Installing build dependencies

What to do when you are missing dependencies

If you have any trouble getting things to build due to missing 3rd-party package dependencies, read on to learn what to do. If this guide does not manage to solve your compilation problems, be sure to contact the developers.

How to install all the build dependencies of one package

Often the simplest solution to the problem of missing dependencies is just to install all its required packages at once without needing to search for each dependency individually.

Because most distributions keep track of package dependencies by using source packages, they also provide their own built-in commands to easily install all the build dependencies of each package.

While these commands will not always install all dependencies you will need when compiling KDE software (for example, when compiling with kdesrc-build, where the software is always changing), they will make your dependency resolution faster.

Debian, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, KDE neon

All the build packages known by the package you want to build can be installed with apt build-dep:

sudo apt build-dep dolphin


All the build packages known by the package you want to build can be installed with zypper source-install --build-deps-only:

sudo zypper --plus-content repo-source source-install --build-deps-only dolphin

Note that temporarily enabling the source repositories so that build dependencies can be found is not automatic.

The --plus-content option will make zypper temporarily enable it to get the info it needs.


All the build packages known by the package you want to build can be installed with dnf builddep:

sudo dnf builddep dolphin

Note that builddep will temporarily enable the source repositories so that build dependencies can be found.

Using build errors to find missing dependencies

Whenever you attempt to compile a project and it fails to build, most of the time this is caused by a missing dependency.

Let's say you see the following error when compiling a project:

-- Could NOT find KF6TextWidgets (missing: KF6TextWidgets_DIR)
-- Could NOT find KF6TextWidgets: found neither KF6TextWidgetsConfig.cmake nor kf6textwidgets-config.cmake
CMake Error at /usr/share/cmake/Modules/FindPackageHandleStandardArgs.cmake:230 (message):
  Could NOT find KF6 (missing: TextWidgets)

This error is provided by CMake and it means you are missing the KDE Frameworks 6 library KTextWidgets.

And let's say instead you see the following error when compiling a project:

Build-time dependency gi-docgen found: NO (tried pkgconfig and cmake)

docs/api/ ERROR: Dependency "gi-docgen" not found, tried pkgconfig and cmake

This means the project is actually using Meson instead of CMake.

Meson projects typically prefer using pkgconfig over CMake package configuration files.

The error here states that Meson could not find the pkgconfig for gi-docgen (most likely a file with the extension ".pc") or the CMake file (most likely a file with the extension ".cmake") that contains "gi-docgen" case insensitively in name.

There are two types of dependencies, build dependencies and runtime dependencies. The distribution package names for build dependencies usually begin with lib and/or end in -dev or -devel, whereas runtime dependencies usually just start with lib.

For build dependencies you will likely only need packages that end in -dev or -devel, but in some rare cases you might need to install packages starting with lib too.

In this case, KF6TextWidgets is a build dependency.

The main way to find the package that provides KF6TextWidgets is to grab the name of the library, KF6TextWidgets, strip it from the KF6 part, and search for it in your package manager:

  • Debian and derivatives: sudo apt search textwidgets
  • openSUSE: sudo zypper search textwidgets
  • Fedora: sudo dnf search textwidgets
  • Arch: sudo pacman --sync --query textwidgets
  • FreeBSD: sudo pkg search textwidgets

Just searching for the component usually reveals the right package name, although it ultimately amounts to guessing or trial-and-error.

The usual pattern you will find for dependency packages looks like this:

  • Debian and derivatives: lib<packagename>-dev or <packagename>-dev
  • openSUSE and Fedora: kf6-<packagename>-devel or libKF6<PackageName>
  • Arch: <packagename>

Finding specific packages using CMake package configuration files

A more efficient way is to use the functionality provided by your package manager to search for the CMake config file:

  • Debian and derivatives: apt-file find KF6TextWidgetsConfig.cmake
  • openSUSE: zypper what-provides 'cmake(KF6TextWidgets)'
  • Fedora: dnf provides 'cmake(KF6TextWidgets)'
  • Arch: pkgfile KF6TextWidgetsConfig.cmake

Fedora and openSUSE come with this functionality by default. On Debian, you will need to install apt-file manually. On Arch, pkgfile.

If while using apt-file you get an error similar to the following (in this example, Qt6WaylandScanner):

The imported target "Qt6::qtwaylandscanner" references the file
but this file does not exist.

You can run this to see what package contains this file:

apt-file find /usr/lib/qt6/libexec/qtwaylandscanner

You will get the following output:

qt6-wayland-dev-tools: /usr/lib/qt6/libexec/qtwaylandscanner

So the package you need to install is qt6-wayland-dev-tools.

Finding specific packages using pkgconfig files

Similarly to the above, certain distributions also allow to query for packages using pkgconfig files:

  • openSUSE: zypper what-provides 'pkgconfig(gi-docgen)'
  • Fedora: dnf provides 'pkgconfig(gi-docgen)'

Finding missing executables

If the CMake error looks like the following:

CMake Error at /usr/share/cmake/Modules/FindPackageHandleStandardArgs.cmake:230 (message):
  Could NOT find Sass (missing: Sass_EXECUTABLE)
Call Stack (most recent call first):
  /usr/share/cmake/Modules/FindPackageHandleStandardArgs.cmake:600 (_FPHSA_FAILURE_MESSAGE)
  cmake/modules/FindSass.cmake:48 (find_package_handle_standard_args)
  CMakeLists.txt:31 (find_package)

The error here states that CMake could not find the executable named "sass" (most likely a file "/usr/bin/sass").

To solve this, you can specifically search for the executable in distribution packages:

  • Debian and derivatives: apt-file search /usr/bin/sass
  • Fedora: sudo dnf provides sass
  • openSUSE: sudo zypper search --provides /usr/bin/sass
  • Arch: sudo pacman --file /usr/bin/sass
  • FreeBSD: sudo pkg provides sass