Octave for macOS

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GNU Octave is primarily developed on GNU/Linux and other POSIX conformant systems. On macOS systems GNU Octave can be installed

  • from a single dmg-file, a macOS App Bundle called "Octave.app" in recent versions, or
  • by using a macOS package manager.
Info icon.svg
GNU Octave 5.2.0 is the current stable release.

macOS App Bundles[edit]

The Octave.app project (GitHub page) provides an unofficial ready-to-use macOS App Bundle installer based on Homebrew (see below).

An older installer is hosted on SourceForge.

Package Managers[edit]

A package manager is a software tool to automate the process of installing, upgrading, configuring, and removing software packages for a computer's operating system in a consistent manner. It typically maintains a database of software dependencies and version information to prevent software mismatches and missing prerequisites.

Packages are distributions of software, applications and data. Packages also contain metadata, such as the software's name, description of its purpose, version number, vendor, checksums, and a list of dependencies necessary for the software to run properly. Upon installation, metadata is stored in a local package database.

All package managers below are given in alphabetical order. The Octave developers do not recommend a certain package manager.

Homebrew[edit]

Latest Octave: Version 5.2.0

Homebrew was written 2009 by Max Howell and has gained popularity in the Ruby on Rails community and earned praise for its extensibility.

Install GNU Octave using Homebrew:

  1. Install Xcode via the Mac App Store.
  2. Follow Homebrew's installation instructions.
  3. Ensure brew itself has the latest definitions
    brew update
  4. Install Octave [1]
    brew install octave
Info icon.svg
The entire installation process can take up to a few hours. Octave has many dependencies which will be downloaded and installed prior to Octave. Precompiled binary packages called 'bottles' are available with default options for Octave and many of its dependencies, which speed up the installation.

Further reading[edit]

The default charting package in Octave is straight qt. However, on the Mac gnuplot often works better. To switch to gnuplot, place the following text in your ~/.octaverc file:

setenv('GNUTERM','qt')
graphics_toolkit("gnuplot")

Note: If brew complains about:

Linking /usr/local/Cellar/ghostscript/9.14...
Error: Could not symlink share/ghostscript/Resource
/usr/local/share/ghostscript is not writable.

This is telling you the user permissions for ghostscript are not setup in a way that your user profile can use. You need to change those permissions to your user profile. The following command will repair the issue:

sudo chown -R `whoami` /usr/local/share/ghostscript
brew link --overwrite ghostscript

Then run the brew install octave command again.

Note: If brew complains about not having a formula for octave, the following command should fix it:

brew tap --repair

The command below upgrades Octave and its dependencies to the latest Homebrew-supported versions:

brew update && brew upgrade octave

Octave has a built-in GUI (developed using Qt lib) installed by default so that gnuplot and other tools can use it directly. This GUI is always installed when installing Octave using Homebrew.

In case of trouble, see the Homebrew Troubleshooting Guide, which assists in diagnosing problems and craft useful bug reports. Bugs may be reported at Homebrew-core's issue tracker.

MacPorts[edit]

Latest Octave: Version 5.2.0

MacPorts, formerly called DarwinPorts, was started in 2002 as part of the OpenDarwin project, with the involvement of a number of Apple Inc. employees including Landon Fuller, Kevin Van Vechten, and Jordan Hubbard.

Install GNU Octave using MacPorts:

  1. Install Xcode via the Mac App Store.
  2. Follow MacPorts' installation instructions.
  3. Update your installation
    sudo port selfupdate
    sudo port upgrade outdated
  4. Install Octave
    sudo port install octave

Spack[edit]

Latest Octave: Version 5.2.0

Spack is a package management tool that supports the installation of multiple versions of software on macOS and other operating systems. It was created 2013 by Todd Gamblin and is currently being updated and developed by a large list of contributors (mainly via GitHub).

Install GNU Octave using Spack:

  1. Install Xcode via the Mac App Store.
  2. Follow Spack tutorial.
  3. Update Spack by going to the local Spack repository (develop branch) folder and run
    git pull
  4. Install Octave
    spack install octave
  5. To use Octave we need to first load the package
    spack load octave
Info icon.svg
The entire installation process can take up to a few hours. Octave has many dependencies which will be downloaded and installed prior to Octave.

In case of trouble, please visit the Spack repo issues list, and browse through Octave related issues by writing is:issue octave in the filters box.

Create a launcher app with AppleScript[edit]

Open the "AppleScript Editor" application and write the following text in the editor window:

tell application "Terminal"
 do script "/path/to/octave; exit"
end tell

(e.g. Homebrew installs Octave to /usr/local/bin/octave by default) or if Octave is in your default path:

tell application "Terminal"
 do script "`which octave`; exit"
end tell

or if you wish to start the GUI by default, without a terminal:

do shell script "/path/to/octave --force-gui"

Then:

  • Select "Save as ..." from the "File" menu
  • In the menu that appears, select "Application" from the "File format" menu, then navigate to the "Applications" folder and save your script there as "Octave.app"

To change the application icon:

  • Open this link in a web browser, right-click and select "copy image".
  • Select "Octave.app" in the Finder, then press command-i to bring up the file info dialog.
  • In the file info dialog, select the icon (in the top left) and press command-v to paste the Octave icon over it.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. Homebrew has updated some of its scripts. To install Octave as of May 14, 2020, provide the migrated full path by running brew install homebrew/core/octave instead. [Citation needed!]