Appendix A: Building the Client

This section explains how to build the Nextcloud Client from source for all major platforms. You should read this section if you want to develop for the desktop client.


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 version 2.4.0 of the Nextcloud Client.

Getting Source Code

The Generic Build Instructions pull the latest code directly from GitHub, and work on Linux, macOS, and Windows.


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 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::

    xcode-select –install

  3. Install homebrew::

    /usr/bin/ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL”

  4. Add the Nextcloud repository using the following command:

    brew tap owncloud/owncloud
  5. Install a Qt5 version with qtwebkit support:

    brew install qt5 --with-qtwebkit
  6. Install any missing dependencies:

    brew install $(brew deps owncloud-client)
  7. Add Qt from brew to the path:

    export PATH=/usr/local/Cellar/qt5/5.x.y/bin:$PATH

    Where x.y is the current version of Qt 5 that brew has installed on your machine.

  8. Install qtkeychain from here: git clone make sure you make the same install prefix as later while building the client e.g. - DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/Path/to/client-install

  9. For compilation of the client, follow the Generic Build Instructions.

  10. Install the Packages package creation tool.

  11. In the build directory, run admin/osx/ <build_dir> <install_dir>. 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, Nextcloud 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, and will not work correctly.

Windows Development Build

If you want to test some changes and deploy them locally, you can build natively on Windows using MinGW. If you want to generate an installer for deployment, please follow Windows Installer Build (Cross-Compile) instead.

  1. Get the required dependencies:

    • Make sure that you have CMake and Git.
    • Download the Qt MinGW package. You will use the MinGW version bundled with it.
    • Download an OpenSSL Windows Build (the non-“Light” version)
  2. Get the QtKeychain sources as well as the latest versions of the Nextcloud client from Git as follows:

    git clone
    git clone git://
  3. Open the Qt MinGW shortcut console from the Start Menu

  4. Make sure that OpenSSL’s bin directory as well as your qtkeychain source directories are in your PATH. This will allow CMake to find the library and headers, as well as allow the Nextcloud client to find the DLLs at runtime:

    set PATH=C:\<OpenSSL Install Dir>\bin;%PATH%
    set PATH=C:\<qtkeychain Clone Dir>;%PATH%
  5. Build qtkeychain directly in the source directory so that the DLL is built in the same directory as the headers to let CMake find them together through PATH:

    cd <qtkeychain Clone Dir>
    cmake -G "MinGW Makefiles" .
    cd ..
  6. Create the build directory:

    mkdir client-build
    cd client-build
  7. Build the client:

    cmake -G "MinGW Makefiles" ../client


    You can try using ninja to build in parallel using cmake -G Ninja ../client and ninja instead.


    Refer to the Generic Build Instructions section for additional options.

    The Nextcloud binary will appear in the bin directory.

Windows Installer Build (Cross-Compile)

Due to the large number of dependencies, building the client installer for Windows is currently only officially supported on openSUSE, by using the MinGW cross compiler. You can set up any currently supported version of openSUSE in a virtual machine if you do not have it installed already.

In order to make setup simple, you can use the provided Dockerfile to build your own image.

  1. Assuming you are in the root of the Nextcloud Client’s source tree, you can build an image from this Dockerfile like this:

    cd admin/win/docker
    docker build . -t nextcloud-client-win32:<version>

    Replace <version> by the version of the client you are building, e.g. 2.4.0 for the release of the client that this document describes. If you do not wish to use docker, you can run the commands in RUN manually in a shell, e.g. to create your own build environment in a virtual machine.


    Docker images are specific to releases. This one refers to 2.4.0. Newer releases may have different dependencies, and thus require a later version of the docker image! Always pick the docker image fitting your release of Nextcloud client!

  2. From within the source tree Run the docker instance:

    docker run -v "$PWD:/home/user/client" nextcloud-client-win32:<version> \
       /home/user/client/admin/win/docker/ client/  $(id -u)

    It will run the build, create an NSIS based installer, as well as run tests. You will find the resulting binary in an newly created build-win32 subfolder.

    If you do not wish to use docker, and ran the RUN commands above in a virtual machine, you can run the indented commands in the lower section of manually in your source tree.

  1. Finally, you should sign the installer to avoid warnings upon installation. This requires a Microsoft Authenticode Certificate osslsigncode to sign the installer:

    osslsigncode -pkcs12 $HOME/.codesign/packages.pfx -h sha256 \
              -pass yourpass \
              -n "ACME Client" \
              -i "" \
              -ts "http://timestamp.server/" \
              -in ${unsigned_file} \
              -out ${installer_file}

    For -in, use the URL to the time stamping server provided by your CA along with the Authenticode certificate. Alternatively, you may use the official Microsoft signtool utility on Microsoft Windows.

    If you’re familiar with docker, you can use the version of osslsigncode that is part of the docker image.

Generic Build Instructions

Compared to previous versions, building the desktop sync client has become easier. Unlike earlier versions, CSync, which is the sync engine library of the client, is now part of the client source repository and not a separate module.

To build the most up-to-date version of the client:

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

    git clone git://
    cd client
    git submodule init
    git submodule update
  2. Create the build directory:

    mkdir client-build
    cd client-build
  3. Configure the client build:

    cmake -DCMAKE_BUILD_TYPE="Debug" ..


    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 CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/Users/path/to/client/install/ .


    Example:: cmake -DCMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=/usr/local/opt/qt5 -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/Users/path/to/client/install/  -DNO_SHIBBOLETH=1

  4. Call make.

    The Nextcloud binary will appear in the bin directory.

  5. (Optional) Call make install to install the client to the /usr/local/bin directory.

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.
  • WITH_DOC=TRUE: Creates doc and manpages through running make; also adds install statements, providing the ability to install using make install.
  • CMAKE_PREFIX_PATH=/path/to/Qt5.2.0/5.2.0/yourarch/lib/cmake/: Builds using Qt5.
  • BUILD_WITH_QT4=ON: Builds using Qt4 (even if Qt5 is found).
  • CMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=path: Set an install prefix. This is mandatory on Mac OS