Three calculators for the Linux desktop

13 Gen/10

To many, geek = math && nerd = math. To others school = math && math = calculator. During my stint as a computer science major, the very idea of differential had me running scared back to my calculator. It was a must, and for many a symbol of intellect and power.

All of this to say that we all need a good calculator now and then. But instead of running out to the local box store and purchasing a new piece of hardware, why not just add that perfect calculator on your Linux machine? There are plenty to choose from. But do any of them match up to what is offered by the likes of the Texas Instruments line of calcs? In this article I am going to highlight three calculators for the Linux operating system. By the end, you should have a good idea if one of them will fill your needs.

I want to preface this by saying all three of these calcs can be found in your basic software repositories. So installing any one of these pieces of software is just a matter of searching for them in your package management front end (such as Synaptic) or just issuing the command line equivalent for installation. Now, let’s take a look at the tools.


Figure 1

Extcalc is probably the most powerful of the calculators you will see here. Extcalc does graphing (2D and 3D), matrices, vectors, statistics, base-n, logic, scientific functions, and more. Oh, and Extcalc is also a standard calculator.

What I like most about Extcalc is the tabbed interface for each function of the tool. Figure 1 shows Excalc open on the Graphics function.

Another feature real math geeks will appreciate is the scripting console that includes plenty of built-in commands (for and while loops, if expressions, arrays, breaks, and much more).

Extcalc is really a power-users dream. Standard math need not apply.

Genius Mathematics Tool

Figure 2

If you are familar with MatLab, you will appreciate Genius Mathematics Tool. Not that the developers claim GMT will ever be a replacement for MatLab, but it is a great supplemental tool. GMT is perfect as both a calculator and a research tool. Of course, unlike many calculators, Genius Mathematics Tool might throw average users for a loop. Why? GMT uses a console for input (see Figure 2).

GMT features:

  • Statistics.
  • Combinatorics.
  • Common elementary and trig functions.
  • Numeric equation solving.
  • Slopfield/Vectorfield plotting.
  • Matrix calculations.
  • Number theory.
  • Complex and rational numbers.

and much more.


Figure 3

The Kcalc tool is more like your standard calculator, with a few extras. Kcalc offers a more standard interface (see Figure 3) so a more diverse crowd will be able to easily make use of this calculator.

Kcalc offers the following features:

  • Trigonometric functions, and logic operations.
  • Cut and paste from and to.
  • Results-stack so you can recall previous results.
  • Configurable UI.
  • Key binding support.

Although Kcalc is not nearly as powerful as the other two tools, it will handle most all standard calculator needs (and then some). But if you’re needing graphing or research-like functions and features, you might want to look at one of the two above.

Final thoughts

The search for a good mathematics tool doesn’t have to end at the Windows. Linux is filled with plenty of feature-rich tools sure to please the math geek in all of us. Have you found a good calculator on Linux not listed above? If so, share it with your fellow Ghacks readers.

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