Found Maxima / wxMaxima and pretty happy with it
Found Maxima / wxMaxima and pretty happy with it
Maxima is the older program which uses command line interface. wxmaxima is a newer version that adds a GUI front end and a worksheet style interface (saves your input commands and output results in one document like most modern computing apps). In the worksheet you can also add a lot of doumentation and outlining and extra graphics beyond those generated in the program itself.
I have a student version of Maple that I purchased in the late 1990's and have grown very attached to. For me that symbolic approach matches the way I like to approach problems (my hammer that I try to use on everything, not just on nails!). Just start typing the equations and focus on the engineering variables (not the computer indexes etc). You can certainly do a lot of numerical stuff with it too... usually at the tail end of symbolic solution various values can easily be plugged in and graphed. And it's also nice that it tends to be easier for others to double-check than a more numerical solution approach (at least for the types of problems I get involved with)
It is rumoured that the student version of Maple can be extended indefinitely (decades) with minor user tweaks to files in the license directory.... but of course I can't confirm or deny that! I can confirm that the student version only works on Windows, and I no longer use Windows as my home computer because I don't trust it from a cyber security perspective (that is not a result of any personal experience but just reading about all the never-ending gaping security problems in Windows). So I now have a chromebook which includes a virtual machine/container for running Linux apps, and I have been looking for a linux app to replace the 1990's student version of Maple...
.... and I found exactly what I was looking for in wxMaxima. The 2023 wxMaxima installed onto Linux is in almost every way functionally identical to the 1990's student version of Maple, except it has added a few things (like units!). There are only a few minor variation in choice of syntax characters and choice of keywords which make me suspect that one program copied directly from the other. I know maxima has been around a longtime.
The units are really easy and similar to smath in that single tickmark brings up list of values for units. I think the method for forcing display of a variable in alternate units is easier on maxima than what I remember for smath (just type double tickmarkfollowed by the unit).
I find only one minor complaint. Copy/paste works within the wxmaxima app, and works for copying into the app, but does NOT work for copying out of wxmaxima into another app (like a notes app). I think it is the same problem described here, and from the age of that report I'm not optimistic it will be fixed. There are occasions where that will be a big an inconvenience to my workflow (I typically have a set of text notes in that run parallel to whatever I'm solving). On those occasions I can (if needed) export my commands from wxmaxima to a batch script (.mac file), which can be run from the linux terminal maxima app (no gui), where cut/paste to other apps works fine in both directions (I also set the maxima variable display2d to false, which organizes everything using parentheses, rather than trying to display it in a "readable" text form that ends up being ambiguous after pasting into another app).
EDIT - 2nd complaint (bigger complaint that I forgot to mention earlier because it is temporarily "solved" for me, but it's probably more important to you guys). The latest version crashes when you go to the configuration screen as described here. That's a real PITA if you want to tweak your settings on the way the program acts. So I rolled back to an earlier version September 2022 appimage here and that version seems to work perfectly (except for the copy/paste problem mentioned above). So...maxima itself is super stable but wxmaxima is not particularly stable, so if the latest version of wxmaxima has a problem then you might have to roll back to an old version until they work out the newest bugs (or else use the maxima command line version). That's not a huge problem for me (considering the program otherwise meets all my needs) but I know some people don't like fiddling to work around bugs.
Below are two good (imo) beginner video series for wxmaxima, if video suits your learning style (I like listening in the background while walking or driving, then if something catches my attention I take notes and later revisit it while seated in front of my computer)
here: https://wxmaxima-developers.github.io/wxmaxima/hel... ... from that page you can access the wxmaxima manual and a variety of wxmaxima tutorials. And they also have a link to the maxima sourceforge site which has the maxima manual (500+pages... covers all the load-able packages in detail) and many maxima tutorials.
I'm sure everyone has their favorite tools and this may not be for everyone, but it seems perfect for my purposes. I haven't used smath in awhile but I understand some people are moving away from it due to licensing changes ( thread724-511861: SMath studio no longer free for commercial use ) so maybe wxmaxima could be a good option to consider for some of those folks.