19 Best Free and Open Source Linux Physics Tools

Physics is a natural science concerned with the study of matter and energy applying laws that govern natural phenomena. It encompasses the study of the universe from the largest galaxies to subatomic particles, covering mechanics, radiation, heat, electricity, sound, magnetism and the structure of atoms.

A good background of physics is essential in understanding our planet, our neighbouring planets, our solar system, and the universe. It offers explanations for every observed natural phenomenon. Physics is widely regarded as the most central and fundamental science and forms the basis of many other sciences including astronomy, chemistry, biology, oceanography, seismology, and zoology.

Physics is an incredibly stimulating science, challenging our imagination with quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, chaos theory, and electromagnetism. It has contributed to modern society with the development of lasers, computers, homeland security, power transmission, biomedicine and drug development, cancer therapy, medical imaging, light sources, and much more.

Science really prospers and advances when individuals share the results of their experiments with others in the scientific community. There is a certain logic that scientific software should therefore be released under an open source license. This article focuses on selecting the best open source software for physics and physics education. Hopefully there will be something for interest here for all budding physicists.

Here’s our verdict captured in a legendary LinuxLinks-style ratings chart.

Ratings chart for the best free and open source physics software

Click the links in the table below to learn more about each program.

Physics Tools
ROOTSolves the data analysis challenges of high-energy physics
OpenFOAMFacilitates the numerical solution of partial differential equations
McStasNeutron ray-trace simulation application
OctopusReal-space, real-time implementation of TDDFT
ElmerFinite Element Software for Multiphysical Problems
Geant4Toolkit for the simulation of the passage of particles through matter
RivetParticle-physics MC analysis toolkit
HepMCEvent record for High Energy Physics Monte Carlo generators
PYTHIAGeneration of high-energy physics events
CP2KQuantum chemistry and solid state physics software package
SherpaMonte Carlo event generator
FastJetSoftware for jet finding in pp and e+e− collisions
SU2Suite for multiphysics simulation and design
HerwigMulti-purpose particle physics event generator
TrackerVideo analysis and modeling tool designed to be used in education
StepInteractive physics simulator
ASLHardware accelerated multiphysics simulation platform
LHAPDFGeneral purpose C++ interpolator
Gerris Flow SolverTool for generic numerical simulations of flows

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

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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