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KiCad is a cross-platform and open-source electronics design automation (EDA) suite for creation of electronic schematic diagrams and printed circuit board (PCB) artwork. Jean-Pierre Charras began development of the program in 1992[1] in order to have "a tool to teach electronics to his students, and also to learn how to code in C++".[2] CERN has contributed to its development since 2013[3] and KiCad joined the Linux Foundation in 2019.[4] The "Ki" part of the program name was based on a friend's company's name[5] because other options were taken already.


USE flags

USE flags for sci-electronics/kicad Electronic Schematic and PCB design tools

doc Add extra documentation (API, Javadoc, etc). It is recommended to enable per package instead of globally
examples Install examples, usually source code
nls Add Native Language Support (using gettext - GNU locale utilities)
openmp Build support for the OpenMP (support parallel computing), requires >=sys-devel/gcc-4.2 built with USE="openmp"
telemetry Send anonymized usage information to upstream so they can better understand our users
test Enable dependencies and/or preparations necessary to run tests (usually controlled by FEATURES=test but can be toggled independently)

USE flags for sci-electronics/kicad-meta Electronic Schematic and PCB design tools (meta package)

doc Add extra documentation (API, Javadoc, etc). It is recommended to enable per package instead of globally
minimal Do not install extra data like 3D packages and templates.


Emerging sci-electronics/kicad will install the basic program.

root #emerge --ask sci-electronics/kicad

Additional software

To install all of:

at once,

root #emerge --ask sci-electronics/kicad-meta

The KiCad footprint libraries can be individually downloaded here if desired.


A KiCad Flatpak is available.[6]

user $flatpak install flathub org.kicad.KiCad


Environment variables

The following paths can be viewed and edited under 'Preferernces' > 'Configure Paths...'.

  • KICAD7_3DMODEL_DIR: Base path of 3D models used in footprints.
  • KICAD7_3RD_PARTY: Location for plugins, libraries, and color themes installed by the Plugin and Content Manager.
  • KICAD7_FOOTPRINT_DIR: Base path of footprint library files.
  • KICAD7_SYMBOL_DIR: Base path of symbol library files.
  • KICAD7_TEMPLATE_DIR: Location of project templates installed with KiCad.
  • KICAD_USER_DIR: Location of local user content, such as libraries, plugins and themes.
  • KICAD_USER_TEMPLATE_DIR: Location of personal project templates.


User configuration files are stored in ~/.config/kicad.

The default path for user content (KICAD_USER_DIR) is ~/.local/share/kicad/<version>.

Vendor libraries

There is a currently unmaintained[7] DigiKey Symbol and Footprint Library for KiCad 5,[8] as well as a partner library from suppliers.[9]


Additional libraries, plugins and themes can be installed via the Plugin and Content Manager (PCM). Some libraries not distributed via the official KiCad respository, such as Espressif KiCad Library, are installed by downloading the release and adding via PCM.


DigiKey recently released an add-on to assist with collection of parts in a schematic file and pushing them to their myLists service.[10]




root #emerge --ask --depclean --verbose sci-electronics/kicad

See also

External resources