Octave vs SciLab
Both Octave and SciLab are open source packages similar to MatLab.
"Octave is closer to matlab in syntax, but scilab has more features (e.g., toolboxes for more specialized stuff). It also runs natively on the mac (of interest to a subset of users, admittedly) as well as linux/PC. Also, it has Xcos, which imitates matlab's Simulink (which I don't use myself, admittedly). So on the whole, I go with Scilab, although I may be doing Octave a disservice.
Scilab claims to have a matlab converter to help with the syntax differences. I haven't tried it and can't comment on it. Scilab's syntax is similar to matlab's, so the differences are pretty minor." J. Bechhoefer