Installing Maxima on OS X

The Maxima folks now provide precompiled binaries for Maxima, wxMaxima and gnuplot. However you might want to build Maxima yourself to have access to it on the command line, e.g. for using it within Emacs.

LISP and Maxima

Maxima needs LISP which is not installed on OS X out of the box (to check this open your Terminal and type sbcl and lisp). In my experience Maxima runs nicely with the CMUCL implementation. Download it from here. The file you need is named cmucl-***-x86-darwin.tar.bz2. To install open your Terminal, navigate to /usr/local and extract the files:
cd /usr/local
sudo tar xjf PATH-TO-FILE
Next download Maxima from here (we want the source, not the precompiled binary). Now, in your Terminal navigate to your download folder and extract maxima:
tar xzf maxima-*.tar.gz
Enter the created directory and configure and build Maxima with CMUCL (you need to have Apple's Xcode installed):
./configure --with-cmucl=/usr/local/bin/lisp
make
If that is successful you can run a self-test of the built program and then install it.
make check
sudo make install

imaxima mode for Emacs

Download imaxima package from here. Extract and put it in Aquamacs' "Startup folder" located in your User Library. Its full path is:
~/Library/Application Support/Aquamacs Emacs
Aquamacs searches this folder (which is the OS X standard location for such extensions) by default -- however imaxima contains a bug which leads to problem with the white spaces in the path. To fix this open imaxima.el and search for "imaxima-maxima-program" to go to the following block of code:
"imaxima"
imaxima-maxima-program
nil
(split-string
imaxima-maxima-options))))
Replace this with:
"imaxima"
imaxima-maxima-program
nil
(list
imaxima-maxima-options))))