FreeCAD a cross-platform free alternative to AutoCAD


Talking about these types of applications brings back many memories, because in the upper half I used to carry a subject that has the name Technical Drawing, which I came to hate, because you had to be quite careful to make the layout, along with that they started us to teach the use and management of AutoCAD which in its time was very difficult for me to learn.

Currently, I don't remember much about using AutoCAD but During that period it was when I met Ubuntu and it was in its Karmin Koala version and the I discovered a free alternative to AutoCAD.

FreeCAD an application de open source multiplatform with support for Windows, Mac and Linux designed primarily for real-life object design of any size. Parametric modeling allows you to easily modify your design by going back to your model history and changing its parameters.

FreeCAD has support for various formats among which we find STEP, IGES, STL, SVG, DXF, OBJ, IFC, DAE and many others. FreeCAD use the LGPL license, so we can download, install, redistribute and use FreeCAD for free,

The application is based on OpenCasCade and is programmed in C ++ and Python languages, intended for powerful geometry is directly addressed to mechanical engineering and product design, but it also fits a wide range of uses in engineering, such as architecture or other engineering specialties.

FreeCAD presents a work environment similar to CATIA, SolidWorks, SolidEdge, ArchiCAD or Autodesk Revit. It uses parametric modeling techniques and is provided with a modular software architecture, allowing easy addition of functionalities without having to change the core of the system.

As a with many modern 3D CAD modelers It has many 2D components to draw the 2D shapes or extract detail designs from the 3D model to create 2D production drawings, but direct 2D drawings (like AutoCAD) is not the focus, nor is animation or organic designs (like Maya, 3ds Max, Blender or Cinema 4D), in this way, thanks to its wide adaptability, FreeCAD may begin to be useful in a wider area than those currently in focus.

How to install FreeCAD on Linux?

Application can be found within the repositories of the most famous distributions, so it is not necessary to have to resort to its source code to compile the application on our computer.

FreeCAD 1

In the case of Debian, Ubuntu and derivatives we install FreeCAD with the following command:

sudo apt-get install freecad

In the case of Ubuntu we have a repository that offers us always to have the most recent version almost immediately, for this we only have to add it with:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:freecad-maintainers/freecad-stable

We update our list of repositories with:

sudo apt-get update

Finally, use the following to install the program:

sudo apt-get install freecad

In the case of Arch Linux and derivatives, we find it in the AUR repositories:

yaourt -S freecad

While for Fedora, CentOS and derivatives we install the application with:

sudo yum install freecad

For, openSUSE we use the following command:

sudo zypper install freecad

As well we have the possibility to install the application from appimage, for this we only have to download it from its official website, the link is this.

Done the download we must give it execution permissions to downloaded file

chmod a+x FreeCAD_*.AppImage

Y finally we install FreeCAD with this command:

./ FreeCAD_*.AppImage

Once the installation is done, we just have to look for the application in our menu and run it to start using it.

FreeCAD has a development that does not take a very fast pace unlike some other applications, so its updates take a few months to come out.

The application is usually recommended as a free alternative to AutoCAD, although from the point of view of many it still has a lot to improve since it still lacks some functions that AutoCAD handles.

If you know of any other free AutoCAD alternative, don't hesitate to share it with us in the comments.

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  1.   URxvt said

    FreeCAD is rather an alternative to SolidWorks because it has a parametric design and has a history of actions. AutoCAD is not intended for that, but for CAD in general. In addition, FreeCAD is BIM (Building Information Modeling), and for that, the house Autodesk created Revit. There is also Allplan, a gem that started out for Unix systems but ended up migrating to Windows and costing 9000 euros.

    An alternative to AutoCAD would be LibreCAD, QCAD and especially Draftsight.

    It would be interesting to explain how to compile the latest version of FreeCAD from source code.


    1.    Nasher_87 (ARG) said

      One question, can you open Autocad files in any of them? I am in a course that only has AutocaD. I tried it, with plug-in and everything, it tells me no

  2.   Raphael Moya said

    Draftsight or QCad should be able to open DWG. If not, then it is advisable to export the AutoCAD Format to DXF.

    1.    leonidas83glx said

      Cannot open AutoCAD files (.dwg) in these programs (except DrafSight).
      Export them as DXF.

  3.   leonidas83glx said

    Tech bloggers should be a little better informed when it comes to talking or recommending specific programs for certain activities such as design and engineering. CAD or Computer Aided Design involves many facets, from simple 2D outlining to making production drawings and assembly instructions for the end user (Technical Drawing) and sketching, all of which configure the documentation or Technical memory, or the 3D modeling, which is the engineering and development phase of the parts that will make up the product. In both cases we speak of CAD, but they are two essentially different aspects of it. FreeCAD aims at the latter, so to speak of it as a replacement for a program made for 2D design (AutoCAD) is not serious.
    They should start there. Perhaps it is better if the technology blogs have CAD specialists to be able to speak appropriately on the subject.