Octave for GNU/Linux

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Revision as of 16:34, 7 August 2012 by Mtmiller (talk | contribs) (Add section on packages for Red Hat Enterprise)
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The recommended way for installing Octave and Octave-Forge packages on GNU/Linux systems is via each distribution package installation system.

Here is a list of the latest Octave version available in some Linux distributions

  • Debian Mint 13, has Octave 3.6.2 as of June 28 2012
  • Zenwalk GNU Linux, Snapshot Version, has Octave 3.6.2 as of June 28 2012
  • Fedora 17, has Octave 3.6.2 as of June 28 2012
  • openSUSE 11.4 and 12.1, has Octave 3.6.2 (Science repository) as of June 28 2012

More detailed instructions follow.


For building from source, see the Debian instructions.

Determine what packages are currently available, using e.g.

   $ aptitude search octave

As of 2008/05, the command above should list, amongst others:

   octave3.0 - GNU Octave language for numerical computations (3.0 branch)
   octave3.0-doc - PDF documentation on the GNU Octave language (3.0 branch)
   octave3.0-emacsen - Emacs support for the GNU Octave language (3.0 branch)
   octave3.0-headers - header files for the GNU Octave language (3.0 branch)

In July, 2012, with that time current stable (Squeeze), you get above mentioned in 3.2 version, so replace names of the packages appropriately in the following commands.

Select your choice of packages, then install them, e.g. w/

   # aptitude install octave3.0 octave3.0-doc octave3.0-emacsen


  • For brevity, the numerous other Debian packages have been omitted in the above list.
  • At a minimum, one should install one of the packages returned by the command:
   $ aptitude search ?provides\(^octave$\)
  • The OctaveForge packages are spread over many Debian packages. All OctaveForge packages will probably be found with the command:
   $ aptitude search ?description\(octave-forge\)

Debian Development Sources

In order to build Octave from development sources, the first step is to follow the instructions given under the heading Development Sources of Downloading Octave. These commands require Mercurial, which can be installed with the command

   # aptitude install mercurial

Building Octave from sources requires a number of programs and libraries. All of these are available as Debian packages and the list given on [Debian's source package page for Octave3.2] can be used for reference and installed by

  1. aptitude build-dep octave3.2

After this, it should be possible to follow the Build from source instructions.

Debian Versions

Note that on Debian, multiple versions of Octave are provided concurrently and thus, Octave packages have names that include the version number, such as, for example: octave2.1-emacsen, octave3.0-emacsen, octave3.2-emacsen. This may change with Octave 3.4.

References: Upgrade Ubuntu Jaunty to Karmic (9.04 to 9.10) breaks self-compiled octave(Gmane copy), Octave 3.4


Note that on Ubuntu 10.04 and above, the default command to get packages is apt-get instead of aptitude (unless you have installed aptitude). Therefore the command to search the available packages is

   $ apt-cache search octave

The rest of the commands are the same but replacing aptitude with apt-get.

To build newer releases of octave some extra packages may be needed. Next some extra compilation instructions are given.

If you plan to compile stuff in your Ubuntu system is not unwise to get the essential tools.

   $ sudo apt-get install build-essential 

After these you can proceed to get the dependencies as explained before.

   $ sudo apt-get build-dep octave3.2 

After this, it should be possible to follow the Build from source instructions. However, you may notice that the configure script says that bison and libfontconfig-dev are still missing so you need to get them too.

   $ sudo apt-get install bison libfontconfig-dev 

After this you can compile (which takes some time, 1:30 hr in a 2.0 Ghz PC). Even though make check may work perfectly, you may still find a problem when trying to plot. This is due to missing x11 for gnuplot. Gnuplot will tell you Terminal set to unknown. To fix it get the full gnuplot package

   $ sudo apt-get install gnuplot 

Make sure that gnuplot-x11 is in the list of installed packages.

You may still find a problem when plotting: Gtk-WARNIN **: Unable to locate theme engine in module_path: "pixmap" To fix this do

   $ sudo apt-get install gtk2-engines-pixbuf 

Unofficial binaries

Until Ubuntu packaging is up and running you can get .deb packages for Ubuntu built with checkinstall (note that these packages are not official)

Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10

Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10

Ubuntu 12.04



Early versions of Fedora included Octave in the core distribution. Since Fedora Core 3, Octave has been included in Fedora Extras (and is generally better maintained now in Extras than it was in Core). The packages can be installed using the yum command, which will automatically download and install the packages along with all of their dependencies.

The related packages are:

  • octave
  • octave-devel
  • octave-forge

octave-forge is recommended to all users, as it provides many extra functions. octave-devel contains the octave headers and mkoctfile script and is really only needed by users who are developing code that is to be dynamically linked to octave. octave and octave-forge can be installed with the command

   # yum install octave-forge

By default, yum will most likely install blas and lapack as your matrix math libraries, but ATLAS is usually much faster. If you want to install atlas with octave, use the command

   # yum install octave-forge atlas

Note that if you are using an i386-compatible processor the base atlas package is not optimized for newer hardware. If you have newer hardware, you can get even better performance with the atlas-3dnow (AMD K6 processors), atlas-sse (Pentium III or newer), or atlas-sse2 (Pentium 4 or newer).


Octave is available through Gentoo's package management system, Portage. To install Octave:

   # emerge sync
   # emerge octave
   # emerge octave-forge (optional)

Red Hat Enterprise

Octave is available for Red Hat Enterprise Linux distributions through the EPEL repository. This section applies to CentOS, Scientific Linux, and other Red Hat Enterprise rebuild distributions as well.

First, follow these instructions to set up your system to install packages from EPEL. For example,

   # wget http://url/to/latest/epel-release-6-7.noarch.rpm
   # yum localinstall epel-release-6-7.noarch.rpm

Once the EPEL repository has been enabled, you can follow the rest of the instructions for Fedora to install Octave using yum.

Note that EPEL intentionally does not follow new releases as closely as other distributions. Consequently, the version of Octave provided by EPEL may be several months or years out of date. There are plans for the Octave maintainers to provide support and binary RPMs for enterprise GNU/Linux distributions, contact the maintainers mailing list for more information.


Octave is included with RedHat. If you are still using an old version of RedHat and want a newer version of octave, your best options are to consider updating your distribution to a recent Fedora release or compile octave from source.

Note that RH 7.x distributions (as well as RedHat Enterprise Linux 2.1) have included an old version of GCC (pre 3.x). It is known that GCC 2.96 (included in RH7.3) can compile octave (as of version 2.1.57), but the resulting binary will be bad. RedHat made available RPMs for GCC 3.1-5 through http://rhn.redhat.com (those RPMs may be available on other RPM repositories).


Octave 2.1.36 is included with SuSE 8.1.

The ATLAS libraries are not included, for some reason, but the atlas.rpm for SuSE 7.3 (in the beo section) will install without problems.

Arch Linux

Updated Octave's version is in the extra repository. It can be installed by typing:

   # pacman -S octave