CAD Programs on Slackware – 3 – FreeCAD | Niels Horn's Blog

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CAD Programs on Slackware – 3 – FreeCAD


The second CAD program I decided to test on Slackware was FreeCAD. As the name implies, this one is completely free, which interested me :)
The description on their homepage describes the idea and purpose of this program:

FreeCAD is a general purpose 3D CAD modeler. The development is completely Open Source (GPL & LGPL License). FreeCAD is aimed directly at mechanical engineering and product design but also fits in a wider range of uses around engineering, such as architecture or other engineering specialties.

FreeCAD features tools similar to Catia, SolidWorks or Solid Edge, and therefore also falls into the category of MCAD, PLM, CAx and CAE. It will be a feature based parametric modeler with a modular software architecture which makes it easy to provide additional functionality without modifying the core system.

Building on Slackware

Building FreeCAD on Slackware was quite a challenge. It needs several dependencies, and not all were readily available:

  • xerces-c was available on SlackBuilds (this one was easy)
  • Coin, Pivy and SoQt were only available in older versions for Slackware 12.2, so I had to update their SlackBuilds (already submitted and approved)
  • OpenCASCADE was not available at all, and was a challenge to build on Slackware by itself. It takes quite a few hours (and several gigabytes of space!) to build it even on a modern machine, so – if you prefer – get a pre-compiled package from the link at the end of this post

After building all the dependencies, it was time to build the actual FreeCAD package.
The biggest challenge was figuring out the correct “./configure” switches for it to find the needed libraries and include files, but after that it built without mentionable difficulties.
For those using “-current” versions (as opposed to the stable 13.0 versions) of Slackware, a patch to the acinclude.m4 file to use the newer boost libraries is needed.

My experience

A pleasant surprise was that FreeCAD starts with a splash screen with a “tip-of-the-day” and after that shows a page with links to where you can get more help:

There is a wiki available of the homepage of FreeCAD, with some basic tutorials.

I tried a very basic design, combining a box and a cone and creating some fillets:


Then I downloaded a somewhat more complicated design from the OpenCASCADE gallery to see what it looks like in FreeCAD:


Positive points:

  • Completely Free, Open Source
  • Based on the very stable OpenCASCADE framework

Negative points:

  • Designed for 3D modeling, not so much for 2D designs
  • Still a work-in-progress. It simply does not have that “complete” feeling yet
  • Has quite a few dependencies to build or install it


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 23:10 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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