Linux Apps

10 Best CAD Software for Linux

Best CAD Software for Linux
Written by Martins D. Okoi

Computer-aided design (CAD) involves the process of using computers to create, modify, analyses, or optimize designs.

CAD software is used by architects, animators, graphic designers, and engineers to create and perfect their design quality, create a database for maintenance, and improve communication via documentation.

There are several free and paid CAD software to choose from and these days both the free and paid ones have the same features. Thus, the topic of today’s article.

1. FreeCAD

FreeCAD is a free and open source multi-platform general-purpose 3D CAD software for parametric modelling and information modelling with support for the finite-element method.

It features both a GUI and a CLI, workbench concept, constructive solid geometry, a built-in Python console, a built-in scripting framework, etc. and is excellent for creating 3D designs from 2D models (and vice versa) of any size.

FreeCAD - 3D Parametric Modeler

FreeCAD – 3D Parametric Modeler

FreeCAD is available from Ubuntu repositories and can be installed via the Software Center or with the following command in a terminal:

# sudo apt-get install freecad

To get the latest release version, please use the the following PPA.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:freecad-maintainers/freecad-stable
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install freecad freecad-doc && sudo apt-get upgrade
$ freecad

Learn more from our article on FreeCAD here.

2. LibreCAD

LibreCAD is a free and open source 2D CAD software with a GUI built using Qt4 libraries so that it runs on different platforms in the same way.

It started as a fork of QCAD’s community edition when it was called CADuntu. Its packed with a lot of tools for speedy 2D alterations and is available in 30+ languages.

LibreCAD - 2D-CAD Software

LibreCAD – 2D-CAD Software

LibreCAD is available from Ubuntu repositories and can be installed via the Software Center or with the following command in a terminal:

# sudo apt-get install librecad

To get the latest release version of LibreCAD, please use the the following PPA.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:librecad-dev/librecad-stable
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install librecad

3. OpenSCAD

OpenSCAD is a free and open source CAD software for creating solid 3D CAD objects and it can run on Windows, MacOS, and Linux/UNIX.

OpenSCAD is tagged The Programmers’ Solid 3D CAD Modeller, because of how it places design elements and a code editor side by side; allowing designings to directly initiate changes.

OpenSCAD for creating solid 3D CAD objects

OpenSCAD for creating solid 3D CAD objects

OpenSCAD is available from Ubuntu repositories and can be installed via the Software Center or with the following command in a terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install openscad

To get the latest release version of OpenSCAD, please use the the following PPA.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openscad/releases
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install openscad

4. BRL-CAD

BRL-CAD is another free and open source, cross-platform CAD software that has been around for 30+ years.

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Its features include high-performance ray-tracing for rendering, interactive geometry editing, network distributed frame-buffer support, a graphical user interface with typical toolbar layouts, and scripting support.

BRL-CAD - Solid Modeling System

BRL-CAD – Solid Modeling System

BRL-CAD is available from Ubuntu repositories and can be installed via the Software Center or with the following command in a terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install brlcad

To get the most recent stable version of BRL-CAD, you need to download the latest .deb packages for your architecture from sourceforge and install it using the default package manager.

5. SOLVESPACE

SOLVESPACE is a free and open source parametric CAD software for 2D and 3D modelling. It is written in C++ and available for all major PC platforms.

Its features include exporting 3D wireframes as DXF and STEP, toolpath as G code, analysis using STL check, volume measurements, working with dimensions and constraints, value entries using arithmetic expressions, etc.

SolveSpace - Parametric 3D CAD Tool

SolveSpace – Parametric 3D CAD Tool

SolveSpace is available from Ubuntu repositories and can be installed via the Software Center or with the following command in a terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install solvespace

To get the latest release version of SolveSpace, you need to build and install from sources.

6. BricsCAD (Paid)

BricsCAD is a paid modern multi-platform CAD software for 2D and 3D modelling. It was developed with the aim of helping users to work faster and smarter while spending fewer resources.

Its features include perpetual licensing, cloud connectivity, network licensing, dynamic blocks, 100% real DWG performance, etc.

BricsCAD - A 2D & 3D CAD Software

BricsCAD – A 2D & 3D CAD Software

BricsCAD is available to try for 30-days as free trial here: Download 30 day free trial.

7. LeoCAD

LeoCAD is a free cross-platform and open source CAD software for creating virtual models using LEGO bricks.

LeoCAD is optimized for building large models and you can use it to create building instructions with many steps, access multiple views at once. You should note that LeoCAD is not sponsored, authorized, or endorsed by the LEGO Group of companies.

LeoCAD - Virtual LEGO CAD Software

LeoCAD – Virtual LEGO CAD Software

LeoCAD is available from Ubuntu repositories and can be installed via the Software Center or with the following command in a terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install leocad

To get the most recent release version, download the latest LeoCAD AppImage and simply run it from the terminal.

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8. Siemens NX (Paid)

Siemens NX is a proprietary flexible and integrative CAD software that aims to speed up the design process while helping its users produce better designs, simulations, engineering models, etc.

It features a tool-set capable of completing tasks for different fields and it offers users several task-specific applications like Catchbook, for example, with in-built tutorials to help users along the way.

Siemens NX is neither free nor open source.

Siemens NX - Cutting-edge CAD Software

Siemens NX – Cutting-edge CAD Software

Siemens NX is available to try for 30-days as free trial here: Download 30 day free trial.

9. DraftSight (Closed Source)

DraftSight is a free proprietary (closed source) CAD application for 2D modelling. It features support for several file formats, an interactive GUI that allows you to customize its usability, blocks, import/export support, G-Code append support, etc.

DraftSight’s Individual version is free but it offers professional and enterprise versions for users and companies who require more functionality.

DraftSight - 2D CAD Software

DraftSight – 2D CAD Software

DraftSight is available from Ubuntu repositories and can be installed via the Software Center or with the following command in a terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install draftsight

To install most recent stable version, download the latest .deb packages for your architecture and install it using the default package manager.

10. QCAD

QCAD is a free multi-platform open source CAD software created for 2D design and drafting. It specializes in technical drawing plans for buildings, mechanical schematics, etc.

QCAD’s features include layers, block groups, object snaps, measuring tools, printing to scale, TrueType fonts support, 40+ construction tools, 35 CAD fonts, 20+ modification tools, etc.

QCAD - A 2D Design and Drafting Software

QCAD – A 2D Design and Drafting Software

QCAD is available from Ubuntu repositories and can be installed via the Software Center or with the following command in a terminal:

$ sudo apt-get install qcad

Do you use CAD software professionally or for personal purposes? And are there titles that you would have liked to see included in the list? Drop your comments in the section below.

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About the author

Martins D. Okoi

Martins Divine Okoi is a graduate of Computer Science with a passion for Linux and the Open Source community. He works as a Graphic Designer, Web Developer, and programmer.