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Linux Software

Bringing CAD to Linux 189

Christopher Cashell writes "I've often heard it said that linux has the potential to be an ideal CAD platform, and the only thing holding it back is the lack of commercial quality CAD software (a la AutoCAD). Enter QCad, an easy to use 2D CAD project that began as a splitoff from CAM Expert. It was initially released with a 'free for non-commercial use' license, but this has recently been changed to the GPL. It's an excellent program, and earned 5 out of 5 Penguins on Tucow's Linuxberg review." CAD could/should be a "killer app" for Linux on the engineering desktop. I had a conversation a few months ago with an editor at Machine Design magazine about Linux - and how a good CAD app might set off a wholesale migration to Linux by design engineers.
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Bringing CAD to Linux

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  • about his new CNC machine - and abuilding [seanet.com] a simple one years ago.

  • I'd say Linux is still missing a commercial quality CAD program. "2D" does not a high quality CAD program make.
  • we need a professional quality 3D CAD solution. 2D is fine for beginners and whatnot, but anyone that's even semi-advanced should be drawing 3D. anyone know of a 3D CAD solution for linux?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    On a related note, MSC.Software (www.mscsoftware.com) recently announced that it will be porting its premier CAE software, NASTRAN, over to Linux (http://www.mscsoftware.com/press/sep0799.html). For those who aren't aware, NASTRAN is a structural analysis software originally developed for use by NASA, and MSC.Software is the largest distributor of it. NASTRAN is widely used in the aerospace and automotive industries. This should prove to be popular with the many small consulting companies using NASTRAN who have had bad experiences with NT.
  • Microstation is a widely used CAD package. I believe a linux version has existed at least 2 years maybe longer.
  • At my last job, we had a few seats of 'Catia' and 'Unigraphics' that ran on *NIX, but the majority of the small 2D stuff was done on PCs with Autocad.

    Today, we're all using 'Pro Engineering' and it's fantastic. There are many many engineers, myself included, that would use ProE 5 days a week, and would love to see it runing on a Linux distro.

    With the cost savings of bypassing micros~1, we could spend more money on the hardware.

  • I couldn't agree more. Just having a CAD program doesn't mean its any good, regardless of what TUCOWS says. And even if it is any good - is it good enough for professional use? My first reaction is to say no. I have never used the software, but I would like, for a moment to compare a typical free 3D modeller to a typical commercial one. There is no comparison, really. Blender not withstanding, most free modellers are truly horrendous. Products such as 3D Studio, Softimage, Maya, etc. are _really_ expensive for a good reason: they're difficult to make. It will take a very well organized free software movement indeed to break into these specialize markets.
  • The academic version is available for Linux, although it is unsupported.

    Check out the following:

    http://www.bentley.com/academic/products/linux.h tm

  • I have a friend who is interested in analysing some ideas for a vehicle suspension system. Anybody know of anything that would allow we to draw the mechanical system and have it "run" in a simulated environment? ( A bit like the old Xspringies but something that I can actually put real numbers in)
  • One of the better looking linux software out there :) Funny how linux is copying the windows gui :P
    Looks very windowish ..right down to the icons and toolbars.
  • by pawlie ( 23653 ) on Tuesday November 09, 1999 @02:20AM (#1550146)
    I saw this on some mailing list. You know what to do ;)

    ------------------------------------------------ --

    To: "Zot O'Connor"
    Subject: RE: Microstation/J for Linux?
    From: Tim Brown - Bentley
    Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 08:23:06 -0400
    Zot, we do have a Linux version of MicroStation that is included in our
    Academic Kits. It is not available commercially due to the limited requests
    we have had for that OS. We support Wintel(95/NT/DOS), Dec AlphaNT, SGI,
    SUN, IBM(AIX), HP(HPUX), POWERMAC, OS/2Warp & Intergraph Clippers. Feel
    free to call me with any other questions.



    Tim Brown
    Bentley Systems, Inc.
    690 Pennsylvania Drive
    Exton, PA 19341

  • by jtosburn ( 63943 ) on Tuesday November 09, 1999 @02:20AM (#1550147)
    The uses for professional level CAD extend to all forms of engineering, and into all kinds of related fields. I use AutoCAD nearly full time for an Architecture firm (w/Linux servers). This kind of demand is primarily what makes Autodesk, maker of AutoCAD, the fourth largest software maker in the world (last time I checked), and combined with AutoCAD's $3k price tag, make it the most pirated piece of software (though you'd think Windows would actually be higher...)
    While I'm excited at the prospect of a GPL CAD program, and I'll definitely be checking it out, I have doubts as to how well it would fit into a production environment. The lack of 3d capability limits its use as a design tool, as well. And with an entrenched market leader like AutoCAD, every company that uses it has an enormous investment in existing data; they can't just toss it. So .dwg file format compatability would be needed, but that's probabaly the most un-open file format there is.
    What I'm really interested in is the existing professional UNIX CAD programs, particularly MicroStation and Arris (for which the purchaser even gets the source code), and their plans re. Linux. Many people are unhappy with the lack of stability using AutoCAD (which is sometimes the fault of AutoCAD and sometimes Windows), and that combined with Autodesk's spotty user response rate leaves this market vulnerable.
    Anyway, kudos to QCAD for putting that first foot forward.
  • Check out this issue of Graphics Muse for a nice piece on the academic version:

  • They (sdrc) want someone to be responsible for the OS. With linux, there is not 1 person or 1 office or what so ever. If they want changes in the OS they seem to want someone doing it for them who they can hold responsible. This is at least more less what I have been told by SDRC representatives. As soon as speak one I will start nagging (again)

    I would love to see I-DEAS on linux. If they would just start with the 2D part which is very good (compared to autocad)

    Is PTC still thinking about porting pro/e to linux BTW?

  • by SiliconShaman ( 93873 ) on Tuesday November 09, 1999 @02:30AM (#1550150)
    After working as a sysadmin in CAD shops for 5 years, I can say with certainty that 2D CAD is still used quite extensively and 3D CAD is often looked on as needlessly complex for many tasks.

    The biggest barier to Linux CAD solutions being deployed in existing shops is not the lack of acceptable CAD programs (there are a few) but rather the lack of compatibility. File compatibility is achieved through native DXF and DWG tralation, but must AutoCAD shops have thousands of custom AutoLISP programs to automate various tasks. I've never seen a Linux CAD prog. that even had a scripting feature much less any degree of compatibility to AutoLISP. My current shop certainly wouldn't switch. Sure it costs us $2,000+ per seat of AutoCAD, but our LISP routines make customizing, editing, marking-up, plotting, etc. a snap and save us hundreds of man hours -PER PERSON- a year. Until a linux CAD prog can do that, it won't be replacing AutoCAD.

    Note: Microstation -is- available for Linux, but only as the Student Version (not available to biz.) I know. I talked to them personally.

    Here is a list of the Linux CAD progs/projects that I've come across:


    peace favor your sword

  • Hm, perhaps you should check out Behaviour [nada.kth.se], a mechanics simulator written by an old friend's kid brother. :) Caveat: it runs only on BeOS, and I've never used it. Follow link for cool (?) MPG movies.
  • Funny how linux is copying the windows gui

    Funny how windows copied the OS/2 gui...

  • rendering stuff underlinux has been done for a long time because its fast

    modeling under linux is going to be slow without proper hardware and so you again are limited to venders of machines and their surport for an OS hmm why do people use IRIX and NT ?

    yes I am talking more about CGG than pure CAD which modeling non animated structures

    MAYA !! thats what we want !



    a poor student @ bournemouth uni in the UK (a deltic so please dont moan about spelling but the content)
  • damn right !!

    good LINKS !!!


    a poor student @ bournemouth uni in the UK (a deltic so please dont moan about spelling but the content)
  • ...and Mac GUI.
  • Check out varkon at www.microform.se [microform.se]

    It's not exactly a conventional CAD package, but it is very powerful and customisable, and you can start it in a conventional 2D drafting mode as well as parametric 3D mode.

    There's a project to GTK/GNOME up a UI for the 2D part of the program - but the 3D part is the really cool bit.

  • While I do see QCAD as a valuable, useful tool, and I encourage its development, a GPL'd CAD program is simply unlikely to have the robustness of a commercial package required to earn the trust and support of commercial enterprises. CAD is a serious, serious business, and small, subtle bugs can lead to extremely expensive (or dangerous) mistakes. A word processor, etc. simply doesn't have such a stringent requirement.

    There are some excellent candidates of UNIX CAD software which could be ported to Linux, however:

    1. ProEngineer - Long a staple of high-end CAD houses and universities. Robust and powerful.

    2. SDRC Ideas - My favorite - Is smart enough to understand 'design intent', so you aren't forced to constrain every dimension, as you are in ProE (last I checked). Also does very nice motion animation when performing actions. Arguably more of a powerhouse package (included lots of multi-user project management and FEM).

    Back when I was actively using Ideas, there was a lot of support for a linux port on their mailing lists. I don't know what became of it, but it would be worth encouraging SDRC [sdrc.com] to develop a port. I can't imagine it would require a whole lot of work, and could certainly have a userbase comparable to the other Unix flavors.

    - hebgb
  • OK Students, it's time to check this out and let us know!

    webmaster: http://amazing.divingdeals.com
  • Looks very windowish ..right down to the icons and toolbars.

    It's the Qt toolkit that does it -- I don't know how or why, but for some reason Qt programs always seem to resemble windows for me...
  • I should also point out that this 3D CAD package is used in a professional environment by several european companies, often as the engine behind their own customised application user interface.
  • I admined several ACAD R12, 13 and 14 boxen for a couple years, and had to deal with cross-app compatibility (amazingly, .dwg was compatible across all 3). DWX does a decent job, and nothing I ever managed to do with AutoCAD couldn't be brought down to this "open" format. I forget how to make R12 output dwx but it's probably in the save dialog somewhere. R13+ are probably the same way.
  • This is funny. I work as a programmer at a large architecture/engineering/construction firm in Minneapolis. We use Windows at work, but a couple of us have been experimenting with Linux at home. Just yesterday someone pointed me to http://www.linuxcad.com [linuxcad.com], a complete replacement for AutoCAD with support for just about everything. It costs $99 a license, which is phenomenal pricing compared with AutoDesk. Free software people may buck at the price, but at a company like mine, this would be *very* reasonable. They also have a very tempting corporate licensing program going on.

    I haven't actually tried the software, but if the package actually meets all the claims, it is definitely worth checking out. One thing I'm not sure of is whether it supports AutoCAD's LISP extensibility features. Our company has done a lot of customization for AutoCAD using LISP, and I don't think I could realistically recommend it to our folks if it meant we had to rewrite all our menus and LISP routines.


  • I suspect it doesn't get as much attention in the US, simply because it's made in Sweden. Many Americans may simply be unaware of it's existence.

    Also, varkon is extensible. Although I've no intention of doing it, it would be possible to extend it via some clever coding to make it spit out CNC machine programs, depending on how comprehensive you wanted the support. A varkon single surface to a particular cnc miller translator would be relatively simple. I'd do it, except I'm busy exporting varkon models to a CFD code for part of my final year mech. eng. project in university :-). Of course, generic CNC support would be a tad harder...you'd have to create a database structure for material properties, and machine tool specs. Of course, varkon does ODBC on windows, and the linux version could easily query postgresql through the shell.

  • Yeah, but windows still looks quite different from OS2 or Mac...look at the latest Linux/X based apps, even have removable toolbars like in windows :)
  • ***DISCLAMER: This message in no way reflects official company policy***

    As a PTC employee (for those of you who dont know, we make Pro/Engineer) I can tell you this:

    The decision as to which platforms are supported is in large part based on customer feedback. If we get enough customer requests for linux support, it will proably be done. But as far as I know it hasen't happened yet - unfortunately (in my opinon) many of our customers are actually moving from unix to nt (cost).

    Other than that I don't see any technical reason why we won't do it, as we support almost every other major platform (SunOS/solaris, HP-UX, IRIX/IRIX64, DigitalUNIX, AIX, WinNT, Alpha WinNT, Win95/98)

    Jeremy Harkin
    QA Engineer, Production Applications
    Parametric Technology Corp.
  • I'm paying some attention to what's going on with gEDA [seul.org] and PCB. Those are programs for electronics CAD. I can only speak for my self, but I guess many people, like electrical engineers, know their "trade" much better than the inner workings of a user interface.

    What I am requesting is a general CAD toolkit etc for which you can write (parts of) your particular application as a plugin. One candidate (though I haven't mentionied this idea to their development list) is dia [lysator.liu.se].

  • I'm using Varkon to design steam engines and love it. It takes some getting used to and a little work to setup but for me it is great. Since I am designing a n-cylinder rotary engine where I haven't decided whether n will be 4, 6 or some other number I have been able to use the parametric ability of Varkon to make n one of the design parameters. Besides, I just like being able to type "make" as part of my design process. It just feels right :)

  • Ok, we have a bunch of people complaining about the lack of features in an early implementation of a GPL program. Now, I'm a relative newcomer to the world of Linux, and certainly not all knowing, but it seems to me that all the benefits of GPL and open source come from the snowball effect. Once a decent program gets put out, the decent coders start modding it into what they need, and passing that new version into to the next guy, who adds a little more..

    Therefore, it's likely that this new program will sprout the wings and halo of 3d capability relatively soon, especially compared to a totally commercial, closed source deal.

    So, don't try to put the nails in the coffin of what might be a healthy program, before it has time to stand on its own. If the base of the program is worthwhile, the rest of the features will come... and I'm also betting that about a third of the biggest complaints are from people with the experience and skill to add what they need to the program. Why not try it? If you're good, you'll end up with a 3dCAD with the ablities and interface you need, rather than some piece of bloated, commerical junk, that you had to buy a few thousand worth of expansions for, just to make it serve your purpose. Don't just let the newcomer die a-birthing.. Or GPL software won't ever become a viable alternative to monopolies, such as M$, or near monopolies, like ACAD.

  • Professional designers don't switch CAD packages at a whim, because of new features or a new OS or what have you. People that don't use CAD professionally don't realize the skillset invested in a particular product--much more so than with most other software. In a way it's similar to how people use PhotoShop or some high-end 3D package. The proficiency in using a particular package is much more important to productivity than any potential benefit gained by switching, except in very rare cases, once a decade or less.

    Besides, there's another aspect of CAD that precludes switching: scripts. Any serious AutoCAD user has a hard drive full of AutoLISP scripts (or even compiled C programs) that do most of the meat of production: insert entire subsections into a drawing, calculate complicated metrics, adjust scales etc. AutoCAD shops often hire people just to develop these scripts and have a lot of money invested in them. Switching CAD platforms requires you to pretty much throw out all this stuff.

    No, in the real world people wait for their CAD vendor to offer all the new features of the competitors, even if it takes several versions. There's a product loyalty like in few other fields. The only people that switch CAD platforms at will are casual users like students or weekend designers who have nothing much invested in one product or another.
  • look at the latest Linux/X based apps, even have removable toolbars like in windows :)

    What's wrong with removable toolbars? :)

  • Parametric Technology, the developer of Pro/Engineer, is an active participant on the XGL porting effort. They have stated that they will bring Pro/E to Linux when O/GL and XGL are ready.

    For those unfamiliar, Pro/E is the leading CAD system in the MCAD market. At ~$28K per seat, it may not be for everyone. For those who use it, little else is taken seriously. The company to whom I contract has seventy seats of Pro/E and I own one as well. Many of the engineers with whom I work have been eagerly anticipating a move to Linux.

    The main problem with Pro/E on NT is that the machine needs to be rebooted at least once a week. The performance is OK, but would almost certainly improve on Linux as Pro/E was originally a Unix application.

    This category of CAD software is where large gains can be made by Linux. Many engineers prefer the Unix environment, but like the price/performance ration of Intel hardware. Enter the Penguin!

    "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."
  • Linuxcad is not a replacement for autocad. They are so ashamed of it that they have added a term to their license that supposedly prevents you from talking about your experiences. It also will cost more than $99, a lot more. It has a very poor user interface that will not be familiar to an Autocad user. It took 'em two years to fix a buffer overrun crash if you type too long a comand. It does not accept the spacebar as a command delimiter. Its menus are totally different. It does not accept x,y,z 3D points. It does not read .dwg. It does not write dxf or dwg files (without extra cost add-ons). It does not do Lisp. Its drawing area is fixed and does not resize with window size changes. The list of differences (and inferiorities) goes on and on.

    It is nothing more than a completely different, not nearly as good, CAD package that is shamelessly comparing itself to Autocad. I'm amazed AutoDesk hasn't sued these guys, however they are. About the only similarity is that the command to draw a line is "line". All in all, I believe their newsgroup spams and their website (which is a windoze based server BTW) is a pack of lies and these "guys" should be avoided like the plague. There is a review at http://pweb.netcom.com/~rwuest/linuxcadreview.html .

    Do your homework and save yourself $99.
  • Perhaps a script translation utility capable of converting autoLisp scripts to MBS, coupled with Varkon itself, would address the original poster's concerns and allow his shop to migrate.

    Interoperability with existing, installed software is important, if only to preserve and maintain existing work and data. This is one of the reasons I was so dismayed when Sun bought StarOffice (which has excellent interoperability with M$ Office), even though I personally prefer Word Perfect. The ability to read and write M$ native formats made migration away from Windows for our office staff much, much easier.
  • I recall seeing removable toolbars (or at least plain floating toolbars) on the Mac GUI before Micros~1 windoze had them.

  • 2D CAD is only relevant in Civil applications. Anyone still using 2D in an MCAD environment will deserve exactly what they will get.

    Most companies with whom I am familiar that have problems with 3D fail to provide proper training, management support and infrastructure support. When it is used properly, there is no comparison.

    The company to whom I contract builds some of the most complex machines in existence, some are miles long and built to extremely close specifications. If we tried to do this work with something as limited as AutoCAD, the effort would take years longer and be riddled with errors as in the past.

    "Computers are useless. They can only give you answers."
  • I bought ustation for linux about 3 years ago.

    I don't currently use it because of libc incompatibility which I have not had time ti rectify. This does point out a *major* shortcoming in commercial software: the free software world moves much faster. It just seems ridiculous to me that a recompile from libc5 to libc6 requires me to fork out another $300 for an upgrade.

    So, how does it work? Not too bad, even on a p100 with 48M ram. Other than an inordinately long startup time, the program it self runs fine once it gets under. I did notice color map problems in later versions of xfree86. The biggest issue that I have is the postscript export routine makes the assumption that one is running windows. So every line ends with ^M, and there is a binary end-of-file trailer that must be removed. This points out another serious weakness of commercial software. I (rightly) regard the postscript problem as a bug, and could fix it pretty fast if I had the source code. I am sure though that this falls way down on Bentley's priority list, so I am not holding my breath. What would be superb would be to have fig2dev support for dgn->ps, but now I am really dreaming.

    Another issue is possible lack of support for graphics tablets. Mouse driven pointers SUCK compared to a 4-button puck on a graphics tablet set to move under absolute coordinates. ustation certainly supports tablets, but I have never seen any linux boxes with a tablet hooked up, or much documentation for doing so.

    In summary, good program.
  • Subject says it all. What is needed is AutoDesk to release a Linux version of AutoCAD 2000.

    Right now the Macintosh has better CAD tools than Linux, on the Mac you have MicroStation, Ashlar Vellum, MiniCAD and VectorWorks. AutoDesk supported Macintosh until R12.

    If AutoDesk won't release ACAD 2K...bug Ashlar and Diehl Graphsoft for Vellum and/or VectorWorks.
  • If I-DEAS were available, I would most likely purchase a personal edition. The problem is, I might convince myself to do work at home....

    There's a personal edition I believe for NT. I feel left out.

    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
  • First let me say that I did take a CAD class or 2 in college. Second SGI I believe was the leader in graphics and CAD so why should Linux not get a good CAD program? You seem to think that because Linux is 'new' (been around since ~91 if you call that new) does not deserve CAD or photoshop quality software. We do not really need photoshop we have GIMP! We will soon have better than windows CAD software too. It is only a matter of time before Linux has enough apps that more people will realize that windows is not the end all be all.

    I should not be forced to use windows, in the USA I should have a choice.

    send flames > /dev/null

  • Hi! Here is the point of view from a random developer who has also decided to remove Qt from his PC...

    The license in Qt 2.0 is much better than in the previous version (and accepted as being OpenSource) but the previous license caused me to dislike Qt very much and I would need a good reason to get back to it. "Once bitten, twice shy."

    Also, there is no free version of Qt 2.0 for Windows. This is very important from my point of view: even if the license for the Linux version of Qt is good, the only version available for Win32 is rather expensive and prevents most developers from porting their applications to both systems. Of course, someone could develop a free Qt for Windows, but that does not exist yet. I do not want to install a library on my system if I know that any application that I write using this library (free under Linux) would become non-free under Windows.

    In the meantime, GTK+ has reached its maturity level and I consider it to be superior to Qt (on a feature level). And GTK+ is available for free on several platforms, including Windows and OS/2. Another reason why I like GTK+ is that it does not tie the developer to C++. GTK+ can be used with C, C++, Perl, Python and other languages, while the support for other languages in Qt has been lacking for a long time (only partial implementations). So if I can do more with GTK+ than with Qt, why would I re-install Qt on my system?

    Sorry, but for the moment Qt is still on my black list. In order for me to adopt Qt, it would need to be available for free (speech and beer) under Windows and to provide good bindings for ANSI C (not C++) and Perl.

  • Like alot of people here have said, no one is going to use this cad package. They have all of their files in AutoCAD format or something else. When I was a CAD Operator we used Microstation and you can't just switch packages because it is on a better os. And lemme tell you... it would be nice if that could happen because it running on Windows NT is horrible. I had to reboot multiple times a day because of memory problems.

    But you see, Microstation has these 3rd party extensions like fieldworks and draftworks by intergraph that make up more than 50% of it's total functionality for what we were doing. This could not be applied to another cad package and I am not sure if you could simply move Microstation to another OS. I don't know if the Intergraph parts would still be functional. Once the CAD community starts demanding, I am sure change will happen. But it still may be some time. I mean in a professional business like CAD, there is no time to deal with silly issues like memory leaks and faulty Operating Systems. Its time to wise up and just use what works.

    Also to the person that said Microstation was on the mac. Do the intergraph plugins work there too? That would at least be somewhat better. Then again I am not a CAD Operator anymore. hehe.

  • Well did your corn flakes get soggy? A quick look at the screenshots show a product that is better than 'Design Cad', which is a fine product. Sure, 3D is great but there are a lot of 2D projects that would love to migrate to any unix. Also, I might give it a try when I layout the super secret part for the new motorcycle. Handy, you bet, ready for spacesphip design, not yet. Also, it has't to be better than a light-table any day.

  • Since QCad is GPL'd wouldn't it be possible to add a Guile scripting facility to it?

    And since Guile is a Scheme-based scripting language and Scheme is a Lisp dialect couldn't it be possible to write a Guile module to provide the AutoLISP compatibility.

    Even if this is not a 100% compatibility this probably would help a lot to port scripts to QCad.

    Is there some reason this can't be done?
    Is it being done at the time?
  • If they want one responsible party, they should pick a distribution vendor and sign up with them. Sure, a lot of people on Slashdot get pissed when a package is (often more or less just labeled as) specific to say, Red Hat, but it is better than not having the software available at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    For the last 4 years at least BRL-CAD(TM) [arl.mil] has been avaliable for Linux. Linux Redhat 6.0 is one of the target systems that daily regression tests are run against. As well as FreeBSD 3.2.

    This is the CAD package that DoD requires ground vehical designs to be submitted in. It is a 3d solid modeling system with the fastest raytracer I know of. It also has built in clustering methods. I personally have run animation generation sequence using over 100 CPUs on over 20 cabnets.

    While it is not a GPL product it is free to anybody that is willing to send a fax saying they wont claim it as thier own. Check it out.


  • Seems like all 'new' Linux software ears a 5/5 rating or 4 stars or product of the year award or some other rating that it doesn't necessarily deserve? If this software was released for windows and compared to other windows-based CAD software, there is no way it would earn a 5/5.

    I know we all get excited when something like this is released, but it really should be compared to the competition -- whether or not it is windows software.
  • You also need support a large format printer/plotter's . Support for all kinds of file formats. I tend to think that CAD is one of the most complicated programs that a computer can tackle. My office uses Archicad, one of the best solutions for Architects around, IMHO. You would need to see a really good 3D program for any serious designers to come onboard. 2D is on the way out, just look at Autodesk's efforts to make it as a 3D player.

    CAD is a huge industry, and you need more that just a few apps, you need all of the supporting industries on board.

  • Hmmm, I got a copy - no big deal. Get a friend going to a local college/university to buy it for you.

    Btw, it works very well. I'm in the middle of designing a truck frame (in 3D) and haven't found any weirdness relative to the commercial versions.

  • I think that what needs to be the focus here is not so much the apps themselves being ported to linux, but linux and the open-source community taking the 'wine' idea and really making it work so that ANY NT/9* app will run smoothly in linux.

    the linux bunch can swing this kinda thing themselves from the bottom end [emulation] a lot easier than say getting autodesk and all the other killer software companies to REALLY port autocad or *whatever* to native linux...

    besides, i don't want to have to wait for every app i want to be ported to linux just so i can use it... just think of the other killer apps for 3-d etc out there that are waiting for the linux community to make wine or *whatever* truly what we want it to be.

  • Some of you may be familiar with VectorWorks, once called MiniCAD, which has a pretty good share of the Mac CAD market (and doesn't cost an arm and a leg like AutoCAD, just a few fingers.) We also have a Windows version, so we're willing to be cross-platform. If you're a potential customer for a commercial, professional-level (as opposed to consumer market) CAD program for Linux, send e-mail to rich@diehlgraphsoft.com, encouraging him to consider a Linux version.

    If you hate all proprietary software, send hate mail to me instead.
  • Correction: It's DXB not DWX format. DXB stands for Binary Drawing Interchange format.
  • And know of a few others who have $25,000 the people at
    Would *LOVE* to have a reason to leave the Microsoft environment and return to Unix.

    However, this is the 'facts' about the CAM/CAD market (as their customers tell them)
    Unless they are a Unix shop, they don't ask for Unix.
    No new customer for 1-1.25 years have asked about the Unix version.
    So, all they sell is the NT version.

    (and this is not an open invite to bother them. Unless you have the NEED for a $25,000 CAM package, don't be asking for a port)

    So, for all the 'hype' (and self-hype on this site), none of their prospective customers are using Linux, or are considering Linux.

    The engineering market has been resisting the pull to NT, but as far as the maker of software in this market is concerned...Unix is a dead issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    The Intellicad consortium has released their source code free to non commercial developers at http://www.intellicad.org/ If someone could get this to build for Linux it would be great. One of the developers has built a windows version for free download at http://www.cadopia.com/ This would be a great package for Linux as it can directly read and write Acad dwg files.
  • spot on

    gCAD updated their website !
    last I heard they had got their mits on alphas then they seemed to stop useing the website (-;


    a poor student @ bournemouth uni in the UK (a deltic so please dont moan about spelling but the content)
  • www.vmware.com

    It works, is stable, runs everything.
  • (Slightly OT; I think I've mentioned this before.)
    At this year's Design Automation Conference in New Orleans, there were penguins everywhere. Most of the exhibitors seemed oblivious to the Linux connection, but I asked as many as possible about Linux versions.

    The near-universal response was that they would have a Linux version of their software as soon as they got an order large enough to make it worthwhile. Says I, "I know that porting to Linux is easy." Replied they: "No, you don't understand. Our developers insist on doing Linux first, then porting to other systems. We just need an order."

    Apparently Model Technology (BIG simulation company) got the order; they announced that starting in December they'll be shipping Linux versions along with all of their other platforms.
  • i cant get the all the mouse buttons to function the same way they do on all my other workstations.
  • Matlab with simulink should do for you.
    Runs on Linux. Expensive.
  • I beg to differ: Would you say that AutoCAD Light 98/2000 is for beginners? It is only 2D, but sure has lots of use around many offices when 3D is not really needed and sure costs a lot less! -------------------------------------------------- ------------------ PS comments to Slashdot: I submited the QCAD story to /. on October 23 and it was rejected. My story did not involve any comments from 2COWS though.
  • vmware is cool... but not under GPL, and still requires the native os to run.

    but you are correct in that it is a solution to this problem, tho my thoughts are more towards an open source solution that eliminates the need for the additional os to run, and something that doesn't require me to fork out another $300... hey, i like the *freeness* of opensource stuff! :)

  • Just on a side note, while certain industries certainly use fancy hardware and CAD software, the bread and butter of CAD is done in AutoCAD on Windows, on Intel. While people certainly have a wide pallete of opinions on AutoCAD, you're much more likely to walk into a large CAD shop and find AutoCAD on an underpowered PC than anything else. Sad but true.

    I worked for four years at TVA, a huge AutoCAD customer. You'd cry if you saw the PCs some power stations are designed on. You'd cry even more if you saw the people doing the designing. When I showed them that Windows can do more than 640x480, they'd look at me: who the hell can read that tiny type? No siree, they'll run AutoCAD at 640x480 with all tool bars and status bars on, and an effective design area of 100x100 pixels.

    You're right on about computer illiteracy amongst CAD operators. Many of the guys were EEs and used CAD for the last 10 years, but they didn't even know rudimentary file management. One of the biggest software hits I wrote for them was a utility that completely shields them from the file system. All they need to know is the drawing name and what they want to do with it: plot it, delete it, or open it in AutoCAD. I'm afraid these kinds of users probably are the majority. While there certainly might be a market for CAD on Linux, these people ain't it. That's why I say that Linux hasn't got a paryer at becoming a leading CAD platform.

  • It may not do DWG, but it does do DXF without extra cost.
  • Yeah, whatever. You seem to not have taken in a single thing I said. I never criticized Linux in any shape or form. I just said that it has no prayer at becoming a leading CAD platform because CAD users are married to the software and not to the number of features. It doesn't matter that a better, more stable CAD package might be available on Linux some day. If it doesn't work excatly the same as what people are used to, they'll have to spend YEARS becoming proficient with it. CAD skills are a serious investment that you don't just throw away. It's not like a word processor where you pick any and can pound out a document in a couple of days.
  • Does this CAD program export GDSII files. It seems like many industry companies use these files but its very hard to find CAD programs costing less than $10,000 that support this format.
  • many of our customers are actually moving from unix to nt (cost).

    Actually, most of the people I know of that are considering or have made that move did so more because of software availability. The perception is that most of the CAD software vendors are only interested in supporting Windows. I know that perception doesn't necessarily match reality when it comes to companies like PTC and Bentley, but companies like AutoDesk definitely have pushed that message to the people who make the buying decisions.

    When it comes to cost, it is also mainly a perception issue. Commercial *nix is mainly only more expensive if you compare specialized workstation hardware to generic commodity PCs. Commercial *nixes on x86 hardware are similar in cost to NT (Windows 95/98 are really not very suitable for CAD usage), and Linux on the same hardware is cheaper than even Windows 9x.

  • XFree86 has support for (some) graphics tablets - certainly SummaGraphics and maybe some others. I was able to modify it to suit another, unsupported summagraphics tablet.
  • ACAD 2k is rumored to be coming back to the Mac with MacOS X. ACAD used to be on Unix up to R13, when Autodesk started to use way to many M$ "technologies" to keep up maintenance on non-windoze ports.

    Having been forced to use R13 on win and Unix (Solaris and HP-UX) I can tell you without qualification that ACAD on unix absolutely sucks! There was little feature parity between the Unix and windows versions, and many many bugs prevented the Unix version from being usefull. To be fair, the windows version had so many unacceptable inconsistencies within itself, I forced myself to lear how to use Pro/Engineer, so that I could produce accurate data for downstream NC operations. Autodesk is as much of a proprietary monopolist as Microsoft, changing their portable format(.dxf) on a whim to break any and all competitors applications from reading a "standard" format. We don't need crappy AutoCAD on Linux, we need something much better!

    Just my 2 cents.

    -- Len
  • My impression is that ADAMS [adams.com] is the best program for virtual prototyping like this. I bet its really expensive though.

    Another alternative is Working Model [krev.com]. This is probably just expensive.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You can get it at:

    SuSE [www.suse.de]
    or at
    Bentley [bentley.de]

    It was no problem for me to get it. And it is really faster than the Windows version... :)

  • So after you spend 30K on a Pro-E license, and 20K on specialized workstations to run it, you're going to get excited about saving $100 on the OS?
  • What's to stop PTC from deciding to port Pro/E to Linux and distributing with it a certain Linux distribution, with the option of installing just Pro/E or Linux+Pro/E?
  • If you are the one designing *and* building a part, it's normally better to do it in 2D. That's been my experience, at least.

    When you cut a 2D shape out of a 3D piece of metal, a 3D drawing won't help you. You need a 2D drawing in order to know how to make the 3D part.

    I figure you posted as AC because you thought you were being smart. sorry.

  • Remember not everyone has the, latest-bestest-fastest hardware. Most of my work gets done on a 486/100 with IDE drives, ick when doing 3D modeling - so I don't bother. And 2D was around for a long time, i.e., drafting with a pen and film on a board. Maybe I will trip over a used Sun Workstation someday. Last - I use FreeBSD/Linux with BSD in control and Linux as wrkstations. -d
  • Matlab for Linux used to be ungodly expensive. They now sell the student version for US$99 and it has Windoze and Linux in the same box. This is only available in the USA and Canada though, and is one of two different student versions. See the student edition page [mathworks.com] at www.mathworks.com [mathworks.com] for more info.

  • Almost forgot about that. Good point. Didn't I get killed by the instructor on the fine points of "True Length", was a long time ago, and I don't make my living drawing these days. Maybe, AC should check his books. -d
  • When it comes to cost, it is also mainly a perception issue. Commercial *nix is mainly only more expensive if you compare specialized workstation hardware to generic commodity PCs. Commercial *nixes on x86 hardware are similar in cost to NT (Windows 95/98 are really not very suitable for CAD usage), and Linux on the same hardware is cheaper than even Windows 9x.

    OK, but what commercial *nix is currently avalable on intel? (and dont count future realeases like the solaris move to intel). Right now there are no major commercial nixes on intel and as a result we (PTC)only support 'nix on proprietary hardware:

    • SunOS/Solaris on UltraSPARC
    • HP-UX on PA-RISC
    • IRIX64 on MIPS/R10000/R12000
    • DigitalUNIX on Alpha
    • AIX on RS6000

    Again, don't get me wrong, I love 'nix. I have an SGI Octane box at work, and have been using linux off and on at home since I first installed Slackware (1.2.1 kernel) back in college in 94. But many corporate customers just can't resist the perceved cheapness of wintel (and that evil Gates marketing machine doesn't help).

  • Read the fine print on LinuxCAD. Last time I checked, all the modules, including DXF-in/out and plotting were at additional cost (hopefully they've changed since then). 'Course, even at the additional cost, it's still cheaper than AutoCAD. Still doesn't do AutoLISP scripting though so your AutoCAD LISP utilities are just so much wasted time (last time I checked). peace favor your sword
  • This misses the point. In a good 3-D CAD package, like Pro-E, SolidWorks, CATIA, and others, you design in 3-D. The computer then does all your 2-D drawings for whatever purpose (machinists, reports, whatever) when you tell it to. It dimensions everything, all you do is choose the views. That's what they're teaching in ME nowadays - I know, I just graduated. The point is, you need 3-D parts to do the cool things ME's get to do, FEA, Rapid Prototyping, etc... It's a waste of time to draw in both 2-D and 3-D, if you know what you're doing.
  • ... if you have to use windows, vmware is the solution for the following reasons:

    1) it boots/reboots faster than native windows
    2) you can run multiple versions of windows on the same machine at the same time, so developers don't need 2 windows machines anymore (one to use while the other reboots...)
    3) you can use vmware in logged transaction mode, so when your windows software upgrade hoses your system, you can exit the session and choose to discard all session changes and be back to your previous, less-unstable config.
    4) vmware has no driver issues because it uses a GENERIC VIRTUAL MACHINE. You can finally mass deploy Windows NT with all apps installed by just copying over an entire drive image to any computer running vmware.
    5) vmware on linux with Windows is sort of like Linux with training wheels -- makes it much easier to migrate users to linux and giving them some time to ween themselves from windows.
  • And even if it is any good - is it good enough for professional use? My first reaction is to say no. I have never used the software...

    Then why don't you shut up? "I have never met you, but my first reaction is that you are a moron."

    I would like, for a moment to compare a typical free 3D modeller to a typical commercial one. There is no comparison, really. Blender not withstanding, most free modellers are truly horrendous.

    Why compare a typical free one to a typical commercial one? You seem to admit yourself that Blender is a high quality free modeller. Do you need more that one high quality free modeller?


  • You can get ME CAD for Linux today from CoCreate Software. Their ME10 package is very easy to use and available on several platforms. You can read more about it at "http://www.cocreate.com/english/news/press/linux. htm"
  • Solaris/x86 has been available for years now. SCO (gag) too. Solaris' "future" move to intel is for their 64bit Solaris port to ia64.
  • ...dwg file format compatability would be needed, but that's probabaly the most un-open file format there is.

    Did you check wotsit [wotsit.org]? (search for DWG)

    That said, I think the primary file format should be zipped XML. DXF hails from the days of visicalc, i.e., DIF begat DXF - it's hard to find file formats that suck more. I wouldn't expect DWG to be much better, though I haven't looked at it. Generally, when you go spelunking through these 1980's era PC file formats you'd better bring your barf bag.
  • I will leave the GNOME vs. KDE flamebait aside, because my comment was not about the desktop environment, but about the widget library only. Locking your application into a specific desktop environment is even worse for its portability than using a widget library that is not freely available for all major operating systems. Please, let's stick to the Qt issue without involving KDE.

    Qt has some nice widgets that GTK+ does not have yet; I will not debate that. GTK+ also has some nice widgets that Qt does not have yet, but that is not the point. My main gripe against Qt is that it is not free enough if you want to port your applications to Windows or to other operating systems. GTK+ offers something more than Qt: its portability. Some major applications based on GTK+ (e.g. The GIMP) have been successfully ported to Windows (and even OS/2 and BeOS). If the GIMP had been built on top of Qt, that would not have been possible.

    Since QCAD is built on top of Qt, I doubt that we will see a Windows version soon. Or at least not a free version. Not to mention other (more exotic) operating systems. If you are writing some code based on Qt, then some people will not be able to use it, and may not even be able to port it to their system if they have some coding skills. Some of the small tools that I wrote a few years ago were ported to other OS'es by various people, and some of these became more popular than the original version that I developed. This is the power of OpenSource. Alas, QCAD and other applications requiring libraries that are not available on all platforms will suffer from this and will not be available to everybody.

  • While I do see QCAD as a valuable, useful tool, and I encourage its development, a GPL'd CAD program is simply unlikely to have the robustness of a commercial package required to earn the trust and support of commercial enterprises. CAD is a serious, serious business, and small, subtle bugs can lead to extremely expensive (or dangerous) mistakes. A word processor, etc. simply doesn't have such a stringent requirement.

    Word processors don't have stringent requirements, and most of them are commercial, and most of them suck. Operationg systems and compilers have stringent requirements, and many of them are free and excellent. Your point was?


  • SCO has had an x86 UNIX for years, and currently has two offerings, their traditional (OpenDesktop/OpenServer) and UnixWare (aquired from Novell/AT&T). Sun has been shipping Solaris on x86 for quite some time as well, and also still has Interactive UNIX (although they aren't actively marketing it anymore).

    Unfortunately for the poor sods in drafting and engineering departments, too often the decisions on hardware/software are made by clueless PHB types.

  • > I don't know how or why, but for some reason Qt programs always seem to resemble windows for me...

    Same shade of grey, same height of buttons, and if you're running with the windows theme, then it takes pains to look the same. Window manager with its flush relief-detailed window controls looks more like OS/2 to me. KDE 2.0 has a (pretty horrendous) looking button set that looks a lot more like MacOS 8.x buttons than windows.

    Anyhow, this has gotten way off topic. AFAIK, I don't think CAD programs are designed for any widget set in general.
  • It will probably be out a little bit later and it will be also shipped as demo. It is very stable and should be considered as a professional choice... Based on X/Motif is also very fast (in fact it is faster that dist on HP-UX or WindowsNT)....
  • by ecloud ( 3022 )
    The DIA canvas was just released as a component for just this purpose. But, DIA has the look-and-feel of Visio not a typical CAD program. Not that that's a bad thing - it's much less cumbersome. But probably not as full-featured either. And of course it's not 3D.
  • With the cost savings of bypassing micros~1, we could spend more money on the hardware.

    This is exactly why I want to convert my office over to Linux. However, with the lack of a business version of CAD, it's not viable. I'm really hoping this goes down, so I can get my boss away from this Winblows crap and on *real* computers.

    I told him that he and his other designer (construction company) could save mucho time by going with Linux running Apache to serve the office, rather than the NT behemoth we have to deal with daily now, and he agreed, but didn't find a CAD or design program that would do what his AutoCAD does, as far as designing houses, decks, etc. goes.

    Any ideas on where I can get info on how to get him to finally let me install?
  • Check out EAGLE: http://www.cadsoftusa.com. There is a Linux version. It's not bad at all. You can download a free 'light' version (only 2 layers, single sheet, limited board area, otherwise fully functional).

    - Daniel
  • Actually, 7K for a license. 4K for a very good
    NT box, and nobody serious is going to run Pro on Win9X... (NT behaves much better). So the
    savings are going to be significant. $1K savings
    vs 11K total purchase.
  • Yes, Pro/E would be nice indeed. Assuming that a port would bring along Mech/structure, thermal and the other add-ons. Imagine that on a DS-20. A real killer.

  • I spend all day driawing schematics for control panels that go into auto assembly plants. So explain again how 3D is going to help my schematics? Trust me I am a professional.

    Autodesk as been sticking us with a bill for developing a 3D program for you. If they would just stick AutoLisp in LT we would tell them to kiss off on ACAD2000.
  • As a Net Admin for a school of Architecture, I've found that many Architecture firms already have at least one Linux box in there offices. Architecture firms, much more than engineering firms are looking for any way possible to reduce overhead. Linux has been a perfect fit for many firms server needs, because they could recycle the old hardware with Linux.

    The average office has been using complex workstations for years in one capacity or another. You can't convince me that Linux would be any more difficult to master than some of the workstations that were used only three years ago.

    Besides that, many of the architects coming out of schools now have had some exposure with Unix, if not Linux. I've found that many architecture students are drawn to Linux for a simple reason. Architecture ~ problem solving. Linux administration ~ problem solving. Many of the younger architects that I've met like to fiddle with Linux, because it excersizes their problem solving skills, which in turn improves their ability to devise solutions for their clients.

    I personnally have not used MicroStation on Linux, but i bet that I could find quite a few Architects who would have no problems adapting to it. I don't think that Linux is too difficult for any field that has to endure a 5 day exam in order to get licensed (almost always more than once.)

When you make your mark in the world, watch out for guys with erasers. -- The Wall Street Journal