Originally posted on pushpullbar.com. there've been a lot of good follow ups. if you're interested, check it out: http://pushpullbar.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-2547.html
first post here, thought I might do a bit of agenda pushing straight up.
I'm looking to move completely to open source software, since it's ethical and free, everyone can access it, and anyone can improve it (meaning no file type stuff arounds, eventually).
so I'm looking at architecture stuff, and seeing what can be done with opensource. I want to get into the coding of these programs soonish, and I want to improve them in terms of architectural possibility. you can suggest features for most open-source programs, and this would be a great way to get a real open-source system for architecture and design working
so far the stand-out potential has been:
* Blender (blender.org) (current version 2.41)
designed for animation, but can import nearly all 2D and 3D files and edit them, with varying degrees of success. fairly intuitive 3D navigation system, comparable to sketchup (less directional mouse-wheel zoom), but 3D editing system is not really up to scratch with Sketchup, needs a little bit or improvement
**possibly with the pre-pre-alpha BlenderCAD extension (doesn't work yet, needs attention), which could add CAD editing functions
Yafray (yafray.org) (version 0.0.8)
Excellent ray tracer, there's not much this thing can't do, as far as I can figure out. blender comes with this as a plugin as standard.
Inkscape (yep, inkscape.org) (version 0.43)
Bloody good vector editor. works with Simple Vector Graphics (SVG, inteded for web use). works well for layout, and graphical design, but need some improvement in CAD related department. could be cmoparable to sketchup in terms of 2D.
Doesn't have a huge list of file compatibility yet, SVG, and a few other print-graphics type things.
has anyone else had any good experiences with open-source software? or bad experiences?
please, I'm not trying to attack sketchup, I know many of you love it: I really like it too. I'm just interested in making desing and architecture open to everyone (ie. poor people too).
----- later response ---------
found a really cool project: Archimedes, a brazillian founded CAD program.
"Archimedes will be a Computer Aided Design (CAD) program developed side by side with architecture offices in order to fulfill all their needs. This way, we hope to develop software better suited for architects than the currently widely used AutoCAD."
it's pretty featureless at the moment, but you can try it out, some stuff works, and it looks really neat, and it also looks REALLY popular, and the new versions are coming out thick and fast. I'll update when it gets to a truly usable stage.
unfortunately the webpage, http://archimedes.incubadora.fapesp.br/portal , seems to be not working at the moment, but you can download the java-based installer from the sourceforge.net page: http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=143642
(you may need a java runtime environment, but you might already have one if you use stuff like internet banking)
there's also a whole lot of other CAD oriented open-source and free programs for linux listed on this thread on the ubuntu forum (http://www.ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=141735). some of them have windows/mac versions, I think.