Get Involved/development/Mac

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Several methods of building KDE / KF5 on Mac are available, and it is not firmly established, yet, which one is "best". The two main approaches are using either a "stock" version of Qt, or a "patched" Qt. The latter has several patches meant to make KF5-applications work better on Mac. It also follows the file system layout of KDE on Linux, which should mean that KDE applications will be more likely to work correctly, without adjustments.

There is some hope that the required patches will eventually become available in official Qt packages, but this is not the case as of this writing. The main drawback with this is that Qt has to be compiled on your computer, adding hours to your setup time. The main advantage is that most things can be expected to work out of the box.

Installation using patched version of Qt and MacPorts

  • Install Macports
    • Note: If you have an existing installation of MacPorts and installed ports that depend on Qt, see this mail.
  • Install git, if you don't have it yet:
sudo port install git 
  • Get the ports tree for patched qt and frameworks:
# We assume you're doing this in your home directory
cd ~
git clone
# create index
cd macstrop
  • Register the new ports with Macports. To do so, edit ${prefix}/etc/macports/sources.conf, where prefix is the root path of your MacPorts installation (/opt/local by default). Add the following line above any other path specifications (thus making sure it will take precedence):

It is recommended that you build the patched Qt before any frameworks, in order to make extra sure all dependencies are resolved, correctly:

sudo port install qt5-kde

You can now start building frameworks or applications (if already packaged), using e.g.

sudo port install kf5-parts
sudo port install kf5-kate
sudo port install kf5-frameworkintegration     # will get the most common frameworks in one go

Many ports have additional variants, such as "+docs" for handbooks / API documentation:

sudo port install kf5-kate +docs
port variants kf5-kate       # list available variants
port notes kf5-kate            # show any notes

Installation using Craft

  • Install Python 3
  • Install XCode (at least developper command-line tools suffice):
xcode-select --install

Install Craft

 curl -o && python3 --prefix ~/CraftRoot

Note: At the time of this writing, with a fresh installation of Python 3.7 or 3.8, this command will fail with "certificate verify failed: unable to get local issuer certificate". To fix this, run the following, once:

 "/Applications/Python [Version]/Install Certificates.command"

Using craft

  • Every time you want to use craft in a new shell, you need to set up the craft environment, first:
source ~/CraftRoot/craft/
  • In this shell, now craft is usable, e.g. to build Kate with all dependencies:
craft kate

Case sensitive filesystem considerations

When building craft packages on case-sensitive filesystem, you will see errors in packages referencing some of the KF5 libraries:

   fatal error: 'sonnet/highlighter.h' file not found

This is a known upstream issue:

NOTE: The bug was closed due to a lack of information. If you run into this issue, please reopen it!

The workaround for now is either to create and mount a case-insensitive disk image for craft usage or to manually create symlinks as needed.