug in. This library needs to be installed unless the GitHub plug build option is disabled.

OpenCascade Community Edition (OCE)

The OpenCascade Community Edition is used to provide support for loading and saving 3D model file formats such as STEP. This library needs to be installed unless the OCE build option is disabled.

Ngspice Library

The [Ngspice Library][libngsice] is used to provide Spice simulation support in the schematic editor. Make sure the the version of ngspice library used was built with the–with-ngshared option. This library needs to be installed unless the Spice build option is disabled.

KiCad Build Configuration Options

KiCad has many build options that can be configured to build different options depending on the availability of support for each option on a given platform. This section documents these options and their default values.

Advanced Graphics Context

The USE_WX_GRAPHICS_CONTEXT option replaces wxDC with wxGraphicsContext for graphics rendering. This option is disabled by default. Warning: the is experimental and has not been maintained so use at your own risk.

Graphics Context Overlay

The USE_WX_OVERLAY option is used to enable the optional wxOverlay class for graphics rendering on macOS. This is enabled on macOS by default and disabled on all other platforms.

Scripting Support

The KICAD_SCRIPTING option is used to enable building the Python scripting support into Pcbnew. This options is enabled by default.

Scripting Module Support

The KICAD_SCRIPTING_MODULES option is used to enable building and installing the Python modules supplied by KiCad. This option is enabled by default.

wxPython Scripting Support

The KICAD_SCRIPTING_WXPYTHON option is used to enable building the wxPython interface into Pcbnew including the wxPython console. This option is enabled by default.

GitHub Plugin

The BUILD_GITHUB_PLUGIN option is used to control if the GitHub plug in is built. This option is enabled by default.

Integrated Spice simulator

The KICAD_SPICE option is used to control if the Spice simulator interface for Eeschema is built. When this option is enabled, it requires ngspice to be available as a shared library. This option is enabled by default.

STEP/IGES support for the 3D viewer

The KICAD_USE_OCE is used for the 3D viewer plugin to support STEP and IGES 3D models. Build tools and plugins related to OpenCascade Community Edition (OCE) are enabled with this option. When enabled it requires OCE to be available, and the location of the installed OCE library to be passed via the OCE_DIR flag. This option is enabled by default.

Demos and Examples

The KiCad source code includes some demos and examples to showcase the program. You can choose whether install them or not with the KICAD_INSTALL_DEMOS option. You can also select where to install them with the KICAD_DEMOS variable. On Linux the demos are installed in $PREFIX/share/kicad/demos by default.

Python Scripting Action Menu Support

The KICAD_SCRIPTING_ACTION_MENU option allows Python scripts to be added directly to the Pcbnew menu. This option is disabled by default. Please note that this option is highly experimental and can cause Pcbnew to crash if Python scripts create an invalid object state within Pcbnew.

KiCad Build Version

The KiCad version string is defined by the output of git describe --dirty when git is available or the version string defined in CMakeModules/KiCadVersion.cmake with the value of KICAD_VERSION_EXTRA appended to the former. If the KICAD_VERSION_EXTRA variable is not define, it is not appended to the version string. If the KICAD_VERSION_EXTRA variable is defined it is appended along with a leading '-' to the full version string as follows:

(KICAD_VERSION[-KICAD_VERSION_EXTRA])

The build script automatically creates the version string information from the git repository information as follows:

(5.0.0-rc2-dev-100-g5a33f0960)
 |
 output of `git describe --dirty` if git is available.

Getting the KiCad Source Code

There are several ways to get the KiCad source. If you want to build the stable version you can down load the source archive from the KiCad Launchpad developers page. Use tar or some other archive program to extract the source on your system. If you are using tar, use the following command:

tar -xzf kicad_src_archive.tar.gz

If you are contributing directly to the KiCad project on Launchpad, you can create a local copy on your machine by using the following command:

git clone -b master https://git.launchpad.net/kicad

Here is a list of source links:

Stable release archive: https://launchpad.net/kicad/4.0/4.0.7/+download/kicad-4.0.7.tar.xz

Development branch: https://code.launchpad.net/~kicad-product-committers/kicad/+git/product-git/+ref/master

GitHub mirror: https://github.com/KiCad/kicad-source-mirror

Building KiCad on Linux

To perform a full build on Linux, run the following commands:

cd <your kicad source mirror>
mkdir -p build/release
mkdir build/debug               # Optional for debug build.
cd build/release
cmake -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release \
      ../../
make
sudo make install

If the CMake configuration fails, determine the missing dependencies and install them on your system. By default, CMake sets the install path on Linux to /usr/local. Use the CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX option to specify a different install path.

Building KiCad on Windows

The preferred Windows build environment is MSYS2. The MinGW build environment is still supported but it is not recommended because the developer is responsible for building all of the dependencies from source which is a huge and frustrating undertaking. The MSYS2 project provides packages for all of the require dependencies to build KiCad. To setup the MSYS2 build environment, depending on your system download and run either the MSYS2 32-bit Installer or the MSYS2 64-bit Installer. After the installer is finished, update to the latest package versions by running the msys2_shell.cmd file located in the MSYS2 install path and running the command pacman -Syu. If the msys2-runtime package is updated, close the shell and run msys2_shell.cmd.

Building using MSYS2

The following commands assume you are building for 64-bit Windows, and that you already have the KiCad source code in a folder called kicad-source in your home directory. See below for changes if you need to build for 32-bit instead. Run mingw64.exe from the MSYS2 install path. At the command prompt run the the following commands:

pacman -S base-devel \
          git \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-cmake \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-doxygen \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-gcc \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-python2 \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-pkg-config \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-swig \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-boost \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-cairo \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-glew \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-curl \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-wxPython \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-wxWidgets \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-toolchain \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-glm \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-oce \
          mingw-w64-x86_64-ngspice
cd kicad-source
mkdir -p build/release
mkdir build/debug               # Optional for debug build.
cd build/release
cmake -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release \
      -G "MSYS Makefiles" \
      -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=/mingw64 \
      -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/mingw64 \
      -DDEFAULT_INSTALL_PATH=/mingw64 \
      ../../
make install

For 32-bit builds, run mingw32.exe and change x86_64 to i686 in the package names and change the paths in the cmake configuration from /mingw64 to /mingw32.

For debug builds, run the cmake command with -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Debug from the build/debug folder.

Known MSYS2 Build Issues

There are some known issues that are specific to MSYS2. This section provides a list of the currently known issues when building KiCad using MSYS2.

64-bit Package of Boost 1.59

The context library of the x86_64 package of Boost version 1.59 is broken and will cause KiCad to crash. You must downgrade to version 1.57 by running the command:

pacman -U /var/cache/pacman/pkg/mingw-w64-x86_64-boost-1.57.0-4-any.pkg.tar.xz

If the file mingw-w64-x86_64-boost-1.57.0-4-any.pkg.tar.xz is no longer in your pacman cache, you will have to download it from the MSYS2 64-bit SourceForge repo. You should also configure pacman to prevent upgrading the 64-bit Boost package by adding:

IgnorePkg = mingw-w64-x86_64-boost

to your /etc/pacman.conf file.

Building OCE from source

KiCad requires OCE by default, and the version installed by pacman can cause build errors in x86_64 systems as of March 2018. In order to work around this, you can build OCE from source on these systems. Building OCE on Windows requires that you place the source code in a very short directory path, otherwise you will run into errors caused by the maximum path length on Windows. In the example below, the MINGW-packages repository is cloned to /c/mwp, which is equivalent to C:\mwp in Windows path terminology. You may wish to change the destination of the git clone command if you do not want to place it on the root of your C drive, but if you run in to strange compilation errors about missing files, it is probably because your path is too long.

git clone https://github.com/Alexpux/MINGW-packages /c/mwp
cd /c/mwp/mingw-w64-oce
makepkg-mingw -is

Building KiCad on macOS

Building on macOS is challenging at best. It typically requires building dependency libraries that require patching in order to work correctly. For more information on the complexities of building and packaging KiCad on macOS, see the macOS bundle build scripts.

In the following set of commands, replace the macOS version number (i.e. 10.9) with the desired minimum version. It may be easiest to build for the same version you are running.

KiCad currently won't work with a stock version of wxWidgets that can be downloaded or installed by package managers like MacPorts or Homebrew. To avoid having to deal with patches a KiCad fork of wxWidgets is being maintained on GitHub. All the needed patches and some other fixes/improvements are contained in the kicad/macos-wx-3.0 branch.

To perform a wxWidgets build, execute the following commands:

cd <your wxWidgets build folder>
git clone -b kicad/macos-wx-3.0 https://github.com/KiCad/wxWidgets
mkdir wx-build
cd wx-build
../wxWidgets/configure \
    --prefix=`pwd`/../wx-bin \
    --with-opengl \
    --enable-aui \
    --enable-utf8 \
    --enable-html \
    --enable-stl \
    --with-libjpeg=builtin \
    --with-libpng=builtin \
    --with-regex=builtin \
    --with-libtiff=builtin \
    --with-zlib=builtin \
    --with-expat=builtin \
    --without-liblzma \
    --with-macosx-version-min=10.9 \
    --enable-universal-binary=i386,x86_64 \
    CC=clang \
    CXX=clang++
make
make install

If everything works you will find the wxWidgets binaries in <your wxWidgets build folder>/wx-bin. Now, build a basic KiCad without Python scripting using the following commands:

cd <your kicad source mirror>
mkdir -p build/release
mkdir build/debug               # Optional for debug build.
cd build/release
cmake -DCMAKE_C_COMPILER=clang \
      -DCMAKE_CXX_COMPILER=clang++ \
      -DCMAKE_OSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET=10.9 \
      -DwxWidgets_CONFIG_EXECUTABLE=<your wxWidgets build folder>/wx-bin/bin/wx-config \
      -DKICAD_SCRIPTING=OFF \
      -DKICAD_SCRIPTING_MODULES=OFF \
      -DKICAD_SCRIPTING_WXPYTHON=OFF \
      -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=../bin \
      -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release \
      ../../
make
make install

If the CMake configuration fails, determine the missing dependencies and install them on your system or disable the corresponding KiCad feature. If everything works you will get self-contained application bundles in the build/bin folder.

Building KiCad with Python scripting is more complex and won't be covered in detail here. You will have to build wxPython against the wxWidgets source of the KiCad fork - a stock wxWidgets that might be bundled with the wxPython package won't work. Please see wxPython documentation or macOS bundle build scripts (compile_wx.sh) on how to do this. Then, use a CMake configuration as follows to point it to your own wxWidgets/wxPython:

cmake -DCMAKE_C_COMPILER=clang \
      -DCMAKE_CXX_COMPILER=clang++ \
      -DCMAKE_OSX_DEPLOYMENT_TARGET=10.9 \
      -DwxWidgets_CONFIG_EXECUTABLE=<your wxWidgets build folder>/wx-bin/bin/wx-config \
      -DPYTHON_EXECUTABLE=<path-to-python-exe>/python \
      -DPYTHON_SITE_PACKAGE_PATH=<your wxWidgets build folder>/wx-bin/lib/python2.7/site-packages \
      -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=../bin \
      -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release \
      ../../

Known Issues

There are some known issues that effect all platforms. This section provides a list of the currently known issues when building KiCad on any platform.

Boost C++ Library Issues

As of version 5 of GNU GCC, using the default configuration of downloading, patching, and building of Boost 1.54 will cause the KiCad build to fail. Therefore a newer version of Boost must be used to build KiCad. If your system has Boost 1.56 or greater installed, you job is straight forward. If your system does not have Boost 1.56 or greater installed, you will have to download and build Boost from source. If you are building Boost on windows using MinGW you will have to apply the Boost patches in the KiCad source patches folder.