Compiling Inkscape

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Hopefully, Inkscape will compile right out of the box. If it doesn't, well that's what this page is for.

Jot down notes, questions, findings, tips, etc. here on things you run into. It's a good idea to make mention of what version of the code you're trying to compile, the distribution you're running, and other such information that might be pertinent.

If legitimate bugs are found or patches developed, please move them to the tracker rather than inlining them here.


Inkscape 0.91 and earlier needs automake 1.7, 1.8, 1.10 or higher. Please consider NOT using automake 1.9, because it has a bug that may prevent Inkscape from compiling.

You may want to also add plugins during or after compiling.

Please use CMake instead of Automake for Inkscape 0.92 onwards.

CMake Notes

CMake is a crossplatform makefile generator similar to autotools. It tests dependencies and creates makefiles to be used with make.

Work is in progress to build Inkscape using CMake. Please see the CMake wiki page. For Windows developers some notes are on the Compiling Inkscape on Windows 64-bit page.

OS & Distribution Specific

Package Config (pkg-config)

If you must compile and install any of these from source, you may find an error like this when trying to compile them or Inkscape itself:

checking for gtk+-2.0 >= 2.0.0  libxml-2.0 >= 2-2.4.24  sigc++-1.2  gtkmm-2.0... Package gtkmm-2.0 was not found in the pkg-config search path.
Perhaps you should add the directory containing `gtkmm-2.0.pc'
to the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable
No package 'gtkmm-2.0' found

A solution is to set the PKG_CONFIG_PATH variable as so:

  • for Bash: export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig:/usr/lib/pkgconfig
  • for csh: setenv PKG_CONFIG_PATH /usr/local/lib/pkgconfig:/usr/lib/pkgconfig

A good place to put this line is in your .bashrc or .cshrc file.


If your distro does not have some packages available (like many don't, ie, Fedora Core 2), you must often download and build source packages and/or install them yourself. See Tracking Dependencies.

Developer Compilation

Plain vanilla compilation is done as documented in INSTALL.

Now, you should use CMake to compile Inkscape:

mkdir build
cd build
cmake ..

But you can still use autoconf:

./ # optionally

Then, to run tests and install Inkscape, you may do:

make check
sudo make install || su -c "make install"

See INSTALL for more on that.

But if you're going to be doing a lot of development, there's some tricks and techniques you should know, to get best results.

  1. Turn off optimization.
  2. Use ccache for faster compilation.
  3. Set up a separate build directory (nice for testing both gcc and g++, or cross-compiling).
  4. Use the -j N flag to increment the number of threads available to make, with N = 1 + number of processors.

Example: Setting up the build environment (in separate tree), and using ccache for faster compilations on a dual-processor machine, with no optimization and full debug symbols, assuming /bin/bash:

mkdir build
bzr checkout lp:inkscape
cd inkscape
cd ../build
export CFLAGS="-g -O0 -Wall" CC="ccache gcc"
export CXXFLAGS="-g -O0 -Wall" CXX="ccache g++"
make -j 3 -k

Turning off just optimization:

export CXXFLAGS="-g -O0 -Wall"
export CFLAGS="-g -O0 -Wall"

See Testing Inkscape for information on building and executing (unit) tests.