Ubuntu / Linux news and application reviews.

We recently posted about a free AutoCAD alternative called BRL-CAD, which is very advanced and build by the US military in collaboration with NASA. But the application is not that easy to use by normal people, not very much into CAD applications (or the army :-) ). So for something easier to use, I suggest the following two applications:

1. FreeCAD, a free general all-purpose 3D modeling application, focused on mechanical engineering and related areas, such as other engineering specialties or architecture. FreeCAD features tools similar to Catia, SolidWorks or Solid Edge, and therefore also falls into the category of MCAD, PLM, CAx and CAE. FreeCAD works on Windows, Linux and Mac OSX.


FreeCAD is still in early stage of development, but most of the functionality is already present. Still, you need to know a bit Python to fully use it. But it's definitely easier to use than BRL-CAD.

Download FreeCAD (official packages available for Windows and Linux (.deb files for Ubuntu and Debian) but also unofficial .rpm files). MacOSX: You'll have to compile it.)

Note: for Ubuntu Karmic Koala there are no packages available yet, but you can install freecad_0.8.2237-1testing1_i386.deb (which is for Debian) and python-pivy_0.3.0-1jaunty1_i386.deb (which is for Jaunty). You can get these packages from HERE.

2. QCAD. When I wrote about BRL-CAD I mentioned QCAD. Well, QCAD is actually enough for a basic CAD user, the only problem for some being that it's not free. There is however a community version of QCAD which is free and open-source:

The community edition contains the source code of QCAD, released under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL). This package contains dxflib, fparser, qcadlib, qcadcmd, qcadactions, qcadguiqt and QCAD, all in one tar ball. A script to build everything from scratch on any Linux / Unix system is also included. Note that the community edition does not contain the scripting module or polyline support. Sources are usually released some time after the professional editions.

More info: QCAD website.

I find QCAD to be the most easy to use from the 3 CAD applications I mentioned (BRL-CAD from the other Web Upd8 post included) and if you're just getting started with CAD, or you don't have to create anything highly advanced, I strongly suggest QCAD.

qcad ubuntu

Downloading / Installing QCAD:

In Ubuntu Linux, simply run the following command in a terminal:
sudo apt-get install qcad

For other Linux distributions: search for QCAD in your distribution repositories. If you can't find QCAD, you can download the source packages (look for QCAD Community Edition).

Windows users: download QCAD binaries (qcadbin-win- > Binary with fonts).