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  • Open-source CAD programs

    After unintentionaly started a discussion about CAD software on linux on this thread I think it's best to continue the discussion here.

    My problem is simple: there are no good open-source CAD programs, especially in the gnu/linux world.
    I've tried several of the ones that do exist and most are targeted at the mechanical or general engineering croud. What I need is something more generic, since I'm an (poor) architect, that would allow me to just get the job done. I don't need many features, just the ones that all the open-source alternatives to Autocad lack: a command-line that's always accessible where I can type commands to speed up the work process and the set of drawing aids that Autocad has. That's it. The one thing that Autocad has that no other alternayive has are these two things that just make it simple and very efficient to use.
    Oh, and I totally loathe Autocad, but it's the only program that allows me to draw any kind of technical drawing easily and quickly, like if I was drawing by hand.

  • #2
    UGS NX is quite good, and runs on linux. The problem though is always the same: motif. If they continue relying on that outdated toolkit, small wonder the windows alternatives will always look better (and as someone cited pro/engineer in the previous thread: it is a small surprise that demand goes down with an interface that is terrible, compared to the windows version). If they would finally move away from motif and use something modern like Qt, they could have even more of their codebase platform independent, and give all platforms decent usability and looks.

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    • #3
      That one isn't free nor opensource. Although the point about motif is valid. Some opensource CAD programs have terrible UIs. Ugly UIs are only going to scare people away. I know at least it does that for me. It's like Scribus! Really nice software but are the developers stuck in 1997? Graphical related apps should have graphical modern UIs.

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      • #4
        Yeah sorry about the off topic concerning the proprietary NX, wanted to comment concerning the proE in the previous thread and only noticed the thread title afterwards

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        • #5
          So, I've tried FreeCAD briefly but it seems another engineering oriented CAD program. It's very focused on 3D although it has 2D drawing tools too. I couldn't test further because it seems to have some graphical glitches with the open-source radeon drivers. Will have to test again when I get the guts to try to install fglrx drivers.
          I also tried PythonCAD which actually has an accessible-at-all-times command line and shows a black background with white lines and yellow grip points like autocad, but the similarities end there. I can't do anything with it. It seems it can't use more than one type of snap point at a time? That's strange. Also I can't find any kind of constrain options.

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          • #6
            Free CAD software tend to suck hard. Know why? Writing a fully functioning stable fully featured CAD program takes so much time people want money after managing to do it.
            (just take a look how much a CAD software costs and you understand what I'm talking about)
            I'm not saying free CAD software has to suck hard. It's just that writing decent opensource CAD software is something that requires a lot more and a lot more skilled manpower than is available. (for free; there's the manpower available if you're willing to pay for it but then we end up back in the beginning with a CAD software you sell)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by nanonyme View Post
              Free CAD software tend to suck hard. Know why? Writing a fully functioning stable fully featured CAD program takes so much time people want money after managing to do it.
              (just take a look how much a CAD software costs and you understand what I'm talking about)
              Yes, I know how much CAD software usually costs and there are somewhat cheap and good alternatives to autocad, but only on windows. When we turn to linux there is nothing that is very usefull to architects. And BTW autocad isn't what I would call stable, at least for a $2500 piece of software, although it is usually a pleasure to draw with.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by devius View Post
                Yes, I know how much CAD software usually costs and there are somewhat cheap and good alternatives to autocad, but only on windows.
                Maybe it's worth giving it a shot with wine.

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                • #9
                  I don't know, QCAD might be usable, but to be honest I never tried it.

                  On the other hand a usable 3D design software would be nice. I don't mind if it isn't as advanced as Pro/E as long as it is easy to use just like Inventor. Any suggestions?

                  Btw, I am using Fluent day and night and sometimes Ansys. Fortunately, they are working on Linux nicely.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HokTar View Post
                    I don't know, QCAD might be usable, but to be honest I never tried it.
                    Will add that one to the list of software to try. I believe I tried it a long time ago and wasn't ahppy with it, but it may have evolved since then.

                    Originally posted by HokTar View Post
                    On the other hand a usable 3D design software would be nice. I don't mind if it isn't as advanced as Pro/E as long as it is easy to use just like Inventor. Any suggestions?
                    What about FreeCAD I mentioned earlier? It has all the pretty buttons to draw cubes, spheres and all that like most engineering programs I've seen, although it's not my specialty.

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                    • #11
                      I don't use CAD but perhpas you could give a see on the software listed as Gpl on CAD & Linux: The LUnIx Linux CAD Links presented by Tech-EDV.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by nanonyme View Post
                        Free CAD software tend to suck hard. Know why? Writing a fully functioning stable fully featured CAD program takes so much time people want money after managing to do it.
                        (just take a look how much a CAD software costs and you understand what I'm talking about)
                        I'm not saying free CAD software has to suck hard. It's just that writing decent opensource CAD software is something that requires a lot more and a lot more skilled manpower than is available. (for free; there's the manpower available if you're willing to pay for it but then we end up back in the beginning with a CAD software you sell)
                        Because it's "hard" doesn't mean it will never be done. That's not how free software works, because with free software a single developer isn't expected to carry all the weight, and the code is never completely "dead". Proprietary software is a dead end and a waste though, but it can be a temporary patch on a problem and that can be okay. The time and devpower is available in free software, because it can be the entire world.

                        There is a huge list here http://www.tech-edv.co.at/lunix/CADlinks.html which as was noted, but the reason for there not being as big of a selection of either open or closed software on Linux is the same for any other program:

                        1) Is it niche software? If so, there will be less.
                        2) Linux doesn't have nearly as wide of desktop use as Windows, so there's less software.

                        The big advantage of Linux though is since it's open source, it will never go away. The open source software pool will stay, forever, unlike all the throw-away snack boxes which is the Windows software world.

                        Getting to the point though, as demand increases, both the open and closed CAD software for Linux will increase in quantity and quality as well.

                        You know, if all of the engineering labs from all the schools and colleges in the world got together and paid a tiny bit of money, they could easily fund, or build themselves, an awesome open source CAD program. Sad that there isn't more collaboration between groups with similar interests, huh?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Yfrwlf View Post
                          You know, if all of the engineering labs from all the schools and colleges in the world got together and paid a tiny bit of money, they could easily fund, or build themselves, an awesome open source CAD program. Sad that there isn't more collaboration between groups with similar interests, huh?
                          In theory, yes. In reality a lot of the consumers are big enterprises anyway to which paying $20k for software yearly doesn't really even sting. (and Uni students end up in those enterprises hopefully after graduation so it makes sense for them to be trained to use the same software the enterprises use)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nanonyme View Post
                            In theory, yes. In reality a lot of the consumers are big enterprises anyway to which paying $20k for software yearly doesn't really even sting. (and Uni students end up in those enterprises hopefully after graduation so it makes sense for them to be trained to use the same software the enterprises use)
                            Definitely, but instead of course you have big companies going around trying to get students learning their expensive closed software instead. Educators of the world need to unite, as do governments, and any group of course.

                            For tax's sake, every citizen should be trying to push their governments to do this and convert to open source. Do YOU care about your money? I think most citizens would answer yes lol, yes we want to pay less taxes so we want open source and collaborative efforts. I know the U.S. alone would save billions...

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by devius View Post
                              Will add that one to the list of software to try. I believe I tried it a long time ago and wasn't ahppy with it, but it may have evolved since then.
                              You really should give it another shot. I'm not sure about the command line, but it is rather similar to Autocad.

                              Originally posted by devius View Post
                              What about FreeCAD I mentioned earlier? It has all the pretty buttons to draw cubes, spheres and all that like most engineering programs I've seen, although it's not my specialty.
                              Next time I will check it out. Thanks for the tip!

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