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Getting started with CAELinux 2018

J. Cugnoni, www.caelinux.com, 12.2018


  1. Welcome & License terms

  2. Introduction tutorial

  3. Softwares included in CAELinux 2018

  4. Installing & upgrading CAELinux

1. Welcome & License terms:

First of all, we would like to thank you for your interest in CAELinux which we hope will fulfill your needs in Computer Aided Engineering. This Linux distribution is based on Ubuntu 16.04 64bit OS and includes an always increasing number of open source modeling, simulation & design software. Most of the content (~95%) of CAELinux is provided under the well known “free” / open-source licenses GPL  or  LGPL  (Gnu Public Licenses) which allows you to freely use (private & commercial applications) and redistribute these software packages. But as it is nearly impossible to check the licenses of all included packages and libraries, it is left to your responsibility to verify the licensing terms of the software that you are using. The authors of the distribution are not responsible for these licensing aspects and this distribution and all the included softwares are provided without any warranty. CAELinux is developed by passionate open-source loving engineers and scientists with the goal of popularizing the use of free / open-source codes in basic and applied research.

2. Introduction and tutorials

The predefined login and passwords in CAELinux are:

Normal user account:

user: caelinux       password: caelinux     

Admin / Root user account : 

in Ubuntu, there is no 'root' account, to run administrative tasks, just use the "sudo" command and enter your own user password to validate

For a very quick introduction to CAELinux capabilities, you should follow the Installation instructions and the first Videos Tutorials. Ubuntu Installation instructions :

As CAELinux is a customized Xubuntu 16.04 distribution, the installation instructions (and then administration) for Xubuntu/Ubuntu  all apply to CAELinux. For more instructions on how to install CAELinux on hard drive, please follow the Ubuntu instructions here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/GraphicalInstall Important Notes & recommendations:

  • Although all installation methods should work fine, if you master it, manual partitioning is usually recommended.

  • You will need at least 25Gb for root '/' partition but 40-70Gb is recommended.

  • A Swap partition of at least 2 to 8Gb is recommended

Video Tutorials Linear static stress analysis of a piston (Salome_Meca / Code-Aster)

PDF tutorial (recommended): /opt/caelinux/docs/tutorials/piston/Piston_tutorial.pdf   Online video tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQBHNKnSzIQ (recent version of Salome)

Simple 3D fluid dynamics analysis of a Y-shaped pipe (Salome & OpenFOAM)

Files: /opt/caelinux/docs/tutorials/pipe/ Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElOt9qzXQ7k

Simple 3D fluid dynamics analysis of a Y-shaped pipe (Salome & Code-Saturne)

Files: /opt/caelinux/docs/tutorials/pipe/ Video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2caHYngtTmM

Online tutorials and wiki

CAELinux.org wiki contains a large number of additionnal tutorials and documents to help you master all these simulation codes. Check out the following pages for more information:





3. Software included in CAELinux 2018

Here is a non exhaustive list of CAE software packages included in CAELinux as well as some key informations to get started. Some of the software can be started from Desktop shortcuts or from the CAE start menu, but most of the console based tools will require that you use our special shell called 'Command line tools' (in CAE start menu).



How to start

Installation directory


Salome-Meca 2018.1

3D CAD,Meshing Post Processing, Multiphysics FE analysis

SalomeMeca in Education menu


- HTML doc accessible inside the application - Tutorials in /opt/caelinux/docs - many video tutorials on Youtube

Code Aster v13.4

multiphysics FE analysis

Can be used from within Salome_Meca (OpenMP/Intel compiler version)  


with the Code-Aster wizard  &  the ASTK  interface (MPI version)

OpenMP version:


MPI version :


- documentation available from within AsterStudy. - English doc (automatic translations) are available online at http://www.code-aster.org/ - Tutorials in /opt/caelinux/docs and on the wikis at caelinux.org - Many video tutorials on Youtube


explicit FE dynamics

use shortcut in CAELinux start menu


- Documentation available from the interface - Examples in installation directory

OpenFOAM v4.1.2

Helyx OS GUI

multipurpose CFD oriented solvers

use 'CAE terminal' from the Education start menu or use OpenFOAM  Wizard  or HelyxOs GUI to setup your simulation


- Examples & tutorials in /opt/openfoam4 - Many tutorials on Youtube - Please note that other versions are also available but this version was selected for its compatibility with Helyx OS GUI

Elmer FEM solver &  ElmerGUI

multiphysics FE package

use the shortcut ElmerGUI from Education menu or start  'ElmerGUI' from CAE terminal


- Documentation and Examples at http://www.csc.fi/english/pages/elmer

- CAELinux Wiki Tutorials :   http://caelinux.org/wiki/index.php/Doc:CAETutorials

CalculiX 2.13 & CalculiX Launcher 0.32

pre-post & multiphysic FE solver, Abaqus-like syntax, standalone or used through CLCX Launcher GUI

from CAE Terminal : start 'ccx2.13' for Calculix solver & 'cgx2.13' for pre-post GUI


Use CalculixLauncher from Education menu Note: set variable OMP_NUM_THREADS to your number of CPU cores to use multithreading, i.e export OMP_NUM_THREADS=4 for 4 CPUs


- Examples & misc tools and Documentation in CalculixLauncher GUI - mesh converter from within Calculix Launcher or using /opt/caelinux/unv2abaqus.py (from UNV to INP)

Code-Saturne 5.0.4

 3D CFD solver

from CAETerminal in Education menu use the command line utility 'code_saturne' from the Education menu: use Code-Saturne wizard to setup a study and run SaturneGUI


- Documentation in installation directory, use 'code_saturne info --help' command to display help - tutorial in /opt/caelinux/docs -Online tutorial : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2caHYngtTmM

GMSH 3.0.6

Scriptable & general purpose geometry modelling, meshing and post processing

use shortcut in Education menu  or type 'gmsh' from CAE terminal


- tutorials & demos on http://geuz.org/gmsh/

Gerris flow solver

2D / 3D  CFD solvers based on automatic octree mesh refinement

use from  any terminal : gerris2D, gerris3D

Package from Gerris repository

- examples & tests at http://gfs.sourceforge.net

MBDyn 1.7.3

- multibody dynamics - comes with a Blender interface - animation of results with easyanim

use from 'MBDyn Terminal' : start 'mbdyn' 


- Documentation & examples in installation directory - use 'mbdyn2easyanim.sh' & 'EasyAnimm' for visualization

Octave GUI

MATLAB compatible mathematical programming

from application menu, or type 'octave' in any console

System package

- Help available from within the octave shell, with the 'help' command


Matlab/Simulink-like mathematical programming environment

from  application menu, or type 'scilab' in any console

System package

- Help, examples, demos available from within the Scilab GUI


Maple like symbolic computing environment

from shortcuts on in application menu, or type 'wxmaxima' in any console

System package

- Help, examples, demos available from within the wxMaxima GUI

R and RKWard

Mathematical modelling & statistics (similar to S-Plus)

from CAE softwares/Math start menu or from a console with 'rkward'

System package

 - Help available from within the RKWard interface

Paraview 3.10.2

general purpose 3D visualization software

from CAELinux menu or

from 'OpenFOAM terminal': start 'paraview.sh' or 'paraFoam' 


- Basic help in OpenFOAM documentation

CAD Applications:

LibreCAD, FreeCAD, SagCad

2D CAD programs:

SagCad & LibreCAD

3D parametric CAD:

Freecad (+embedded Openscad)

from Application menu : in graphics / education category.

System packages

Documentation available on the web

CAM Applications:

PyCam , Camotics, Dxf2Gcode, Inkscape Gcodetools plugin, GCAM, cadpy, FlatCAM, F-engrave

Pycam is a 2D/3D CNC gcode generator from DXF/SVG/STL files

Camotics is a CNC milling simulator for verification of the generated Gcode

GCAM is a 2.5D milling Gcode generator

Dxf2code, Gcodetools, cadpy are 2D milling / routing gcode generators , also suitable for PCD isolation milling.

From Application / Education or Graphics menu

or from CAE terminal




Documention on respective websites

3D printing:


Slic3r is a powerfull, open source 3D printer slicer

From Education menu


Documentation on the web

Tetgen 1.5

3D mesh generator

from CAE terminal: run 'tetgen'


 - on the web http://tetgen.berlios.de/ - free for non commercial use, else request permission to the authors

ITK-Snap 1.6 custom JC version

3D biomedical image processing and segmentation

From Education menu


- on the web http://www.itksnap.org


Scientific image processing & analysis

From Education menu

System package

- on the web http://rsbweb.nih.gov/ij/

Aero foil simulation: javaprop , javafoil, XFLR5

Airfoil & Propeler & Airplane simulation / optimization tools

From terminal or Education menu


system package for XFLR5

- in installation directories

other useful tools

Several usefull tools, documents and examples are provided in /opt/caelinux directory: - AsterStudy.py : GUI to create a Code-Aster FE analysis from template & Salome MED mesh

- SaturneStudy.py: GUI to create a Code-Saturne CFD analysis from a Salome MED mesh - Unv2X, unv2abaqus, unv2gmsh...: a set of python scripts to facilitate mesh conversion from UNV (Salome for example) to other solvers like Calculix, Elmer or OpenFOAM. - GenEnsightCase.py: a python script to generate an Ensight .case file from an Ensight ouput directory generated by Code-Aster. - /opt/caelinux/docs/tutorials contains some old tutorials on Salome & other tools

Other recommended software that could not be included on the DVD

Due to space limitations, many interesting software could not be included. Here is a short list of suggested packages that you can add after installation of CAELinux to hard disk:

Mathematical modeling: Sage (get DEB from http://www.sagemath.org/), OpenModelica (install from Synaptics)

CAD: Dassault DraftSight (free, closed source 2D drafting, see http://www.3ds.com/products/draftsight/download-draftsight/)

Acoustics: Agros2D (from Synaptics, but need to force install manually), Acousto (see http://acousto.sourceforge.net/)

Lattice-Botlzman: Palabos (www.palabos.org) or OpenLB (http://optilb.org/)

Molecular dynamics/Ab-initio: Gromacs (from Synaptics), LAMMPS (http://lammps.sandia.gov/), Amber (http://ambermd.org/), NAMD (www.ks.uiuc.edu/Research/namd/) , Quantum Espresso (http://www.quantum-espresso.org), Plumed (https://sites.google.com/site/plumedweb/)

Phase field simulation & CALPHAD : OpenPhase (http://www.openphase.de/) & OpenCALPHAD (http://www.opencalphad.com)

And many other FEM, CFD and experimental data & image processing tools ...

Installing & upgrading CAELinux

Thanks to the Ubuntu LiveCD installer, you can very quickly turn your Live CAELinux environment to a full featured hard disk install which will let you customize and update your system as you may want.

We will not detail the installation steps here, but we highly recommend that you read the documentation on Ubuntu website (https://help.ubuntu.com/community/GraphicalInstall) . To install CAELinux 2018 on hard disk, you will need at least 25Gb of free space on an ext4 (or other) partition and preferably 4Gb on a Linux Swap partition (use Ubuntu disk partitioning tool to resize or create your partitions & don't forget to BACKUP your important data FIRST). After installation, you will be able to customize your OS, install new packages & update your system (kernel, 3D drivers etc...) with the very efficient Ubuntu administrative tools (in Settings Menu). From there, you will be able to configure all the aspects of the system and directly install & update softwares from Internet with the Software program or Synaptics package manager.

In any case, you can safely update the system packages but do not attempt to upgrade to Ubuntu 18.04 as it will probably break several custom compiled software. If you need more recent kernel or drivers, try installing ‘backported’ packages for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Hardware support: 3D Drivers Ubuntu includes open source 3D drivers for most of the recent graphic cards and thus should give you a decent 3D acceleration “out of the box”. However, for a better hardware support / performance, you may need to install specific "proprietary" drivers (hardware 3D acceleration, Wifi). Specific proprietary drivers are not preinstalled but may be proposed by Ubuntu after installation: go to Settings->Additionnal Drivers to activate proprietary drivers for your card. If Ubuntu does not offer you specific drivers, you may find a solution on Ubuntu.com forums and wiki. Troubleshooting If you encounter problems with the liveDVD, you can try the following:

  • Boot in an alternate mode: in  the  boot menu of the liveDVD, choose one of the alternate mode like ForceVesa graphic mode for example. If you don’t seem to get a display during boot, try to add the option ‘nomodeset’ at the end of the boot options (press E to edit the boot options)

  • If the system hangs during installation or during a normal use in LiveDVD mode, try to check your DVD on another computer, DVD media are very sensitive and have a lot of incompatibility problems

  • If you experience any OS related problem, you will certainly find a solution on Ubuntu.com forums or wiki; remember that there are millions of Ubuntu users over the world, and that the community is very active and responsive !!

  • If after installation, the system does not boot to CAElinux or you don’t see the Grub boot menu, try to switch to / from UEFI boot in your bios options. It happens that some PC boot from DVD or USB without UEFI enabled but then use UEFI for normal boot. Such condition tend to confuse the boot loader installation.

For any other question regarding CAELinux or one of the included software, you can visit our forums at http://www.caelinux.comSupporting the development of CAELinux

CAELinux is a collection of a large number of Open Source programs, so first of all, we should all be very grateful to the many developers that have spent a lot of their  time in the development of these great software packages. CAELinux is developed by passionate developers without any external financial support. If you like CAELinux, we really encourage you to support the development of both CAELinux and Ubuntu / Debian packages with a donation  (even small). For more information about donation to the CAELinux developers, just visit our website:  http://www.caelinux.com   Additionally, the documentation / translation / tutorials are essential to help beginners in their learning process. If you feel like contributing to CAELinux Documentation or if you are developing a small utility that would be useful to all of us, you should participate and share your experience in the CAELinux Wiki at : http://www.caelinux.org And remember, making Open Source software grow and improve is a dynamic process, where the most critical point is probably to create an active community of users and developers: in this sense any question / interaction is vital to the development of open source codes!! 

The CAELinux websites are here to create this common "share point" where developers & users can interact. So if you like CAELinux, the most important contribution that you could bring is probably to keep its community alive by posting/answering questions on the forums or the wiki, and by spreading the distribution among your friends and colleagues.