Appendix Building the Desktop App


This section explains how to build the Desktop App from source for all major platforms. Here you can finde the source of the ownCloud Desktop App. You should read this section if you want to develop for the Desktop App. Build instructions are subject to change as development proceeds.

Please check the version for which you want to build.

These instructions are updated to work with the latest version of the ownCloud Desktop App.

Getting the Source Code

The generic build instructions pull the latest code directly from GitHub, and work on Linux, macOS, and Windows.


For the published Desktop Apps we link against QT5 dependencies from our own repositories so that we can have the same versions on all distributions. This chapter shows you how to build the Desktop App yourself with this setup. If you want to use the QT5 dependencies from your system, see the next chapter.

You may wish to use source packages for your Linux distribution, as these give you the exact sources from which the binary packages are built. These are hosted on the ownCloud repository from OBS. Go to the Index of repositories to see all the Linux client repositories.

To get the .deb source packages, add the source repository for your Debian or Ubuntu version, as in the following example for Debian 9, run the examples below as root:

echo 'deb /' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/owncloud-client.list
echo 'deb-src /' >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/owncloud-client.list

The above registers the source repository of the released Desktop App. There is also …​/desktop:/testing/…​ and e.g. …​/desktop:/daily:/2.7/…​ for beta versions or daily snapshots.

Install the dependencies using the following commands for your specific Linux distribution. Make sure the repositories for source packages are enabled. These are:

Distribution Installation Instructions


apt update; apt build-dep owncloud-client


zypper ref; zypper si -d owncloud-client


yum install yum-utils; yum-builddep owncloud-client

Follow the generic build instructions, starting with step 2.

Linux with System Dependencies

Build sources from a GitHub checkout with dependencies provided by your Linux distribution. While this allows more freedom for development, it does not exactly represent what we ship as packages. See above for how to recreate packages from source.

To get the source dependencies on Debian and Ubuntu, run the following command:

sudo apt install qtdeclarative5-dev libinotifytools-dev \
  qt5keychain-dev python3-sphinx \

Follow the generic build instructions, starting with step 1.


In addition to needing Xcode (along with the command line tools), developing in the macOS environment requires extra dependencies. You can install these dependencies through MacPorts or Homebrew. These dependencies are required only on the build machine, because non-standard libs are deployed in the app bundle.

The tested and preferred way to develop in this environment is through the use of HomeBrew. The ownCloud team has its own repository containing non-standard recipes. To set up your build environment for development using HomeBrew:

  1. Install Xcode.

  2. Install Xcode command line tools using

    xcode-select --install
  3. Install Homebrew using

    /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"
  4. Add the ownCloud repository using the command

    brew tap owncloud/owncloud
  5. Install a Qt5 version, ideally from 5.10.1, using the command

    brew install qt5
  6. Install any missing dependencies, using the command:

    brew install $(brew deps owncloud-client)
  7. Install qtkeychain by running

    git clone

    Make sure you make the same install prefix as later while building the Desktop App e.g.

  8. For compilation of the Desktop App, follow the generic build instructions.

  9. Install the Packages package creation tool.

  10. In the build directory, run

    admin/osx/ <CMAKE_INSTALL_DIR> <build dir> <installer sign identity>

    If you have a developer signing certificate, you can specify its Common Name as a third parameter (use quotes) to have the package signed automatically.

    Contrary to earlier versions, version 1.7 and later are packaged as a pkg installer. Do not call make package at any time when compiling for OS X, as this will build a disk image, which will not work correctly.

Windows Development Build with KDE Craft

If you want to test some changes, you can build the ownCloud Desktop App natively on Windows using KDE Craft. You can also use it to build unsupported and unoptimized installers.

Install KDE Craft

To install KDE Craft, Python 2.7 or Python 3.6+, and PowerShell 5.0+ must be installed. You can find the full installation guide in the KDE Community Wiki.

If you want to use Microsoft Visual Studio, naturally, that must be installed as well.

When the dependencies are installed, install KDE Craft using the following lines in PowerShell:

Set-ExecutionPolicy -Scope CurrentUser RemoteSigned
iex ((new-object net.webclient).DownloadString(''))

The first command allows running scripts from remote sources. The second command starts installing KDE Craft. You are asked where you want to put the main folder, called CraftRoot, which will contain all source, build, and install folders. Please choose a disk with sufficient free space.

Last but not least, you need to choose the compiler you want to use. The official builds only supports Microsoft Visual Studio 2019. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try to use Mingw-w64. In contrast to Visual Studio, which you need to install in advance, KDE Craft can install Mingw-w64 for you.

Unless you need 32bit builds, you should stick to the default of x64 builds.

Setup KDE Craft

After you install KDE Craft, there are two steps left before the ownCloud Desktop App can be compiled. These are:

Launch the KDE Craft Environment

To launch the KDE Craft environment, you need to run the following command in PowerShell. This provides you with a shell with all the environment variables set that you need to work with KDE Craft.

This needs to be done every time you want to work with Craft.
We’re assuming that you installed KDE Craft in the default path of C:\CraftRoot. If you have installed it somewhere else, please adjust the path as necessary.

Setup the ownCloud repository

The last step before we can begin, is adding the ownCloud repository. It provides you with additional dependencies and tools, which are not available from the standard KDE repository.

craft --add-blueprint-repository
You only need to do this once.

Build The Desktop App

Finally, we can build the Desktop App with the following command:

craft owncloud-client

This installs all required dependencies and builds the ownCloud Desktop App from the master git branch. If you want to build a different branch, first install all dependencies and then clone the source code from git, like this:

craft --install-deps owncloud-client
craft --fetch owncloud-client

You can find the git checkout in C:\CraftRoot\downloads\git\owncloud\owncloud-client. There you can use the usual git commands to switch branches and remotes, e.g., to build the 5.2 stable branch you can use craft with --set version parameter:

git checkout 5.2
craft --set version=5.2 owncloud-client

Afterwards you can build the Desktop App like this:

craft --configure --make --install
craft owncloud-client

Run the Desktop App

Neither craft owncloud-client nor craft --configure --make --install make the ownCloud Desktop App available in your PATH, they only install to the so-called image directory. This is so KDE Craft knows which files belong to which package. In order to run the Desktop App, you first need to merge the image directory to the regular KDE Craft root (C:\CraftRoot). Afterwards, you can run owncloud.exe from your shell.

craft --qmerge owncloud-client

Package the Desktop App (Unsupported)

Although this is not officially supported, it is, generally, possible to build an installer with:

craft nsis
craft --package owncloud-client

Now you should have a file called: owncloud-client-master-${COMMIT_HASH}-windows-${COMPILER}.exe in C:\CraftRoot\tmp.

This is not supported, optimised, nor regularly tested! Fully supported Windows installers are currently only provided by ownBrander.

Generic Build Instructions

To build the most up-to-date version of the Desktop App:

  1. Clone the latest versions of the Desktop App from Git as follows:

    git clone git://
    cd client

    Note master this default, but you can also check out a tag like v2.5.4

    git checkout master
    git submodule init
    git submodule update
  1. Create the build directory:

    mkdir client-build
    cd client-build
  1. Configure the Desktop App build:

    cmake -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=/opt/ownCloud/qt-5.12.4 -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/Users/path/to/client/../install/ ..

    For Linux builds (using QT5 libraries via build-dep) a typical setting is


    However, the version number may vary. For Linux builds using system dependencies -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH is not needed. You must use absolute paths for the include and library directories.

    On macOS, you need to specify -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=target, where target is a private location, i.e. in parallel to your build dir by specifying ../install.

    qtkeychain must be compiled with the same prefix e.g.,

  1. Call


    The ownCloud binary will appear in the bin directory.

  1. (Optional) Call make install to install the Desktop App to the /usr/local/bin directory (or as per CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX).
    The following are known CMake parameters:

    • QTKEYCHAIN_LIBRARY=/path/to/qtkeychain.dylib -DQTKEYCHAIN_INCLUDE_DIR=/path/to/qtkeychain/ Used for stored credentials. When compiling with Qt5, the library is called qt5keychain.dylib. You need to compile QtKeychain with the same Qt version. If you install QtKeychain into the CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH then you don’t need to specify the path manually.

    • WITH_DOC=TRUE: Creates doc and man pages through running make; also adds install statements, providing the ability to install using make install.

    • CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=/path/to/Qt5.12.4/5.12.4/yourarch/lib/cmake/: Builds using that Qt version.

    • CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=path: Set an install prefix. This is mandatory on Mac OS.

  2. Optional: Run a Desktop App that was installed in a custom CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX may not pick up the correct libraries automatically. You can use LD_LIBRARY_PATH to help find the libraries like this:

    LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/opt/ownCloud/qt-5.12.4/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/:/Users/path/to/client/../install/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ /Users/path/to/client/../install/bin/owncloud

Compiling via ownBrander

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of doing all the compiling work manually, you can use ownBrander to create installer images for all platforms.