Module Organization and selection

KDE Software Organization

KDE software is split into different components, many of which can be built by kdesrc-build. Understanding this organization will help you properly select the software modules that you want built.

  1. At the lowest level comes the Qt™ library, which is a very powerful, cross-platform toolkit library. KDE is based on Qt™, and some of the non-KDE libraries required by KDE are also based on Qt™. kdesrc-build can build Qt™, or use the one already installed on your system if it is a recent enough version.

  2. On top of Qt™ are required libraries that are necessary for KDE software to work. Some of these libraries are not considered part of KDE itself due to their generic nature, but are still essential to the KDE Platform. These libraries are collected under a kdesupport module grouping but are not considered part of the Frameworks libraries.

  3. On top of these essential libraries come the KDE Frameworks, sometimes abbreviated as KF5, which are essential libraries for the KDE Plasma desktop, KDE Applications, and other third-party software.

  4. On top of the Frameworks, come several different things:

    • Third-party applications. These are applications that use the KDE Frameworks or are designed to run under KDE Plasma but are not authored by or in association with the KDE project.

    • Plasma, which is a full workspace desktop environment. This is what users normally see when they log-in to KDE.

    • The KDE Application suite. This is a collection of useful software included with the Platform and Plasma™ Desktop, grouped into individual modules, including utilities like Dolphin, games like KSudoku, and productivity software released by KDE such as Kontact.

    • Finally, there is a collection of software (also collected in modules) whose development is supported by KDE resources (such as translation, source control, bug tracking, etc.) but is not released by KDE as part of Plasma or the Application suite. These modules are known as Extragear.

Selecting modules to build

Selecting which of the possible modules to build is controlled by the configuration file. After the global section is a list of modules to build, bracketed by module ... end module lines. An example entry for a module is shown in Example 2.4, “Example module entry in the configuration file”.

Example 2.4. Example module entry in the configuration file

module kdesrc-build-git
    # Options for this module go here, example:
    repository kde:kdesrc-build
    make-options -j4 # Run 4 compiles at a time
end module


In practice, this module construct is not usually used directly. Instead most modules are specified via module-sets as described below.

When using only module entries, kdesrc-build builds them in the order you list, and does not attempt to download any other repositories other than what you specify directly.

Module Sets

The KDE source code is decomposed into a great number of relatively small Git-based repositories. To make it easier to manage the large number of repositories involved in any useful KDE-based install, kdesrc-build supports grouping multiple modules and treating the group as a module set.

The basic module set concept

By using a module set, you can quickly declare many Git modules to be downloaded and built, as if you'd typed out a separate module declaration for each one. The repository option is handled specially to setup where each module is downloaded from, and every other option contained in the module set is copied to every module generated in this fashion.

Example 2.5. Using module sets

    git-repository-base kde-git kde:
end global

module qt
    # Options removed for brevity
end module

module-set kde-support-libs
    repository kde-git
    use-modules automoc attica akonadi
end module-set

# Other modules as necessary...
module kdesupport
end module

In Example 2.5, “Using module sets” a brief module set is shown. When kdesrc-build encounters this module set, it acts as if, for every module given in use-modules, that an individual module has been declared, with its repository equal to the module-set's repository followed immediately by the given module name.

In addition, other options can be passed in a module set, which are copied to every new module that is created this way. By using module-set it is possible to quickly declare many Git modules that are all based on the same repository URL. In addition, it is possible to give module-sets a name (as shown in the example), which allows you to quickly refer to the entire group of modules from the command line.

Special Support for KDE module sets

The module set support described so far is general to any Git-based modules. For the KDE Git repositories, kdesrc-build includes additional features to make things easier for users and developers. This support is enabled by specifying kde-projects as the repository for the module set.

kdesrc-build normally only builds the modules you have listed in your configuration file, in the order you list them. But with a kde-projects module set, kdesrc-build can do dependency resolution of KDE-specific modules, and in addition automatically include modules into the build even if only indirectly specified.

Example 2.6. Using kde-projects module sets

# Only adds a module for juk (the kde/kdemultimedia/juk repo)
module-set juk-set
    repository kde-projects
    use-modules juk
end module-set

# Adds all modules that are in kde/multimedia/*, including juk,
# but no other dependencies
module-set multimedia-set
    repository kde-projects
    use-modules kde/multimedia
end module-set

# Adds all modules that are in kde/multimedia/*, and all kde-projects
# dependencies from outside of kde/kdemultimedia
module-set multimedia-deps-set
    repository kde-projects
    use-modules kde/multimedia
    include-dependencies true
end module-set

# All modules created out of these three module sets are automatically put in
# proper dependency order, regardless of the setting for include-dependencies


This kde-projects module set construct is the main method of declaring which modules you want to build.

All module sets use the repository and use-modules options. kde-projects module sets have a predefined repository value, but other types of module sets also will use the git-repository-base option.

The official KDE module database

KDE's Git repositories allow for grouping related Git modules into collections of related modules (e.g. kdegraphics). Git doesn't recognize these groupings, but kdesrc-build can understand these groups, using module sets with a repository option set to kde-projects.

kdesrc-build will recognize that the kde-projects repository requires special handling, and adjust the build process appropriately. Among other things, kdesrc-build will:

  • Download the latest module database from the KDE git archive.

  • Try to find a module with the name given in the module set's use-modules setting in that database.

  • For every module that is found, kdesrc-build will lookup the appropriate repository in the database, based upon the branch-group setting in effect. If a repository exists and is active for the branch group, kdesrc-build will automatically use that to download or update the source code.


In the current database, some module groups not only have a collection of modules, but they also declare their own Git repository. In these situations kdesrc-build will currently prefer the group's Git repository instead of including the childrens' repositories.

The following example shows how to use the KDE module database to install the Phonon multimedia library.

module-set media-support
    # This option must be kde-projects to use the module database.
    repository kde-projects

    # This option chooses what modules to look for in the database.
    use-modules phonon/phonon phonon-gstreamer phonon-vlc
end module-set


phonon/phonon is used since (with the current project database) kdesrc-build would otherwise have to decide between the group of projects called phonon or the individual project named phonon. Currently kdesrc-build would pick the former, which would build many more backends than needed.

The following example is perhaps more realistic, and shows a feature only available with the KDE module database: Building all of the KDE graphics applications with only a single declaration.

module-set kdegraphics
    # This option must be kde-projects to use the module database.
    repository kde-projects

    # This option chooses what modules to look for in the database.
    use-modules kdegraphics/libs kdegraphics/*
end module-set

There are two important abilities demonstrated here:

  1. kdesrc-build allows you to specify modules that are descendents of a given module, without building the parent module, by using the syntax module-name/*. It is actually required in this case since the base module, kdegraphics, is marked as inactive so that it is not accidentally built along with its children modules. Specifying the descendent modules allows kdesrc-build to skip around the disabled module.

  2. kdesrc-build will also not add a given module to the build list more than once. This allows us to manually set kdegraphics/libs to build first, before the rest of kdegraphics, without trying to build kdegraphics/libs twice. This used to be required for proper dependency handling, and today remains a fallback option in case the KDE project database is missing dependency metadata.

Filtering out KDE project modules

You might decide that you'd like to build all programs within a KDE module grouping except for a given program.

For instance, the kdeutils group includes a program named kremotecontrol. If your computer does not have the proper hardware to receive the signals sent by remote controls then you may decide that you'd rather not download, build, and install kremotecontrol every time you update kdeutils.

You can achieve this by using the ignore-modules configuration option.

Example 2.7. Example for ignoring a kde-project module in a group

module-set utils
    repository kde-projects

    # This option chooses what modules to look for in the database.
    use-modules kdeutils

    # This option "subtracts out" modules from the modules chosen by use-modules, above.
    ignore-modules kremotecontrol
end module-set

module-set graphics
    repository kde-projects

    # This option chooses what modules to look for in the database.
    use-modules extragear/graphics

    # This option "subtracts out" modules from the modules chosen by use-modules, above.
    # In this case, *both* extragear/graphics/kipi-plugins and
    # extragear/graphics/kipi-plugins/kipi-plugins-docs are ignored
    ignore-modules extragear/graphics/kipi-plugins
end module-set