Free 2-D CAD overview

Related: Install DraftSight on Linux

Since 2011, Draftsight is a top choice for “free” Linux/Mac/Windows AutoCAD 2D-compatible CAD users. This article focuses on drop-in replacements for AutoCAD. Numerous even more powerful free CAD programs exist, but they generally require retraining for users coming from AutoCAD.

Libre 2-D AutoCAD-like choices include QCAD or LibreCAD with native DXF. DWG from QCAD and LibreCAD is via the free Teigha DWG ↔ DXF converter.

I didn’t include FreeCAD here as it’s for 3D / Solidworks (and also cannot open DWG at this time).

Free 2-D CAD comparison

item Draftsight QCAD LibreCAD
License free, NOT libre GPLv3 GPLv2
Registration install & periodic re-registration NO NO
Download 64-bit .deb source or binary source or PPA
DWG read: R2018 write: R2017 Teigha DXF↔DWG read: yes. Write: Teigha DXF↔DWG
DXF read: R2018 write: R2017 native native


Draftsight is free (but non-libre) and typically “just works” with DWG / DXF files from AutoCAD and other software.

  • DXF: native read/write
  • DWG: native read ≤ R2018, native write ≤ R2017 (R2013 format)



  • DXF: native read/write
  • DWG: non-free (paid) library OR use free Teigha DXF↔DWG converter.




Free, non-libre Teigha File Converter supports through R2017 DWG/DXF.
Teigha File Converter may be used to convert from DXF to DWG en masse as a first/last step. The OpenDesignAlliance is the same organization where QCad gets its non-free non-libre converter from.


Written by Michael Hirsch, Ph.D. //