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Old 07-29-2012, 09:42 PM   #1
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Older Pentium desktops can be used for Linux?

I will be using CAD to design things to be made at a CNC shop to make masters that will be copied with lower technology tracer/router equipment. So, could a Linux distribution like Unbuntu run a CAD software program that can handle 3D complex shapes and send the results to a CAM system (Mastercam, GeoCAM, etc.) for a vendor to make the master for me? I would rather use a Linux based system since windows keeps up with their planned obsolescence, which is costly and unstable. As you can tell, I am totally new to any form of linux but it sounds much better than Microsoft products, especially if I can still use my older pentium machine. There is no reason this older computer cannot do this if the software is there. Most desktops are hardly used to their potential, right? Is all this possible with linux? How hard is the learning curve? Do you know of a good distribution to use? Do you know of a good CAD software program that can be used to export DWG or other CAD/CAM industry staneards? I could do this in windows, but I have developed a dislike of anything windows over the years.
Old 07-30-2012, 08:53 AM   #2
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Yes Linux can handle CAD.

Your old Pentium will probably work, dependant on ram & graphics chip, but probably won't be very fast.

From a very quick search in my Debian repos:

Package kicad
squeeze (stable) (electronics): Electronic schematic and PCB design software

Package electric
squeeze (stable) (electronics): electrical CAD system

Package pythoncad
squeeze (stable) (graphics): Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) program

Package freecad
squeeze (stable) (science): An extensible Open Source CAx program (alpha)

Old 07-30-2012, 11:47 AM   #3
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Depends quite much how old Pentium you have, and how much ram. And if you plan to use any modern desktop environments. Modern linux's are more lightweight than modern Windows's but not so when compared to Win9x's.
Old 07-30-2012, 12:38 PM   #4
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Some examples of lightweight Linuxes:
Salix recommends at least a P3 and 256MB (Xfce desktop) or 128MB (Fluxbox window manager)
Swift recommends P2 and 128MB (Ice window manager)
AntiX recommends P2 and 64MB (Ice window manager)

As for software, I know nothing about CAD, but see
or just search for things like
Old 07-30-2012, 03:30 PM   #5
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I remember something called BRL-CAD, no idea if it fits your reqs.
Old 07-30-2012, 10:21 PM   #6
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I'm running Debian Squeeze on a P4 (4GB RAM) and honestly can't tell any difference between it and newer chips, even when I'm using VirtualBox or media players.

If you go back to a P3, though, I expect that you will start to notice lag with resource-intensive software. I did when I put CentOS 5.x on a P3.
Old 08-07-2012, 07:02 AM   #7
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Thanks all of you. It looks like I should stick with windows 98 and my legacy CADKey7 and find a legacy printer that works. That was my only problem, getting a printer for output to paper.


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