Visual Studio Code

Popular, customizable, has support for many programming languages.

Microsoft Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is a popular cross-platform, general-purpose, open source IDE. Thanks to its powerful extensions ecosystem it supports many languages as well as deep customization options for themes, fonts, keyboard controls, and more.

A screen recording version is available


logo of Linux operating system ManjaroManjarologo of Linux operating system Arch LinuxArch
sudo pacman -S vscode
logo of Linux operating system FedoraFedora
sudo rpm --import
sudo sh -c 'echo -e "[code]\nname=Visual Studio Code\nbaseurl=\nenabled=1\ngpgcheck=1\ngpgkey=" > /etc/yum.repos.d/vscode.repo'
dnf check-update
sudo dnf install code


The KDE build tool kdesrc-build can automatically generate the configuration files needed for VS Code to work with KDE projects.

To enable this feature, first ensure that kdesrc-build is installed and configured; then enable the feature in the kdesrc-build configuration file (located at ~/.config/kdesrc-buildrc by default) - ensure these options are in the global section and set to true:

    # ... other settings ...

    compile-commands-linking true
    compile-commands-export true

    generate-vscode-project-config true
end global

With these settings, projects built by kdesrc-build will have the hidden .vscode folder created in their source directory; for example, for KCalc this would be kde/src/kcalc/.vscode.

The configuration files are generated when a project is built or rebuilt with kdesrc-build. If you have already built the project you want to work on before enabling the generate-vscode-project-config option, make sure to rebuild it before opening it in VS Code.

Working on a project

We will use KCalc as an example.

Opening the project

The project can be opened as a workspace in vs code by opening the src directory as a folder:

  • File -> Open Folder...
  • Select the project's source code directory: ~/kde/src/kcalc

If you have the kdesrc-build configuration set up as described above, VS Code will automatically detect the .vscode folder and load the project with the correct settings.

The following configuration sections will only need to be done the first time you open a new project in VS Code.

Installing extensions

A notification popup at the bottom-right of the window will ask if you want to install the recommended extensions for working on this project:

Screenshot of the prompt to install recommended extensions

These extensions add support to VS Code for technologies commonly used in KDE projects, such as CMake, C++, Qt, and more.

Click Install.

Configuring the project

After the extensions have been installed:

  • If a notification prompt asks if you want to switch to a pre-release version of the C++ extension, click No.
  • A notification prompt will ask Would you like to configure project "kcalc"? Click Yes.
Screenshot of the prompt to configure the project

A prompt will open at the top-middle of the window asking to choose a kit (a set of predefined configurations used when building and running the project). Select Unspecified to have the kit chosen automatically based on the project and system configuration:

Screenshot of the prompt to select a kit

The integrated terminal will open at the bottom of the window, and if the project was configured successfully, the last line should say:

[cmake] -- Build files have been written to: /home/<username>/kde/build/kcalc
Screenshot of the terminal showing successful configuration

You are ready to start working on the code with VS Code! 🎉


To start debugging, click on the Run and Debug icon on the left sidebar, then click on the green play button to start debugging.

Screenshot of how to start a debug session

If the project has multiple targets it will open a prompt at the top-middle of the window asking to choose a target. Select the target you want to debug; in this case, kcalc:

Screenshot of the prompt to select a target

We should now be running a debug session of the kcalc project. 🚀

Screenshot of the debug session

To later change the target, open the Command Palette (Ctrl+Shift+P) and run the CMake: Set Debug Target command.

Debugging KCMs

We'll use the plasma-workspace project as an example, as it contains many KDE Configuration Modules (KCMs).

Open the build target selector by clicking the button (defaults to all):

Screenshot of button to choose the build configuration

Filter for KCMs by typing kcm_ in the popup, and choose one of the options marked MODULE_LIBRARY that represents a KCM:

Screenshot filtering build targets for available KCMs

Now you can start debugging the KCM by selecting the kcm launch configuration and clicking the green play button:

Screenshot of choosing the kcm launch configuration

The KCM will open in a new window, and the debugger will hit breakpoints in the C++ code. Breakpoints in QML are sadly not possible.

Screenshot of kcm running


  • Reloading the window (Command Palette -> Developer: Reload Window) can fix some issues, and cause notifications/prompts to reappear if they were missed.
  • Command Palette -> CMake: Delete Cache and Reconfigure or CMake: Reset CMake Tools Extension State (For troubleshooting) can be useful if things are not working as expected.



The templates for the .vscode configuration files are available here if you need to reference them or create them manually.