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 GitLab 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. The previous official hosting location at Launchpad is still active as a mirror. Changes should be submitted as merge requests via GitLab. The development team will not review changes submitted on GitHub or Launchpad as those platforms are mirrors only.

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.

ZLib Library

The ZLib development library is used by KiCad to handle compressed 3d models (.stpz and .wrz files) 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 Library

The OpenCascade Community Edition (OCE) 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.

Open CASCSADE Technology (OCC) should also work as an alternative to OCE. Selection of library Cascade library can be specified at build time. See the STEP/IGES support section. When building OCC using the option BUILD_MODULE_Draw=OFF make building more easy

Ngspice Library

The Ngspice Library 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.

Scripting Support

The KICAD_SCRIPTING option is used to enable building the Python scripting support into Pcbnew. This options is enabled by default, and will disable all other KICAD_SCRIPTING_* options when it is disabled.

Python 3 Scripting Support

The KICAD_SCRIPTING_PYTHON3 option is used to enable using Python 3 for the scripting support instead of Python 2. This option is disabled by default and only is relevant if KICAD_SCRIPTING is enabled.

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, but will be disabled if KICAD_SCRIPTING is disabled.

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, but will be disabled if KICAD_SCRIPTING is disabled.

wxPython Phoenix Scripting Support

The KICAD_SCRIPTING_WXPYTHON_PHOENIX option is used to enable building the wxPython interface with the new Phoenix binding instead of the legacy one. This option is disabled by default, and enabling it requires KICAD_SCRIPTING to be enabled.

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 enabled by default, but will be disabled if KICAD_SCRIPTING is disabled. Please note that this option is highly experimental and can cause Pcbnew to crash if Python scripts create an invalid object state within Pcbnew.

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 liboce 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.

Alternatively KICAD_USE_OCC can be used instead of OCE. Both options are not supposed to be enabled at the same time.

Wayland EGL support

The KICAD_USE_EGL option switches the OpenGL backend from using X11 bindings to Wayland EGL bindings. This option is only relevant on Linux when running wxWidgets 3.1.5+ with the EGL backend of the wxGLCanvas (which is the default option, but can be disabled in the wxWidgets build).

By default, setting KICAD_USE_EGL will use a in-tree version of the GLEW library (that is compiled with the additional flags needed to run on an EGL canvas) staticly linked into KiCad. If the system version of GLEW supports EGL (it must be compiled with the GLEW_EGL flag), then it can be used instead by setting KICAD_USE_BUNDLED_GLEW to OFF.

Windows HiDPI Support

The KICAD_WIN32_DPI_AWARE option makes the Windows manifest file for KiCad use a DPI aware version, which tells Windows that KiCad wants Per Monitor V2 DPI awareness (requires Windows 10 version 1607 and later).

Development Analysis Tools

KiCad can be compiled with support for several features to aid in the catching and debugging of runtime memory issues

Valgrind support

The KICAD_USE_VALGRIND option is used to enable Valgrind's stack annotation feature in the tool framework. This provides the ability for Valgrind to trace memory allocations and accesses in the tool framework and reduce the number of false positives reported. This option is disabled by default.

C++ standard library debugging

KiCad provides two options to enable debugging assertions contained in the GCC C++ standard library: KICAD_STDLIB_DEBUG and KICAD_STDLIB_LIGHT_DEBUG. Both these options are disabled by default, and only one should be turned on at a time with KICAD_STDLIB_DEBUG taking precedence.

The KICAD_STDLIB_LIGHT_DEBUG option enables the light-weight standard library assertions by passing _GLIBCXX_ASSERTIONS into CXXFLAGS. This enables things such as bounds checking on strings, arrays and vectors, as well as null pointer checks for smart pointers.

The KICAD_STDLIB_DEBUG option enables the full set of standard library assertions by passing _GLIBCXX_DEBUG into CXXFLAGS. This enables full debugging support for the standard library.

Address Sanitizer support

The KICAD_SANITIZE option enables Address Sanitizer support to trace memory allocations and accesses to identify problems. This option is disabled by default. The Address Sanitizer contains several runtime options to tailor its behavior that are described in more detail in its documentation.

This option is not supported on all build systems, and is known to have problems when using mingw.

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.

Quality assurance (QA) unit tests

The KICAD_BUILD_QA_TESTS option allows building unit tests binaries for quality assurance as part of the default build. This option is enabled by default.

If this option is disabled, the QA binaries can still be built by manually specifying the target. For example, with make:

  • Build all QA binaries: make qa_all
  • Build a specific test: make qa_pcbnew
  • Build all unit tests: make qa_all_tests
  • Build all test tool binaries: make qa_all_tools

For more information about testing KiCad, see this page.

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 defined, 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:


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

 output of `git describe --dirty` if git is available.

KiCad Config Directory

The default KiCad configuration directory is kicad. On Linux this is located at ~/.config/kicad, on MSW, this is C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\kicad and on MacOS, this is ~/Library/Preferences/kicad. If the installation package would like to, it may specify an alternate configuration name instead of kicad. This may be useful for versioning the configuration parameters and allowing the use of, e.g. kicad5 and kicad6 concurrently without losing configuration data.

This is set by specifying the KICAD_CONFIG_DIR string at compile time.

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 GitLab repository. Use tar or some other archive program to extract the source on your system. If you are using tar, use the following command:

tar -xaf kicad_src_archive.tar.xz

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

git clone

Here is a list of source links:

Stable release archives:

Development branch:

GitHub 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 \
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 currently MSYS2. Visual Studio with vcpkg is also a supported build environment but does not yet fully support all KiCad features.

Building using MSYS2


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.


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 -j N install   # Where N is the number of concurrent threads that your system can handle

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.

MSYS2 with CLion

KiCad in combiation with MSYS2 can be configured to be used with CLion to provide a nice IDE experience.

Toolchain Setup

First you must register MSYS2 as a toolchain, or namely, the compiler.

File > Preferences to open the Settings window.

Navigate to Build, Execution, Development and then the Toolchains page.

Add a new toolchain, and configure it as such

  • Name: MSYS2-MinGW64
  • Environment Path: <your msys2 install folder>\mingw64\
  • CMake: <your msys2 install folder>\mingw64\bin\cmake.exe

All other fields will become automatically populated.

Project Setup

File > Open and select the folder containing the kicad source. CLion may attempt to start CMake generation and fail, this is ok.

Open the Settings window again. Navigate to Build, Execution, Development and then the CMake page. These settings are saved to the project.

You want to create a Debug configuration as such

  • Name: Debug-MSYS2
  • Build-Type: Debug
  • Toolchain: MSYS2-MinGW64
  • CMake options:
    -G "MinGW Makefiles"
  • Build-directory: build/debug-msys2

You may now trigger the "Reload CMake Cache" option in CLion to generate the cmake project You should delete the "junk" build folder (usually name cmake-build-debug-xxxx) it may have created in the source before it was changed above. We change the build folder because we have a gitignore for /build

Warning: Receiving warning messages about Boost versions is normal.

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.

Building with Boost 1.70

There is an issue building KiCad with Boost version 1.70 due to CMake not defining the proper link libraries during configuration. Boost 1.70 can be used but -DBoost_NO_BOOST_CMAKE=ON needs to be added during CMake configuration to insure the link libraries are properly generated.

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 /c/mwp
cd /c/mwp/mingw-w64-oce
makepkg-mingw -is

Building using Visual Studio (2019)

Environment Setup

Visual Studio

You must first install Visual Studio with the Desktop development with C++ feature set installed.


If you are new to vcpkg you must, pick a spot on your system to put it. Then run these three commands

git clone
.\vcpkg\vcpkg integrate install

which will give you a vcpkg install ready to use with the next steps

KiCad Specific Setup

vcpkg defaults to x86-windows even on 64-bit machines, it is advised for ease of use you set a USER or SYSTEM environment variable with the name VCPKG_DEFAULT_TRIPLET and value x64-windows

KiCad still supports 32-bit builds for now but may not in the future, thus 64-bit is preferred.

1. Install vcpkg packages

The following packages are required for vcpkg

.\vcpkg install boost
.\vcpkg install cairo
.\vcpkg install curl
.\vcpkg install glew
.\vcpkg install gettext
.\vcpkg install glm
.\vcpkg install icu
.\vcpkg install ngspice
.\vcpkg install opencascade
.\vcpkg install opengl
.\vcpkg install openssl
.\vcpkg install python3
.\vcpkg install wxwidgets
.\vcpkg install zlib

If you did not set the VCPKG_DEFAULT_TRIPLET environment variable, you will have to append :x64-windows to end of each packages name, boost:x64-windows for example.

2. CMakeSettings.json

Contained in the build root is a CMakeSettings.json.sample, copy and rename this file to CMakeSettings.json Edit CMakeSettings.json update the VcPkgDir environment variable up top to match the location of your vcpkg clone.

{ "VcPkgDir": "D:/vcpkg/" },

3. "Open Folder" in Visual Studio

Launch Visual Studio (only after completing the above steps).

When the initial wizard launches, select to Open a local folder This is the correct way to make Visual Studio directly handle CMake projects.

Building KiCad on macOS

As of V5, building and packaging for macOS can be done using kicad-mac-builder, which downloads, patches, builds, and packages for macOS. It is used to create the official releases and nightlies, and it reduces the complexity of setting up a build environment to a command or two. Usage of kicad-mac-builder is detailed at on its website.

If you wish to build without kicad-mac-builder, please use the following and its source code as reference. Building on macOS requires building dependency libraries that require patching in order to work correctly.

In the following set of commands, replace the macOS version number (i.e. 10.11) 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
mkdir wx-build
cd wx-build
../wxWidgets/configure \
    --prefix=`pwd`/../wx-bin \
    --with-opengl \
    --enable-aui \
    --enable-html \
    --enable-stl \
    --enable-richtext \
    --with-libjpeg=builtin \
    --with-libpng=builtin \
    --with-regex=builtin \
    --with-libtiff=builtin \
    --with-zlib=builtin \
    --with-expat=builtin \
    --without-liblzma \
    --with-macosx-version-min=10.11 \
    --enable-universal-binary=i386,x86_64 \
    CC=clang \
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++ \
      -DwxWidgets_CONFIG_EXECUTABLE=<your wxWidgets build folder>/wx-bin/bin/wx-config \
      -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE=Release \
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][] ( 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++ \
      -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_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.