How to Install MATLAB

By Jim Sizemore, John Paul Mueller

A problem that anyone can encounter is getting a bad MATLAB installation or simply not having the right software installed. When you can’t use your software properly, the entire application experience is less than it should be. Check out the following tips to guide you through the MATLAB installation so that you can have a great experience using it.

Discovering which platforms MATLAB supports

Before you go any further, you need to verify that your system will actually run MATLAB. At a minimum, you need 3GB of free hard drive space and 2GB of RAM to use MATLAB effectively. (It can run on systems with fewer resources, but you won’t be happy with the performance.) You also need to know which platforms MATLAB supports. You can use it on these systems:

  • Windows (3GB free disk space, 2GB RAM)

    • Windows 8.1

    • Windows 8

    • Windows 7 Service Pack 1

    • Windows Vista Service Pack 2

    • Windows XP Service Pack 3

    • Windows XP x64 Edition Service Pack 2

    • Windows Server 2012

    • Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1

    • Windows Server 2008 Service Pack 2

    • Windows Server 2003 R2 Service Pack 2

  • Mac OS X

    • Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks)

    • Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion)

    • Mac OS X 10.7.4+ (Lion)

  • Linux

    • Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, 13.04, and 13.10

    • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.x

    • SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 11 SP3

    • Debian 6.x

Linux users may find that other distributions work. However, the list of Linux systems represents those that are tested to work with MATLAB. If you try MATLAB on your unlisted Linux system and find that it works well, please let John@JohnMuellerBooks.com know and he’ll mention these other systems in a blog post.

The point is that you really do need to have the right platform to get good results with MATLAB. You can always obtain the current minimum requirements for MATLAB.

Getting your copy of MATLAB

Before you can work with MATLAB, you need a copy installed on your system. Fortunately, you have a number of methods at your disposal. Here are the three most common ways of getting MATLAB:

In most cases, you need to download the copy of MATLAB or the MATLAB installer onto your system after you fill out the required information to get it. Some users choose to receive a DVD in the mail instead of downloading the product online. No matter which technique you use, you eventually get a copy of MATLAB to install.

Performing the installation

The method you use to install MATLAB depends on the version you obtain and the media used to send it to you. For example, there is a method for installing MATLAB from DVD and an entirely different method when you want to download the installer and use an Internet connection. Administrators and users also have different installation procedures. Use the table at MathWorks.com to determine which installation procedure to use.

MathWorks provides you with substantial help in performing the installation. Before you contact anyone, be sure to look through the materials on the main installation page. It’s also possible to obtain installation help. Take the time to review the material that MathWorks provides before you push the panic button. Doing so will save time and effort.

Activating the product

After you complete the MATLAB installation, you must activate the product. Activation is a verification process. It simply means that MathWorks verifies that you have a valid copy of MATLAB on your system. With a valid copy, you obtain support such as updates to your copy of MATLAB as needed.

You have a number of activation types to use with MATLAB that depend on the product version and how you’re using the product. The chart at MathWorks tells you about these activation types and helps you make a selection. The matrix at MathWorks tells you whether your particular version of MATLAB supports a specific activation type. For example, the individual license doesn’t support the Network Named User activation type.

MATLAB automatically asks you about activation after the installation process is complete. You don’t need to do anything special. However, you do want to consider the type of activation you want to perform — which type of activation will best meet your needs and those of your organization.