11 Oct 2012

Best Free Linux Cad Software & Their Features

Forget about Windows, the Linux OS provides amazing opportunities for creativity when it comes to computer aided designs applications and implementations. But, as a designer trying to experiment with ideas or striving to come out with a unique result, you are tempted to try out free CAD software which you can easily download and start making use of. But there are many of this software all over the places, many of which are not very easy to understand. To make things easier for you, here are some of the very best free CAD programs that are Linux based.


This program is designed for use mainly in the products design and mechanical engineering departments, but it is also widely used in architecture and other engineering fields and specialties. This open source 3D-Solid design software makes use of Coin 3D, Python and other open source libraries like Open Cascade.

Features – The program allows for modeling features like primitive creations, Boolean operations and offset. You can make use of the command line version with footprints of low memory as server and there are workbenches and macro recording to make your work easier.

The program can be run as Python module and it contains built-in scripting.


This is a professional cad application meant for 2d computer aided design and drafting. With this software designers can create amazing technical drawings like diagrams, mechanical parts, interiors and building plans. QCad stands out among the list of CAD software because of its ease of use and less complications. This is partly due to the fact that the program uses DXF as its standard file format. The program is available in two versions, including the professional version that comes at a very low cost and the community edition that is completely free.

Features – The program can be used for the modification and construction of ellipses, splines, polylines, arcs, circles, raster images texts and dimensions. It provides block and layer support, multi-document interface as well as ECMA scripting interface – which is not available in the free community edition.

The user interface translates to a number of international languages including German, Chinese, Italian, Dutch, Welsh, Russian, Turkish, French and Greek.


This is a very powerful package that is used for constructive solid geometry modeling in the military, medical, architecture and the automobile industry. The package consists of animation capabilities, numerical processing and ray-tracing libraries, performance analysis benchmark tools, embedded scripting interface, signal-processing and image tools and solid geometry editor with interactive 3d.

Features – The image processing tools in the program supports ordinary formats like SUN, PS, PNG, RLE and PPM. The signal processing utilities makes use of raw data streams with respect to certain criteria and the network package library makes connections with multiplexes by the implementation of client-server network.

Also, the geometry modeling kernel delivers geometric processing and ray-trace analysis through a high performance C API.


This software is used for rapid application development and data exchange, 3d solid and surface modeling and visualization. This is made possible by its C++ components, which also allows for the development of simulation software.
Features – The modeling data is available in form of 2d and 3d geometric modeling and the foundation classes provides for services like strings and other quantities, manipulation aggregates of data in classes and primitive types. Data exchange capabilities allows for cascade applications that are open to make data exchange with other applications, using interfaces like STEP AP214 IGES AP203. Open cascade makes available a number of ready-to-use algorithms that makes it possible for graphic presentations to be created from geometric models; this is to ensure for effective data structure visualization.

Brendan Garrett is a CAD Technician who makes the most of the free 3D models that he finds in software such as FreeCAD.


  1. im a 20+ year cad guy. the title says free. if you include free as in "beer" draftsight should be on this list. ive used it its actually free, will run in linux and frankly nothing else comes close.

  2. I used QCAD back when I studied technical design - I could do all the things with QCAD that I otherwise did in AutoCAD. I get the impression that most development happens around the community version LibreCAD (http://librecad.org/) these days.
    If you are into 3D CAD and do not have a philosophical objection to proprietary software, I warmly recommend VariCAD. You can do some pretty sweet things with that. If you are coming from something like SolidWorks, the transition is a bit rough, but it is there, and it works.
    As a final note: I heard a while back from a friend who is a Blender fetichist that some Blender people were working on a CAD aspect of Blender - BlenderCAD - but I am no longer in that business myself, and I do not know what the status of that project is.

  3. I would second the other anonymous comment. Draftsight is AutoCad file compatible and I use it a commercial environment without any major problems. OK its not under the GPL licence, but its free and provided by Dassault who I are one of the main providers of CAD for aerospace applications.

  4. More great CAD software is covered in these articles:

    CAD Tools and More CAD Tools

  5. Draftsight is much better than QCAD. I've made rather complicated 2D drawings with both (including the paid version of QCAD). QCAD's capability is somewhere between Autosketch and AutoCAD LT but has a rather clunky interface. LibreCAD is better than QCAD but it needs a parts library.

  6. I question the artile writer's CAD credentials by omitting Draftsight from Dassault Systems out of France. It is considerably more sophisticated in it's CADD functionality, in performance, flexibility and scalability than all those in article.

    Furthermore it reads from/writes to AutoCAD format and is also Free/Open Source Software (FOSS).

    1. As far as I can see, Draftsight is a closed source, proprietary freeware being far from free, its cost is only encountered when and if Dassault Systems goes bankrupt, changes its license or decides to stop developing the software. If I am wrong please post a link where the source code and FOSS licence is published .

  7. FreeCAD is based on OpenCasCade, a highly effective geometry kernel and a wide Python API. FreeCAD operates exactly the same way on Windows, Mac OSX and A linux systemunix systems.

  8. Sounds like "DraftSight" is very popular; and since this article calls for Six free Linux CAD software, and there are only Four !?
    Lets make DraftSight number five.

  9. I have to admit, the main impact of this article has been to convince me to try Draftsight.

    And all of the FOSS monks should feel free (hah!) to look down their noses at me while feeling virtuous about their asceticism. ;)