Octave 3.6.4 Installation on Mac OS using Homebrew

A motivation article for those who are trying to install Octave on Mac OS using homebrew


I needed to interpolate some scattered 2d data today with a bit more sophistication than just using octave’s polyfit. I found that Chirokov’s RBF implementation works great out of the box for me. Shepard was also very easily implemented but already pretty slow for my 100×100 grid with the ‘naïve’ canonical code.

Taking a look at the PCA and LDA (See also http://www.bytefish.de/blog/pca_lda_with_gnu_octave/, works out of the box), I discovered that I could to some pretty good guesses at a closed function form.

Remembering that there was an Octave Package called optim that contains a general fitting algorithm, I quickly decided to try that out.

In case someone wants to do the same – It’s straightforward but the optim toolbox only works with a current version of Octave.

Working on Mac OS, you need to build that yourself as the last ‘readily packaged’ version is really old.

I had already struggled with Aquaterm in the past, so I was aware this might take some time.

If you want to do the same, here’s a quick guide on the current pitfalls and fallacies.

I’m using homebrew as a manager. I’ve tried to add my experience to the Octave for Mac OS wiki page (http://wiki.octave.org/Octave_for_MacOS_X). That’s a good point to start.

  • Install XCode via the Mac App Store.
    • Once installed, install the Command Line Tools from XCode’s Apple Menu > Preferences > Downloads.

I had Homebrew and Git installed but nothing worked. I tried a lot and finally gave up and cleaned up the house:

rm -rf /usr/local/Cellar /usr/local/.git && brew cleanup


ruby -e “$(curl -fsSL https://raw.github.com/mxcl/homebrew/go)”

brew doctor

brew install git –with-brewed-curl

  • Import the scientific computing packages, including Octave:

brew tap homebrew/science

brew update && brew upgrade brew install gfortran

Went fine

brew install hdf5

didn’t. Copy hdf5.rb from https://raw.github.com/Homebrew/homebrew-science/master/hdf5.rb into /usr/local/Library/Formula. Currently as of Nov 13, 2013 you have to adjust the hdf5 version number to hdf5-1.8.12.tar.bz2 and remove the checksum line below.

 Brew install hdf5

 Went through then.

 Brew install octave failed, so I did

brew tap –repair

and repeated

brew install octave

 Which stalled at the fltk download. I tried to download the file manually which also failed.  Downloaded http://fltk.org/pub/fltk/1.3.2/fltk-1.3.2-source.tar.gz to /Library/Caches/Homebrew/fltk-1.3.2.tar.gz and resumed with brew install octave.

 Building octave crashed because of outdated autotools.

 I brew installed them both, after that “brew link automate”d them with –force and then symlinked them (e.g. /usr/local/bin/automake->/usr/local/bin/automake-1.14), for all autotool executabled.

 Octave still didn’t start and gave me some library errors.

 sudo cp /usr/X11/lib/libfontconfig.1.dylib /usr/lib/ 


sudo cp /usr/X11/lib/libfreetype.6.dylib /usr/lib/ 

 Finally gave me a working octave

 pkg install -forge general

pkg install -forge miscellaneous

pkg install -forge struct

pkg install -forge optim

went through smoothly.


Now googled up “Time for action – using leasqr” and, with the first hit,


scroll down to “Time for action – using leasqr”, things went through smoothly.


RDF Reference: Google for 

Scattered Data Interpolation and Approximation using Radial Base Functions

by Alex Chirokov on Matlab Central

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