Get Involved/development

Becoming a KDE Developer

Konqui dev close cropped.png

By joining the ranks of KDE developers, you will get to implement new features and defeat daunting bugs, all while collaborating to make coherent and stable releases. Developers collaborate in teams based on what area they are working in. These can be small teams working on a single application, up to large teams working on group of related pieces of software. Many developers are in more than one team.

KDE runs or participates in several mentoring programs to help new developers, including an informal list of people who are willing to help newcomers get started. See the Mentoring page for more details.

Choosing what to do

A good place to start is with a small bug or feature in an existing piece of software that affects you personally ("scratch your own itch"). Get in touch with the existing developers (see Communicating with the team, below) and they can help you out, by pointing you to the right place in the code and giving advice about how to tackle the problem.

Other starting points are:

  • Junior Jobs are small tasks that are suitable for beginners (both bugs and features)
  • The English Breakfast Network searches out simple, common issues in code that should be fixed, and going through the problems on there can provide a good overview of the code

Communicating with the team

There are several ways to get in touch with KDE developers, and developers for a specific project. The two most important are:

Both of these are general KDE development communication channels, and you may get directed to a more appropriate place for the project you are interested in. There is a list of mailing lists if you want to find a mailing list for a specific team directly.

You can also try looking for the team's section on the Main Page of this wiki. Many teams have information there for new contributors.

New to (C++/Qt) software development?

Most KDE software is written in C++ using the Qt framework. There are many guides to C++ online, and which one works for you will depend on how you learn best and what previous programming experience you have.

For learning Qt, you can find a list of books for learning Qt on the Qt wiki. Qt also provides lots of examples you can look at.

Most KDE software is also built on other KDE software, particularly the KDE Frameworks. The TechBase wiki has documentation about using these libraries.

Getting the code

Source code for KDE projects can be found in the KDE Git repositories. These are listed in our repository browser, and the URLs you need to clone can be found there as well. If you are not familiar with Git, the Git Book is a good introduction, although all you really need right now is

git clone<repository-name>.git

For almost all KDE software projects, you will need to use CMake to build them. On UNIX systems, the process is fairly straightforward:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/where/you/want/to/install/it ..
make install

The CMake step will complain if you don't have the project's dependencies installed (don't forget that on many Linux distributions, you need to install the development version of packages). Once you have installed the things it tells you, re-run CMake so it picks them up. If you want a way to get the latest versions of all the dependencies easily, you might want to consider looking at KDE Neon.

Hopefully the project has unit tests, which can be run with

make test

Now you can open your editor and get hacking!

Submitting your first patch

Once you have made a change, you need to send it to someone on the team to review it and (hopefully) apply it. You should find out from the team what their preferred method is, but for most teams it will be either uploading the patch to Phabricator or uploading it to Review Board. In either case, you will need a KDE Identity account to log in.

After logging in, go to Differential (on the left menu), and then choose Create Diff (in the top right). That page contains further instructions.
Review Board
After logging in, choose New Review Request at the top and follow the instructions.

Next steps

After you have had several patches accepted, a KDE developer is likely to suggest you get a contributor account, which will allow you to commit directly to KDE projects. There will be very few limits on where you can commit, so you are expected to act responsibly. At this point, congratulations! You are officially a KDE developer!

This page was last edited on 1 March 2021, at 16:55. Content is available under Creative Commons License SA 4.0 unless otherwise noted.