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Qcad is an open-source application for computer-aided drafting in two dimensions. It is a simple 2D CAD system for everyone.


Qcad is in the repos, though a more recent version may well be available as a demo from the website. Instructions for installation of the tarball downloaded from the Ribbonsoft site is HERE


The interface is intuitive, and easy to learn.


  • Uses DXF file format; Pretty much any CAD program can read and write these files, so the data is safe and free. Has the virtue of simplicity. Thank goodness they avoided the complete mess of moving goalposts that is the DWG format (17 different formats so far, according to Wikipedia).
  • Fast; Really fast.
  • Keyin shortcuts; Really well set up. Speeds up work a lot.
  • Line weight printing is independent of colour. This was a problem in many versions of AutoCAD, leading to all kinds of compromise workarounds.
  • Can write to PDF.
  • Polylines (not in the Community Edition) & simple splines (open & closed) are supported (splines are segmented).
  • Dimensioning and annotation are supported.
  • Scripting (not in the Community Edition).


  • Uses DXF as its file format. That severely limits the type of element that can be saved, thus the tools that can be used. DXF became the de facto standard not because it was best, but because it was the most pervasive.
  • Fonts are limited to CAD fonts.


  • References: the ability to refer to other drawing files, with live updates.
  • Paperspace: the ability to compose drawings from views of a model, with live updates.
  • File formats: Very limited file import/export options (export PDF, SVG, some bitmaps).


  • Professional and Windows versions are proprietary (but cheap).
  • Only the *nix Community edition is GPL.
  • The Community edition lags behind the Professional edition and lacks some features (polylines, scripting).
  • A fully functional demo version of the proprietary versions is available - time limited to 10 mins. and 100 hrs total.


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