Non-Linux FOSS: AutoCAD Alternatives

Although AutoCAD is the champion of the computer-aided design world, some alternatives are worth looking into. In fact, even a few open-source options manage to pack some decent features into an infinitely affordable solution.

QCAD from Ribbonsoft is one of those hybrid programs that has a fully functional GPL base (the Community Edition) and a commercial application, which adds functionality for a fee. On Linux, installing QCAD is usually as easy as a quick trip to your distro's package manager. For Windows users, however, Ribbonsoft offers source code, but nothing else. Thankfully, someone over at SourceForge has compiled QCAD for Windows, and it's downloadable from

For a completely free option, however, FreeCAD might be a better choice. With binaries available for Windows, OS X and Linux, FreeCAD is a breeze to distribute. In my very limited field testing, our local industrial arts teacher preferred FreeCAD over the other open-source alternatives, but because they're free, you can decide for yourself! Check out FreeCAD at

FreeCAD (screenshot from


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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RonTrex's picture

Jesus, what version AutoCad is that? Looks like something I used in school 10 years ago.

Ron | Blue Pelican

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Using CAD on Linux

Ongytenes's picture

I have been using AutoCad R14 for years in Linux using WINE. It works pretty good except for a few quirks like a problem with one of the text tools.

The FreeCad looks promising, and I plan to try it out.

There's also BricsCAD. Not

Anonymous's picture

There's also BricsCAD.

Not FOSS but very compatible with Autocad.


crh's picture

DraftSight while not open source, seems to be one of the best ACAD replacements I've used. The newest version V1R3 now include the ability to easily draw pretty clouds for marking revisions and what not. Also I'm still able to bang out simple drawing commands on the keyboard just as I did with ACAD version 9 way back around 1990. In fact, I much prefer DraftSight to the ACAD ribbon menu implementation that I think started around the 2008 version of ACAD. Yuck! And what's with the yearly versions of ACAD anyway? Sure sounds like a subscription fee service more so than a product that one owns. But I digress!

QCAD is unbelievably painful to use if you need to drawing in EU (.25, .125, etc.). Just try to snap to a .0625" grid. I've managed to draw a few things with it but boy oh boy...

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I really love this post I

Pritam's picture

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Autocad is getting old...

CattyCad's picture

Autocad is getting old... need a new software to replace it.

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Qcad is not a viable Autocad replacement.

Anonymous's picture

The only 2 good things about Qcad is 1) it's GPL, and 2) you can export pngs of dxf files.

I have a 15 year old version of TurboCAD that runs nicely under Wine that is better than Qcad in every way (except the two positive things about Qcad listed above).


Morten Juhl-Johansen Zölde-Fejer's picture

If the need should override the free software requirement, I have to say that VariCAD is quite impressive.

CAD for Linux

KrpaN's picture

Looking for a very good if not the best CAD software for Linux you have to check VariCAD. Not for free but for a decent price, much lower than for AutoCAD.

You said: "On Linux,

Anonymous's picture

You said:

"On Linux, installing QCAD is usually as easy as a quick trip to your distro's package manager."

that's fine, but then

"Thankfully, someone over at SourceForge has compiled QCAD for Windows"

... and finally a screenshot of QCAD running under Microsoft Windows?

Hey!, is this LinuxJournal or MicrosoftJournal?


Not-Registered Mike's picture

OpenSCAD ( is free (GPL). It dubs itself 'the programmer's solid 3D CAD modeller'. I really like being able to write a script describing what I want, rather than trying to create it in a GUI.

Yeah ... Draftsight

2briancox's picture

DraftSight is not FOSS. But if you're looking for an AutoCAD replacement, look no further. It is absolutely the best replacement for AutoCAD and it's FREE...only as in Free Beer.

Plus, it works awesome on Linux!

Linux CAD

Anonymous's picture

Agree , DraftSight was much easier to work on than any other Linux CAD Softwares

Other non-FOSS or partial FOSS CAD platforms

Claude CHAVERRI-SIEVERT's picture

I have also installed on my Ubuntu laptop and used Medusa4 Personal from CAD Schroer. Very good program. For printing or PDFing one needs to pay a fee. Tested also BRL-CAD. I also installed AutoCAD over my WinOS Virtualbox VM.


Rodrigo Carvallo Croskey's picture

Please, don't forget LibreCAD!

About Draftsight: it isn't open source. It's freeware, propietary software.


mike macon's picture

DraftSight's free, too.

What is that draft thingy in

Nonameguy's picture

What is that draft thingy in your comment?

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