My office mate uses Microsoft Word to work out equations. It's easy to copy and paste equation line by line and just do a single manipulation each line. The benefit is you won't be missing factors when copying to next line, when compared with paper and pen.

Is there an easy way to manipulate equations on a GNU/Linux computer?

I tried OpenOffice, Lyx and this other LaTeX add on that renders equations right away. But most had been clunky.

*** I want to cut and paste the rendered LaTeX equation. I don't want to look at a really long latex equation before it's rendered to see which parts to cut and paste because I will get lost.

  • 1
    Perhaps you're looking for a Computer Algebra System (CAS)?
    – HermitianCrustacean
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 21:31
  • 1
    Could be worth learning to typeset fully in Latex. Is has some learning curve, but once you get used to it, it becomes a viable alternative to Word.
    – Alexey B.
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 22:30
  • Please provide an example of the input format of the equations. Does it need to be a GUI, or can it be a command line tool?
    – agc
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 17:02
  • I can type in latex fully but I want to look at an equation and think about manipulating it. Eg. F = ma, and a = v^2/r. I want to copy the v^2/r and paste it into a new line to form F = m v^2/r. Obviously, it's easy to do here. But once the equation gets lengthy, and if it's in latex, it is hard to visually see all my symbols like \tilde{\varphi_{\mu\nu}} = \Gamma_{\mu\nu}\int{ .....
    – Azerty
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 22:46

3 Answers 3


The computer algebra system Maxima is open source and works well on Linux. I use it frequently to do complicated mathematical operations which would take a long time by hand and also check my work.


If you want to stay with a word processor solution, I'd recommend delving more into more LaTeX-related options. I'm not clear exactly which LaTeX-based add-on you've used and why you found it clunky, but here are two related possibilities:

  • Overleaf (www.overleaf.com, merged with ShareLaTeX) Although working locally is my own preference, this web service quickly renders LaTeX.

  • A different local LaTeX editor may help. I like TeXStudio and MikTeX, but there is a long list here: https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/339/latex-editors-ides If you can set a shortcut key to have it re-render the document, that may serve your purpose.

Side note: I doubt that you will install Microsoft Office, but since 2007 or so it has had a really useful equation editor, using simplified TeX-like syntax. This means that for me Beamer is not worth the hassle vs. Powerpoint. If you are at a university and it provides free MS Office software, then this may be an option you would like to consider.


You can run Microsoft Word in Linux by using Wine. Wine is a piece of software that enables you to run Windows applications on Linux machines.

Wine is free, but of course Word is not so you would have to have a copy of Word or be able to install it somehow.

I recently installed Wine and Word on an Ubuntu machine. As I recall I tried the equations feature out of curiosity and it worked perfectly.

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