Niels Horn's Blog

Random thoughts, tips & tricks about Slackware-Linux, Lego and Star Wars

CAD Programs on Slackware – 2 – VariCAD

As I wrote in my previous post, looking for a CAD program that runs on Slackware, I decided to check out VariCAD. VariCAD is proprietary software (which means you have to buy it to use it), but they have a fully working Linux version. According to its homepage:

VariCAD is a 3D/2D CAD system for mechanical engineering. In addition to standard tools for 3D modeling and 2D drafting, the CAD system provides support for parameters and geometric constraints, tools for shells, pipelines, sheet metal unbending and crash tests, assembly support, libraries of standard mechanical parts (ANSI, DIN) and symbols, mechanical part calculations and tools for working with bills of materials (BOM) and title blocks. VariCAD supports STEP, STL, IGES, DWG and DXF file formats.

Especially the part about the several formats it supports interested me, so I wanted to get it working on Slackware.

Building on Slackware

VariCAD is not “open” software, so there is no compiling involved. It comes in either the RPM or DEB format as packages to be installed on Red Hat or Debian or look-alikes. There was no pre-built Slackware package, so I decided to write a small SlackBuild script to transform the RPM package into a Slackware package.
VariCAD offers both 32- & 64-bits versions so take care to download the correct file for your architecture. The downloaded version can be installed and used for 30 days. After this period – if you like the program and want to continue using it – you will have to buy a valid license. There is no need to reinstall the program and your designs will not be lost, you just will need to enter the license-key.

Creating the SlackBuild was quite straight-forward and I managed to submit it to in just a couple of hours. It can be downloaded here.
Basically it unpacks the RPM, puts the documentation, desktop- and icon-file in the standard Slackware location. It also corrects the permissions on the directory where the license key will be stored, so that you do not need to run VariCAD (and X) as root to enable the program.

My experience

VariCAD comes with a complete tutorial which teaches all the basic steps to create a three-dimensional model, either starting with a two-dimensional drawing or directly in 3D-mode. The steps are easy to follow, even for someone not used to CAD programs (like me).

This is a screenshot from VariCAD in action:

From this example I created the 2D drawings:

And here is an image of a 3D model I created with VariCAD:

Positive points:

  • Very complete, professional package
  • Both 2D & 3D drawing and modelling
  • Easy to follow, step-by-step tutorial
  • Simple to install using the SlackBuild and the RPM package

Negative points:

  • Not for free – needs a license after the 30-day trial period
  • I could not find a direct way to create an image file from the 2D drawing (printed to PDF and converted it with the GIMP)


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This entry was posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2010 at 21:46 and is filed under CAD, Slackware. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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