KiCad on Windows XP

Watch out for 2-bit crooks! :slight_smile: I can think of some in Washington DC…

My question is…my desktop computer is 64 bit Windows 10, but my lab computer is old…XP 32 bit. And I thought I was unable to run KiCad on XP? I think I tried it. But XP is newer than Win2K. That computer does what it can do surprisingly well, perhaps because it no longer gets updates. Can I run KiCad 5.99 on the XP machine somehow? My files are all in 5.99 format now, and I do not want to change OS on that old computer.

From my knowledge, building KiCad for XP is no longer possible due to some issues with the build system.

In fact, I would not recommend to use XP anyways. Support ended in 2014. For Windows 7, support ended this year as well. Any out-of-date computer system with network connection is highly at risk to be infected by malware. Nowadays, it is fairly easy to hack your XP system when you simply visit some website. I could setup such a site in perhaps 10 minutes.

Thank you but :frowning: … I do not browse the internet with this computer. But I like to view my schematics and locate components on pcbs as I work on them. I can view and edit Excel BOM in E as I work. Up until recently I could stream music from computer speakers using Windows Media Player (Seems like compatibility of such sources with WMP has mostly gone away.) Without KiCad on the machine, I am using .pdf schematics and Viewmate gerber viewer. Viewing gerbers in this way offers no intelligence in locating reference designations.

Might be time to give that poor PC the linux treadment. Excel would be replaced by libre office (most likely more similar to the office version you are running than the current MS version). Kicad will still run and there is surely a media player that can play your music.
The bonus is you can then connect it to the internet again meaning no more running around with a USB stick just to get the damn KiCad project over to it (and no more forgetting the stick and needing to go back to your office).

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Thanks, Rene. I fear that if I got into Linux I would not be able to go back to XP and the software I run with it. I use that same XP laptop to run my old scanner using HP “Director” (or something like that) software which does not play on Windows 10. While KiCad has been a pleasant and interesting experience (imagine that!) I tried using Inkscape (open source replacement for Visio) for example. As stupid as Visio seems in many ways, Inkscape was much less intuitive than even Visio. So even though Kicad has been good, other open source software is not a “slam dunk” for me.

Maybe I should try Libre Office on my desk Win10 laptop and see if I can swallow it.

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in my experience, older scanners work fine in Linux. Maybe you can test that by booting a Knoppix or Ubuntu live system?

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I tried using Inkscape (open source replacement for Visio) for example.

Inkscape is equivalent to Adobe Illustrator. So the feeling that it’s dumb compared to Visio makes sense. It wasn’t designed to be a diagramming tool but a vector drawing tool.

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Try https://www.diagrams.net/ – excellent tool.

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Inkscape does not try to be a replacement for vision :wink: It is a vector graphics program similar to Adobe Illustrator (but of course smaller feature set). Edit2: well @karrots was clearly faster here.

Visio is kind of in its own category. It is a bit of a mix between a schematic program and a vector program. The closest open source tool i know about is DIA but i kind of dislike its interface (and it is truly far behind visio). Edit: the tool linked by @Cliff_Brake looks interesting i might need to give it a try myself.

Inkscape is by accident of course able to do part of what visio can do. But the feature set does not really fit as it is not its core usecase. (Similar to how one can make system schematics with kicad but needs to jump through hoops not acceptable for someone coming from tools like eplan)


This is a good idea for @BobZ. To add a bit of information: A live system is typically created by “installing” a bootable linux onto a USB stick (or other removable medium). This allows testing linux without any chance of damging the host system (in this case the laptop).

Thank you. I have heard of Ubuntu but this otherwise went over my head. I am looking into this and am thinking about burning a Knoppix disk to boot from.

Thanks for the info, Rene. Yes this seems intriguing.

I understand the difference between bmp versus vector graphics, but as to the difference between diagramming versus vector drawing I draw a blank. I suppose it might be necessary to learn both to appreciate the difference.

Hi, Cliff

Thanks for this also. This post got me a lot to think about.

The difference is mostly in feature set not in the resulting drawing file format. Or in other words the user interface.

However, this line is blurred as inkscape has some of the features required for drawing diagrams. But they are compromise solutions as they are not the main focus of the program.

Do you know Qu1ck’s Plugin the “Interactive Html Bom Plugin for KiCad”, to help you see your board and where the components are it is a great tool and it should run on XP easily (not with Internet Explorer, mind you, but Firefox or another lightweight browser should be ok).

Direct link to the demos.

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That may be clear to you if you have enough computer skill to see it… But to me, “32 bit” sounds like it refers typically to XP OS and how to work with KiCad (or work around it) with something such as an XP system.

I do not know so much about Firefox but that sounds like another idea but I just checked and Firefox seems to list Win7 as the oldest Windows OS with which it is compatible.

I had a look at Knoppix. Their web page about how to create the bootable disk was out of my depth so to speak.

https://www.linuxliveusb.com/ (Process description https://www.linuxliveusb.com/en/help/guide/preparation)
With iso they mean just the live image you get on the download page of whatever distro you choose.

And fedora for example makes it even easier as they have a all in one tool that also handles downloading the iso https://www.lifewire.com/create-bootable-fedora-usb-drive-2202081
More docu regarding fedora process https://docs.fedoraproject.org/en-US/quick-docs/creating-and-using-a-live-installation-image/


The above of course assumes you have a USB port that you can setup as the boot source (most likely via the bios settings – something about bootorder).
If not then you can use a live CD or DVD (requires a drive that can write to these mediums). If i remember correctly then you can just burn the iso you download from the distro download page directly to the CD (but it has been at least a decade since i had a system with a working optical drive so my memory is a bit hazy)

True, probably “modern” Firefox won’t run nicely on your old PC but you can use the latest version that supported XP: Firefox 52.9.0 ESR from 25.06.2018

I’m running linux happily on an i7 860 which is a 10 year old pc I got for free, and it has plenty of power to run any application I have.

These days you can get a much more modern second hand PC for less then EUR200 or even a complete laptop including a windoze license if you want it.
A quick check like:
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=refurbished%20laptop%20i5
gives plenty of results.

My previous PC was a DualCore E6600 which was 12 year old when the power supply died. It was also adequate for KiCad (Olinuxino A64 was getting a bit slow, but I do not make PCB’s of that complexity) and I was looking into buying more modern hardware when someone gave the i7 to me. The speed difference does make it more comfortable to work with the i7 and it made me realize I kept hanging on to the old DualCore far too long. I just kept using it out of habit, and had no good reason to spend money on an upgrade. Maybe even the i7 should be recycled as it’s to old and more modern hardware would pay for itself through a lower electricity bill.

I have some difficulty in imagining that EUR200 would be big obstacle to prevent an upgrade and keep hanging on to obsolete hardware. The market with 5year old PC hardware is full of cheap options and such second hand hardware still has plenty of life left.

So my opinion stays the same. I have no objection against keeping support for 32 bit KiCad as long as it’s simple to do, but when it starts needing a “significant” amount of effort to keep it supported, or when progress of KiCad gets hindered by 32 bit limit it’s time to let it go.

From what I know of KiCad’s direction it’s goal is to be a professional EDA suite and to be on par with “professional” commercial programs. 32-bit compatibility seems to be a courtesy to … (I do not know how to say it nicely).

Go ahead and slap me in the face…:expressionless:
But as a matter of principle I hate to discard hardware seems to be completely unbroken, or has been “bricked” only because technology has left it in the dust.

My e-mail notifications linked me to the “32 bit” discussion thread but this discussion was no longer there…I have installed Firefox in the old machine and it seems to work but with one problem: Everything is in German. Any instructions I can find explain IN ENGLISH how to change the language FROM ENGLISH but I have not found anything to explain to me IN ENGLISH how to change it FROM GERMAN. Something of a conundrum. I know a tiny bit of Spanish and can understand a few words of spoken Mandarin, but pretty much 0 in German. I suppose that with enough patience and trial and error I might be able to get there…

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https://archive.mozilla.org/pub/firefox/releases/52.9.0esr/win32/en-US/Firefox%20Setup%2052.9.0esr.exe

Try that one. de in URL replaced with en-US.