Installing Qtile on Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot)

Recently, there has been some discussion on qtile-dev about installing the latest and greatest version of qtile. Unfortunately, the install process has historically been a journey into dependency hell, since distributions didn't have the latest versions of some libraries required by qtile. The good news is that this has mostly been fixed (although very few documents anywhere state this), so it's hard to know what to install by hand and what you can use packages for.

To complicate matters more, there are several versions of xpyb floating around, none of which have working build systems! If you knew enough about pkg-config and weren't afraid of manually installing files, you could get everything to work, but it did bar the "normal user" from installing qtile. Hopefully this blog post will clarify a few things.

First, what dependencies do you need to install? Contrary to what the docs say, in 11.10 (and presumably later versions of Ubuntu), you don't need to build your own cairo or xcb. You can simply:

sudo apt-get install xcb-proto libxcb1-dev python-xcbgen

You will have to build three things by hand: xpyb, py2cairo, and qtile itself. The other day I sat down and fixed the build system for xpyb, so you should be able to just:

git clone git://
cd xpyb-ng
sudo python install

After that, you'll need to install py2cairo. The waf based build doesn't appear to detect xpyb correctly, so you'll need to go the autoconf route. Even with autoconf, the build system is slightly broken, so you'll need to be explicit about what directories to look in for xpyb.h. If you used the above build of xpyb, you can:

git clone git://
cd py2cairo
CFLAGS=-I/usr/local/include/python2.7/xpyb ./configure
sudo make install

Then, you can clone your favorite qtile repo and everything should Just Work! If you want to clone my copy of qtile (which includes several bug fixes and enhancements):

git clone
cd qtile
sudo python install

If you have any questions or problems, feel free to mail qtile-dev or me directly. I am going to try and package qtile and put it in a PPA, but I doubt I will get to that for another few weeks. This should help anyone who is interested enough to build it in the meantime, though!