Here are various tools I'd like to use in going from idea to end result.
For use on an amd64 Linux, remember our ia32_libs or equivalent package! This can help resolve those confusing "bash: /opt/kicad/bin/kicad: No such file or directory" errors when you've checked 75 times that the binary is there, our $PATH is right, and your permissions are right.

Wikipedia has a list of free EDA tools, some PCB, some HDL, some simulation, some VLSI.

UbuntuSci has a list of Applied Sciences applications, look for Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering categories.

OpenOCD, or Open On-Chip Debugger, lets you do In-System-Programming, Boundary Scan, and provides on-chip debugging capabilities. Sortof-kindof like Chipscope idea.
RapidSmith is a free/open source tool set for Xilinx FPGAs using XDL.
Torc is open-source Tools for Open Reconfigurable Computing.
VPR is an open-source packing, placing and routing tool for FPGAs. Version 6 has become part of the Verilog to Routing (VTR) codeset on google code.
Verilog To Routing seems to be working toward an open-source FPGA synthesis/place/route tool flow.
fpgac helps convert C code into FPGA chips.
xc3prog is a programmer for Xilinx FPGA, CPLD and EEPROM chips.
fpgalibre is a set of free tools for FPGA stuff, focusing on VHDL language.
Machet Digital Design Flow supports Verilog and VHDL (including mixed-lang) for FPGA design.

BoldPort aims to become a good design flow for FPGA designers.

FPGA vendor design tools:

  • Xilinx ISE WebPackis a free cost edition of their FPGA synthesis and programming tools. It doesn't have all of the features or chip support as their pay-for editions, but it works with my Xilinx chip.
    • I've had problems in Ubuntu getting my Webpack license file installed, ISE does not seem to want to run the license manager app. Copy the license file to /opt/Xilinx/12.3/ISE_DS/ISE/data/ directory and all should be well.
  • Altera Quartus II is a free cost edition of their FPGA Synthesis and programming tools.

Other FPGA Tools

  • ReportXplorer is an online flash applet for viewing various Xilinx report files.
  • Here is an in-FPGA Logic Analyzer

Waveform Viewers

  • GTKWave is a free/open waveform viewer tool.
  • Dinotrace is a free/open waveform viewer tool.

Timing Diagram tools

  • There are two truetype fonts for Timing Diagram uses. First is XWave font, second is Timing font which I prefer. Copy the *.ttf files into ~/.fonts for Linux users, or copy to C:\Windows\Fonts for MS Windows users. These fonts should work in pretty much all word proceesor/spreadsheet and other programs that use TrueType standard fonts.
  • Timink is a timing diagram extension to Inkscape.
  • Drawtiming is a free/open-source command line timing diagram drawing tool.
  • TimingAnalyzer is a GUI timing diagram editor.
  • Other information about using a spreadsheet program such as Excel or OpenOffice can be found here and here.
  • And here is a forum thread with a download for an Excel macro called WaveEditor. (Beware of unfamilliar macros, they can do bad things and I have not yet looked at this one) That same forum thread also has a download for something called AndyTime, which I have not yet looked at.
  • A forum thread has a Visio template for timing diagrams.
  • Here are some timing diagram stencils (Also some electronics symbols and PCB pads) for Mac OSX program OmniGraffle.
  • TimingTool Lite is a no cost online timing diagram editor with GUI.
  • TimingEditor is a graphical tool for generating timing diagrams.
  • Timing Drawer is another timing diagram generator for documentation.


I've collected a big page of HDL tools and information as well, I made a separate page for that as it got to be a lot to fit on this page along with the stuff above. HDLs, including Verilog, VHDL, SystemC and friends are the "programming languages" for hardware circuit design. These "programs" are synthesized (rather than "compiled") into gate netlists for use in FPGA and ASIC chips. HDL designs can also be simulated to check for correctness of the logic design, and some free simulators are listed on this other page.