...advanced dreams

25 January 2007

Success story

For those that don't know; I'm a student at Faculty of Civil Engineering at Zagreb University (in Zagreb, Croatia). I'm also an Ubuntu user and earning for living with Linux/Ubuntu.

For those that don't know, civil engineering is very specific when it comes to software. Whether you like it or not, there are some 'standards' like AutoCAD, MS Office, Microsoft Project/Primawera, etc... It's very hard to find more hostile place for Linux desktop.

This is a a success story. This is how I did it with Ubuntu.

During last 4 months I had lots of projects; road construction, railroad reconstruction, building site management, crossroad reconstruction, bridge construction and roof construction. As you can see, this is a lot for 4 months. If you can't see it, believe me - A LOT :)

To make things even harder, I had to work, participate in ubuntu croatian community, organize ubuntu conference in Zagreb and do what I can in ubuntu community. So, you can understand that software for completing my projects was something that had to work, shouldn't ask any questions and just do what I want it to do. Everything I did, I did on Ubuntu (except road construction; explained later).

Most of the time I worked with OpenOffice. This included lots of forwarding documents among other students and teachers, tables, formulas, spreadsheets, etc. I didn't find one single document that I couldn't read. I didn't even have any serious formating issues. Most of the issues were caused by students that don't know how to format office document (I know, "LaTeX, LaTeX!" and I agree!). This is an example of spreadsheet that was initially created in Excel. It contains formulas, tables and cross-sheet references. I just edited it and saved it as .ods:

Biggest problem was AutoCAD. AutoCAD isn't state of the art software, but it is something that everyone around me is using and I just can't cooperate with them using some other tools. This is where BricsCAD steps in. It is a great tool! Looks like AutoCAD, works (mostly) like AutoCAD and can save/read AutoCAD's format. And, guess what!? It costs less than 100 euros. By the way, this was only software that isn't free and I had to buy to get things done:

I used BricsCAD and OpenOffice for crossroad reconstruction, bridge construction and roof construction. I used them for other projects as well.

For project management I used Gnome's Planner and OpenOffice. This project took most of my time in last 4 months (while I wasn't working), but everything worked out well. This is (very bad :) building plan for water pipe:

Only one project was done without Linux - road construction. This is cause we used specialized software for construction. During this project everything was done inside of it, except one small portion which was done in Notepad (I missed vim very much :/). I'm talking about Cadics. It's written in Motif, so I'm sure there is UNIX version of it. But we had couple of academic licenses for Windows and I used it there. It's very expensive, so I rather used Windows (and Notepad :/).

All documents were printed using CUPS on Ubuntu - printer server at faculty, that I was using, is CUPS@Ubuntu :)

So, that's it. I managed to finish all my projects using only (ok, mostly) Ubuntu. I spent less than 100euros for BricsCAD. How much do you think Windows+Office+AutoCAD+Project/Primawera+etc would cost? Semester is over and it just started snowing! I think I'll grab my snowboard and rush to Austria and leave some trails on Alps (good thing I didn't spend all that money on software, right?:)