Google SketchUp in Linux - A reality!

Updated: July 10, 2010

Google SketchUp is one of my favorite applications. It's a free 3D software that I use to create my fabulous 3D models. It works well and lets my imagination and fingers do their magic. It's an excellent therapy for mind and soul. There's only one problem, so to speak. It has been designed to work on Windows and Mac only, with no Linux version in the offing.

All in all, it's not a tragedy, since I believe in using any software and/or operating system that meets the requirements. If you need to draw a bit, you power Windows and do what needs to be done. But some people may not have the privilege to make the cross-platform choice. For them, Google SketchUp is on the wish-list. Or is it?

Well, it turns out you can have Google SketchUp in Linux. It requires Wine. Overall, the installation is very simple and you'll get a decent experience. It won't be a perfect one, mind, but it's a great beginning. There's hope. Let's see how we can do this.


Install Google SketchUp, two easy steps

I have shown you not long ago how to use winetricks to easily obtain missing programs and libraries required by some of the Windows programs installed using Wine. Winetricks is a very smart wrapper script that will facilitate the installation of extra components, letting you focus on getting your desired application to run.

Step 1: Install a few missing utilities

Now, to get Google SketchUp to run, you will need some fonts and Visual C libraries.

winetricks corefonts vcrun6 vcrun2005

Step 2: Install Google SketchUp

wine <Google SketchUp windows executable>

And just follow the wizard:



Run Google SketchUp - Have fun!

Now, time to power up the program and enjoy! And here we go, a spectacular gallery of Google SketchUp on Linux, with a handful of my breathtaking models posing for you, including some that have yet to be unveiled sometime in the future. You're having an exclusive preview of an artist's work even before it's finished, a sin in some places. Some of the models were designed in the older version of the program (v5 beta), but there were no problems opening and playing with them.




Another model


Shadows also worked well:



Hardware acceleration is enabled and works great.


A few desktop screenshots:


Desktop more

Another desktop screenshot

The program worked well. There were a few small glitches, but it was a 80-90% experience. Most importantly, the program did not crash. And the performance was similar to Windows.


I've read at least a dozen guides for how this ought to be done. Most mention using the latest version of Wine currently available, that being 1.1.x at the time this article was written. Another is having a Nvidia card, with the closed-source drivers installed.

I can't say if Nvidia card is a necessity, since it's always my default choice, but you can also use a lower version of Wine. In my case, I did the testing on Jaunty on my fancy new laptop powered by Nvidia 9600GS 512MB card, with Wine installed from the official repositories.

Don't be confused by the fancy theme and the windows borders that belong to Lucid. I've installed them on Jaunty, using this guide as a reference. So at the very least, the installation method works smoothly even on older versions of Ubuntu running older version of Wine, which is yet even more encouraging.

Othere resources you may want to take a look at (thanks Dan):

WineHQ Google SketchUp page


There you go. If SketchUp was a showstopper keeping you from migrating to Linux, that roadblock has just been removed. Even if you're more of a polygamist when it comes to operating systems, you now have an extra choice of enjoying a great program on yet another platform. Either way, it's a win-win situation.

I've listed Google SketchUp in my recent Windows cool apps mega-compilation. But now, I guess it can also be added to the Linux list as well. It's a great day, by all means. I'm very pleased. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial/gallery! Oh, do spread the word.