Computer-aided design (CAD) is the use of computer technology for the design of objects, real or virtual. It often refers to the drafting (technical drawing and engineering drawing) of a part or product, including entire buildings. However, CAD software is used in a wide variety of other fields such as electronics and woven fabrics.
CAD software may be used to design curves and figures in two-dimensional (“2D”) space; or curves, surfaces, or solids in three-dimensional (“3D”) objects.
The Windows CAD world has long been dominated by the extremely powerful AutoCAD software. Unfortunately, Unix support was dropped way back in 1994, and its authors, Autodesk, have no current plans to bring it to Linux. Whilst it is possible to run AutoCAD in Linux using Wine, the fact remains that it is expensive software, with no source code available. This article instead focuses on CAD software released under a freely distributable license, yet which retains a lot of the functionality offered by AutoCAD.
To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 13 high quality free Linux CAD applications. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to produce professional drawings.
Let’s explore the 13 CAD applications at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, screenshots, together with links to relevant resources. Click each link in the table below to learn more about the software.
|FreeCAD||3D-Solid and general purpose design CAD/CAE|
|QCAD||Professional CAD System|
|OpenCASCADE||Technology, 3D modeling & numerical simulation|
|LibreCAD||CAD in two dimensions|
|BRL-CAD||Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG) solid modeling system|
|SALOME||Platform for numerical simulation|
|OpenSCAD||Programmers solid 3D CAD modeller|
|KiCad||Integrated environment for all of the stages of the design process|
|LeoCAD||Design virtual models you can build with LEGO bricks|
|SolveSpace||Parametric 3d CAD tool|
|Electric||The Electric VLSI Design System|
|gCAD3D||3D CAD-CAM application which features an integrated 3D OpenGL viewer|
|CadQuery||Python parametric CAD scripting framework|
|Read our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.
The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.
There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.