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. Start of release process - Finish up work on features.
  2. Feature Freeze Mode - Shift focus from feature implementation to bug fixing
  3. Hard Freeze - Two freeze wardens are named. All development must be done as patches submitted to the freeze wardens for review and integration.
  4. Branch - The codebase is tagged and branched. Final release tarball is posted. The codebase is returned to regular open development.
  5. Packaging - Three days are allowed for creating release dists (rpm's, deb's, exe's, and autopackages).
  6. Release Announcement - A Release Announcement and a Press Release are written and circulated to relevant online news sites. Our Freshmeat record is updated.

Feature Freeze Mode

In the run-up to CreatingDists, for a short time preceding the tagging of the release it's a good idea to hold off on adding new features or doing other major changes like architectural changes to the code that might decrease its stability. Whether a change is minor enough to be “ok” is left to the developer's judgement, and they're trusted to be conservative and careful.

The most useful activity to do during a feature freeze is to locate and/or fix bugs that produce crashes, and to do so with the smallest amount of change to the codebase possible. If a “proper” fix requires architectural changes or redesign of the code, consider writing that up as a post-release task.

It might be useful to branch off a release branch a week before making the release. Hopefully most people using CVS would switch to this branch at this time. Then only bug fixes can go into that branch. --Ted

Branching the release candidate

Before release, a branch should have been be created for that release 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 also permits making future point releases easily (if necessary).

To create the release branch, do the following:

svn copy

To check out this branch:

svn checkout inkscape-0.38-branch

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

Creating a distribution source tarball package

On the release branch (NOT ON HEAD):

  • Set the version name via the file in the AC_INIT() macro, Makefile.mingw.common, packaging/win32/inkscape.nsi, src/inkscape_version.h.mingw, debian/changelog, build.xml, and in build28.xml
  • Run `perl packaging/mkNEWS 0.45 > NEWS` to add the release notes into the NEWS file in the release branch. This command requires perl and lynx. Don't forget to replace 0.45 with the correct version number.
  • Run ./ && ./configure (with any flags, e.g. CXXFLAGS=).
  • Run “cd src && make helper/sp-marshal.h helper/sp-marshal.cpp inkscape_version.h && perl && perl”, then do “cvs -q diff -du make.*|less” to check for anything strange (e.g. source files accidentally added or removed), and finally “cvs commit -m make.*”.
  • Run "cd po && make update-po" to update the translation files. This especially must be done before declaring string freeze.
  • Make sure the code passes a “make distcheck”
  • This should produce inkscape-VERSION.tar.gz
  • Commit the changed and other files to the branch
  • Tag the release in CVS

Release tags should be in the form RELEASE_<major>_<minor>_<point>. A non-point-release like 0.38 would get the tag RELEASE_0_38_0, 0.38.1 would get the tag RELEASE_0_38_1, and so on.


  • Add the release notes into the NEWS file in the release branch
  • Change and inkscape_version.h.mingw to reflect the new future version

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.asc ./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).

Where are the public keys matching these sig's posted?

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, $PREFIX is commonly /usr/local or /usr or something like that. On M$, 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.

Once the tree is built (“make -f Makefile.mingw” and “make -f Makefile.mingw dist-strip”) 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:


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”.