Kicad6 installation process and why the Kicad experience generally tends to suck

Something I can’t find in the “sadly out of date” Kicad documentation is the yield of a normal installation process, or what’s expected for files and folders once correctly installed (ie., how to verify it went as planned). And also, what is required of the user (other than importing custom libraries and such later) post installation. This is basic required info for the first time user, why is it omitted ???

I’m running on Linux Mint if that makes a difference.

my questions:

(i) does the std installation process automatically provide the latest/updated “master/official” symbol and footprint libraries ?!

(ii) do we potentially then need to go to gihub and download the latest from there ?! (… ever ?! … why is that stuff there anyway ?!)


(iib) how/when are master/official libraries updated ??! (where do we find out of its availability)

(iii) why are the K4 and K5 libraries still up ??!

(iv) why is K5 stuff like this still up ?!

so … what do you guys need to clean all this up and provide adequate non-confounding documentation for K6 proper … and get rid of all outdated/misleading/time-wasting info online, or moved to an appropriate junk yard

sifting through potentially outdated info, going thru band-aid FAQ pages is a lame waste of time caused by lacking docs

years later I’m still trying to deal with very basic issues. PLEASE clean up the mess you’ve created (left behind) and get this doc stuff figured out once and for all …

I’ve already donated once and will not hesitate again once this gets fixed


Official Documentation

The getting started tutorial of the KiCad doc team is actually a tutorial that assumes you know the general process already (Ideal for users coming from a different tool).

However, be aware that it is sadly out of date in some places but you will for sure be able to still find your way around KiCad as the changes are not that huge (the tutorial got updated where the differences were large enough to matter but some minor differences might still be there).

I started using KiCad with the help of “KiCad Like a Pro” back in V5, and now there is a 3rd edition fully updated for KiCad V6 at techexplorations dot com.
Perhaps that could help against some of the frustration, in the meantime?

thanks, but I bought that too soon after the Kicad5 post-installation frustration set in. I strongly complained to the author about many of the points I make here, and he agreed that he hadn’t thought about any of it. Instead he wrote a gloss-over guide that teaches how to do pcb work and NOT about the peculiarities of Kicad and its inner workings. I found it to be a waste of money, not much better than the “official” documentation . Now he wants us to fork out again for V6 ?! that’s unlikely to happen. I need answers from the people who designed and organized the code - that’s who should really be writing the docs. I know it’s not easy but the Kicad crew needs to think about what it’s like form the non-coder // maybe they should get a hold of me and I could help them steer things in the right direction at this level … otherwise, it’s a great program (when things work)

You are generally right that the documentation is out of date for v6, but work is ongoing to update it.

The getting started guide however was rewritten 100% from scratch for v6, so it is up to date :slight_smile:

Keep in mind that the kicad team controls the information on, but they do not control the rest of the internet (including this forum).

I understand, but one of the links above belongs to - stuff like that needs to be cleaned up … the “getting started” stuff is fine (thanks for the update), tho what is really needed IMO is a primer about the file structure and practices of the program // I don’t want to have to find that in an obscure forum post somewhere … a bird’s eye view of how resources are organized and imported

I come into this with a Microsoft bias simply because I have been using Microsoft for >30 years. Much more recently I installed Linux Mint into my 2008 vintage lab computer, because it was unable to run KiCad 6 under Win XP. My remark is that Linux Mint seems significantly more of a struggle than KiCad 6. Particularly the installation process into Win10 seems much more flexible and user friendly. I downloaded and installed the lite nightly, and was able to omit wizards and libraries. Installation with Mint was much more of a head scratcher. (SUDO…what?) But it does always seem that the first thing you learn (Win version) is much easier to understand than the second thing you learn (Linux version.)

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Yeah that library page is pretty bad. But I think all the information you want is on the Linux mint download page.

Keep in mind that people are volunteering their time for all of these things.

I tend to agree with you Bob // this is why I’m asking about “desired outcome” as far as installation goes … I know i can’t expect the Linux Mint crowd (forumites) to answer whether my Kicad installation went as Kicad planned it - as it is for me to ask the Kicad crowd about dealing with Mint installation peculiarities …

I wish there was a simple and transparent way of knowing exactly what was getting replaced/installed (eg., symbols and footprints ??!) or not in the updates … especially, for example, if an existing version is already present …

and, I will ask again … do I need to (ever) go to Github to update symbols and footprints ??!
or do I just trust the periodic updates thru Mint for footprints and symbol library updates (this is not made clear as far as I know)

of course, I assume everything is as it should be in the installation, but to be sure I did a complete removal of K5 before installing K6 a second time around … a small learning curve in itself

I wish there was some (official) update info page that provided a description of what’s included and tasks it performs … and more complete advice for users of alternate OS’s

thanks for your input

Linux is complicated, so many distributions and versions of them.
This means that KiCad is often at the mercy of the packagers. Sometimes they do a half-baked job
Only a few Linux distributions are officially supported and Mint is not one of them

I know what you’re saying David, though it seems things have gotten better recently with MINT … I’m on the latest lineage of that OS and THIS TIME the installer included the master libs … with K5 it was a real nightmare for me …

to be clear, there didn’t “seem” to be any real problems with the installation of K6 as I followed the official instructions provided here: (

everything seems to work … the question is for me, how do I go about double checking the installation (for my own edification) - I just want to provided proof to myself that all the bits are there … and also, very importantly, if i screw something up - quite possible - then I need to know how to restore things back to a default state, whether it’s by doing a fresh re-install or simply bringing an accidentally tampered master libs, etc …

I wish some of that mgmt methodology was mentioned at the official site

for example …

the installation seems to do two things:

of course, (i) is installing the program (where I don’t care)

(ii) seems to install master packages in usr/share/kicad which is a systems folder … this means I can’t manually copy or delete files and folders // I’m assuming these are only manipulated via the program …

does this sound right ?!

(iii) are there any other folders installed in the process that I’m not aware of ??!

the reason why I ask is because of the GIThub master libraries available … if I’m supposed to stay updated thru GIThub I’m really not sure how to I bring that stuff to the master library side

what’s the correct process here ?!

other than bringing in custom third party (commercial) project specific libs should I just use the standard Mint updates for keeping the Master libs at their latest ?!

I don’t know anything about Mint, I’m a Windows user. But to answer some of your questions:

  1. Yes, the installation includes the standard libraries so these are updated.

  2. No, you are not supposed to update the standard libraries between installations, this is done when you install a new version of KiCad.

  3. The standard libraries should not be edited by you, nor KiCad. These should ONLY be updated when you install a new version.

One of the first things you should do is probably to create a custom symbol lib and a custom footprint lib. If you want something similar to something available in the standard libs, open it in the editor and save it to your custom lib. Or duplicate it to your custom lib first and edit it there. Don’t try to.make changes to the standard libs since these changes will be removed next time you install KiCad.

What I would actually recommend is to never use anything from the standard libs directly, but to first duplicate it to a custom lib.


Thank-you Albin - just the info and advice I was looking for!

over at the documentation group there’s a thread that provides a framework for version 6.0 docs … I’d like to see something like this:

  1. Installation and Updating Process
  1. Getting Started
  2. Creating Schematics
  3. Creating PCBs
  4. Creating and Managing Libraries
  5. Configuring and Customizing KiCad
  1. A word about online resources

with your comments and the sort included as this pre-introductory section

interesting what you say about making copies, I think that answers a problem i was having with an audio jack symbol from the master lib

again, thank-you !!

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Kicad needs volunteers interested and able to write documentation on many levels: from absolute basic, upwards … it is as easy as that.
Finding those volunteers is the hard part.

I don’t think it would be a big deal to fix - the bulk is already done very well.

Much of it (my gripe here) would simply be presenting a more explicit description of the organizational side of things.

Basic things need to be made more clear, that’s all … a link to an oversight page should visible at the top of the main official page. No need to make the readership (which includes prospective new users) hunt around for that stuff

After reading all of the posts in this thread, not just your opening post, I understand what you mean. In general the library management is the most difficult part of KiCad to grasp. That’s my honest opinion after using it for several years and answering questions here.

It would need three completely different chapters, and the Linux chapter couldn’t even cover the installation and update process. Even the file organization of KiCad would be guaranteed for some distros only. Welcome to the Linux world.

Everything is easy as long as you do the default things, there probably are instructions already somewhere, no matter what your distro or OS. But people come here when they have problems, and that’s already an indicator that something isn’t necessarily as default. And you can’t write short, easy to understand, straightforward instructions for that. It’s impossible to know what each user actually needs to know and what not.

Adding some kind of overview of the file structure and especially library management of KiCad would probably be good, but it couldn’t help with each OS/distro’s details.

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I think i get what you’re saying but I just want to be looking at the kicad side of things here. I’d like to assume that this info would apply to the distros that are all installing “correctly” // and in particular define what correctly should look like on the HD … like i said, K5 didn’t install fully on my Mint 18 but K6 did on Mint 20 … plus has a dedicaded page for Mint installs.

I’m assuming that once installed the program can’t look that different in various respects (file structure and all) … or can it ?!

It seems to me that lots of wasted time is needed to get to know this program … like, I just wasted an evening of not working to be on this thread … it’s worth it because i have no other choice, would i have saved this time by Kicad having an into/features/methodology page for me to read up front - you bet!

Others have addressed the documentation quesion. I’ll just address the GitLab issue. TL;DR: No, do not go near GitLab unless you are a developer or want to be on the bleeding edge.

When release packages are made for a distro, the current state of the GitLab repository for KiCad, and this will include any new symbols/footprints/3D models approved up to that time, is captured. However as the libraries change slowly, you are unlikely to miss anything between now and the next update, and if you really have an artifact that’s not there yet, you can always add new symbols/footprints/3D models to your personal libraries.

So in short, once you have installed the packages for a distro, just let the normal OS package manager notify you of updated packages and install them when available. This is just like other packages in free software world, the vast majority of people use released packages and don’t have to know anything about code and artefact repositories.

From this thread it seems like you don’t understand how packaging in mint/ubuntu/debian and most other linux distros works. And what do the commands that are in installation instructions actually do. If you had read their output then you would know but you probably didn’t.

In ubuntu and as consequence debian the kicad packages are split into main program, libraries, 3d models, templates and docs. They are all separate things. When you install main package depending on settings of your package manager it may or may not pull in others as well because they are indicated as recommended. It’s your responsibility to understand what packages you install or don’t install, they have descriptions.

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A couple? of days ago my Mint 20 Update Manager showed 6.0.2 was available along with footprint, symbol & 3D library updates as well as the usual pile of Mint stuff.
I selected most, skipping Kicad 3D (I don’t do 3D… I have the parts on hand and a ruler) and Google Chrome.
Clicked Install then rebooted: all done, end of story.

That’s my impression, too. And that’s why I said above that it’s almost impossible to give short and to the point instructions for Linux distros. Those instructions are already in the dowload page, and what goes beyond it, belongs to general maintenance of the distro. End user application documentations can’t and don’t repeat those instructions. It would be comparable to giving detailed instructions about Windows installer and how it installs and where and what could go wrong and what if there appears an error in the process. A Windows user should know it already or get familiar with it in some other way, or ask specific questions when problems arise.

It seems to be a very common situation that someone uses Linux but doesn’t know the basics. Still it’s not the responsibility of an end user application to help with it. But if someone wants to write instructions, nobody is preventing. We can add it to the FAQ as far as it helps with KiCad installation directly.