Install KDE4 on Debian Unstable (Sid)


With KDE 4.1 kicking the traffic to this page has increased dramatically. So for installing KDE 4.1 on Debian unstable you have to generally follow the same instructions (add expreimental repository to your sources.list)

More instructions on the Debian KDE Team website

Today I tried the new KDE4 on my Debian Sid distribution and decided it is still not usable for everyday desktop environment. After the full of dependency issues installation I ended up with piles of software removed and yes running KDE4.


  • works noticeably faster
  • cool effects
  • gadgets(widgets)
  • totally new experience – live previews, funky menu, new icons and theme
  • new multimedia engines


  • Some effects bugs
  • not compatible with some old programs – at least were uninstalled while installing KDE4

For now I will not update my main copy of Debian Unstable

Anyway short how-to if you still decide to try it yourself:

  1. Backup everything – I personally copied my whole Debian partition to another one and installed there.
  2. Remove all KDE and Compiz packages that are already installed otherwise you will have plenty of dependencies problems and apt shouting various errors.
  3. Add
    deb experimental main non-free contrib

    to your /etc/apt/sources.list

  4. apt-get update && apt-get -t experimental install kdebase kdebase-workspace
    extragear-plasma kdegraphics kdegames kdemultimedia kdenetwork kdeutils kdeedu kdeadmin
    kdetoys kdeartwork kdesdk
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13 Responses to “Install KDE4 on Debian Unstable (Sid)”

  1. ___Jul___ Says:

    Afaik the package dependencies thart are missing are exactly because these parts of KDE are not yet ported. It is known that the KDE team decided to state KDE 4 ready even without all that tools that were known from KDE 3.x ported. They say KDE 4 ist the core not the tools and they have the core running. This would normaly won’t make me fear but I suspect programs like kdevelop or kate could have significant delays until they run fluently on KDE 4.

  2. Stef Says:

    Just tried installation of KDE4 as per instructions which worked fine and operating as I write this. Thanks for the tips and muchly appreciated.

    Adelaide, Sth Australia

  3. Peter Says:

    @___Jul___ Actually most of the applications are ported I haven’t tried reinstalling amarok for example to see if it runs.

    If there is interest i will try installing kde4 on clean debian unstable and put a more serious how-to

    @Stef You are welcome 🙂

  4. ___Jul___ Says:

    It will be interesting to see how it behaves on a clean install. Not that I doubt your linux is in top form even after a few years on the run, old buddy 🙂

    And some small citates fro the OpenSUSE page about KDE4

    “To make a long story short: KDE 4.0 is not and never was meant to replace 3.5.x for regular users. The main goals were porting to Qt4 and creating the frameworks to create all the things announced for KDE 4. Frameworks are unfortunately hardly visible to the user, so most things that use them, like plasmoids, panel-functionality etc., will only appear after the frameworks are in place, i.e. starting with 4.1.

    Please note that several applications, most noticeable the ones of KDEPIM (KAddressbook, KMail, KOrganizer, Kontact) and Quanta have not been released as part of KDE 4.0. Many other KDE3 applications have not been ported yet to KDE 4.0 libraries or are only available as unstable development versions.

    4.0 is the start of KDE 4 and needs testing by the community, that’s why it was released and that’s what you should install it for. If it suits your needs already, be happy, if not, you know what to expect now. ”

    And what is interesting they say KDE3 and KDE4 will live happily together eventhough their packages report conflicts. Funny 🙂

    In the end amarok is ported for KDE4 but KDevelop is not 🙁 sad Jul saaad Jul 🙁

  5. David Baron Says:

    I tried this from kubuntu’s repo and from the instructions here. Both yielded “broken packages” and neither would do the install.

  6. Peter Says:

    kubuntu’s repositories was not good idea. Did you removed the old kde packages ?

    The most serious issue I had was with kwrite which was previously (in) the kate package and I had to remove it with dpkg.

    Also since those packages are in experimental expect them to change frequently.

    Please attach the apt-get result so we can have more information about your problem.


  7. blackbelt_jones Says:

    I’m thinking if it isn’t ready for Unstable Debian, it’s too unstable for me. So if I keep updating my Sid install, I’ll get KDE 4 when the maintainers think it’s ready, right?

  8. Peter Says:

    Correct. Actual KDE will be usable around version 4.1 however you can see kde4 packages in updated Debian Sid (kdebase-runtime-bin-kde4). Check Sebastian Kuegler blog for more info about KDE4 –

  9. Diego Says:

    I attempted to upgrade my Debian/testing laptop to KDE4 experimental about three weeks ago; packages were correctly installed and dependencies resolved. KDM worked (with screen position all messed up, but it did come up). But when i tried to login for the first time, i got just a message: “Not possible to continue, check your installation.”. At this point i fell back to KDE 3.5.8 testing. Now i have no idea what to expect from this, any ideas on when KDE4 will fall at least into unstable?

  10. Peter Says:

    yep this should happen around July when KDE 4.1 is released

    btw about your issue i suspect KDM was still trying to load KDE 3

  11. Chris Says:

    my Debian unstable still does not offer kde 4.1, will it be available soon ?

  12. Peter Says:

    not until the new stable(lenny) is released

  13. SuporteTecnicoID Says:

    Look this ours distro ResuLinux kde4.1

    best regards


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