There are three main ways to install it
1) there is a debian package which lags svn head
2) just download a release tarball
3) best of all, use subversion to checkout svn head
you don't necessarily need to make install if you are doing a quick build and test.
./configure will let you know if you are missing any dependencies.
If you have any issues, compliments or code contributions feel free to drop into
where someone should be able to help.
FWIW we have just about finished the protel autotrax/easytrax importer (complete with netlist support), which now gives anyone with kicad a pathway to achieve:
legacy protel autotrax/easytrax layout -> pcb-rnd -> Kicad legacy/kicad s-expression layout
pcb-rnd can be run headless too, so converting formats by using it as a CLI tool is possible, with the right CLI incantations.