PreForm software for Linux desktop

Linux desktop is a mature and stable system that has gained much traction in recent times, particularly in professional engineering spaces. Natively supporting PreForm on Linux would allow all FORM 1 users to work in their preferred operating systems and workflows. Preform already runs in some capacity on WINE.


I’ve discussed with them at the SF maker fair this WE and their position for the moment is:

  • Windows version is available

  • Mac OS will be out soon (no date specified)

with these 2 platforms, they are covering a vast majority of users so Linux version is not worse the effort…

Also they are not planning to release the USB protocol and even if there is a SD card in the printer (seen in the tear-down) they are not supporting this loading method (would require disassemble of the printer anyway…).

So that’s restricting the usage of Linux or another slicer (to get missing features/different slicing capability like mesh error handling/internal supports…)


This kind of thinking is misguided (it’s not worth it to do a Linux port). If vendors ignore Linux, then more users will not use it - not because it’s not a great OS, but because software they need does not run on it. Chicken vs. Egg.  Let’s take a look at Blender as a case in point: Blender is a fantastic piece of software designed from the ground up to be cross-OS compatible. They did it in a very intelligent way, leveraging Open Standards (OpenGL) as the underlying technology for the GUI components, and the program looks and acts identically across Windows, Mac and Linux. They also have a great plugin capability with Python bindings, so many customer pain points can be quickly remedied by the community. Also, many, many ‘makers’ are using Linux as their primary OS. I have to use Windows in a KVM Virtual Machine on my Debian box just to control the printer - that’s pretty cheesy. I just bought the first copy of Windows I’ve ever bought (Win7 Pro), and I must say, I threw up a little in my mouth when I pressed submit.

As an aside, is there a reason you do not simply OpenSource the code for PreForm? People are buying the hardware, not the software. Why not allow the community to enhance and extend the software? You can obviously have code review and final merge control, but I think you would accellerate development considerably, and get some cool features and platform functionality for free in the process.


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Does Formlabs not support Linux? I’m looking carefully at 3D printers - a substantial investment. While I’m very impressed by Fromlabs offerings - particularly the Form 1+ - I’m afraid I have to rule out it out entirely on the grounds that it supports only operating systems we do not use. This is a shame given the quality of the prints.

Please confirm that Formlabs does not support Linux.

Pretty sure they are not going to open source the code because there are massive effort that went into the creation of the software that they will not just give it away for free. Also the support generation in Preform is among one of the best, another thing which they will not just give it for free and let other users of OTHER printers benefit.

Just my 2 cents.

Software does not need to be open source to run on Linux.

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I don’t care if they close the source. I just can’t buy their product if it doesn’t run on Linux. I’ll be damned if I’m going back to Windows for just ONE THING.

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yeah. dig it. in the end I had to cave and stand up a win7 box just to run preform. It can’t run in a vm like kvm or vbox (well maybe vmware, but I’m not using that either), although I tried both. really sucks. it’d be cool if they just opened up the format that gets sent to the printer, and maybe the community would take it from there.
my guess is most people there use macs…

So I start the win7 box, pull over the stl from blender on my linux box, add supports, send it to the printer then shut it off.

Thanks, guys — that’s right, at the moment, we only support OS X & Windows. At any rate, this is the place to let us know that Linux support is important to you. We’ll see what we can do down the line if there’s enough interest. Many of of the commercial CAD packages are limited to a specific platform, though that’s beginning to change.

You know, if your Python hackers just created a Blender addon, and a small utility to push it to the printer, that’d be good enough for me. No need to port the entire Preform software.

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I for one need Linux support, and the sooner the better. My Windows PC broke down and could not be fixed. Now I either have to buy a new one just to run Preform or wait for Linux support.

Please support Linux.

Bjørn Augestad


Linux Support would be a huge plus for me to get one for our Makerspace! (I just can’t put a windows Box or Mac there!)

At least just give us a tool that accepts form files and can send them to the printer that runs on linux! It does not even need a user interface!


keep alive - Seriously, how much actual effort would be required to create a commandline parser to convert from stl to .form, and another command to simply push to the printer? The gui can come later. Linux users would have to initially create their own supports, it would be alpha-code, and only community support.

c’mon. please?

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Yes! Many linux users are used to using tools on the command line…
We don’t need any fancy gui stuff, just some way to get our medels to print from a linux computer.

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I purchased the Form1 for product prototyping and even limited production. As a maker I find closed environments put up road blocks to accomplishing my goals. On the other hand open systems empower me.

Linux is the OS I work in. Although Windows and OS X is the predominant desktop for the general population, Linux has higher penetration with hackers, makers and engineers. These people should be part of your target market.

So +1 for Linux support. Put a number on it, crowdfund and see if this is something your users want.


We don’t want it, we NEED IT!

Make a software only for windows is an ERROR.
Build your software under Linux (e.g. with QT) and it will run under WIndows and Macos X. No more effort TO DO, just good programming at the first time.

I know that and I’m a noob developer, so please question yours!

Also linked sells are illegal in U.E! if I want to use your printer I have to buy Windows, this is forced selling! (remember why Microsoft paid the greatest “fine” of our time?)

To finish: the FABLAB world need OPEN SOURCE software, because what can’t be opened, can’t be repaired nor improved!
I just can’t work cause your software dependencies, which is really annoying for a new 3K$ machine. At least release the communication protocol would help developers to not crack your machine to put it in work.


Hey, FormsLabs, UP?!

I have no Linux. I love Windows. Transparent, stable and fast.

@Jack_Nasenbaer that’s nice for you. But there are people not sharing your preferences.

And especially in the maker movement there is a hight percentage of linux users. So: will @Formlabs listen to the users and provide a simple solution for linux users? Nothing fancy, we can handle a command line!

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Heh, say WHAT!?? Let’s parse that, shall we?

Er, no, not at all[0]. The software is closed source, known vulnerabilities are kept from the public, it has been shown to have been backdoored by the NSA, etc., etc… Now, the titlebar in Win7 might be kind of transparent, but other than that, NFW.

Hah! BSOD[1] as an acronym came from Windows. No other operating systems in the world crash and burn as much as the various MS OSes do. I’ve had Linux boxen up for over a year without needing to reboot. And, they were upgraded continuously during that period.

Honestly? Yeah, that’s why all of the Top500[2] supercomputers in the world run windows…

So Jack, you’re entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.

[0] Criticism of Microsoft - Wikipedia
[1] Blue screen of death - Wikipedia
[2] Sublist Generator | TOP500 <-select windows as OS to see how many supercomputers use it (and their rank)…