Roml’s Mathematica post triggered me to think… Why Mathematica?
Octave, Maxima, and R will each do at least 80% of their commercial counterparts, Matlab, Mathematica, and SPSS. It sounds like you purchased Mathematica because you want that specialized 20% which Maxima will not do. I liken this to using any other niche commercial software such as Oracle over Postgresql, or Websphere instead of Jboss.
Would it be possible to get Oracle or Websphere packages into a debian tree? Yes, we are programmers, just about anything is possible. Is this likely to ever occur? No, I don’t think so. Oracle and IBM may claim to embrace open source, but they don’t embrace, nor do they even understand the levels of ease of use and administration which you are suggesting.
My advice: use Maxima. 🙂 It doesn’t do what you want? Add the feature you want, this is the power of open source! Don’t have the time to add said features? Then you are doomed to struggle with the manual installation of commercial software!