How to install Maxima on OS X

Stuart Schmitt
7 August 2007
original version, 10 January 2007


The purpose of this page is to provide step-by-step instructions for installing Maxima on a computer running Mac OS X. Maxima is a computer algebra system, much like the commercial packages Mathematica and Maple. XMaxima is simply Maxima in graphical-interface mode.

You will be downloading and compiling the source codes of the Maxima package and the modules it depends on. Therefore, this web page assumes an intermediate knowledge of the UNIX command line. Information about UNIX commands abounds on the Web; use a search engine to find instructive web pages if something below is unfamiliar.

These instructions have the following assumptions:
  1. Download the following source code packages.

  2. Open up a Terminal window and cd to the directory where you downloaded the files above.

  3. Change to the root user with the su command. If you don't know what that means, look for information on the web.

  4. Decompress the files you downloaded.

  5. Compile and install the software packages. This must be done in precisely the order presented here. Some of the commands in this step may take several minutes.
    1. libsigsegv
      1. cd to the libsigsegv-[version] directory produced in step 4.
      2. configure
      3. make
      4. make install
    2. GNU CLISP
      1. cd to the clisp-[version] directory produced in step 4.
      2. export CPPFLAGS="-no-cpp-precomp -I/usr/local/include"
      3. configure
      4. cd src
      5. makemake > Makefile
      6. make config.lisp
      7. make
      8. make install
    3. Maxima
      1. cd to the maxima-[version] directory produced in step 4.
      2. configure
      3. make
      4. make install
    4. gnuplot
      1. cd to the gnuplot-[version] directory produced in step 4.
      2. configure
      3. make
      4. make install

Installation is complete!

Maxima should now be installed. Text-mode Maxima may be accessed by running maxima from Terminal. Xmaxima may be run with the xmaxima command from an xterm window in Apple X11.


If you're confident that Maxima is functioning correctly, you can delete the directories you created in step 4. In terminal type rm -rf [directory], or simply use the Finder.

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