Creating Inkscape distributions

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Creating Dists of Inkscape

Those who wish to produce packaged releases of inkscape are welcome to do so. If it is packages changes that you've made to the official release, please select a version name that distinguishes it from the official version, to avoid confusion. For example, “inkscape-0.35-johndoe.tar.gz”. Please consider distributing your changes as a patch rather than as a full distribution, as patches tend to be easier to maintain.

Inkscape's release process works like this:

  1. Chill - Wrap up development work
  2. Frost - Feature work should be complete. Bug Hunt
  3. Feature Freeze - Critical bug fixing
  4. Hard Freeze - Two freeze wardens are named. All development must be done as patches submitted to the freeze wardens for review and integration.
  5. Branch - The codebase is tagged and branched. Final release tarball is posted. The codebase is returned to regular open development.
  6. Packaging - Three days are allowed for creating release dists (rpm's, deb's, exe's, and autopackages).
  7. Release Announcement - A Release Announcement and a Press Release are written and circulated to relevant online news sites. Our Freshmeat record is updated.


Prior to the release we'll make a series of pre-releases, which give packagers some practice and provide testers and translators with precompiled binaries to do their work with. This generally follows the regular release process (since it's essentially a dry-run of the release), with a few exceptions. The process is as follows:


  1. Update your bzr branch to latest, and check that Inkscape configures, builds, and runs
  2. Set the pre-release version number (see below) to <major>.<minor>pre<prerelease>. E.g. 0.91pre2
  3. Create a source tarball package (see below)

Creating the Official Release Package

At some point prior to the final release, you should establish a release branch, named in the form RELEASE_<major>_<minor>_BRANCH. For example, 0.38 should have a branch called RELEASE_0_38_BRANCH. Minor fixes and code review can then be performed on that branch before the final release; it will also be used for making future point releases.

To create the release branch, do the following:

  bzr branch RELEASE_0_38_BRANCH
  bzr push

To check out this branch:

  bzr checkout RELEASE_0_38_BRANCH

After establishing the release branch, set the Inkscape version number in trunk to reflect the new future version, 0.91+devel.

Once the release is deemed ready a distribution tarball should be created as below.

On the release branch (NOT IN TRUNK):

  1. Set the official release version number (see below) to <major>.<minor> (e.g., 0.91) or <major>.<minor>.0 (e.g., 0.91.0)
  2. Create a source tarball package (see below)
  3. GPG sign the source tarball package (see below)

Setting the Inkscape version number

Set the version name in these files:

  • in the AC_INIT() macro
  • CMakeList.txt
  • src/inkscape.rc
  • src/inkview.rc
  • src/inkscape-x64.rc
  • src/inkview-x64.rc

Update the translation files

This especially must be done when declaring string freeze.

  • Run "cd share && make; cd .." to extract needed strings from content files
  • Run "cd po && make update-po; cd .." to update the translation files.
  • Finally, run "bzr commit -m'update translations'" to commit these changes as well.

Creating a source tarball package

  • Run `perl packaging/mkNEWS 0.92 > NEWS` to add the release notes into the NEWS file in the release branch. This command requires perl and w3m. Don't forget to replace 0.91 with the correct version number. The NEWS file may need some manual cleanup, so do a quick review of it.
  • mkdir build; cd build; cmake ..; make
  • (Obsolete?) Run "cd src && make helper/sp-marshal.h helper/sp-marshal.cpp; cd ..", then do
  • Run "bzr status" to check for anything strange (e.g. source files accidentally added or removed)
  • Run "bzr commit -m 'update for release'" to commit the changed and other files
  • Run "make dist"
  • This should produce inkscape-VERSION.tar.bz2 in the build directory
  • Run "tar -C /tmp -xjf inkscape-VERSION.tar.bz2" and verify the contents at /tmp/inkscape-VERSION/ are as you expect
  • GPG sign the packages (see below)
  • Upload the package and sig to the website. (see below)
  • Tag the release in bzr. Release tags should be in the form INKSCAPE_<major>_<minor>_<point>. A non-point-release like 0.91 would get the tag INKSCAPE_0_91_0, 0.91.1 would get the tag INKSCAPE_0_91_1, and so on. Pre-releases are tagged like INKSCAPE_0_91_PRE0.
  • bzr push

GPG signing Tarballs

Downstream packagers are asking for and may soon demand gpg signed tarballs. For Fedora, this is not a requirement, but does ease acceptance of packages. It also shows we are doing “The Right Thing”. md5sums are not foolproof.

  • To create a gpg signed tarball:
$gpg -u --armor --output tarball.sig --detach-sig tarball.tar.gz
  • To verify :
$gpg --verify ./tarball.sig ./tarball.tar.gz

Of course, this step doesn't mean much in practice unless people have a trust path to your key. Packagers are encouraged to attend key signing parties and take other measures to establish important trust paths to their keys (particularly with downstream packagers).

Public keys for sigs should be posted to Inkscape's download page,

Uploading packages to the website

Releasing on

1. Make sure you have a user account on - Go to and look in the top right of the page and note your logged in status, use the links provided in the drop down to log in or register an account.

2. Make sure that your account has a big enough quota - Go to and hover over the "Upload Quota" bar, you will only see 10MB if you are a normal user at this time. If you do not see a 1GB quota then you need to contact a website admin to put you into the releases group with the larger quota.

3. Make sure you have a public gpg key recorded - Go to and fill in the right boxes, the GPG Public Key box is expecting a pasted public key (not private key!) and hit submit when done.

4. Make a folder for your releases in your 'InkSpace' - Go to and fill in the name of the folder you want to use. This folder is only for your own organisation and won't be seen by users.

5. Upload your released file - Go to and drag your file to the new gallery folder created above. The upload may take some time but you should be able to see a progress bar as it uploads. (if you don't have javascript enabled, you can click on the folder and then click add and follow the manual form)

6. Enter all the details - Go into your folder and click on the newly uploaded item. It should have a red border indicating it's not yet published (if you used the drag+drop method)

  • Ignore 'External Link'
  • Going into the editor section you should be able to fill in the title for the released file. E.g. "0.91 Source Tarball"
  • Paste in the release notes (i.e. NEWS) into the description.
  • Select 'Inkscape Package' from the category drop down.
  • Attach the sig file.
  • Select 'GPLv2' from the Licenses drop down.
  • Check 'Mirror' checkbox (optional; not used presently)
  • Check 'Visible' checkbox
  • Submit this form.

7. Verify and copy link - If everything's gone well you should now see your released file with a green padlock indicating the gpg signature has been verified against your account public key.

  • Download the release by clicking on the down-arrow icon. Confirm it's the file you intended.
  • Copy this download link.

8. Link from the downloads page.

  • For this step you will need CMS editor access or pass this task onto a website editor and/or translator.
  • Edit the downloads pages for the right OS and update with the right version, release and other details as you would want it to be presented to users. Add the copied link into the right place.
  • Save /and/ then hit the blue publish button.

Congratulations, you've uploaded, released and published your release file.

Update Release Data in Launchpad

The release packages are also uploaded at by the Inkscape Launchpad Admins.

  • From, under Series and Milestones click the appropriate release series (e.g. 0.91.x)
  • Change the development branch from Pre-release Freeze (or whatever) to Current Stable Release
  • Make sure there is an existing Milestone entry under Milestones and releases for this release number; if not, add it
  • Click on 'Release now' to set a release date. Paste in the Informal Release Announcement to Release Notes, and the NEWS file as ChangeLog.
  • Click on 'Add download file' to add the source tarballs and signatures. Set their Description to "Inkscape Source Package (gz)", etc.
  • Set the previous Current Stable Release to Obsolete (or Supported if there are any further plans for point releases.)

Creating a Windows Distro

Inkscape/sodipodi has always been buildable on Win32. The problem with the sodipodi and original inkscape build, though, was that the Win32 builder had to download and configure a lot of things to make it to work. Mingw, MSYS, automake, autoconf, pkg-config, the codepages, etc. He would spend more time on THAT than the actual code.

What a pain for the average developer/user who merely wants to make Inkscape do what he wants it to do. Why waste days and days getting it to compile, when the developer would rather be working on the program itself?

So we spent several weeks collecting libraries, building others, installing the codepages into the source (which we can delete soon because of Pango) and creating a set of clean makefiles that work on Win9x, NT, XP, and the cross-compiler. It is a bit more work for people like me, but hopefully it attains its goal of saving a lot of work for other people.

Also, remember that on Unix/Linux, $PREFIX is commonly /usr/local or /usr or something like that. In windows, all of a program's files are typically located in their own directory. So all of the files are located relative to “.”. Actually, relative to the .exe that is currently running.

.....anyway, just wanted to explain that there is a reason for the Win32 build to be constructed in such a manner, and that we haven't just been arbitrary.

The version numbers in the FILEVERSION and PRODUCTVERSION fields within inkscape.rc and inkview.rc need to be updated to reflect the current version number of the release.

Once the tree is built (mingwenv, g++ buildtool.cpp -O3 -g0 -fopenmp -o btool and btool) into the “inkscape” directory, the NSIS installer script “inkscape.nsi” can be run to create the self-extracting win32 installer.

The Windows download package should be named according to the following scheme:


Where $WINVER is the required Windows version, e.g. “win32”. For example:


The new wix installer in the packaging/wix directory creates msi packages. Follow the instructions in the README file. The installer scripts parse version information from the src/inkscape.rc and inkscape/inkscape.exe file. Depending on the architecture build the generated packed is named as:

   inkscape-$RELEASE.msi or

Creating a Debian .deb

The article CompilingDebian provides a makefile to download a tarball and build a debian package therefrom.

Creating a distribution RPM

Method A:

  1. do as above for tarball, or download the release tarball
  2. login as root
  3. rpmbuild -tb inkscape-x.x.tar.gz
  4. Your RPMs will be in /usr/src/rpm/RPMS (/usr/src/redhat on RH systems)
  5. RPMs should be GPG signed

Method B:

  1. do as above for tarball, or download the release tarball
  2. mkdir ~/rpm
  3. Copy the tarball to ~/rpm/SOURCES/
  4. Copy the inkscape.spec from the tarball to ~/rpm/SPECS/inkscape.spec
  5. rpmbuild -ba ~/rpm/SPECS/inkscape.spec
  6. Your RPMs will be in ~/rpm/RPMS and ~/rpm/SRPMS
  7. RPMs should be GPG signed

The rpm should be named according to the following pattern:



$RELEASE: the Inkscape release number, such as “0.37”, “0.36.2”, etc. The third number should be omitted if it is 0. (I.e., 0.37 instead of 0.37.0)

$PKG: A version number for your package. Use a value of 1 for your package, and increment it if you need to update the released package for some reason.

$DISTRO: The name and an indicator of the version number for the distro. E.g., rh71, rh90, mdk91, suse90, fc1, etc. No need to be too exhaustive with the distro versions; for a given brand of distro it's probably enough to have a reasonably “modern” release and an older one for legacy support. For instance, rh71 and rh90.

$ARCH: The architecture that the package was built on. E.g., i686, i386, athlon, ppc, etc. Don't bother with i586 - either i386 or i686 is preferred. The i386 packages will run on Cyrix and K-6.



For creating spec files, feel free to list yourself as the packager, but please use as the contact email address, to ensure that questions/complaints about the RPM go to the official support channel.

Patching RPMs

Occasionally, the RPM will not build without some modifications. If the problem is serious enough that it affects every packaging format, this could signal a need to do a point release, but usually you can just add a patch specifically for the RPM. This is what RPM is for, after all. :-)

Here's how to do it:

1. Create a copy of the source tree, with the modifications needed to correct the issue. 2. Generate a patch like this:

  $ diff -uNr package-1.0/ package-1.0p/ > ../SOURCES/package-1.0-my.patch

3. Next add the patch to the RPM. In the specfile at %_topdir/SPECS/package.spec, add a line like this at the top of the file:

  Patch0: package-1.0-my.patch

Then further down add a line after the %setup section, like this:

  %setup ...
  %patch0 -p1

It's a very good idea to split up changes into discrete patches, giving each a different number (they don't have to be consecutively numbered). Also, be sure to upload the patch(es) to the patch tracker so they'll get into the codebase for the next release.

Then rebuild the package like this:

  rpmbuild -ba SPECS/package.spec

Signing your package

First, you need to have a public/private keypair. This can be generated with gpg using 'gpg --gen-key'.

To add a signature to an extisting package, use the command rpm --addsign /path/to/package.rpm To sign in the process of building a package, use rpmbuild -bb --sign

To check the signature on a package, use rpm --checksig.

Releasing Dists on the SourceForge File Release Tool

To release a file: (You need Release Tech permission for your Inkscape account)

  • ftp (anonymous/anonymous)
  • cd incoming
  • mput filename
  • go to Admin -> File Releases
  • scroll to the bottom and click [Add Release] to the inkscape item
  • Enter 0.35 in the box & click “Create this Release”
  • Fill in the form, checkbox the file you uploaded in (c)
  • It won't give you a clear “success” message, but you can check it got in right by going to the Files list. You can then edit any of the info you entered, to make it more correct.

Also see CVSNamingConventions if you are making a release.

Announcing Releases

When you cut a release, send a copy of the release notes as an announcement to If you find other mailing lists or websites that should receive the announcements, add their email address to the inkscape-announce list. This is done by a list admin such as Bryce Harrington.

AnnouncingReleases - Keep an eye out for other places we could announce such as distros or graphics-related sites (not only Linux-centric!).

Updating Website Collateral

When a new release is cut, there are several pieces of info that need to be added to the website:

  • Add a news item on front page
  • Review/revise FAQ
  • Review/revise Roadmap
  • Add or revise Screenshots (if appropriate)
  • doc directory: Add the manpage for the release, update doc/keys.html file, and change the corresponding version number(s) in doc/index.php.
    • From the shell on, cd to /home/inkscape/inkscape_web and run the command “(cd ../inkscape; svn update; chmod g+w -R * 2>/dev/null); pod2html --cachedir=/tmp --infile=../inkscape/inkscape.pod --outfile=doc/inkscape-man.html”.
  • Review/revise links to keys.html