Recently a colleague sent me some information on his model and a bunch of Mathematica .nb files. I don’t use Mathematica (if I felt the need for that kind of thing I’d go for Sage) and I don’t have access to it, so I started looking around for a way to export the notebook, say to pdf.

I found an online nb to pdf converter hosted by Wolfram called NBtoPDF, so I uploaded the smallest file (quite a few M) while I kept searching for a solution.

I’m glad I did keep searching, because after a good deal of time the converter returned “Error uploading file” and that was the end of that.

It seems that over time Wolfram has released a few different reader and converter programs, like Mathreader and Mathematica Player, which seem to be differently-abled versions of Mathematica. All urls now lead to Wolfram CDF Player, which is available for Linux, but not with browser capability. I downloaded it and installed it

$ chmod +x
$ sudo ./

and gave it go:

$ wolframcdfplayer
error while loading shared libraries: cannot open sharedobject file: 
No such file or directory


I checked out the Official Forums for any Linux related stuff, and the first thread I came across had an Official Forum Moderator advising one student:

If you have the stand-alone CDF Player and cannot open and run CDF
files in it, contact Wolfram Technical Support at


Then on the Ubuntu forums I found this post:

It looks like that MathematicaPlayerPro is a pure 32bit
application (according to WRI-support). Just doing:
sudo apt-get install ia32-libs
fixes the issue.

So I did an apt-get install ia32-libs, and retried invoking the Mathematica CDF Player:

error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: 
No such file or directory

Well I guess that’s progress.

I came across another message on the Official Wolfram Forums suggesting that the solution to the missing library problem was to install libxmu-dev. Perhaps that install had something extra? But no, I tried it on top of what I did before and still the cannot open shared object file problem persisted.

Both threads however mentioned the 32-bit library issue, that CDF Player uses that instead of the 64-bit types. I took a look in /usr/lib/ and I could see both and, but in /usr/lib32 the offending library was missing.

A search landed me on this Debian bugs thread, where one user writes:

my ia32-libs creates a symlink /emul/ia32-linux/usr/lib/ pointing to in the same directory, but this file is missing

That vaguely sounded like my problem. Another replied:

The link is in the wrong packages. It belongs in ia32-libs-gtks. But if you install ia32-libs-gtk as well it will work.

So I tried

$ apt-get install ia32-libs-gtk

and success. I was then able to run it and open the notebook files.

Yay, it works.
Yay, it works.

The final experiment was to see if I could export the notebooks to pdf to make checking equations quicker. The GUI menu has a print to pdf option. Using evince to open it I got:

Error: PDF file is damaged - 
attempting to reconstruct xref table...

but evince managed to work around whatever error CDF Player had put in the file and I could read it just fine.