DraftSight on Linux Review

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What is better than free software? Easy. Free software than runs on a free operating system. You know I was quite excited when DraftSight for Linux was finally release last week. Quality free software on a free OS. Pinch me, I must be dreaming.

Until DraftSight, I mostly used “QCad” for my CAD editing software on Linux. QCad is a nice application, but since it doesn’t have DWG support I must admit I never used it for much more than helping my kids with their geometry homework. (Who remembers trig anyway?) Now, thanks to DraftSight, I have DWG support in an interface nearly the same that I have been using since high school…all on my computer in my kitchen!

The DraftSight.deb is rather small, 68.8 Mb (I was surprised it was bigger than the Windows install – 55.5 Mb) . The installation on my Ubuntu 10.10 system was cake. I double clicked on the download and the Ubuntu Software Center automatically took care of the rest. Total installation time was less than three minutes. I was secretly hoping it would install in my “Office” application list, but instead it went into the graphics area:

Menu

The DraftSight system requirements are very modest (1 GHz x86 processor, 1GB of RAM (2GB recommended)) so my 3 GHz machine with 3 GB of RAM had no problem opening the largest DWG files I could find.

I mostly tested blocks, XREFs, layers, dimensions, tables – these are the features I usually find lacking in 2D software. DraftSight did a nice job with them all. I found was that you could not change the number of columns/rows in an existing table, however this issue has been reported and a fix is expected soon.

I did miss not having an API, however this is available if you buy the premium pack.

I was pleasantly surprised by the help file. Most Linux programs have a barely adequate help file -I usually find Google more helpful. But look, look!

Help2

Pretty eh? …and useful too…

NiceSearch

THAT’S and advanced search!

DraftSight has a powerful CAD interface, but can you share your files with others? Check out these SaveAs options:

SaveAs

Who here isn’t a fan of the Open Design Alliance? (You can also export: .bmp, .pdf, .stl, .tif, .png, .sld, & .svg files)

The Linux community support so far has been very strong, in the first week since DraftSight’s release there have been on average a little over 1,000 downloads a day. It is pretty exciting, what a lot of us have been looking forward to for a long time.

I like it a lot, give it a spin, it will only cost you three minutes.