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I am following this guide to embed 3d plots from Wolfram Mathematica into a PDF created with latex. The author of the guide is using Ubuntu 15.04 and I am using Ubuntu 16.04.

I have my .x3d file, I installed Meshlab with sudo apt-get install meshlab and I downloaded and extracted the .u3d converter from the link given in the guide.

After this point, I have basically no idea of what I am doing, so I start having problems that I don't understand (and therefore cannot solve):

  1. The INSTALL file suggests to use ./configure; make; make install. I open the terminal in the corresponding folder. Before ./configure, there are Makefile.in and Makefile.am files. After ./configure, no other Makefile is generated, even though I don't get any error message when running ./configure. So when running make, I get the "no target specified and no makefile found" message.

  2. The guide suggests to use cmake-gui. The INSTALL file says that cmake is only mac option for now, but I still give it a try. I open the terminal in the folder containing the folder obtained by extracting the .zip and run cmake-gui name_of_folder. I click on Generate and select the Unix Makefiles as generator, and get an error message: Error in configuration process, project files may be invalid.

  3. Despite this error, a folder is generated. I try to continue following the guide (again, without really knowing what I am doing) and try to do make somewhere in the obtained folder. But there isn't any Makefile anywhere.

  4. Finally, step 8 of the guide sounds completely obscure to me:

Go to that directory of build files and do a make;sudo make install. This should put them in /usr/local/bin, which normally is ok, but meshlab has a hardcoded link to the IDTFConverter in /usr/bin, so I just symlinked it with: ln -s /usr/local/bin/IDTFConverter /usr/bin

I assume that the directory of build files is the one unsuccessfully generated by CMake. Again, no Makefile anywhere. The rest is completely beyond my comprehension.

If anyone sees what I am doing wrong, I would appreciate some hints. If there is no visible mistake, I would like to understand more what I am doing. What are the build files and what are they used for? Why do we want them in /usr/local/bin and what does it mean to symlink?

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    What exactly does happen when you run ./configure? Until you get that step to work (and produce a Makefile) there's no point trying the other steps. FWIW I just tried it in a 16.04 VM and it seemed to configure and make OK. – steeldriver Jan 25 '17 at 2:29
  • After a long list of checking, the process ends with this lines: "checking png.h usability... no checking png.h presence... no checking for png.h... no Install PNG headers" What are the PNG headers and how do I install them? Is this causing the issue? – Pedro Jan 25 '17 at 18:43
  • So you will likely need to install a png development package - my system has libpng12-dev for example (although libpng16-dev is available) – steeldriver Jan 25 '17 at 18:48
  • Thank you very much! I installed libpng16-dev and after the analogous error for jpeg and installing libjpeg-dev, the ./configure generated the Makefile which is now running. Everything seems to be ok, thanks! – Pedro Jan 25 '17 at 19:10

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