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Re: MathKernel7 produces no Graphics

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg104613] Re: [mg104597] MathKernel7 produces no Graphics
  • From: John Fultz <jfultz at>
  • Date: Thu, 5 Nov 2009 03:47:29 -0500 (EST)
  • Reply-to: jfultz at

You can load the JavaGraphics` package to get the support you want.  I.e.,


So why not do this by default?  We had a sea change of graphics systems 
beginning with v6.  Previously, graphics were generated from PostScript created 
largely by the kernel (although some components could be generated by the FE as 
well).  Any PostScript renderer could show them, and we had a few.

As of v6, the kernel no longer emits PostScript.  This is a *good* thing, as
PostScript was holding our graphics ability back.  But the modern graphics are 
sophisticated enough that there's only one program with all of the features
required to render them...the Mathematica front end.

We wrote a quickie Java bitmap viewer and some M-- code to launch the FE in the 
background, ask the FE to render graphics to bitmap, then toss the bitmap to the 
Java program.  But, as you'll notice when you execute the above command, it
takes a bit to launch.  The FE has to be started up, as well as a JRE. People 
who use standalone kernels might not appreciate the extra startup time, 
particularly if the kernels are to be used non-interactively (i.e. as a target 
for redirection).

John Fultz
jfultz at
User Interface Group
Wolfram Research, Inc.

On Wed, 4 Nov 2009 01:39:49 -0500 (EST), Jan Engelhardt wrote:
> Hi everybody,
> I just installed a trial of Mathematica 7.0.1 to see how it improved
> from the previous Mathematica 5.2 that I still had. Slightly
> disappointing is the fact that the MathKernel does not output graphics
> anymore, that is,
>> ~/bin/math
> Mathematica 7.0 for Linux x86 (64-bit)
> Copyright 1988-2009 Wolfram Research, Inc.
> In[1]:= Plot[x^2, {x, -1, 1}]
> Out[1]= -Graphics-
> In[2]:=
> Without popping up a new window with the graph as it used to in Math5.
> $DISPLAY is set and valid. Even when I forcibly unset it, there is no
> warning from the graphics output subprogram (that used to start in
> Math5) that DISPLAY is empty.
> I found this [ ] thread in this newsgroup
> archive mentioning similar issues; however, if directing MathKernel to
> output in StandardForm or TraditionalForm, the -graphics- won't be a
> -graphics-, but a point list and parameters of the plot (I'd really
> prefer the drawn plot ;)
> In[2]:= StandardForm[Plot[x^2,{x,-1,1}]]
> Out[2]//StandardForm=
>> GraphicsBox[... lots of text ...]
> What could be up with MathKernel7 that it produces no Graphics? With the
> graphical interface (~/bin/mathematica), plots are in fact shown, but
> I really prefer running just the MathKernel CLI.
> thanks,
> Jan

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