Updated: July 8, 2016
As you know, (Google) SketchUp is my 3D design tool of choice. I haven't published any new recent art galleries, all planned, worry not, but the claim stands. Whenever I am in the mood to draw some new models and then render them into beautiful creation using a dope program called Kerkythea, SketchUp is there at the beginning of the journey.
But so is Windows. Because ultimately, this program is not meant for Linux. And yet, I tried. Back in 2010, I showed you how to get SketchUp running using WINE. It worked fairly well, but then, things have changed, and it's been a rough journey since. Now, I will show you again how to get SketchUp working in the latest Ubuntu release, and we will call on the power of PlayOnLinux to help us. Follow me.
PlayOnLinux is a framework designed to help you run Windows software, mostly games, on Linux. It's not WINE, but it does use WINE heavily, and it helps by hiding all the necessary steps and prerequisites behind the scenes. It's not perfect, as we've seen in my first review on this matter, and there shall be a sequel to that, but it does work. With SketchUp, it works splendidly.
Get PlayOnLinux installed. A simple apt-get thingie wossname. After that, launch the program and search for SketchUp using Actions > Install a program. The software is listed under Accessories, if you are wondering. After that, the program will install and configure a few dependencies, and then configure SketchUp. You can use the wizard to download the setup file, if you don't fancy doing a manual download yourself.
Now, the interesting part. SketchUp launched fine, without any errors or bugs. That's an optimistic start. You need to choose a template for your modeling, and after that, you will reach the main interface. There were two tiny small issues at this point. One, the template page got all slurred when I scrolled up and down, but then it sorted itself nicely. Two, the program complained about OpenGL settings being changed, but then, I could not think of any adverse effects to this warning. It only came up once.
To see how well the program works, I grabbed some of my 3D models. You have seen them before, and hopefully liked them - my urban warfare setup and the steampunk crossbow. Both loaded just fine. We're talking SketchUp on top of Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus, installed on a Lenovo G50 laptop with Intel HD graphics. Yes, OpenGL was working.
The performance was pretty good, and in about one hour of testing, it crashed only once. Like Michelle from the lovely 80s comedy series 'Allo 'Allo would say: Listen very carefully, I shall crash this only once. Anyhow, this ain't perfect, but it's a pretty good result overall, given the unorthodox level of complexity of the task we're doing. After all, this is Windows software in Ubuntu, and WINE has never been the mother of all solutions for people who want to use Microsoft software on top of Linux.
Overall, I am pleased with this effort. PlayOnLinux has never really captivated my imagination and sympathy, but it does have its merits, and one of them is that it allows you, with a fairly okay level of certainty and stability, to run SketchUp in Linux. For those who seek this path to enlightenment, it's quite good.
There are some small problems, and a random crash or two will always be your nemesis in a situation like this. All in all, you do have hardware acceleration, the functionality is just like in Windows, the performance is pretty good, and the program works fairly well. The setup is seamless, thanks to PlayOnLinux, and as a result of this guide, it has earned itself a second chance in the Dedoimedo testing furnace. I hope you find this little tutorial useful to your artistic needs. See you around, and do let me know if you have any other requests on testing Windows stuff on Linux, and similar tools and programs that can help us achieve this. Successfully, of course.