Matlab — RCG Handbook


What is Matlab?

Matlab has been around for decades, and is pretty much the industry standard for numerical computations. It excels at matrix algebra, which is where the Matlab name came from – “Matrix Laboratory”. This is commercial software, but SFU has a site license for it. New releases come out twice a year. The current release is Matlab R2021a. Over the years, 100+ toolboxes have been added to Matlab, for doing everything from bioinformatics to deep learning, to image processing, to statistics and more.

What Matlab Toolboxes are Available?

SFU is licensed for over 100 toolboxes and components of Matlab. Here is a table showing the details of our licensed Matlab components along with their current version numbers:

Matlab Release 2021a Version
MATLAB Version 9.10
Simulink Version 10.3
5G Toolbox Version 2.2
AUTOSAR Blockset Version 2.4
Aerospace Blockset Version 5.0
Aerospace Toolbox Version 4.0
Antenna Toolbox Version 5.0
Audio Toolbox Version 3.0
Automated Driving Toolbox Version 3.3
Bioinformatics Toolbox Version 4.15.1
Communications Toolbox Version 7.5
Computer Vision Toolbox Version 10.0
Control System Toolbox Version 10.10
Curve Fitting Toolbox Version 3.5.13
DDS Blockset Version 1.0
DSP System Toolbox Version 9.12
Data Acquisition Toolbox Version 4.3
Database Toolbox Version 10.1
Datafeed Toolbox Version 6.0
Deep Learning HDL Toolbox Version 1.1
Deep Learning Toolbox Version 14.2
Econometrics Toolbox Version 5.6
Embedded Coder Version 7.6
Filter Design HDL Coder Version 3.1.9
Financial Instruments Toolbox Version 3.2
Financial Toolbox Version 6.1
Fixed-Point Designer Version 7.2
Fuzzy Logic Toolbox Version 2.8.1
GPU Coder Version 2.1
Global Optimzation Toolbox Version 4.5
HDL Coder Version 3.18
HDL Verifier Version 6.3
Image Acquisition Toolbox Version 6.4
Image Processing Toolbox Version 11.3
Instrument Control Toolbox Version 4.4
LTE Toolbox Version 3.5
Lidar Toolbox Version 1.1
MATLAB Coder Version 5.2
MATLAB Compiler Version 8.2
MATLAB Compiler SDK Version 6.10
MATLAB Report Generator Version 5.10
Mapping Toolbox Version 5.1
Mixed-Signal Blockset Version 2.0
Model Predictive Control Toolbox Version 7.1
Model-Based Calibration Toolbox Version 5.10
Motor Control Blockset Version 1.2
Navigation Toolbox Version 2.0
OPC Toolbox Version 5.0.2
Optimization Toolbox Version 9.1
Parallel Computing Toolbox Version 7.4
Partial Differential Equation Toolbox Version 3.6
Phased Array System Toolbox Version 4.5
Powertrain Blockset Version 1.9
Predictive Maintenance Toolbox Version 2.3
RF Blockset Version 8.1
RF Toolbox Version 41
ROS Toolbox Version 1.3
Radar Toolbox Version 1.0
Reinforcement Learning Toolbox Version 2.0
Risk Management Toolbox Version 1.9
Robotics System Toolbox Version 3.3
Robust Control Toolbox Version 6.10
Satellite Communications Toolbox Version 1.0
Sensor Fusion and Tracking Toolbox Version 2.1
SerDes Toolbox Version 2.1
Signal Processing Toolbox Version 8.6
SimBiology Version 6.1
SimEvents Version 5.10
Simscape Version 5.1
Simscape Driveline Version 3.3
Simscape Electrical Version 7.5
Simscape Fluids Version 3.2
Simscape Multibody Version 7.3
Simulink 3D Animation Version 9.2
Simulink Check Version 5.1
Simulink Code Inspector Version 3.8
Simulink Coder Version 9.5
Simulink Compiler Version 1.2
Simulink Control Design Version 5.7
Simulink Coverage Version 5.2
Simulink Design Optimization Version 3.9.1
Simulink Design Verifier Version 4.5
Simulink Desktop Real-Time Version 5.12
Simulink PLC Coder Version 3.4
Simulink Real-Time Version 7.1
Simulink Report Generator Version 5.10
Simulink Requirements Version 1.7
Simulink Test Version 3.4
SoC Blockset Version 1.4
Spreadsheet Link Version 3.4.5
Stateflow Version 10.4
Statistics & Machine Learning Toolbox Version 12.1
Symbolic Math Toolbox Version 8.7
System Composer Version 2.0
System Identification Toolbox Version 9.14
Text Analytics Toolbox Version 1.7
UAV Toolbox Version 1.1
Vehicle Dynamics Blockset Version 1.6
Vehicle Network Toolbox Version 5.0
Vision HDL Toolbox Version 2.3
WLAN System Toolbox Version 3.2
Wavelet Toolbox Version 5.6
Wireless HDL Toolbox Version 2.2

Where is Matlab on RCG-Managed Linux Computers?

The Research Computing Group supplies a centrally-maintained and configured installation of Matlab and all of our licensed toolboxes (currently 26 Gigs in size). We used to make this available via an NFS mount, but we’ve recently (2020/2021) switched to CVMFS for performance reasons. The location of the CVMFS mount is:


The executables, matlab, mbuild, mcc, and mex are symlinked from within:


which should be in everyone’s $PATH.

Linux Environment

Most of the linux systems managed by the Research Computing Group are set up with environment modules. By default, these environment modules will adjust your $PATH and other environment variables so that commands such as matlab, mbuild, mcc, and mex will run the latest version of Matlab from the aforementioned CVMFS mount.

If you type matlab and get Command not found, then you may have an older environment that is messing-up the environment modules. In the olden days, users would put custom settings into their .mylogin and .mycshrc files, which would be sourced from standard .login and .cshrc files. You may need to move these files out of the way in order for the environment modules to work correctly.

How do I run Matlab on Linux?

If you want to run the command-line version of Matlab, then type:

matlab -nodisplay -nodesktop

If you’re in a GUI environment, you can run the X-windows version of Matlab by simply typing:


How to Find Older Versions of Matlab

Some researchers have custom code that only works with a specific older version of Matlab. We keep older versions of Matlab around, just in case a new version breaks something. You can run these older versions of Matlab by typing matlab-2020b, matlab-2020a, matlab-2019b, etc. There are also corresponding “mbuild”, “mcc”, and “mex” commands with the same suffixes. If you’re not sure, just take a look in:


How does Matlab Licensing Work?

The Research Computing Group maintains a set of 3 redundant license servers. These license servers host 10,000 licenses for Matlab and the aformentioned toolboxes and components. If Matlab loses communication with these license servers, then it won’t work. Being triply-redundant means that we can take one server down in order to do system updates and maintenance, and the other two will keep serving matlab licenses.

On the rare occasion that something goes wrong with our license servers, you might see:

License checkout failed.
License Manager Error -15
MATLAB is unable to connect to the license server.
Check that the license manager has been started, and
that the MATLAB client machine can communicate
with the license server.

If this happens, please contact us via

NOTE: our license servers are only accessible on-campus. If you try to copy our centrally-maintained installation of Matlab and take it somewhere else, it won’t work!

In the past, when we only had a very limited number of Matlab toolbox licenses, users might have have received a notice that all licenses were in use for a particular toolbox. This shouldn’t happen anymore, now that we are licensed for 10,000 instances of every toolbox. But just in case it does happen, you can query the license servers to find out how many licenses are being used and by whom. Here’s how:

cd /cvmfs/
./lmstat -c license.dat -a | less

(You don’t have to pipe the output into less but it helps because the output will fill many screenfuls. Type man less for info on how to use it.)

How do I get Matlab on a Non-linux Computer?

If Matlab isn’t already installed on your SFU-managed Windows or Macintosh computer, then please contact your school’s helpdesk.

What if I Want to Run Matlab at Home?

As mentioned above, you can’t contact our license servers from home. However, individual licenses of Matlab are available for your portable or home computer if you are an active researcher or a registered student at SFU. For details, see:

Note that these individual licenses expire yearly and need to be renewed every January.

What Versions of Matlab Run on What Platforms

Matlab has been around for decades, and we in the Research Computing Group have been installing and maintaining it for decades, ever since the days when we were running SunOS unix on Sun Sparc hardware. As new operating systems came into use, Matlab dropped support for older ones. Here is a list of what versions of Matlab run on what platforms:

  • Solaris 8 & 9: R2007a was the final version.
  • Solaris 10: R2009b was the final version.
  • Linux 32-bit: R2012a was the final version.
  • Linux CentOS 5: R2013a was the final version.
  • Linux CentOS 6: R2020a was the final version.
  • Linux CentOS 7: R2014b was the first version.
  • Linux CentOS 8: R2019b was the first version.
  • Linux Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: R2019a was the final version.
  • Linux Ubuntu 16.04 LTS: R2021a is the final version.
  • Linux Ubuntu 18.04 LTS: R2018b was the first version.
  • Linux Ubuntu 20.04 LTS: R2020b was the first version.
  • Mac OS X PowerPC: R2007b was the final version.
  • Mac OS X 32-bit Intel: R2010a was the final version.
  • Mac OS X 64-bit Intel on Mac OS X 10.6: R2012b was the final version.
  • Mac OS X Lion: R2014b was the final version.
  • Mac OS X Mountain Lion: R2014b was the final version.
  • Mac OS X Mavericks: R2015b was the final version.
  • Mac OS X Yosemite: R2017a was the final version.
  • Mac OS X El Capitan: R2018a was the final version.
  • macOS Sierra: R2019a was the final version.
  • macOS High Sierra: R2020a was the final version.
  • macOS Mojave: R2021a is the final version.
  • macOS Catalina: R2019b was the first version.
  • macOS Big Sur: R2020b was the first version.
  • Windows 2000: R2007b was the final version.
  • Windows XP & Vista, 32 and 64-bit: R2015a was the final version.
  • Windows 7, 32-bit: R2015b was the final version.
  • Windows 7, 64-bit: R2021b will be the final version.
  • Windows 8: R2017a was the final version.
  • Windows 8.1: R2018a was the final version.
  • Windows 10: R2015a was the first version.

For more details, please see: