Newbie Q:Installing KiCad on Ubuntu via thumb drive

Hi All

I’m hoping to install KiCad on my “main” PC which is currently running Ubuntu 18.04.3 LTS

The machine is dual boot Ubuntu/Win 7 but I try to avoid using MS Windows whenever possible. At the moment, my internet connectivity is limited in speed and is capped to 0.5Gb/day. I would like to take a USB thumb drive to the public library and copy the necessary files using their (free & fast) internet connection.

I can see that the Windows install is just one big exe file, but the instructions for installing KiCad on Ubuntu suggest the use of PPA via a terminal session. Doesn’t that imply a requirement for a live (and suitably robust and fast) internet connection at the time of install? How do I work around this? I don’t feel sufficiently confident of my linux knowledge to compile from source, unless I have an idiot guide cheat sheet to work from.

This is more of a linux question than a KiCad question, I know. However, the instructions for the installation of KiCad on Ubuntu appear to assume a degree of expertise that I simply don’t possess.

Can anyone here help me out with some easy to follow instructions, or point me in the right direction? I’d appreciate any assistance!

To be honest, if you want to use a Linux distribution, sooner or later you have to learn the package management system. So it’s better to learn it now. There are ways to copy those files from another machine, but I think it’s even more difficult. Installing stuff from PPAs can be considered a basic task on Ubuntu.

The libraries are the problem for you. Be careful to install only the binaries, not footprints, symbols and especially not the 3D models. The 3D models take almost all of the 1G dowload size, the rest is only ~150MB (unless there are unsatisfied dependencies which are downloaded and installed automatically - they me be large, too).

The package installation system of Ubuntu is pretty fault tolerant, you don’t have to be afraid of partially failed downloads, even if you cancel them abrubtly (with Ctrl+C in command line).

The libraries can be copied from the windows installation or even shared through a common file system partition.

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This stack overflow article may help. It allows you to find all the dependencies recursively using only the package metadata and then you can download those elsewhere.

But in the long term package installation really works best when you are online with the target machine.


Thank you eelik and kenyapcomau for your helpful replies.

I agree that I need to improve my linux skills - however, it must be said that the current installation arrangements for Ubuntu present what appears to be an unnecessary obstacle (compare and contrast with the Windows or MacOS installs).

I initially planned to dismantle my desk and transport the PC to a location where fast unlimited broadband is available to me, but in the end I just took the hit on my data allowance and enjoyed a couple of days doing other things instead :slight_smile:

Now that KiCad is working, it’s time to hit the tutorials!

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Ironically it’s due to Linux distros trying to minimise download volume by sharing libraries and pulling in just the set of packages needed. Unfortunately a large app will require more than most common utilities do. That said a large part of the Kicad volume comes from the 3D data and if you can download that on the side most of the volume is saved.

I guess you haven’t watched how much data Windows consumes in updates. I have a W10 VM I got for free applying a W7 licence from a decommissioned machine. I have no use for W10 so far so I just fire up the VM once a quarter to keep it updated. It typically takes overnight to update, reboots umpteen times, and consumes 6-10 GB data each time. Hard drive and comms equipment manufacturers must thank MS every day. In contrast when Linux updates it’s only a large download when a large subsystem like Java or Rust is involved.


Oh, I know it only too well! I mentioned that my PC is dual boot Ubuntu/Win7 in my opening post. I use Windows less and less often with each passing week - only booting into Win7 when I really need to. Recently I fired up Windows for some fairly trivial task and while my back was turned it gobbled up an entire month’s bandwidth allocation, just in updates! As for Win10, the less said about that the better. Makes me yearn for the simpler times of Win98 or even 3.1 (on a bad day).

My “compare and contrast” comment was intended to highlight the ease with which KiCad can be installed on Win or Mac platforms, rather than a criticism of the technical merits of one OS over another. I’ve worked with technology all my adult life but have to admit to struggling with the finer points of Linux (been dabbling with various flavours for about 25 years so far). A major milestone was observed recently when I finally got my (laser and inkjet) printers working with Linux using CUPS, after years of failed attempts. :slight_smile:

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