Blender gets the lion's share of press among free 3-D modeling applications, but it is not the only player in the field. Art of Illusion (AOI) is a mature, GPL-licensed 3-D modeler with robust editing, animation, and rendering features, and it's a lot easier to use than Blender. If you haven't tried it, it's time you took a look at this recent SourceForge.net Product of the Month.
AOI requires a Java 1.4 (or newer) runtime environment, and the project recommends that you install Sun's Java Media Framework for optional support of additional animation formats. It can also use OpenGL rendering if your system supports it. The download page links to Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows builds, plus a platform-neutral package that should run on other flavors of Unix.
The latest Linux package is version 2.4.1, and weighs in at 7.4MB. Contained within is a .jar package and an installer script. You can install AOI anywhere on your system, including in your home directory -- a nice option for when you are testing it out initially. The installer creates KDE and GNOME menu entries in the form of .desktop files, and places a launcher shortcut on your desktop. It also creates an uninstaller in an appropriately-named subdirectory of the installation location.
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