I want to learn some basic things using Matlab. I'd prefer a lightweight one in Linux. Is there any alternative?


There are several alternatives:

  • Octave is very similar to Matlab. For everyday use (without various toolboxes) Octave can be used as a transparent replacement.

  • SAGE is also great, but perhaps closer to Maple/Mathematica in functionality than Matlab.

  • Scilab has many features from Matlab/Mathematica.

If you like to program and has a use for the large number of extension libraries available in Python, I would definitely choose Python/Scipy/etc. If you need a simple monolithic package with linear algebra capabilities and syntax identical to Matlab then use Octave.

You can find many other alternatives here.


You can start Matlab with the -nodesktop switch to run without the very heavy Java GUI. You can still draw plots and other things from this mode and it is in practice fully functional, with some obvious differences (no point-and-click UI).

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