Use Ubuntu without giving up SketchUp

I have been using SketchUp for all sorts of projects, going back something like 10 years now. No one is paying me to say anything positive about SketchUp, but it is an incredibly powerful piece of software. I think what can be done is often underestimated because a version of the software (now called SketchUp Make) has always been available for free. “How good can it be if it’s free?!” Linux users generally know that is a silly question, but not everyone does. With a few plug-ins I have been able to do everything that I have personally ever needed to do — from floor plans and 3D elevations, to 3D printed contraptions, and lots of things in between.

I have also now been using Linux for about 7 years. I have done quite a bit of distro hopping in that time, and I have found that, for me, Ubuntu does everything I need it to do. Probably because of my time spent on Antergos, I personally feel most at home on Ubuntu Gnome (with a few add-ons). I also highly recommend Ubuntu MATE. In fact, my solution to make SketchUp work with the greatest of ease is dependent on some of the software being developed by Martin Wimpress for the MATE project. Thanks to efforts like his, and the Wine developers, my interest in Linux does not conflict too greatly with my desire to continue using SketchUp.

How To

One way to go about this is to install Windows as a virtual machine (VM), and then install SketchUp Make on that VM. I did this for a while, but had some Windows/VM trouble on a new Linux install after one of my distro hops. Since I was really annoyed with having to boot into, or even look at Windows anyway, I hoped I could find a better way. It seems that I have.

First, I would suggest that you purge your machine of all traces of Wine. This step requires the most terminal commands, which makes it the most unfriendly step for newbs (my least favorite step too), but I think it makes a successful install much more likely. It may not be necessary if you are using an up to date version of Wine for other programs, but I have had some trouble getting Wine to behave depending on how it was installed, and what was/is installed along side of it.

Since I really only need Wine for SketchUp the easiest thing for me to do was to remove all traces of anything associated with my previous failed attempts to get it working. If you don’t need to remove and reinstall Wine, and you don’t want to install the MATE Software Boutique, then you can just jump ahead to step four. If you need to install Wine for the first time then skip to step two.

For removal, I used this short tutorial, which consists of the following steps.

Open a terminal

sudo apt-get remove wine
 rm -rf $HOME/.wine
 rm -f $HOME/.config/menus/applications-merged/wine*
 rm -rf $HOME/.local/share/applications/wine
 rm -f $HOME/.local/share/desktop-directories/wine*
 rm -f $HOME/.local/share/icons/????_*.xpm

After deleting the files run command:

sudo apt-get remove –purge wine

Again run the following commands to correct any installation error.

sudo apt-get update
 sudo apt-get autoclean
 sudo apt-get clean
 sudo apt-get autoremove

It also wouldn’t hurt to restart your computer at this point. If anywhere along the way Wine seems to be acting up you really cannot go wrong by just coming back to this first step and starting again.

Second, I would now install the MATE Software Boutique. If you are already using Ubuntu MATE then you should already be familiar with the Software Boutique, and you should not need to reinstall it. Not only does this make installing Wine a trouble free process, but it is a particularly user friendly way to install a lot of other software as well.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-mate-dev/welcome 
 sudo apt-get update 
 sudo apt-get install ubuntu-mate-welcome

Find out more about the PPA here.

Third, it is time to click on the new green clothes hanger icon in your list of programs to open the MATE Software Boutique. Let the animation play, and then click on the Games category. Scroll to the bottom to find the Wine Development Builds listing. Click Install and then go to the queue tab and apply.

If you need to remove Wine you can come back to the Software Boutique and click the red trashcan that should be where the install button was previously, and then complete the process by repeating the first step in this article.

Fourth, with Wine installed you need to find — and this is extremely important — the 32bit version of SketchUp Make 2015. This is the only version I was able to get working without any bugs (at least as far as I can tell). Newer versions may work for you, but for me they either had to be closed and reopened after saving, or they wouldn’t respond well to key strokes and mouse clicks, or worse. I don’t believe I was able to get any 64bit versions to successfully install.

The Trimble/SketchUp website is slightly annoying to navigate, but the older versions of the software can be found here.

Fifth, I believe at this point I just clicked on the downloaded .exe file and Wine took over and led me the rest of the way. It may have been necessary to select Windows 7 or 8 at some point in the process — just don’t leave it on XP if the setting presents itself.

After the install I did need to change the font size given my resolution settings which was just a matter of bringing up a terminal and typing:


When the Wine Configuration window opens click on the Graphics tab and you should be able to use the slider to make everything a little easier to read.

The only complaints I have are that SketchUp likes to open a new browser window every time I open the program. If any of you know how to prevent that annoyance I would greatly appreciate you sharing that information with me, and I would be happy to add it to this article. Thanks for reading, and I hope this was helpful :)

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