IDL IDE (idlde) on Ubuntu 14.04 KDE desktop

I had the SIGSEGV error about when running idlde from Terminal with KDE desktop on Ubuntu 14.04.

Following this procedure, from KDE desktop, I click the lower left “start” button on the desktop toolbar, go to “system settings” (you can start typing it in the start menu and it’ll come up) and make the following changes to get rid of the Oxygen theme.

  1. Style – Applications – Widget Style – Cleanlooks
  2. Icons – Theme – Humanity
  3. GTK – GTK Themes – GTK2 Theme – Ambience (also GTK3 Theme- Ambience).
  4. GTK – Icon Themes – Icon Theme – Humanity (also Fallback Theme – Humanity)

Now idlde ran without crashing for me.

GDL setup with Astronomy library (open-source IDL replacement)

sudo apt-get install gnudatalanguage

edit your .bashrc, adding the line:
export GDL_STARTUP=~/.gdl/

Now to say setup the Astronomy Library for GDL, download it from

and extract to say

finally let’s edit the
nano ~/.gdl/
and paste in:


which keeps the current paths and adds all the Astronomy library subdirectories.

to check yourself, close your Terminal and reopen Terminal and type gdl

then type
and you should see your IDLtoolbox directories listed.

Compiling GDL (gnudatalanguage) 0.9.4 on Ubuntu

I wanted the bugfixes and improvements of GDL 0.9.4 over the 0.9.2 that comes with Ubuntu 12.04 and the 0.9.3 that comes with Ubuntu 13.10.

Get the sources, extract to a directory, and install these packages (sudo apt-get install)

libbz2-dev libplplot-dev libfontconfig1-dev libplplot-dev
libncurses5-dev libreadline-dev libgsl0-dev libwxgtk2.8-dev libmagick++-dev libnetcdf-dev libhdf4-alt-dev libgraphicsmagick++1-devel libhdf5-serial-dev libfftw3-dev python-dev libeigen3-dev pslib-dev

then type

and then after installing any other missing dependencies, type

make check
sudo make install

Converting IDL code to MATLAB or SciLab code automatically

Note: from Python, you can try PyIDL:

The “idl2matlab” SourceForge project publishes source code that you can compile under Windows or Linux to attempt to automatically convert IDL code to MATLAB code.

In May 2013 IDL2MATLAB version 1.6 was updated to use current version of GCC.

sudo apt-get install libbison-dev flex


now edit Makefile, being sure that

CFLAGS = -g -fno-stack-protector

the -O2 must be removed or you’ll just get segfaults.


The MATLAB code that idl2matlab produces uses a sort of cumbersome Matlab script that calls its own Matlab functions to do common tasks. The converted code can be further optimized (still, probably easier than doing it all manually).

You’ll need to know basics of IDL, like what findgen and randomu mean in Matlab. Not plug and play, but not totally manual.

GDL PLOT: PLplot installation lacks the requested driver: xwin

In Ubuntu 12.04, you might get this error upon trying to use the “plot” command of GDL (the open-source alternative to IDL).

To resolve this, try in Terminal:
sudo apt-get install plplot11-driver-xwin

and restart GDL.

Note, the version number “11” may have changed by the time you read this–just watch for such a message when you try installing plplot.