I set out to do a visualization that is basic to the multivariable calculus classroom: plot a surface, a tangent plane, and a normal line. I didn’t do it on the first try…or the second.
I had to learn some things about the draw3d functionality in Maxima and wxMaxima. Here’s a great resource by Wilhelm Haager. In the end I’m delighted at the amazing flexibility of that command, but still scratching my head a little about how this would appear to an otherwise uninitiated beginner to Maxima.