OpenSCAD is a software for creating solid 3D CAD models. Unlike most free software for creating 3D models (such as Blender) it does not focus on the artistic aspects of 3D modelling but instead on the CAD aspects. Thus it might be the application you are looking for when you are planning to create 3D models of machine parts but pretty sure is not what you are looking for when you are more interested in creating computer-animated movies.
OpenSCAD is not an interactive modeller. Instead it is something like a 3D-compiler that reads in a script file that describes the object and renders the 3D model from this script file. This gives you (the designer) full control over the modelling process and enables you to easily change any step in the modelling process or make designs that are defined by configurable parameters.
OpenSCAD provides two main modelling techniques: First there is constructive solid geometry (aka CSG) and second there is extrusion of 2D outlines. As data exchange format for this 2D outlines Autocad DXF files are used. In addition to 2D paths for extrusion it is also possible to read design parameters from DXF files. Besides DXF files OpenSCAD can read and create 3D models in the STL and OFF file formats.
OpenSCAD is available as an AppImage which means "one app = one file", which you can download and run on your Linux system while you don't need a package manager and nothing gets changed in your system. Awesome!
AppImages are single-file applications that run on most Linux distributions. Download an application, make it executable, and run! No need to install. No system libraries or system preferences are altered. Most AppImages run on recent versions of Arch Linux, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, openSUSE, Red Hat, Ubuntu, and other common desktop distributions.
Running OpenSCAD on Linux without installationUnlike other applications, AppImages do not need to be installed before they can be used. However, they need to be marked as executable before they can be run. This is a Linux security feature.
Behold! AppImages are usually not verified by others. Follow these instructions only if you trust the developer of the software. Use at your own risk!
Download the OpenSCAD AppImage and make it executable using your file manager or by entering the following commands in a terminal:
chmod +x ./*.AppImage
Then double-click the AppImage in the file manager to open it.
If you want to restrict what OpenSCAD can do on your system, you can run the AppImage in a sandbox like Firejail. This is entirely optional and currently needs to be configured by the user.
If you would like to update to a new version, simply download the new OpenSCAD AppImage.
The OpenSCAD AppImage also can be updated using AppImageUpdate. Using this tool, OpenSCAD can be updated by downloading only the portions of the AppImage that have actually changed since the last version.
Integrating AppImages into the system
If you would like to have the executable bit set automatically, and would like to see OpenSCAD and other AppImages integrated into the system (menus, icons, file type associations, etc.), then you may want to check the optional appimaged daemon.
Note for application authors
Thanks for distributing OpenSCAD in the AppImage format for all common Linux distributions. Great! Here are some ideas how to make it even better.
Pro Tips for further enhancing the OpenSCAD AppImage
Thanks for shipping AppStream metainfo inside your AppImage. Please open a pull request on https://github.com/AppImage/appimage.github.io/blob/master/data/OpenSCAD if you have changed it and would like to see this page updated accordingly.