Linux friendly PCB Design Software

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I recently got a new job that involves working with Linux and it's somewhat opened my eyes to it, so I'm considering switching my OS on my personal laptop to Linux (currently running Windows 10). I'd be looking at using Ubuntu, and I'm not quite sure whether to go for out and out Linux, or simply set up Ubuntu as a VM, with Win10 still being the primary OS as that would allow me to continue to use Proteus. I know that a lot of the guys here run Linux so I wanted to see what you had to say about PCB design software on Linux, I know there's KiCad however I've not used it so I couldn't really comment obviously. Is there much else out there for Linux? Would you recommend I continue to use Win10 so I can continue to use Proteus? Keen to see what everyone has to say...

 

Ps, if it's of any importance/ if it makes any difference - I'd be working with AVRs (which is where Win10 might come in handy again due to AS7 but AFAIK I can use Eclipse with AVR? Which I'll also be using to work with...), STM32s, and TI Sitara processors - and only on personal projects (non-commercial).

Last Edited: Sat. Jun 3, 2017 - 02:25 PM
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Think that Eagle runs on Linux. There is a Mac version so maybe also Linux. Have not actually checked.

 

Jim

Jim Wagner Oregon Research Electronics, Consulting Div. Tangent, OR, USA http://www.orelectronics.net

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Thanks Jim, I looked into it and you can indeed run Eagle on Linux. Looks like it's free for non-commercial use too, as is KiCad. On that note something I realized since posting my OP - my Proteus license isn't actually mine, it's my previous companies, so I probably shouldn't use it (though it doesn't seem to be flagging anything up on the matter?) so I certainly shouldn't be considering sticking with Win10 for software that is no longer mine ha! So, I guess what I'm asking now - is there any reason I should consider sticking with Windows10 as my primary OS? And between Eagle and KiCad (as well as any others that might be available to use for free on Linux) what would the 'freaks recommend? Anyone have any experience with either of them? Good? Bad? Any particular gotcha's?

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Personally I like a system that has both Windows and Linux (Ubuntu) so then I guess it's a question of which is host and which is guest in the VM. I've done it both ways round and don't really have a preference one way or the other. I suppose I've probably run Linux host with Windows guest more than the other way so perhaps that? The key thing is to share the folders with the majority of your data files into the VM so you can use either OS to work on them. Also consider whether you have anything where USB is not going to work so well routing across into the guest. That may argue for Windows as the host with AS7 and then Linux as the guest in fact.

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KiCad is developed under Linux.  It works best on that platform.

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Thanks Cliff, I think you may be right about having a system with both Linux and Windows, after all I've used Windows all my life so it makes sense, at least for now. But I would like to use Ubuntu as the main system, only firing up the Windows VM as and when needed, so I have to ask...

 

clawson wrote:
Also consider whether you have anything where USB is not going to work so well routing across into the guest. That may argue for Windows as the host with AS7 and then Linux as the guest in fact.
 

 

Is Windows likely to misbehave operating as a guest to Ubuntu? Could you elaborate a little? My work PC uses Win10 as the main OS and Ubuntu on a VM through VM Workstation Pro, and so far everything USB related has been pretty good going, though I think that's mostly down to Linux's ingenious method of handling everything through device files. But as I said, I'd like to have my own personal setup work the other way around, but I don't really want to do that if it's going to be more trouble than it's worth?

 

jporter wrote:

KiCad is developed under Linux.  It works best on that platform.

 

Thanks, I didn't know that! Worth knowing!

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@Howard_Smith said:

Is Windows likely to misbehave operating as a guest to Ubuntu?

I've been running Windows 7 as a guest on Ubuntu 17 for a couple months without problems.   IAVR Dragon, JTAGICE mkII, mEDBG, all work flawlessly.

Greg Muth

Portland, OR, US

Xplained/Pro/Mini Boards mostly

 

Make Xmega Great Again!

 

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I've never had much success with running AS7 in a Windows guest on an Ubuntu host and I'm pretty sure it's down to the USB that's fed to the VM. In fact I bought a Win10 laptop (cheap and cheerful) simply as an AS7 machine. 

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Cliff,

 

When I initially installed VirtualBox I had USB issues.  Some Googling revealed the solution was to get VirtualBox and the Guest Additions CD image directly from Oracle rather than using the stale version available through the Canonical channel.  Since then it's run flawlessly!

Greg Muth

Portland, OR, US

Xplained/Pro/Mini Boards mostly

 

Make Xmega Great Again!

 

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Howard_Smith wrote:
Would you recommend I continue to use Win10 so I can continue to use Proteus?
In general, more likely for ECAD as PCB ECAD and circuit simulators are more numerous on Windows.

Electrical engineers seem to be less keen on Linux apparently because they're less likely to be educated, trained, mentored, and practiced in multi-platform as a software engineer has to be; note, there are savvy electrical engineers smiley

In practice, it's the customer or client who will either command or request the ECAD.

Howard_Smith wrote:
I'd be working with AVRs (which is where Win10 might come in handy again due to AS7 but AFAIK I can use Eclipse with AVR?
Yes ... and Code::Blocks and Visual Studio Community and Visual Studio Code and NetBeans and Atom and ...

Morten's cool way for inter-platform (networked Atmel Studio 7 backend and program) :

https://www.avrfreaks.net/forum/linux-toolchains-debugging-and-ides#comment-2160496

...

Note that it [vscode-atmel-debug] attaches to atbackend, so its limited to that... (I would of course never admit that I ran a demo with this on Linux just the other week...)

...

https://www.avrfreaks.net/forum/linux-toolchains-debugging-and-ides#comment-2160831

The interface to atbackend is surprisingly open. The one used between Atmel Studio, atprogram and atbackend is TCF (from the Eclipse foundation). If you run atbackend /h you'll also see that it does TCF over websocket (which I use in the Code plugin), and GDB RSP (or MI, I tend to mix them up). Note ...

...

P.S.

Howard_Smith wrote:
... and only on personal projects (non-commercial).
Best laid plans.

A part of your calling card is your demonstration and/or proof-of-concept to a potential client or customer who then states "we need you yesterday" surprise

(you hit the ground running to first prototype)

That's one of the advantages of FOSS is the tool sets are zero price and ideally low cost (price plus)

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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I have major usb problems with virtualbox on a Mac. It probably stems from virtualbox only supporting up to full speed usb on the free version. I run Parallels as the hypervisor on my other Mac and i have very few usb issues.

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Howard_Smith wrote:
... is there any reason I should consider sticking with Windows10 as my primary OS?
It's a BYOD world and the customer's standard operating procedure (SOP)

Scenarios :

  1. One purchases an off-the-shelf PC with Windows 10 Pro which the customer upgrades to Windows 10 Enterprise via CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) then provisions Windows 10 Enterprise via PowerShell (reasons : enhanced security, keys (encryption for data-at-rest and sockets), VPN, minimal Windows telemetry, development environment); when the task is completed the Windows reverts from interim to base (Pro)
  2. It's the SOP for the Managed Service Provider (MSP) you've hired for you're fed up with being a systems administrator (WaaS, telemetry, firewall, etc) instead of an embedded systems designer.

Some customers aren't yet keen on Linux though some are leery of Windows 10 (its upgrade cycle is 12 months typical to 18 months maximum with the exception being 10 years for Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB)

 

An alternative way is dual-boot which some Linux VAR do (the PC's BOM lists the Linux distribution and the Windows version); a partition for the day job and a partition for you.

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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clawson wrote:
I suppose I've probably run Linux host with Windows guest more than the other way so perhaps that?
Microsoft provides Windows 10 as a guest on several hosts.

Some have a Windows 10 Enterprise via the trial on either a virtual machine or a removable drive (Windows To Go); would operate as you recommended (data in shares)

clawson wrote:
That may argue for Windows as the host with AS7 and then Linux as the guest in fact.
If the Linux guest can be GUI-less then there's Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL, Bash on Ubuntu on Windows)

Mono apparently runs on WSL so that's one way to get a GUI; .NET Core has a minimal GUI (points, rectangles, no text rendering)

 


Microsoft

Microsoft

Windows Dev Center

Downloads

Virtual Machines

https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/downloads/virtual-machines

Get a Windows 10 development environment

...

Microsoft

Microsoft

TechNet Evaluation Center

Windows 10 Enterprise

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/evaluate-windows-10-enterprise

https://github.com/ethanhs/WSL-Programs

A community powered list of programs that work (and those that don't) on the Windows subsystem for Linux

via https://github.com/mono/website/issues/199

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Greg_Muth wrote:
Since then it's run flawlessly!
Since you have success with mEDBG then the following EDBG issue may have a solution :

Firmware upgrade of Xplained Pro EDBG done on a Virtual machine fails and EDBG is stuck in bootloader mode (idle).

https://microchip.secure.force.com/microchipknowledge/articles/en_US/FAQ/Firmware-upgrade-of-Xplained-Pro-EDBG-done-on-a-Virtual-machine-fails-and-EDBG-is-stuck-in-bootloader-mode-idle/

Information

 
Question

Why does upgrade of Xplained Pro EDBG done on a virtual machine fails?

Answer

This is a limitation while upgrading EDBG on Virtual Machines. If VirtualBox takes more than 5 seconds to enumerate, the upgrade will fail. 
Currently there is no fix for this limitation and the only work around is to perform the upgrade on a native Windows platform.

 

"Dare to be naïve." - Buckminster Fuller

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Greg I always run with guest additions and thd additional pack for USB 2.0 support but still have had issues. 

 

As our company has made a corporate decision to switch back from VirtualBox to VMWare I've tried both. 

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@gchapman said:

Since you have success with mEDBG then the following EDBG issue may have a solution :

I guess I haven't tried a board with the EDBG since switching over to Linux, as I just tried the two Xplained Pro and the one Xplained Ultra boards I have and none of them worked.  Dragon, JTAGICE mkII,  and mEDBG all work great.

Greg Muth

Portland, OR, US

Xplained/Pro/Mini Boards mostly

 

Make Xmega Great Again!