I was looking for some kind of a plotter, graphic calculator to produce images, such as eclipse, parabola, logarithm etc. I saw one on wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lemniscate_of_Booth.png which is designed using a software called Mathpad, but it is not available for Linux. Is there something equivalent for the Linux world?

I have tried bc for simple calculations. I do not want python because it's a very generic script with a huge footprint ( packages ). I have used R for statistics. I don't know any other software in the Linux world.

Something, small, neat and just does the mathematics is enough for me and I think MathPad ( even if I have not tried myself ) looks at the first glance quite ok to me.


I use gnuplot. You can find a nice intro to it here. An example of how to plot a lemniscate of Bernoulli (which differs from Booth's) can be found here.

Another possibility is matplotlib, a Python library (i.e., not a standalone program like gnuplot), which you may find especially handy if you already are used to working in Python.

In greater generality, FOSS packages performing numerical and analytical computations on Linux all possess to some extent the ability to draw publication-quality plots, but the learning curve is steeper since they offer so much more than just plotting. At any rate, if you are interested in these, you will find a gentle intro in this LWN.net article.

  • thank you, the lwn article looks neat. By the way, there are multiple versions of gnuplot - * gnuplot-nox, * gnuplot-qt * gnuplot-x11 * gnuplot5-nox * gnuplot5-qt * gnuplot5-x11. Which one is preferable? – infoclogged Apr 18 '17 at 9:15
  • Also, fail to understand, if gnuplot has its own inbuilt mathematic library for example for integration etc. ? the word plot in gnuplot seems to me that it is more as a graphic renderer. – infoclogged Apr 18 '17 at 9:49
  • @infoclogged No, gnuplot cannot do symbolic math, nor numeric math beyond value substitution. For that you will need Sage or something like that. – MariusMatutiae Apr 18 '17 at 10:35
  • @infoclogged The different versions of gnuplot are not different versions at all: gnuplot-nox is for working without an X server (=no X), x11 and qt contain the drivers to work under x11 for low-end systems, so that the package works even without X11 already installed. I use the full package, gnuplot, which is suitable for a high-end system. – MariusMatutiae Apr 18 '17 at 11:54
  • ahh.. when you type gnuplot and enter, the shell doesnt recommend you any package called gnuplot, although there is one. that was the problem, that I thot that gnuplot only exists "only" in the above forms ( -nox, -qt5 etc. ) – infoclogged Apr 18 '17 at 12:46

You can use troff with its dedicated preprocessor for drawing : pic... pic syntax is easy, there's also a preprocessor of pic which is grap for producing graphs quicly... on linux and osX, troff is already implemented (usually groff)... there's also heirloom troff or plan9 (see plan9port)...

you can produce huge graphs up to 4 meters wide... troff can format text, math formulas, tables, graphics, simply and easy....

simple example with two polar curbs each on each page

groff -p polar.tr -Tps > polar.ps

polar.tr is :

.po 0i
u = 5i
for t = 0 to 100  by 0.001 do {
    "." at x*u,y*u
u = 5i
for t = 0 to 100 by 0.001 do {
    "." at x*u,y*u

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