Building SVN versions with CMake

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After many years of using the autotools build system, the developers of Scribus have selected CMake as a replacement system. It provides a much more flexible setup with a lot less complexity. It also provides compatibility with build tools on Linux and variants of Unix, Windows and Mac OSX.

You must have CMake 2.4.3 for best results. Older versions will fail.

First thing first: Download latest snapshot

To download cvs snapshots of Scribus 1.3.3.x and 1.3.x follow these steps.

Scribus 1.3.3.x - Development - Recommended for those using 1.3.x for production use

  • export
  • cvs login <Enter>
  • cvs -z3 co -r Version133x Scribus

Scribus 1.3.4cvs - Development - More Experimental

  • export
  • cvs login <Enter>
  • cvs -z3 co -r Version13x Scribus

Thanks to [[1]], anonymous CVS access is updated daily.

More info on downloading scribus:

  • Standard download [2]
  • CVS download [3]

If you are compiling for the first time, don't be scare of command line. Just copy the lines relevant to the version of Scribus you want to use, one by one on the command line.

Watch out:

  • Newbies, should take care, that only 'make install' part has to be done as a root. Rest of the part, like downloading and compiling can be done easily as a normal users.
  • And if u already have a version of Scribus on your system, don't forget to use the option WANT_VERSIONING=1. You can specify this option as -DWANT_VERSIONING=1.

Good luck!

To start the build

Before continuing, please note that an out-of-source build is recommended, however.. From the Scribus directory:

/path/to/cmake . -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=/path/to/install/to/scribuscmake/

For example:

/usr/local/bin/cmake . -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=/opt/scribus134cvs

Some options that the Scribus CMake files know about (more to come!):

  • WANT_VERSIONING=1: Sets the build to use the VERSION setting as a suffix for the install directories and the binary. Eg, the binary could be scribus-1.3.4cvs. This should mean that you can install multiple versions with the same prefix with no clashes.
  • WANT_DEBUG=1: Sets the build to be a debug release and use -O0 -g3, instead of -O2 (This is the default for now, and cannot be turned off unless you edit the CMakeFiles.txt file).
  • WANT_CAIRO=1: Makes CMake search for cairo and build with cairo instead of LibArt_LGPL. Please note we still consider the cairo build as beta.
  • WANT_LIBART=1 (default): Makes CMake search for and build with LibArt_LGPL instead of cairo.

For example: to make a cairo debug build, then something like this:

/usr/local/bin/cmake . -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=/opt/scribus134cvs -DWANT_CAIRO=1 -DWANT_DEBUG=1 -DWANT_VERSIONING=1

Out-of-source builds

One of the advantages of CMake is that you can do an out-of-source build. What is this? It enables you to build the application without writing anything at all to the directory where the Scribus source is. This means your source tree is clean, always. Its easier and faster to update, and you can build multiple targets out-of-source from the same source tree. Cool!

To do an out-of-source build, you need a new directory to build in. Say you have the source files in:


Make the follow directory:


So then, instead of doing:

eg /usr/local/bin/cmake . -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=/opt/scribus134cvs

you would then change to the builddir directory and run:

eg /usr/local/bin/cmake ../Scribus -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=/opt/scribus134cvs


Continuing on to the build stage

Once this has successfully completed, simply run make && make install.

The CMake based build system is very new to Scribus and it will change and it will need improving. Please report issues on our mailing list or bugtracker.

There is a long todo list for this build system including, but not limited to:

  • Checking it works across distributions
  • Checking it works across various flavours of UNIX
  • Checking it works on 64 bit distros
  • Add Win32 and Mac OSX support

Compilation fails using Qt4 binaries

Systems with both Qt3 and Qt4 installed: You have uic and moc from Qt4 in the path and it may results to the compilation crash. This should NOT be the case with cmake 2.4.2 when released, or when using current Scribus CVS. However, this might be a useful workaround:

Remove cached options from previous cmake configuration run: rm CMakeCache.txt

Then change PATH variable (for my Gentoo) e.g.: export PATH=/usr/qt/3/bin/:$PATH

And run cmake config phase again:

eg ~/devel/CMAKE/bin/cmake . -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=/path/to/install/to/scribuscmake/

Specific library locations

Whenever your distribution releases their package for a library Scribus depends on, it may still not be the very latest stable or unstable version from the writers of the library. In some cases, the Scribus developers have had to rely on the very latest code to further some parts of Scribus. In this case it is necessary to build your own version of such a library.

On example of this is the cairo graphics library. Right now, 1.3.4cvs has the capability to use the very very latest code from the just released cairo 1.2.

To specify a new cairo install path, other than your system's default add this to the cmake command line: -DPREFIX_CAIRO:PATH=/path/to/your/cairo/install

Making a tarball for distribution

To make a tarball for distribution, the old way would be to make dist. The new way is to run make package_source or /path/to/cpack -G TBZ2 --config CPackSourceConfig.cmake to give you a bundle of the source. With cmake 2.4.1 there is only support for a gzip tar.gz however a bzip2 tar.bz2 is possible with later versions of cmake.

Notes For Packagers

If you package Scribus for a distribution keep in mind the issue of the install prefix versus temporary install directory prefix. The following seems to work well for Debian packaging:

>_______mkdir -p $(BUILD_DIR)

>_______cd $(BUILD_DIR) && $(CMAKE) \
>_______    -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:PATH=/usr \
>_______    -DCMAKE_SKIP_RPATH:BOOL=1 \
>_______    -DRPATH_STYLE:STRING=none \
>_______    -DWANT_VERSIONING:BOOL=1 \
>_______    -DCMAKE_CXX_FLAGS:STRING='-o2 -g -Wall' \
>_______    -DCMAKE_C_FLAGS:STRING='-o2 -g -Wall' ../../


>_______$(MAKE) -C $(BUILD_DIR) install DESTDIR=$(INSTALL_DIR)

where $(BUILD_DIR) is ./build and $(INSTALL_DIR) is ./install

Using $(PREFIX) is the key to avoiding hardcoded absolute path problem.


  • Enable more pkg-config usage
  • 64 bit supoprt
  • Prefixes for more packages

Success Stories

Please add the operating system or distribution that you have tested successfully on:

  • Gentoo, current (--Cbradney 17:04, 12 November 2006 (CET))
  • Kubuntu Dapper Drake (--TomZ 17:08, 12 November 2006 (CET))
  • openSuse 10.1 (--TomZ 17:08, 12 November 2006 (CET))
  • Fedora Core 6 (--gpittman 15:44, 12 November 2006 (EST))
  • PLD Linux Th (--DeeJay1 09:52, 13 November 2006 (CET))
  • Mandriva 2007 (--Leo [[4]] 01:00, 16 November, 2006 (IST)) - a smooth ride
  • PCLinuxOS 0.93a (--Leo [[5]] few days before i tried mandriva 2007) - manualy specified lib locations
  • SuSE Linux 10.0 (--C_schaefer 19 November 2006)
  • MacOSX 10.4 Tiger (--avox 18:50, 1 March 2007 (CET)) check the advanced settings with ccmake, sometimes it doesnt pick up some paths
  • OpenSuSE 10.2 (--C_schaefer 28 February 2007)
  • Ubuntu Feisty (--Oberten 23 March 2007)
  • SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (i586) --Mhanski 15:41, 21 April 2007 (CEST)