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KDE is a free software community, producing a wide range of applications including the popular Plasma desktop environment.

Gentoo support for KDE is excellent, with comprehensive packaging of the legacy KDE SC 4, next generation KDE Frameworks, Plasma, and Applications 5, as well as a wide array of other miscellaneous KDE-based software.



Choosing an appropriate profile, although not required, is recommended as it sets a number of global and package-specific USE flags to ease installation and ensure a smooth KDE experience.

In order to choose the most suitable profile, first list what's available:

root #eselect profile list
  [1]   default/linux/amd64/13.0
  [2]   default/linux/amd64/13.0/selinux
  [3]   default/linux/amd64/13.0/desktop
  [4]   default/linux/amd64/13.0/desktop/gnome
  [5]   default/linux/amd64/13.0/desktop/gnome/systemd
  [6]   default/linux/amd64/13.0/desktop/kde
  [7]   default/linux/amd64/13.0/desktop/kde/systemd
  [8]   default/linux/amd64/13.0/desktop/plasma
  [9]   default/linux/amd64/13.0/desktop/plasma/systemd

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

root #eselect profile set X

For a full KDE desktop environment it is recommended to use the desktop/kde profile, which is tailored for use with OpenRC. If systemd is used, choose desktop/kde/systemd instead. For Plasma 5 desktop environment choose desktop/plasma with OpenRC or desktop/plasma/systemd 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 are run 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.


KDE SC 4 is the previous major version of KDE. Although it is no longer maintained upstream, it is considered stable, and is recommended for most users. As upstream support for KDE SC 4 has slowly come to an end, certain packages have releases with versions that do not match the rest of the SC. For example, KDE Workspaces and KDE PIM have received their last bugfix releases with 4.11.22 and 4.14.10 respectively, while kdelibs enjoys 4.14.x point releases well beyond. Meanwhile, newer Applications releases are still shipping with KDE4-based packages that are seamlessly able to serve as bugfix updates from 4.14.3.

Available versions

KDE version Status
KDE SC 4.14.3 Stable for amd64, ppc, ppc64 and x86; testing for arm
KDE Workspaces 4.11.22 Stable for amd64 and x86; testing for arm, ppc and ppc64


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

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

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

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


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

root #emerge --ask kde-base/kdeplasma-addons


To localize the KDE installation, install the kde-apps/kde4-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.confSetting the LINGUAS variable for the German language
root #emerge --ask kde-apps/kde4-l10n

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

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

Display manager

KDM (KDE Display Manager) is the recommended login manager and is pulled in automatically via kde-apps/kdebase-meta by default if no other login manager is installed.


Set KDM as the default display manager:

FILE /etc/conf.d/xdm

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:

root #systemctl enable kdm

Now start the service:

root #systemctl start kdm

KDE Frameworks, Plasma, and Applications 5

The next generation of KDE splits the SC into three components, each with their own individual release cycles: KDE Frameworks 5, KDE Plasma 5, and KDE Applications.

Available versions

KDE component & version Gentoo package & version Repository Status
KDE Frameworks 5.21.0 kde-frameworks/*-5.21.0 gentoo Stable for amd64 and x86
KDE Frameworks 5.23.0 kde-frameworks/*-5.23.0 gentoo Testing for amd64 and x86
KDE Frameworks master branch kde-frameworks/*-9999 kde overlay Live version
KDE Plasma 5.5.5 kde-plasma/plasma-meta-5.5.5 gentoo Stable for amd64 and x86
KDE Plasma 5.6.5 kde-plasma/plasma-meta-5.6.5 gentoo Testing for amd64 and x86
KDE Plasma master branch kde-plasma/plasma-meta-9999 kde overlay Live version
KDE Applications 15.12.3 kde-apps/kde-apps-meta-15.12.3 gentoo Stable for amd64; Testing for x86
KDE Applications 16.04.1 kde-apps/kde-apps-meta-16.04.1 gentoo Testing for amd64 and x86
KDE Applications 16.04.2 kde-apps/kde-apps-meta-16.04.2 kde overlay Testing for amd64 and x86
KDE Applications master branch kde-apps/kde-apps-meta-9999 kde overlay Live version


KDE Frameworks 5 is a collection of libraries and software frameworks that provide the foundation for KDE Plasma 5 and KDE Applications 5, but may be leveraged by any Qt application.

As Frameworks are mostly libraries and provide little user functionality, it's not necessary to install them manually - the required packages will be pulled in automatically as dependencies.


Plasma 5 is the next generation of KDE's desktop environment, based on Qt 5 and KDE Frameworks 5. Upgrading is fairly simple, although it cannot be coinstalled with Plasma 4 due to upstream design decisions.

Note that while Plasma 5 is in a good state, it is still under heavy upstream development and is missing some features present in KDE 4.

Before proceeding, make sure to choose a plasma profile. KDE 4 users will need to take extra steps.

Upgrade from KDE SC 4

Information on how to upgrade from KDE SC 4, migration and troubleshooting can be found on the upgrade page.


The kde-plasma/plasma-meta package provides the full Plasma 5 suite, configured by the following USE flags:

USE flags for kde-plasma/plasma-meta Merge this to pull in all Plasma 5 packages

bluetooth Enable Bluetooth Support global
display-manager Pull in a graphical display manager local
grub Pull in Breeze theme for sys-boot/grub local
gtk Add support for x11-libs/gtk+ (The GIMP Toolkit) global
handbook Enable handbooks generation for KDE4. global
mediacenter Pull in kde-plasma/plasma-mediacenter local
networkmanager Enable net-misc/networkmanager support global
pam Add support for PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules) - DANGEROUS to arbitrarily flip global
plymouth Pull in Breeze theme for sys-boot/plymouth local
pulseaudio Add support for PulseAudio sound server global
sddm Pull in the x11-misc/sddm display manager and KCM local
sdk Pull in kde-plasma/plasma-sdk local
wallpapers Install the KDE wallpapers local

root #emerge --ask kde-plasma/plasma-meta

Alternatively, kde-plasma/plasma-desktop provides the basic desktop, leaving users free to install only the extra packages they require:

root #emerge --ask kde-plasma/plasma-desktop
Please note that such installations will be missing important packages such as kde-plasma/powerdevil (power management, suspend and hibernate options) and kde-plasma/systemsettings if this alternative installation is used.


Many useful widgets are in the kde-plasma/kdeplasma-addons package:

root #emerge --ask kde-plasma/kdeplasma-addons

Display manager

SDDM (Simple Desktop Display Manager) is the recommended login manager and is pulled in automatically via kde-plasma/plasma-meta by default. This is the preferred option. Alternatively, LightDM can be used and pulled in by setting USE flag -sddm for kde-plasma/plasma-meta. Change the setting accordingly in /etc/conf.d/xdm. Also, be sure to read through the SDDM page if further issues appear.


Releases consist of various applications and supporting libraries based on Qt 5/KDE Frameworks 5 as well as Qt 4/KDElibs 4, with the latter still being in long term support mode. In Portage, the distinction is made using slots 4 and 5. Porting is an ongoing process where each major release is making inroads to Frameworks 5, and therefore contains both well matured and newly ported applications. Note that it also means potential dependency conflicts even within one major release, when two packages depend on slot 4 and 5 of the same library that can not be installed at the same time. The meta packages are taking these conflicts into account and will in some cases prefer the more reliable version over a new port.

For QT 4 / KDElibs 4 based slot 4, two variants of KDEPIM, the KDE personal information management suite (including kde-apps/kmail, kde-apps/kontact, and kde-apps/korganizer) are available. The current, up-to-date version including an Akonadi-based kmail (also known as kmail2) is installed by default. By locally placing a mask file into /etc/portage/package.mask, the "noakonadi fork" is used including a non-Akonadi kmail (also known as kmail1).

The kde-apps/kde-apps-meta package provides the full Applications bundle:

root #emerge --ask kde-apps/kde-apps-meta

It will install the following smaller meta packages, which of course can also be hand-picked:

Package name Available major version Description
kde-apps/kdeaccessibility-meta 15.12, 16.04 Accessibility applications and utilities.
kde-apps/kdeadmin-meta 15.12, 16.04 Administrative utilities, which helps in managing the system.
kde-apps/kdebindings-meta 16.04 Bindings for various languages.
kde-apps/kdecore-meta 15.12, 16.04 Most basic applications.
kde-apps/kdeedu-meta 15.12, 16.04 Educational applications and games.
kde-apps/kdegames-meta 15.12, 16.04 Standard desktop games.
kde-apps/kdegraphics-meta 15.12, 16.04 Graphics applications such as image viewers, color pickers, etc.
kde-apps/kdemultimedia-meta 15.12, 16.04 Audio and video playback applications and services.
kde-apps/kdenetwork-meta 15.12, 16.04 Network applications and VNC services.
kde-apps/kdepim-meta 4.4, 4.14 PIM applications such as emailer, addressbook, organizer, etc.
kde-apps/kdesdk-meta 15.12, 16.04 Various development tools.
kde-apps/kdeutils-meta 15.12, 16.04 Standard desktop utilities such as a archiver, a calculator, etc.
kde-apps/kdewebdev-meta 15.12, 16.04 Web development tools.
kde-apps/kdeartwork-meta 15.08 (final) Emoticons, wallpapers, etc.


The utility that is used to run GUI programs as root is provided by kde-plasma/kde-cli-tools. If built with USE flag kdesu, a graphical frontend to kde-frameworks/kdesu is installed, which can be used by invoking kdesu5.

As always, ensure that the command actually needs to run as root, versus adding the regular user to the relevant groups or simply just running the command unprivileged.

More KDE software

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

See also

External resources