For the base system you only need cmake and build-essential (make, gcc, some unix tools).

To build documentation you need doxygen and graphviz.

To build pdf documentation you need pdflatex with


For the debian package, please refer to debian/control (in the debian branch).

For the plugins, please refer to the of the respective plugin.


Elektra is using cmake. Tested are cmake version 2.8.9 and version 3.0.2.

To configure Elektra graphically (with curses) run (.. belongs to command):

    mkdir build && cd build && ccmake ..

and press 'c':

All options described here, can also be used with cmake rather then ccmake (.. belongs to the command!):

    mkdir build && cd build && cmake -D<OPTION1>=<VAR1> -D<OPTION2>=<VAR2> ..

For information what you can use as OPTION1 and OPTION2 see above. Note to pass '' to VAR if it contains ;. E.g.:

    cmake -DPLUGINS="dump;resolver;yajl" ..

Some scripts in the folder of the same name may help you running cmake.


For supported compilers see the automatic build farm on

Additional gcc 4.6 armhf is tested regularly.

Compiler Version Target gcc gcc (Debian 4.7.2-5) 4.7.2 i386 gcc gcc (Debian 4.7.2-5) 4.7.2 amd64 gcc gcc 4.8 amd64 gcc gcc 4.9 amd64 gcc (Debian 4.4.5-8) 4.4.5 amd64 gcc (Debian 4.4.5-8) 4.3 amd64 gcc 4.6 armhf mingw 4.6 i386 clang version 3.5.0-1~exp1 x86_64-pc-linux-gnu icc 14.0.2 20140120 x86_64-pc-linux-gnu

To change the compiler, use


for example to use gcc-4.3

    cmake -DCMAKE_C_COMPILER=gcc-4.3 -DCMAKE_CXX_COMPILER=g++-4.3 ..


Some options, i.e. PLUGINS, BINDINGS and TOOLS are either:

a list of elements separated with ; (note that shells typically need ; to be escaped)
a special uppercase element that gets replaced by a list of elements, that are:
ALL to include all elements (except elements with unfulfilled dependencies)
NODEP to include all elements without dependencies
DEFAULT to go back to the situation that was there when nothing was changed

  • elements prefixed with a minus symbol (-) to exclude an element

Examples for this are especially in the subsection PLUGINS below, but they work in the same fashion for BINDINGS and TOOLS.


Read about available plugins here.

Because the core of elektra is minimal, plugins are needed to actually read and write to configuration files (storage plugins), commit the changes (resolver plugin, also takes care about how the configuration files are named) and also do many other tasks related to configuration.

The default is also the minimal set of plugins you should add:

  • dump is the default storage. If you remove it, make sure you add another one and set KDB_DEFAULT_STORAGE to it.
  • resolver is the default resolver. If you remove it, make sure you add another one and set KDB_DEFAULT_RESOLVER to it.
  • sync is very useful to not lose any data. If you do not want to include it, make sure to set /sw/kdb/current/plugins to a value not containing sync. See kdb-mount(1).

To add all plugins, you can use:


Note that plugins get dropped when dependencies are not satisfied. To add all plugins except some plugins you can use:


E.g. if you want all plugins except the jni plugin you would use:


To add all plugins not having additional dependencies (they need only POSIX), you can use


To manually set the default (same as not setting PLUGINS), you can use


This only states the list of the plugins are the default list and does not mean that a different default is used after Elektra was installed. For this endeavour you need to change:




Alternatively, you can pass the list of plugins you want, e.g.:


Some plugins are compile-time configureable. Then you can choose which features are compiled in or out. This is especially important in the bootstrapping phase, because then only the compiled in configuration applies. To compile-time-configure a plugin, you just pass a underscore (_) and flags after the name of the plugin.

Note that the base-plugin itself need to be part of PLUGINS, so that the variants will work.

The resolver even distinguish between 3 different kind of flags:


Following baseflags are available:

The user flags are (the order matters!):

The system flags are (the order matters!):

  • if a path that begins with / is chosen the system flags are irrelevant and the path is taken as-is.

E.g. one may use:



Tools are used to add extra functionality to Elektra. The flag used to specify which tools are compiled is -DTOOLS, thus flag works similarly to the -DPLUGINS flag.

To add all tools, you can use::


To add all plugins not having additional dependencies (they need only POSIX), you can use:


To build only the default tools, you can use:


To specify specific tools you can use, e.g.:



Bindings are used in the same way as PLUGINS and TOOLS. For example you can use:


Note that the same languages are sometimes available over GI and SWIG. In this case, the SWIG bindings are preferred. To add all swig bindings (and also cpp), you can use:


The SWIG executable my be specified with:


If this option is not used, cmake will find the first occurrence of swig in your environment's path.


Debug, Release or RelWithDebInfo See help bar at bottom of ccmake for that option or:


Only needed by Elektra developers. Make the library to output logging information. It is not recommended to use these options.


build documentation with doxygen the kdb tool does only have the integrated docu at the moment


By default all files will installed below /usr/local. Edit that cache entry to change that behaviour. Also called system prefix within the documentation.

If you want to create a package afterwards it is ok to use pathes that you can write to (e.g. CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX /home/markus/bin)


Lets you install libraries into architecture specific folder. E.g. for 32/64 bit systems you might install libraries under lib64. Set LIB_SUFFIX to 64 to achieve exactly that. So the system library folder will be CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX/lib64 then.


By default include folders will be installed below CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX/include/elektra This entry let you change the elektra. If the entry is empty, the include files will be installed directly to CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX/include.


Similar to above, but with the plugins. Default is: CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX/lib${LIB_SUFFIX}/elektra It can be also left empty to install plugins next to other libraries.


Specifies the root of the GoogleTest sources, to be used for some of the tests. A CMakeLists.txt inside GTEST_ROOT will be searched as way to detect a valid GoogleTest source directory. If it is '', an internal version of gtest will be used.

It is recommended that you browse through all of the options. Afterwards press c again (maybe multiple times until all variables are resolved) and then g to generate. Finally press e to exit.



To build the source use:


You can pass: -j for parallel builds VERBOSE=1 to see the invocations of the compiler


You can build Elektra using Code::Blocks under Gentoo:

Precondition: Make sure you have a compiler, xml2 (for kdb tool) and xsl (see later) installed. cmake configure will help you with that, it will make sure you don't forget something essential.

For Most Linux system all you have to do is open up a console and

    mkdir build 
    cd build 
    cmake .. -G 'CodeBlocks - Unix Makefiles' 
    make package

Note 1: You can use other editor if you like just type cmake at the console to get a list of option you can pass to cmake as long as well as a list of what code editor project cmake can create.

Note 2: For Unix if you have nCurses install you can run ccmake to set important option after running cmake like to enable debug symbol.

Note 3: for Gentoo is recommend to emerge sys-apps/lsb-release to name the package right even thou not required.