Open Source STEM

Open Source STEM Lab

With computers running
Linux (even mixed or older PCs) or combining Windows or Macs as well you can put together a pretty decent STEM program on the cheap using free and open source software and cloud/web tools along with additional paid kits such as LEGO, Snap Circuits, and K'Nex

Throw in tablets for flexibility as Android and IOS apps are improving as well and you can even run emulators to run some Windows software (or use a machine with Windows but run open source).

  • Always current with latest versions
  • Unlimited copies
  • Most cross-platform
  • If using Linux, no viruses
  • Many commercial programs are free to educational institutions (all AutoCAD including Maya and Inventor, Sketchup, ArchiCAD)
  • Not same as commercial versions (Linux)
  • Limited Support
  • Limited management tools (unless you pay for LANSchool or Mythware, both supporting Mac/PC/Linxu plus Android & IOS with Mythware)

Linux has come a long way from its early days as a bare-bones UNIX system for the amateur and professional geek. It's now as easy to install and use as Windows and Macs and has some advantages as well as disadvantages. First, you can forget about viruses and paid updates as everything you need is free, from the OS to the applications, and you can update them all with one click. On the other hand, you won't be able to run Windows-only or Mac-only software. Below are some choices and for more see

  • Elementary Linux (looks like a Mac, runs well on older and newer machines)
  • Ubuntu (runs well on mid and better machines)
  • LXLE (for older machines if you prefer a more Windows-like experience)
  • Linux Mint (for lots of desktop options, some that run well only on newer PCs,this is now the most popular flavor (or "distro") of Linux, built on Ubuntu)
  • Ubuntu Studio (preconfigured with multimedia software)

  • Meshlab
  • Sculptris
  • Synfig Studio
  • Krita
  • Blender
  • GIMP
  • Inkscape
  • Pinta
  • Darktable (I haven't tried)
  • Misfit Model 3D

  • Pitivi
  • Kino
  • Shotcut
  • Openshot (video)
  • Cinelerra
  • Lightworks (free version)
  • Audacity
  • VLC
  • Rosegarden (MIDI & Music Composition)

  • Scratch (Web)
  • Netbeans
  • MonoDevelop
  • Eclipse (Java, Web, Python, C++ and more)
  • Aptana (based on Eclipse but focuses on web apps, I haven't tried)
  • LightTable (code editor I haven't tried)
  • Code::Blocks (development environment for C, C++ I haven't tried)
  • Brackets (text editor for HTML & CSS I haven't tried)
  • Arduino
  • GDevelop
  • Javascript (combined with TextWranger or ???)
  • Stencyl

  • Flightgear (open source flight simulator, add a joystick like the Thrustmaster 16000m for about $50)
  • Sweet Home 3D
  • TinkerCAD (online)
  • Fusion 360
  • Creo

  • Veyon (like LANschool or ANAT, though I've never tried it)
  • VirtualBox
  • WINE
  • Steam
  • Chromixium (open source version of Chrome, with pepper flash to run flash)
  • OpenOffice or LibreOffice
  • Unity 3D/2D
  • Autodesk Titles such as AutoCAD, Inventor, etc. (free for schools)
  • Scribus

  • USB Cameras
  • Joysticks (like the $45 Thrustmaster 16000M)
  • MIDI Keyboards
  • Tripods
  • Appropriate Furniture (Tables and Chairs)
  • Separate "class" space off the computers

Windows/Mac Only
  • Sculptris (Win/Mac)
  • (Win)
  • Pivot (Win)
  • Stykz (Win/Mac)
  • Sketchup (Win/Mac)
  • 123D from Autodesk (series of IOS apps and web tools)
  • Bridge Designer (Win, formerly West Point Bridge Designer)