Working with Wolfram Alpha’s

I warn you all, no fancy photos in this blog. I’m a white papers only type of gentleman. We can’t have any of that fancy Java-heeve-hoScript clogging up your interwebs with animated cats and JIFFs…

Being a math major isn’t what’s it cut out to be. Sure there are the perks. Free use of the computer room from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, free all you can drink fountain water (pro tip, bring your own sports bottle), the lost and found bin, and lets not forget all the tutoring you can get. But, tech support? Forget it!

As you all know, the advent of computers has brought on a new set of problems for the average student and for some not-so-average students as well, like myself. Yes, hello. My name is Ben. I am your typical I.T. Professional. This is my first official post! Yay me!

Here’s the deal. I.T. Pro All Stars like myself and I’m sure you as well and on a daily basis you deal with what seems to be difficult problems for some, but relatively trivial problems for you. Yes, however. When there’s a problem you can’t solve.. Like finishing your homework on time with a small little Arch Laptop.. And you have to install Wolfram Alpha’s CDF Player and open those pesky CDF extensions on Pearson’s Nightmare of a program. Spaghetti Monster save us all! It won’t open by default. So you do a little research, and bit by bit you hack together a bash script, or you somehow manage to find the executable in the /bin/ folder. Don’t you fret! I am here to save your day!

I will walk you through the entire process.

  1. ) Download Wolfram Alpha’s CDF Player here.
  2. ) Open terminal
  3. ) Navigate to the directory where you’ve chosen to save your ba.sh file. (Typically by default on most configurations, you will find your download in “/home/$USER/Downloads”
  4. ) Enter the following: sudo bash [NAMEOFINSTALLER].sh
  5. ) Follow the prompts. Note where your default location of your executable is located (by default it should install in your “/usr/local/” folder).
  6. Great! Congrats. You’ve installed Wolfram Alpha’s buggy software. But you had to do it. You couldn’t go back to installing Windows on a dual boot. What’s the fun in that?
  7. So… Now you can’t open the extension with the program by default. It’s time to give up! Wait.. No! No I won’t give up!

I’m gonna change your life today.

Open terminal if you’ve closed it already.

  1. vim ~/.local/share/applications/wolfram-wrapper.desktop
  2. Insert the following code:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Wolfram Alpha
Comment=Open a CDF file for Wolfram
Exec=/usr/local/Wolfram/CDFPlayer/11.0/Executables/WolframCDFPlayer %F
Icon=/usr/local/Wolfram/icon.png
Terminal=false
Type=Application
Categories=Editor;
StartupNotify=true
MimeType=application/x-cdf;

Depending on which editor you use, in this case vim, it is :wq to write and quit after you hit the escape key from insert mode.. If you don’t know how to get into insert mode, it’s the letter ‘i’. You can utilize any editor you please and substitute vim for that editor.

Once exited, you will need to navigate to the following directory:

cd /usr/local/Wolfram

sudo wget http://imgur.com/oVSg0oS.png icon.png

Or you can manually save the file and name it icon.png and use sudo to move it to the “/usr/local/Wolfram” directory.

Restart your computer and open with, viola! The Wolfram Alpha appears to be on the list of apps. Now continue as usual to associate the CDF file with Wolfram’s app and you will now have an automatically opened CDF file after you encounter one in the wild.

Now pearson says they don’t support Linux users. What a load of corn puffs! We don’t need no stinkin’ support!

:)