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Just a quick note, I was able to resolve the "/usr/bin/ld: cannot find -lopenNI" issue with ubuntu 12.04 by performing the following steps:
1. Creating a symbolic link to libOpenNI.so
-> ln -s /path/to/libOpenNI.so.1.0.0 /path/to/libOpenNI.so
2. Temporary update the environmental variable path in matlab to point to openNI library and Include folder by adding the following lines to the top of the compile_cpp_files.m file:
-> setenv('OPEN_NI_LIB', '/path/to/openNI/lib');
-> setenv('OPEN_NI_INCLUDE', '/path/to/openNI/Include');
3. Changing the mex function call in the compile_cpp_files.m to refer to '-lOpenNI' instead of '-lopenNI' since the libOpenNI.so has the letter o capitalized.