Different alternatives to the closed source matlab exist

Scilab from http://www.scilab.org/is an alternative to the commercial matlab. Scilab it is a free open source software with a GPL compatible license it is quite accepted by educational institutions. It is quite complex therefore tutorials as found under https://www.scilab.org/tutorials or http://www.openeering.com/scilab_tutorials are a good point to start, or the wiki http://wiki.scilab.org/ or read matlab documents since it is quite the same. There is also Xcos that allows to simulate electrical circuitries.

Gentoo portage has a old version but the science overlay has newer versions as **eix scilab** shows (dev-java/flexdock-1.2.0 instead of 1.1.1 needs to get emerged). Alternatively there is scilab-bin the 64bit binary version in the gentoo-el overlay.

matlab means matrix laboratory and makes therefore clear that it deals with matrices. The following deals with **scilab** and might be different to matlab. In the scilab shell commands can be typed in as to create variables: **a = [1 2 3 4]** or **a = [1 2 3; 4 5 6; 7 8 10]** are matrices (or arrays). **scilab** has also other data types as strings: **s = 'Hello world'** or simply numbers **i=5**. Typing commands into the console will echo back the results, this can be suppressed using the **;** character at the end. The variables can be saved in to a file by **save ** and in restores in the session with

`<filename>`

`<filename>`

The commands can be written into a file, for matlab those files have a .m extension **scilab** uses .sci extension. Matlab .m files can be imported into **scilab** and converted in .sci files. Usually the conversion just adds a couple of extra commands at the beginning.