9 Best Free and Open Source Electronic Design Automation Tools

Electronic Design Automation (EDA) is a type of software that enables individuals to design electronic systems. These systems can be printed circuit boards (which mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways) and integrated circuits (an electronic circuit manufactured by lithography, or the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material). The EDA tools enable chip designers to design and analyze entire semiconductor chips.

The electronic design market has witnessed rapid expansion in recent years, with the market becoming increasingly more global. With the rise of semiconductor industries in many emerging countries, such as China, good quality EDA software is in strong demand. EDA is a complicated business, involving a diverse set of software algorithms and applications that are required for the design of intricate next generation semiconductor and electronics products. EDA tools assist designers capture and verify the functional and physical characteristics of their designs before they actually manufacture them. They also allow designers to design complex products, which reduces the time to bring the electronic system to market, and keep costs within budget.

There are a wide range of EDA tools out that are released under an open source license which let developers customize, and create their latest designs. To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we’ve compiled a list of 9 high quality free Linux EDA applications. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who wants to design electronic systems.

Ratings chart for the best free and open source EDA tools

Let’s explore the 9 EDA tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources.

Electronic Design Automation
KiCadSoftware suite for the creation of electronic schematics
gEDAFull suite and toolkit of Electronic Design Automation tools
MagicVLSI layout editor, extraction, and DRC tool
QElectroTechDesign electric diagrams
KTechLabIDE for electronic and PIC microcontroller circuit design and simulation
FritzingSuited to the needs of designers and artists
ElectricThe Electric VLSI Design System
LibrePCBSoftware to develop printed circuit boards
PyOPUSLibrary for simulation-based optimization of arbitrary systems
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead 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.
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5 years ago

KLayout is a great open source tool for mask design and lay-out and creation of .gds files for sending to the mask maker. It has a nice cross section tool for viewing also.

Erik Karlsson
5 years ago
Reply to  J

That’s a really good shout, J. I’ve only recently been introduced to KLayout, and it’s a really useful Qt-based GDS and OASIS file viewer. And it’s an editor tool. It’s cross-platform and open source. It’s only got 100 stars on GitHub which is scandalous really.

2 years ago

Horizon EDA is easy to use, looks good and is very fast. Probably the only one on the list with export to ODB++