Installing multiple versions on Windows

Is there any information on how to install two versions of Kicad on Windows?

It’s fairly common to have multiple versions of CAD and software IDE suites installed to avoid having to upgrade old projects just to make minor changes. Is this possible with Kicad?

Yes but it requires some environment variable trickery to allow for different configuration directories:

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Thanks, I might give that a try.

The environment variables are not essential then? Are they just default paths or something?

One of them kind of is. KiCad 4 and KiCad 5 can not really share their config directory as they use it slightly different. In addition if you use the official libs you might want to use the v5 lib for new projects while still using the v4 lib for maintaining your old projects. (the later would require that you have different lib tables and possibly path settings for the two versions.)

This is a huge problem.

I created a feature request here:

Just side by side installation of V4 and V5 is possible using KICAD_CONFIG_HOME environment variable. So I would not expect nor do I see the need that developers will do anything about it

Serious problems arise with the libraries. If you will use the same libraries with V5 as with V4 you should not have much problems. But then again, if this is the case, you also should not have much problems upgrading your projects, making V4 obsolete for you.

If you want to use different libraries in V5 than what you are using with V4 then you will definitely have some issues. But this is really the case where you want to use V4 and V5 as is usually too much effort to upgrade V4 projects to use new libraries.

If either V4 or you set up system (or user) wide environment variables, pointing to footprint, 3D model, symbol libraries, and templates, obviously in V5 you will have to use different variable names. This makes it impossible to use KiCad V5 libraries and their sym-lib-table and fp-lib-table directly as you will have to change embedded variable names.

The workaround is to remove system (user) wide definitions and move them inside KiCad V4 and V5, which makes it possible to use the same variable names in V5 pointing to different locations.

It would be helpful if the installer had a “stand alone mode” or something to facilitate this. As it is I’m not really sure what I need to do or if it will work properly, and it seems to be a non-standard unsupported configuration.

You can find some instructions also here:

Here’s how I created a portable installation, and a link to a ready-made portable app by someone else:

I agree that installations of new feature versions should independent by default.

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It depends on how you define “unsupported”. The developers put recently before 5.0 some effort to make independent configurations possible. Independent installations are a matter of the installer, not so much about KiCad itself. Once you set it up it works. Unfortunately the Windows installer doesn’t support it. In Ubuntu you can install v5 and current nightly build side-by-side; I don’t know why the packager didn’t do the same for v4 and v5. Maybe in the future.

As soon as you use different config directories, using different libs for the versions is no problem. (So if you use KICAD_CONFIG_HOME, then you can run different versions of the libraries.)

I rename the KiCad 4 program folder from KiCad to KiCad4, and readjust just some environments values to have it work as normal. Then install KiCad5 with some adjust in environments (trial and error). Now, I can run either Kicad4 and/or 5 (sametime too) on my machine without changing the environments. I think my trick also because I specify all my file path (data sheet) as relative path in my customized libraries, and in the .pro file also use relative path like LibDir, and other …Dir variable (Not environments one). - In fact, I can open the same project from either version 4 or 5 (Don’t try open at the same time - i is a bad idea)

The blueprints area is basically ignored, if you want to raise feature requests use the bug tracker.

There is already a bug raised on multiple versions, and the KICAD_CONFIG_HOME was introduced to address it. I think it is a poor solution, but it’s all we have.

Wow. I read that document. I think I’ll just stick with V4 only for now. Aside from anything else, even if I do get both working side-by-side I’d be worried that the first update would break it.

You could also run the version you use not so often in a virtual machine. That way you can do new designs in kicad 5 and have kicad 4 laying around for maintaining old projects. (The longer you wait to update legacy stuff the higher the cost will be.)

If you insist on staying at v4, at least use the backported version 5 library for new projects. This will make it easier to update to v5 later on. (Only if you want to use the official lib)

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7 posts were split to a new topic: Some problems setting up kicad version 5

The problem is that even if I can get side-by-side to work I can’t really tell other people to do that. For hobby stuff it might be okay, but at work it’s a non-starter.

It’s a shame because when I’m using it at work I can spend time developing tools and libraries for Kicad, contributing to the project.

If I had the time I’d spend it trying to fix this problem, but I don’t have experience with Windows installers or the Kicad code base so it’s unlikely to happen.

Depends on your IT policies. All companies i worked for till now where very strict with that.
At my last workplace we had multiple virtual machines on our laptops with different protected environments for different tasks. (Was the easiest way for IT to provide us with pcs that had all tools we need for both new and old projects)

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