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2016: Second Edition
Tea Time Numerical Analysis Experiences in Mathematics

Other Topics

  1. Installing Octave
  2. Book Source
  3. Who uses Tea Time Numerical Analysis?
  4. Contact the Author
  5. Previous Editions

Installing Octave

Octave is developed by the GNU Project for the GNU operating system, which is most often paired with a Linux kernel. At its core, Octave is therefore GNU/Linux software. It runs natively on GNU/Linux machines. It must be ported (converted somehow) to run on other operating systems like Windows or OS X. Ports (converted programs) do exist for these operating systems, but are significantly more complicated to install than native Windows or native OS X programs. The advantage to this approach is the end result which looks and runs very much like a native application, desktop shortcut/alias and all. The disadvantage is the somewhat lengthy installation procedure with parts that sometimes don't work together as expected, resulting in a failed installation.

Windows and Mac users may also install hardware virtualizing software. Such software is freely available as native Windows and native OS X software. Then a complete GNU/Linux operating system can be installed inside the virtualizer as a so-called virtual machine. Octave can be installed in the virtual machine as a native program. With some configuring, the virtual machine can be made to look and feel almost like other Windows or OS X apps. The advantage to this approach is that installation is relatively straightforward. The disadvantage is that it requires a lot of computing resources. People with an old (slow) machine or a machine with little RAM (memory) will likely be disappointed in performance. Octave will be even slower than other programs if it runs at all.

GNU/Linux can also be installed "side-by-side" with Windows or OS X, creating a dual-boot machine. The advantage to this approach is it relieves all of the issues of the other two methods. Octave is installed as a native application and all computer resources are dedicated to GNU/Linux so Octave will run as quickly as possible on your machine. The primary disadvantage to this approach is that you will have to decide whether to run your usual (Windows or OS X) operating system or GNU/Linux every time the computer starts. You will not be able to switch between Octave and the apps you are used to running. For example, switching from iTunes to Octave, or from Word to Octave and back, is not possible. You get one or the other. A secondary disadvantage is the need to repartition the computer's hard drive (or the need to add an additional hard drive to the machine), making the installation process potentially devastating to the machine. A complete backup of your machine is required to maintain safety.

If you are not sure what to make of all this or just want Octave to run on your Mac or Windows machine without all the hallabaloo, here are some options, listed in order of recommendation for each OS.


The source for this project includes LyX, Octave, GeoGebra, wxMaxima, xfig, text, and graphics files. Here are several ways you can get the source.

Minimally, you will need a LyX installation to view and edit the textbook source files. Other tools are required to view and edit the diagram source files. Besides the software highlighted above, GIMP and the command line utilities pdfcrop and pdfseparate were used in the creation of the text.

As are the textbook and Octave, all the tools used to create this textbook are open source projects. You may download and use them free of charge, and even study and modify their source code if you wish. All applications needed are neatly packaged in Mathbuntu, a complete operating system that can be run in a virtual machine. If your computer has enough memory (at least 3 GB) and hard disk space (at least 30 GB available), you can install Mathbuntu following these steps.

  1. Find out if your computer has enough resources following these instructions.
  2. Install VBox according to these instructions.
  3. Install Mathbuntu in a virtual machine according to these instructions.
  4. Configure your MathKubuntu, MathLubuntu, or MathUbuntu virtual machine.

Alternatively, you can download individual software packages from the websites of LyX, GeoGebra, wxMaxima, GIMP and Octave. With the exception of Octave, each website has both Winows and Mac installers for download. Octave presents a bit more of a challenge. You can follow the advice at the Octave website or, for more verbose and advisory instructions, click here.

Who uses Tea Time Numerical Analysis?

Tea Time Numerical Analysis was specifically designed for use at Southern Connecticut State University but with a mind to make it more generally useful. If you are using it elsewhere or know of someone who is, please drop me a note.

Contact the Author

Dr. Leon Brin, Professor & Chairperson
Department of Mathematics
Southern Connecticut State University
501 Crescent Street
New Haven, CT 06515

Previous Editions

May 2014: Premiere edition (Unedited): January 2015: Premiere edition (Edited):