This page is meant to introduce Conda as a package, dependency, and environment manager for FreeCAD.
Currently this page mainly catalogs links to relevant FreeCAD forum discussion and other places on the web, but the hope is to document the salient points from those links into this page.
See also a video tutorial of the contents of this page
The motivation for using Conda is multi-fold, as is Conda's purpose.
Let's break it down.
Conda as a Package Manager
First, Conda is a package manager -- similar to
This means we can install packages with a a simple
conda install from various channels such as conda-forge.
Conda Forge is analogous to the Python Package Index (PyPI), a community channel made up of thousands of contributors, and serves freecad as a conda package.
Conda as a Dependency Manager
Next, Conda is a dependency manager, also similar to
Conda can manage the dependencies and install the dependencies for a project like FreeCAD.
Why not just use
pip works really well for managing the dependencies of projects that only use python.
Conda works for multiple languages, and is therefore better suited for managing the dependencies of projects like FreeCAD that have dependencies across a variety of languages like C / C++ and Python.
Conda as a Environment Manager
Conda has the concept of an environment which is the unique combination of packages and versions needed to run a piece of software. For example, a FreeCAD workbench.
With environments, you can easily "activate" and "deactivate" them, or switch between versions of packages needed for particular pieces of software.
This is useful for testing how a workbench behaves with a particular set of packages. For example, how does a workbench behave in FreeCAD 18.4 vs 19?
Conda environments allow you to reproduce the same exact environment on different machines.
For example, multiple local developer machines, or a remote build-server hosted by Travis CI.
2. Verify your installation was successful and familiarize yourself with the
$ conda --help
Installing FreeCAD Using Conda
First, you need to decide whether you want to install a stable version of FreeCAD, or experiment with the latest unstable code from FreeCAD
Stable released versions of FreeCAD are served on the
conda-forge channel, while the latest from FreeCAD
master is served on the
Secondly, since you can easily create dedicated environments in conda, it's recommended to create one for FreeCAD.
create command allows you to create an environment from a list of specified packages. In our case, we want to create an environment called "fcenv" (short for FreeCAD environment) from the
freecad package, and tell conda to search for the
freecad package using the
conda create --name fcenv --channel conda-forge freecad
Tip: You can alternatively tell
conda to always search
conda-forge when installing packages with the following command:
conda config --add channels conda-forge
The weekly builds can be installed from the
freecad/label/dev channel like so:
conda create --name fcenv-dev --channel freecad/label/dev freecad