Compiling Inkscape

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Revision as of 19:29, 29 February 2012 by Kris (talk | contribs) (→‎libSigc++)
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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 at Sourceforge rather than inlining them here.


Inkscape needs automake 1.7, 1.8 or 1.10 and higher. Please consider NOT using automake1.9, because it has a bug ( link: ) that prevents compiling of Inkscape. If you have already tried to do a $ make with automake1.9 then $ ./ from your inkscape-cvs dir and proceed as normal. (On the other hand, I've repeatedly built it with automake-1.9.4. ralf)

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

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

Getting and Installing Source packages

If your distro does not have some packages available (like many don't, ie, Fedora Core 2), you must often download source packages and build and install them yourself. Actually this is not that hard, and is similar to doing a Gentoo 'emerge.'

  • Usually you download a file with a name like somepackage-1.0.tar.gz. Unpack it with
   $ tar zxf somepackage-1.0.tar.gz
   $ tar jxf somepackage-1.0.tar.bz2
  • Then 'cd' into the new directory.
  • Configure it with the command:
   $ ./configure
  • Build it with:
   $ make
  • As the 'root' user, install it with:
   # make install



Binaries: If searching for a package for GC, the name of it is sometimes:

  • gc
  • libgc
  • gc-devel
  • libgc-devel
  • boehm-gc (on Gentoo)
  • debian/ubuntu: sudo apt-get install libgc-dev



With this file, and for GlibMM and GtkMM below, it is usually desirable for us developers to build this C++ library statically. This removes a dependency that might be difficult for an end-user during installation. Configure it with:

   ./configure --enable-static --disable-shared


Try to match your Glib2 version with GlibMM's version. For example, if your Glib2 is 2.16.6, download glibmm-2.16.4.tar.bz2.

Latest source:


Usually you can try the latest version of GtkMM, but if you get version mismatch errors, try older releases.



if you got prompted about cairomm, try first solve your cairo version, so you can grab there a compatible version.


Many users have reported when building from source that after installing the above dependencies, the configure script still requires a "boost" package. It can be found below, but even after installing, you will need to create a symlink to allow the configure script to find it:

ln -s /usr/local/include/boost_1_xx_x/boost /usr/local/include/boost




Poppler is required for PDF import. There are several potential issues:

  • Some Linux distributions do not ship the Xpdf headers required by Inkscape. In such cases, you need to recompile Poppler, passing --enable-xpdf-headers on the configure line. See this wishlist bug. This typically manifests in error messages like this:
In file included from extension/internal/pdfinput/svg-builder.cpp:19:
extension/internal/pdfinput/svg-builder.h:32:23: error: CharTypes.h: No such file or directory
make[2]: *** [extension/internal/pdfinput/svg-builder.o] Error 1
make[2]: Leaving directory `/tmp/build/inkscape-0.46/src'
make[1]: *** [all-recursive] Error 1
make[1]: Leaving directory `/tmp/build/inkscape-0.46'
make: *** [all] Error 2
  • Inkscape 0.47 does not compile with Poppler >= 0.12.2. If you need to compile Inkscape on such systems, use the development version from Bazaar, where this bug is fixed. See the bug report for details and a minimal patch.
  • Inkscape compiled with Poppler <= 0.12.1 will run on systems with Poppler >= 0.12.2, but the PDF import function will crash instantly. This problem does not concern Windows users, since the correct Poppler version is contained in the Windows installer package. This cannot be fixed on Inkscape's side: those two versions of Poppler are not ABI compatible, yet share the same soname. See this bug for more details.
  • Poppler's Xpdf headers are not guaranteed to be API-compatible between releases. It's likely that future Poppler versions will break PDF import in some way. PDF import works at least up to 0.12.4 but might not work with later versions.

Developer Compilation

Plain vanilla compilation is done as documented in INSTALL; ./ (optionally); ./configure; make; su && make test; make install (optional). 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 optimize for the number of processors in your machine, with N = 1 + no. proc's

Example: Setting up both gcc and g++ build environments (in separate tree), and using ccache for faster compilations on a dual-processor machine, with no optimization, assuming /bin/bash:

mkdir build-gcc build-g++
cvs checkout inkscape
cd inkscape
libtoolize --copy --force
cd ../build-gcc
CFLAGS='-g -O0 -Wall' CC='ccache gcc' ../inkscape/configure
cd ../build-g++
CXXFLAGS='-g -O0 -Wall' CXX='ccache g++' ../inkscape/configure
cd ../build-gcc && make -j 3
cd ../build-g++ && make -j 3

Turning off just optimization (which can produce strange results in debuggers):

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

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