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Initial release1986; 38 years ago (1986)
Stable release6.0.0 (December 8, 2023; 6 months ago (2023-12-08)) [±]
Preview release6.1 [±]
Written inC
Websitewww.gnuplot.info Edit this on Wikidata

gnuplot is a command-line and GUI program that can generate two- and three-dimensional plots of functions, data, and data fits. The program runs on all major computers and operating systems (Linux, Unix, Microsoft Windows, macOS, FreeDOS, and many others).[3] Originally released in 1986, its listed authors are Thomas Williams, Colin Kelley, Russell Lang, Dave Kotz, John Campbell, Gershon Elber, Alexander Woo "and many others."[4] Despite its name, this software is not part of the GNU Project.


gnuplot can produce output directly on screen, or in many formats of graphics files, including Portable Network Graphics (PNG), Encapsulated PostScript (EPS), Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), JPEG and many others. It is also capable of producing LaTeX code that can be included directly in LaTeX documents, making use of LaTeX's fonts and powerful formula notation abilities. The program can be used both interactively and in batch mode using scripts.[5]

gnuplot can read data in multiple formats, including ability to read data on the fly generated by other programs (piping), create multiple plots on one image, do 2D, 3D, contour plots, parametric equations, supports various linear and non-linear coordinate systems, projections, geographic and time data reading and presentation, box plots of various forms, histograms, labels, and other custom elements on the plot, including shapes, text and images, that can be set manually, computed by script or automatically from input data.

gnuplot also provides scripting capabilities, looping, functions, text processing, variables, macros, arbitrary pre-processing of input data (usually across columns), as well ability to perform non-linear multi-dimensional multi-set weighted data fitting (see Curve fitting and Levenberg–Marquardt algorithm).

The gnuplot core code is programmed in C. Modular subsystems for output via Qt, wxWidgets, and LaTeX/TikZ/ConTeXt are written in C++ and Lua.

gnuplot in interactive use.

The code below creates the graph to the right.

set title "Some Math Functions"
set xrange [-10:10]
set yrange [-2:2]
set zeroaxis
plot (x/4)**2, sin(x), 1/x
Sample Video

The name of this program was originally chosen to avoid conflicts with a program called "newplot", and was originally a compromise between "llamaplot" and "nplot".[6]

Support of Epidemic daily and weekly formats in Version 5.4.2 is a result of pandemic coronavirus data needs.[7]

Distribution terms[edit]

gnuplot License
AuthorThomas Williams, Colin Kelley
Published1986 – 1993, 1998, 2004
SPDX identifiergnuplot[1]
Debian FSG compatibleYes
FSF approvedYes
OSI approvedYes
GPL compatibleNo[8]

Despite gnuplot's name, it is not named after, part of or related to the GNU Project, nor does it use the GNU General Public License. It was named as part of a compromise by the original authors, punning on gnu (the animal) and newplot (a planned name that was discarded due to already being used).[9]

Official source code to gnuplot is freely redistributable, but modified versions thereof are not. The gnuplot license allows instead distribution of patches against official releases, optionally accompanied by officially released source code. Binaries may be distributed along with the unmodified source code and any patches applied thereto. Contact information must be supplied with derived works for technical support for the modified software.[2]

Permission to modify the software is granted, but not the right to distribute the complete modified source code. Modifications are to be distributed as patches to the released version.

Despite this restriction, gnuplot is accepted and used by many GNU packages and is widely included in Linux distributions including the stricter ones such as Debian and Fedora. The OSI Open Source Definition and the Debian Free Software Guidelines specifically allow for restrictions on distribution of modified source code, given explicit permission to distribute both patches and source code.

Newer gnuplot modules (e.g. Qt, wxWidgets, and cairo drivers) have been contributed under dual-licensing terms, e.g. gnuplot + BSD or gnuplot + GPL.

GUIs and programs that use gnuplot[edit]

Several third-party programs have graphical user interfaces that can be used to generate graphs using gnuplot as the plotting engine. These include:

Other programs that use gnuplot include:

Programming and application interfaces[edit]

gnuplot can be used from various programming languages to graph data, including C++ (via g3p), Perl (via PDL and other CPAN packages), Python (via gnuplotlib, Gnuplot-py and SageMath), R via (Rgnuplot), Julia (via Gaston.jl), Java (via JavaGnuplotHybrid and jgnuplot), Ruby (via Ruby Gnuplot), Ch (via Ch Gnuplot), Haskell (via Haskell gnuplot), Fortran 95,[21] Smalltalk (Squeak and GNU Smalltalk) and Rust (via RustGnuplot).

gnuplot also supports piping, which is typical of scripts.[22] For script-driven graphics, gnuplot is one of the most popular programs.[citation needed]

Gnuplot output formats[edit]

Gnuplot allows the user to display or store plots in several ways:[23][24]

  • On the console (output modes dumb, sixel)
  • In a desktop window (output modes Qt, wxt, X11, aquaterm, win, ...)
  • Embedded in a web page (output modes SVG, HTML5, PNG, JPEG, animated GIF, ...)
  • File formats designed for document processing (output modes PostScript, PDF, cgm, emf, LaTeX variants, ...)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "gnuplot License". Spdx.org.
  2. ^ a b "gnuplot : gnuplot-main : [bcc809] : Copyright". Sourceforge.net. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  3. ^ Gnuplot 5.0 Reference Manual, 2015, ISBN 9881443644
  4. ^ "gnuplot FAQ". Gnuplot.info. Retrieved 29 August 2022.
  5. ^ "How to generate graphs with gnuplot". Blogs.oucs.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-19.
  6. ^ "gnuplot FAQ". Gnuplot.info. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  7. ^ "Gnuplot Version 5.4.2 Release Notes". Archived from the original on 2021-06-08. Retrieved 2021-06-08.
  8. ^ "License:Gnuplot". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  9. ^ "1.2 How did it come about and why is it called gnuplot?". Gnuplot.info. Retrieved 2015-02-21.
  10. ^ "JGNUplot homepage". Jgp.sourceforge.net. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  11. ^ "Kayali". Sourceforge.net. 19 April 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  12. ^ "Xldlas - A basic statistical package for X windows". Archived from the original on 2014-10-31. Retrieved 2014-10-30.
  13. ^ "Home · uwe-schneider/Gnuplotxyz Wiki". Uni-hamburg.
  14. ^ Steingrube, Daniel S. "Steingrube". www.steingrube-home.de. Archived from the original on 2015-10-26. Retrieved 2015-08-21.
  15. ^ "Wald: Statist: Project Home". Wald.intevation.org.
  16. ^ "GPlot". Gplot.sourceforge.net. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  17. ^ "Elchemea Analytical". Elchemea.com. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  18. ^ "DTU Energy". Energy.dtu.dk. Archived from the original on 2021-04-14. Retrieved 2016-05-24.
  19. ^ "GnuPlot Add-in for Excel". Sourceforge.net. 2 January 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  20. ^ Gillespie, Dave. "The GNU Emacs Calculator". www.gnu.org. Free Software Foundation, Inc. p. Graphics. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  21. ^ Singh, Madhusudan. "gnuplotfortran - the Fortran 95 interface to gnuplot". gnuplotfortran.sourceforge.net. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  22. ^ "2-cent Tip: Piping to GNU Plot from C". Linuxgazette.net. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  23. ^ "gnuplot homepage". Gnuplot.info. Retrieved 27 June 2022.
  24. ^ "Manual Rápido de Gnuplot" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2020-06-16. Retrieved 2020-03-30.

Further reading and external links[edit]