Software top reviews goes engineering with the distro dedicated to the profession.
C AELinux 2013 is the brand new, stable release of the popular Computer Aided Engineering (or CAE) specific operating system.
Although the 2013 stamp is a little confusing this is the significantly delayed, but most recent version.
CAELinux is built on the 64-bit edition of Xubuntu 12.04 LTS (that’s the Ubuntu derivative that uses Xfce) and the engineering features it’s included are CAD geometry tools, 3D fluid dynamics analysis tools, 3D post processing tools, modelling, meshing, animation, MATLAB functionality, mathematical modelling and a whole host of other features for clever engineers to sink their teeth into.


 Beyond the niche engineering tools, there’s the likes of Blender , Gimp , FileZilla , Firefox , VLC and LibreOffice – the usual suspects you’d find in any decent Ubuntu-based distro.
However, for those without a hardcore science and engineering bent there are a number of titles that stand out and can offer a more amateur enthusiast plenty to enjoy.
In the electronic section, for instance, there are tools to communicate with the popular Arduino board, and enhanced versions of utilities used for 3D printing industry, such as PyCAM, Dxf2Gcode and GcodeTools, LibreCAD, SagCAD, FreeCAD and OpenSCAD spreading the CAD/CAM load accordingly. With the aid of the other packages available, such as Meshlab, GCAM, Inkscape and Cura , there’s also enough diversity for the science or engineering student to get to grips with here.
The customised Xfce desktop environment offers a stable, and reasonably quick interface to the large array of tools and programs, and is a pleasant upgrade from the previous 2011 Gnome edition. It feels sprightly and although packed to the gunwales with packages, CAELinux performs very well indeed, even if you decide to run it in a virtual machine environment.
The development team also offer a virtual machine image for running CAELinux on the Amazon Cloud Computing EC2 platform.
We fear change You’ll need at least 25GB to install it, if you pick that option when it boots up into the live desktop but the process is the same as that for Ubuntu, which means it’s very simple. Downloading the ISO alone is 3.8GB, which is hardly surprising considering the amount of programs that come pre-installed.
Once installed, there ’s a handy Getting Started HTML guide on the desktop, which lists the packages installed, and even goes on to suggest video tutorials involving linear static stress analysis of a piston, simple 3D fluid dynamics of a Y-shaped pipe and other scientific examples.
There’s clearly a lot of thought, design and consideration gone into CAELinux 2013, and we were suitably impressed with it. The level of detail in the intro documentation, the decision to go for a more lightweight desktop environment and up to date packages, and, of course, the phenomenal amount of software included with the OS is simply mind boggling. Yes, the initial download is significant and could be trimmed, but CAELinux is a must for those interested or professionally engaged in science and engineering.

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