Step is a physics simulator for KDE 4. It’s meant to be an educational tool, but I’ve found it to be fun just to play around with also. Step was written as a Google Summer of Code project for KDE by Vladimir Kuznetsov.

If you’ve installed KDE 4.1 as I did in this post, then Step will be available in the repository. Step is a part of the KDE project, so if you’ve installed KDE from another source it shouldn’t be difficult to find.

Install Step from the package step-kde4 (click the link to install), or by running the command below in your terminal:
sudo apt-get install step-kde4


When you first start Step, you get a blank world with coordinates displayed in the center. On the left side of the world, you have the palette. The palette contains items that you can place in the world. On the right side there is: a list that lets you select any items from the world, a list of properties for the selected item, helpful documentation for the selected item, and an undo history.

I’d recommend checking out the examples to get an idea of what Step can do. Load an example from File->Examples->Open Example. Then, click the Simulate button on the top toolbar to run the simulation. When you’re finished, click the Stop button.

Now try creating your own simulation. One interesting thing to try is attaching a tracer to another item such as a box or disk and watching the paths you can create by applying different forces. Below, I’ve created a box object and given it some velocity. Then, I attached a linear motor to the box pushing a different direction. I attached four tracers to the box. This is the result I got from the tracers as the box started spinning:

box with tracers simulation

If you’re like me, and enjoy applications like Step, then you should also check out Phun, which is a similar, but less education oriented, physics sandbox.

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