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The Software Portal
Software is the collection of programs and related data that instruct a computer. Generally, the software used in fab labs are design software - drawing or computation programs - and differ by lab. While professional or commercial software can be used with the machines, open source software and cross platform is the most shareable resource.


If you're just starting out or outfitting a new computer, the preferred minimum setup is based on all freely available cross-platform software.  This means the greatest likelihood of direct design sharing and the largest population of people able to help out where there's a problem.

  • The open source operating system Ubuntu is preferred, though all software listed in this section are cross-platform.
  • Python - a programming language on which many of these programs are based. Is usually bundled with Ubuntu and MacOS
  • Fab Modules - an important piece of software that allows nearly any digital file to be sent to nearly any machine
  • Open Office or Libre Office - writer, calc (spreadsheets), impress (presentations), draw, math and base


  • Blender - 3D design
  • Gimp - image drawing and manipulation
  • Inkscape - vector drawing and manipulation


  • Eagle - electronics circuits design and layout
  • Avrdude - software programming for Atmel processors


  • Scratch - a graphical a programming language

Fab Labs Collaboration 


Software is continually updated.  Ubuntu's package manager will (usually) help you keep the operating system and installed programs up to date. You will also want to keep the operating system upgraded. A good lab-wide maintenance schedule is,  

  • every 3 months
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get clean
  • every 6 months
 sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get upgrade
 sudo apt-get update
  • every 12 months

vacuum the fan / cooling vents of all computers and monitors


  • Arduino - an open-source electronics prototyping platform
  • OpenSCAD -Solid 3D CAD Modeller

In addition to the programs above, many labs use commercial or manufacturer proprietary programs for design or manufacturing. You might find collaborators who are using these programs.