Installation from a pre-built binary tarball should in the long run be the easiest and fastest way to install Sage. This is not necessarily the case right now. Note that Sage is itself a programming environment, so building it from source guarantees you maximum flexibility in the long run. Nonetheless, we provide pre-built binaries.
Assumptions: You have a computer with at least 2 GB of free disk space and the operating system is Linux (32-bit or 64-bit) or OS X (10.4 or later).
Highly Recommended: It is highly recommended that you have LaTeX installed. If you want to view animations, you should install either ImageMagick or ffmpeg. ImageMagick or dvipng is also used for displaying some LaTeX output in the Sage notebook.
Download the latest binary tarball from http://www.sagemath.org/download.html. For example, it might be called sage-x.y.z-x86_64-Linux.tgz. Unpack it on your computer in a directory which you have permission to read and write:
tar zxvf sage-x.y.z-x86_64-Linux.tgz
You can move the resulting directory sage-x.y.z-x86_64-Linux anywhere and still run ./sage from it, as long as the full path name has no spaces in it. You can also copy the file sage from that directory and put it anywhere, e.g., /usr/local/bin/, but then you have to edit the #SAGE_ROOT=/path/to/sage-version line at the top of the copied file /usr/local/bin/sage (you should not edit the original sage executable). The variable SAGE_ROOT should point to the directory sage-x.y.z-x86_64-Linux of the extracted Sage tarball. As long as /usr/local/bin is in your $PATH, you can then type sage from the command line to run Sage. Another approach is to create a symbolic link, say /usr/local/bin/sage, pointing to sage-x.y.z-x86_64-Linux/sage
ln -s /path/to/sage-x.y.z-x86_64-Linux/sage /usr/local/bin/sage
With this approach, there is no need to edit /usr/local/bin/sage, the SAGE_ROOT path will be discovered automatically thanks to the symbolic link. When you want to install a new version of Sage, just delete the old link and create a new one.
Any time you move the Sage directory, you may see a message like
The Sage installation tree may have moved (from /foo to /bar). Changing various hardcoded paths... (Please wait at most a few minutes.) DO NOT INTERRUPT THIS.
We currently distribute .dmg files for OS X 10.4.x and 10.6.x. But we would like to make Sage more of a native application. Work for that is ongoing, but help is always welcome.