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KDE is a powerful graphical desktop environment for Unix workstations.

Available versions

KDE SC 4 is the current KDE version supported by upstream. In Portage there is a stable version, and there might be one (or more) non-stable versions. Under normal conditions new versions get in stabilized after a month. In addition, KDE upstream provides live git source repositories. The Gentoo KDE team provides latest branch live ebuilds through the kde overlay.

Choose what KDE SC version is most appropriate:

KDE SC version Gentoo version Repository Status
KDE SC 4.12.5 4.12.5 Portage Stable for amd64, ppc, ppc64 and x86; testing for arm
KDE SC 4.14.3 4.14.3 Portage Stable for amd64; testing for arm, ppc, ppc64 and x86
With the arrival of Qt5, KDE has ceased synchronized, monolithic releases and instead split releases into three parts: KDE Frameworks 5, KDE Plasma 5, and KDE Applications. The KDE part of the Portage tree is currently undergoing restructuring (refactoring? renaming? reallocation?) to reflect the structural changes of KDE. However, most (if not all) of the new Qt5 packages remain masked (bug #454132).
KDE part & version Gentoo package & version Repository Status
KDE Frameworks 5.6.0 kde-frameworks/*-5.6.0 Portage Masked for amd64
KDE Frameworks nightly kde-frameworks/*-9999 kde overlay Live version
KDE Plasma 5.1.2 kde-base/plasma-desktop-5.1.2 kde overlay Masked for amd64
KDE Plasma 5.1 stable branch kde-base/plasma-desktop-5.1.9999 kde overlay Live version
KDE Plasma nightly kde-base/plasma-desktop-9999 kde overlay Live version
KDE Applications unstable branch kde-apps/kde-apps-meta-14.12.0 kde overlay Masked for amd64
KDE Applications nightly kde-apps/kde-apps-meta-9999 kde overlay Masked for amd64
Users with stable systems need to put this keywords file in /etc/portage/package.keywords to install testing versions.
When KDE PIM is installed and needs to upgrade from 4.4 to 4.13, please have a look at the KDE PIM 4.7 Upgrade Guide first (it still applies)! To stick with KDE PIM 4.4 it is possible to mask KDE PIM 4.13.



The Desktop profile has been split to KDE and GNOME subprofiles. This means that KDE and GNOME specific USE flags have been stripped from the basic desktop profile and have been migrated to the subprofiles. Choosing a subprofile does not restrict the system to using only the equivalent desktop environment. In order to choose the most suitable profile, run the following command to list the available profiles:

root #eselect profile list

Then, select the right profile with the following command, substituting X with the appropriate number of the profile:

root #eselect profile set X

See the page on profiles for more details.

For a full KDE desktop environment it is recommended to use the desktop/kde profile, which is specially tailored for KDE with OpenRC. If KDE with systemd is to be used, it is recommended to use the desktop/kde/systemd profile, which is specially tailored for KDE with systemd.


Before installing KDE SC it is recommended that several other services are set up first. Part of that is done automatically if a desktop/kde or desktop profile is used. These services are:

  • D-Bus: Enables use of the D-Bus message bus system.
  • polkit: Enables the polkit framework for controlling privileges for system-wide services.
  • udev: Enables support for udev Linux dynamic and persistent device naming.
  • udisks: Enables support for some storage related services.

Follow the links for information how to set up these services. Note that other USE flag combinations than set in this profile may technically be possible (especially if selected applications re ran instead of a full KDE desktop environment), but may be unsupported, untested, or lead to unexpected loss of functionality.

X server

Read and follow the instructions in the X server article to setup the X environment.


For update instructions, check the upgrade subpage.
For live versions see the kde overlay article.


In Gentoo there are various packages that will install a KDE environment:

It is usually a good idea to start with the kde-base/kdebase-meta package and install the additional software when needed:

root #emerge --ask kde-base/kdebase-meta

There are other meta packages that can be installed to pull in parts of the KDE suite:


To localize the KDE installation, install the kde-base/kde-l10n package. If only a selected few languages needs to set, define the LINGUAS variable beforehand in /etc/portage/make.conf

E.g. to use the German language, set:

FILE /etc/portage/make.conf Setting the LINGUAS variable for the German language
root #emerge --ask kde-base/kde-l10n

To localize the packages included in kde-base/kdepim-meta install the kde-base/kdepim-l10n package.

app-office/calligra has its own localization package too: app-office/calligra-l10n.


Boot service

KDM (KDE Display Manager) is the recommended login manager for KDE.


Set KDM as the default display manager:

FILE /etc/conf.d/xdm Setting KDM as the default display manager

To start KDM on boot, add xdm to the default runlevel:

root #rc-update add xdm default

To start KDM now:

root #/etc/init.d/xdm start


Enable KDM at boot time through systemctl enable:

root #systemctl enable kdm

Now run the following command to start the service:

root #systemctl start kdm

Add-on software


Many useful widget are in the kde-base/kdeplasma-addons package:

root #emerge --ask kdeplasma-addons

More KDE software

The most important KDE applications are in the portage tree and many are located in the kde-base and kde-misc categories.

See also

External resources