Top 5 CAD software available for Linux

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If you’re an engineer then you must be familiar with the term “CAD”. Computer Aided Design is a term which is used to define the use of computer technology aimed at designing real or virtual objects. It is an essential part of many streams of engineering and often refers to the drafting of a product or a part. Whether it is architecture, space shuttle research, auto parts design, bridge construction even jewelry or clothing, CAD plays an important role. It may help you design curves and figures in two-dimension and in three-dimensions as well. The CAD world in Windows has already some of the most powerful AutoCAD software. Unfortunately, Lunix didn’t have its fair share of such software.

Whilst it is possible to run CAD software on Linux through an emulator like Wine, this article will specifically point out the top CAD software available for Linux. So let’s dive in!

1. FreeCAD

The FreeCAD is an open source, free software and the best option for 3D solid and general purpose design. The software makes comprehensive use of open source libraries like OpenCascade, Qt, Python, and Coin3D. You can use FreeCAD on Mac OS X+, Linux and Windows. FreeCAD is favored by many users for small tasks. However, it cannot be deployed on large scale because it is still running on version 0.17. The good news is that the development has recently picked up the pace.

One of the few shortcomings of FreeCAD is that it is not suitable for organic shape animations and 2D drawings. However, you can easily benefit from its mechanical engineering designing abilities. You can find FreeCAD version 0.15 from Ubuntu repositories. Following are the commands that can help you install it.

sudo apt install freecad

The current version is 0.17. The software offers newer builds on daily basis which can be obtained by performing following commands:

  • Press (ctrl+alt+t) to open the terminal
  • Once terminal is open, enter and run the following commands:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:freecad-maintainers/freecad-daily
sudo apt update
sudo apt install freecad-daily

2. OpenSCAD

OpenSCAD is a free 3D CAD Software that is light weighed and flexible. It is one of the most complicated tools since it is limited interactivity. It requires you to ‘program’ the model and then it renders a visual model corresponding to your code. If you think of it, it works like a compiler, taking commands from you, interpreting them and providing you the results. You cannot actually draw the model in this software, you can only describe it. It is however complicated to use but once you get hold of it, you’ll really love using it.

Install OpenSCAD on your system by performing these commands:

sudo apt-get install openscad


BRL-CAD is a complete package with powerful Constructive Solid Geometry (CSG). It is one of the oldest CAD tools with over 20 years of development and production us by U.S military and is still being developed actively. It comes with interactive 3D solid geometry editor, image and signal processing tools, a network-distributed symmetric, multiprocessing and high-performance ray-tracer, a network-distributed frame buffer support, animation capabilities, ray-tracing and numerical processing libraries and much more. Now it is not AutoCAD but is still used widely for transport studies such as ballistic penetration. This software finds numerous other uses in tasks like system benchmarking, medical visualization of objects, planning of radiation doses, education and training of computer graphics. You might keep all this in mind before installing it.

4. QCad

QCad is an application designed specifically for 2D computer-aided drafting with an intuitive user interface. If you are looking for software which can help you in designing your home interior, this software is best. It features technical drawings and diagrams related to building plans and mechanical parts as well. It is available in two editions: the commercial one and the free one called Community Edition. The difference between the two editions is mostly regarding the number of features they have to offer and the date of availability. It uses DXF and DWG as its standard input and output format, 35 CAD fonts, part library with over 4800 CAD parts, multi-document interface and object snaps.

5. LibreCAD

The two highlighting properties of LibreCAD are that it is open source software which allows 2D Computer Aided designing. CAD is usually a resource-intensive task which requires a rather modest hardware. The free LibreCAD tool is lightweight and does not put much strain on resource usage. This makes it a good choice for CAD. As a 2D tool, we cannot expect it to render 3D models and renderings. You get the backup of an autosave option if you ever have struggle with large files whilst using this software. Libre CAD wins the contest for being the best software for creating geometric sketches.

LibreCAD can be installed on Linux by running the following command

sudo apt install librecad


All the tools mentioned above are currently under constant development and we can expect great things for them in the future. What kind of software you should go with certainly depends on what you’re looking for. Although, Linux is now catching up with Windows, in our opinion you should stick with what your college prescribes (if you’re a student) which will most probably run on Windows only. Speaking of industry standards and advanced requirements, these software might fail to meet professional expectations. But we highly respect the work that is being put forward by the developers of the above-mentioned software.

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