Raspberry Pi 4 - Calculators

Raspberry Pi 4: Chronicling the Desktop Experience – Calculators – Week 31

This is a weekly blog about the Raspberry Pi 4 (“RPI4”), the latest product in the popular Raspberry Pi range of computers.

The desktop calculator is a small utility that’s shipped with all major operating systems. It’s usually a standard affair, and designed for basic use. They typically include trigonometric functions, logarithms, factorials, parentheses and a memory function.

In this article I’m surveying some of the notable calculator software available for the RPI4. I’m not looking at computer algebra systems although they are available from the RPI4. Let’s first look at galculator.

galculator

Raspberry Pi 4 - galculator
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galculator is the calculator program that is pre-installed by Raspbian. You get version 2.1.4 of the software. That’s the latest release. But there hasn’t been a new version since September 2015. This program is unmaintained.

As calculators go, galculator is a basic affair designed for simple calculations. The image shows the program in its basic mode, but there’s also a scientific mode, and a paper mode, the latter is a formula entry mode. This supports all algebraic operations and functions of the algebraic mode.

If you need a memory function, you’ll be happy. There’s user defined functions, and 3 different notation modes: Algebraic, Reverse Polish, and Formula Entry.

But I need more functionality than galculator offers. Fortunately, there’s far more sophisticated software available for the RPI4 which offers the ability to process complex mathematical functions, plot 2D and 3D graphs, and much more.


Qalculate!

Raspberry Pi 4 - Qalculate!
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Qalculate! is a powerful and easy to use calculator.

There’s a package available for Raspbian offering version 2.8.2. That’s an old version released back in December 2018. We’re missing out on a lot of development, so you might want to try compiling the source code. Let me know how you get on.

Qalculate! is one of my favourite calculator programs. It’s easy to use, but at the same time it’s packed with useful features often reserved for complicated math packages. It meets everyday needs too, with things like currency conversion and percent calculation.

I didn’t run into any problems running Qalculate! on the RPI4.

Memory usage is frugal. The program uses around 21MB of RAM, so it won’t cause any memory issues.


SpeedCrunch

SpeedCrunch
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For some strange reason, I wasn’t expecting SpeedCrunch to be present in Raspbian repositories. But I was pleasantly surprised. You get the latest release, version 0.12, but there hasn’t been a new release since late 2016.

SpeedCrunch is a high-precision scientific calculator. It features a syntax-highlighted scrollable display and is designed to be fully used via keyboard. Some distinctive features are auto-completion of functions and variables, a formula book, syntax highlighting. and quick insertion of constants from various fields of knowledge.

It sports a very simple interface, so you can start to use it very quickly. It works sweetly on the RPI4. No complaints here.

It’s frugal with system resources. Memory usage is only 34.1MB of RAM.


GMT Desktop calculator

Raspberry Pi 4 - Genius
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There’s a few packages for Raspbian to install on your system. There’s the command-line frontend, the GNOME frontend, and the common files, all installed with the command:

$ sudo apt install genius gnome-genius

The software is feature-laden. There’s good vector and matrix manipulation and can handle basic linear algebra. The programming language allows user defined functions, variables and modification of parameters.

It offers both 2D function line plots and 3D function surface plots. Here’s a short video showing one of the many examples included with the program. It’s called standing waves (part of Differential Equations).

When running this example, the software uses only 15MB of RAM.


insect

Raspberry Pi 4 - insectinsect is a high precision scientific calculator with full support for physical units. That’s all SI units, all units that are accepted by SI as well as most units of the imperial and US customary systems (and many more).

There’s a web interface and a command-line version. Sadly, Raspbian is lacking a package for this software.

I did attempt to compile the command-line version on the RPI4, but I wasn’t successful. I tried a number of different ways including setting up a prefix directory. If you’ve successfully compiled insect for RPI4, I’d love to hear how! Leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

I was therefore left to use the web interface for insect. It works well, although the best web browsers for the RPI4 (Chromium and Firefox) are huge memory hogs. So if you’re running the 1GB or 2GB model, I’d suggest avoiding insect, as the other calculators are much less memory intensive.


rpCalc

Raspberry Pi 4 - rpCalc
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There’s no package for rpCalc in Raspbian’s repositories.

I therefore had to revert to downloading the file rpcalc-0.8.2.tar.gz from the project’s website. I’m not an expert at compiling software. Fortunately, that’s not required here. All that’s needed is uncompressing/extracting the archive, changing into the newly created directory, and run the install.py script with elevated privileges. Here’s the commands:

$ tar zxvf rpcalc-0.8.2.tar.gz
$ cd rpCalc
$ sudo ./install.py

rpCalc is Python-based software that uses reverse polish notation, similar to most Hewlett-Packard calculators. It stores previous results in four registers (usually labeled X, Y, Z and T), and the numbers are entered before the operators.

I didn’t expect any issues running rpCalc on the RPI4, and I wasn’t surprised. Memory usage is minimal, with ps_mem reporting 41.1MB of RAM used.


Extcalc

There’s no package for Extcalc in Raspbian’s repositories. There is a package called concalc. This is the parser-algorithm of extcalc packed into a simple console program. You can use it if you need a calculator in your shell. concalc is also able to run scripts written in a C-like programming language.

I wasn’t able to compile Extcalc on the RPI4. The compilation proceeded to the final stage, but failed due to issues linking with libGL.


Nonpareil

Nonpareil is a high-fidelity calculator simulator. Again, there’s no package for Nonpareil for Raspbian. And I didn’t get time to investigate this software.


Summary

There’s a good range of open source calculator software available for the RPI4. Compiling source code of programs isn’t always straightforward. That’s troublesome because there’s a ton of great open source software that’s not included in Raspbian repositories, and even when it is, you sometimes get old versions which are missing functionality I need.


Read all my blog posts about the RPI4.

Raspberry Pi 4 Blog
Week 36Manage your personal collections on the RPI4
Week 35Survey of terminal emulators
Week 34Search the desktop with the latest version of Recoll
Week 33Personal Information Managers on the RPI4
Week 32Keep a diary with the RPI4
Week 31Process complex mathematical functions, plot 2D and 3D graphs with calculators
Week 30Internet radio on this tiny computer. A detailed survey of open source software
Week 29Professionally manage your photo collection with digiKam
Week 28Typeset beautifully with LyX
Week 27Software that teaches young people how to learn basic computing skills and beyond
Week 26Firefox revisited - Raspbian now offers a real alternative to Chromium
Week 25Turn the Raspberry Pi 4 into a low power writing machine
Week 24Keep the kids learning and having fun
Week 23Lots of choices to view images
Week 22Listening to podcasts on the RPI4
Week 21File management on the RPI4
Week 20Open Broadcaster Software (OBS Studio) on the RPI4
Week 19Keep up-to-date with these news aggregators
Week 18Web Browsers Again: Firefox
Week 17Retro gaming on the RPI4
Week 16Screen capturing with the RPI4
Week 15Emulate the Amiga, ZX Spectrum, and the Atari ST on the RPI4
Week 14Choose the right model of the RPI4 for your desktop needs
Week 13Using the RPI4 as a screencaster
Week 12Have fun reading comics on the RPI4 with YACReader, MComix, and more
Week 11Turn the RPI4 into a complete home theater
Week 10Watching locally stored video with VLC, OMXPlayer, and others
Week 9PDF viewing on the RPI4
Week 8Access the RPI4 remotely running GUI apps
Week 7e-book tools are put under the microscope
Week 6The office suite is the archetypal business software. LibreOffice is tested
Week 5Managing your email box with the RPI4
Week 4Web surfing on the RPI4 looking at Chromium, Vivaldi, Firefox, and Midori
Week 3Video streaming with Chromium & omxplayerGUI as well as streamlink
Week 2A survey of open source music players on the RPI4 including Tauon Music Box
Week 1An introduction to the world of the RPI4 looking at musikcube and PiPackages

This blog is written on the RPI4.

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2 comments

    1. bc is often used as a mathematical scripting language or as an interactive mathematical shell. Not really in scope.

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