I'm looking for a 3d modeling toolkit for Ubuntu Linux to replace Autodesk Inventor, which I had been running on an old Windows box. As I am working on projects with others that use Inventor, parametric and constraint-based modeling as well as support for parts/assemblies and 2d drawings generated from parts/assemblies are a must.

Interoperability with Autodesk file formats would be useful but is not necessary in my case.

I've tried Inventor itself through Wine (garbage), VirtualBox (fails to start in spite of 3d graphics support, also I don't have enough RAM to launch a VM and the software), and am using it on an older Windows box that desperately needs to be retired (due to aging hardware).

If anyone has any suggestions that would work that would be much appreciated.

4 Answers 4


You can use FreeCAD. It is an open source CAD program. I don't think it can import Inventor files directly, but it can import STEP, IGES, and other open formats. It is available for download and it is in the package repositories for Ubuntu and Fedora (according to their site).


Freecad is good, but lacks the refinement from software like Inventor or Solidworks (I use the last one). ProE had a linux version until few years ago, lately NX from Siemens is spreading in linux engineering, that is a full size package, closer to Catia than Inventor. That is what you are looking for. It is officially supported in redhat and suse (linux enterprise) only, but I saw people running it in debian, ubuntu, and arch linux. Now I remember bricscad from bricsis, pretty similar to autocad, narocad, heekscad, medusa4, varicad, actually you have options. I recommend you test all them, all them have their own advantages.


You could try Blender

  • it has quite a steep learning curve but is hugely powerful,
  • cross platform,
  • free, open source
  • and can import from/export to numerous file formats including Autodesk DXF format.

There are some very good tutorials here that address CAD like workflows in Blender.

  • I use Blender already for this, however due to a lack of a constraint solver it is not nearly as usable as I would like. Inventor had the benefit of having a "modifier hierarchy" in which a model would be based on steps such as sketch creation, extrusion, filleting, and the like, in which one can modify a parameter (for example how far a sketch is extruded, or even the sketch itself) and all downstream modifiers would update accordingly if they would still be meaningful operations.
    – nanofarad
    Oct 19, 2014 at 13:07
  • wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.6/Manual/Constraints may give some additional insights. Oct 19, 2014 at 14:58
  • Unfortunately those constraints are not the right types for engineering modeling-I will give it a go with vertex groups as a substitute but so far it doesn't look promising
    – nanofarad
    Oct 19, 2014 at 19:41

Look into OnShape.

Serious 3D CAD, coded by a lot of the best folks from D'Assault systems (Solidworks) who left to create OnShape - free, browser-based, wicked powerful.

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Design your tyres there, export 'em out to .obj, .fbx, .3Ds and bring into your DCC of choice, Blender, modo, Maya, 3DS, and render away.

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