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Absolute Newb: How Does Licensing Work?

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Kent West
Kent West on 14 Dec 2017
Commented: Kent West on 18 Dec 2017
I don't even know what MatLab is/does; all I know is that my university faculty want it on some school computers.
What has been setup before I stepped into the role:
  • A lab full of PCs, and a few faculty computers, running older versions of MatLab (2014).
  • A yearly license renewal.
  • Two Windows servers with FLEXlm license manager, presumably serving out concurrent licenses, one for the Research version, and one for the Classroom version. One of them is also serving as the license server for Autodesk software. The MATLAB licenses it is serving out is for the 2014b version.
A few months ago, I was forwarded an email from the person holding my job before me (Alex), from MathWorks, saying my license was needing to be renewed. With a lot of confusion, we managed to purchase a software maintenance renewal. Now when I log into using either my email or my former-job-holder's email, I get to a screen that says "My Software", that lists two licenses, one labeled "Research Only", Concurrent, Academic, and one that is labeled "Classroom", Concurrent, Academic.
If I click on one of the the license numbers (while logged in as Alex), I get a new page that has a "Manage Products" on it, which appears to show what we had, which expired this year, and what we have now, which expire next year. What we have now for the Classroom version is "MATLAB" (Count=60) and "Symbolic Math Toolbox" (60). The Research version only shows "MATLAB" (Count=6).
If I'm logged in as myself instead of as Alex, I don't see the extra tabs on this page that I see when I'm logged in as him. All I see are "Manage Products" and "Contact Administrator(s)" (which lists him only - he's no longer in this job, and shouldn't be in the MathWorks system at all). When logged in as him, I also see the tabs labeled "Manage Users" and "Install and Activate". I'm unsure what the "Manage Users" tab does; it looks like maybe it only gives permissions to people to download MathWorks software.
On the "Install and Activate" option is where it really starts getting confusing. I've figured out how to download the client, but when I try to install it, it gives two options, neither of which I'm sure what to do with, and when I pick one, it seems to download the software again. I have no idea how to get the 2017b versions working, alongside the 2014b version (assuming we still have that version out in the wild), alongside the Autodesk software, nor how to tell the clients to use the license server.
Surely there's some documentation somewhere that explains all this sufficiently enough for me to at least be able to ask intelligent questions? At the moment I'm completely bewildered, and hating MathWorks almost as much as I hate Adobe Creative Cloud.
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


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Kent West
Kent West on 15 Dec 2017
I have downloaded "matlab_R2017b_win64" and have unzipped it. I then run "setup.exe".
It gives me two options, titled "Select installation method". The two options are: "Log in with a MathWorks Account" and "Use a File Installation Key".
I would have thought that logging into the MathWorks server earlier to download the "matlab_R2017b_win64" installer would be all I would need in order to install this version of MatLab on a Windows client, but apparently not. Now I have to log in again, and/or use a "File Installation Key". I'm not sure which option I should pick, or why I would want to pick one method over the other. There is no documentation on that installation screen to give me any clue, and so far I've been unable to find any clear instructions on the MathWorks web site. Surely it's there, and I'm just missing it for whatever reason?
Flipping a coin (and not knowing if this is going to really screw me over in some way if I pick the wrong coin-flip), I choose "Log in with a MathWorks Account".
I have to accept the license. Okay.
Now I'm asked to login with my MathWorks Account (or to create a MathWorks Account, requiring an Activation Key (which I presume is different from the File Installation Key)). I assume this is the same account I used to download the installer. So I use it.
Yea! Logging in with the same account I used to download the installer worked. But that raises a question. Does that mean when I set my student employees to installing this app, I'll have to give them my creds? Or each of them has to create a MathWorks account? Or should the students have the end-users step into the process to create their own accounts? All very confusing, and no documentation that I've found so far to answer these questions.
So, logged in as me, I now get to select a license, either Classroom or Research Only. Again, no documentation on the screen about what these items mean (and it took quite a bit of effort on my part to come to a vague understanding of the differences when I was doing the maintenance renewal, and I'm still not entirely clear on what's allowed and not). Okay, for testing this install on my virtual Win10 box, I'll choose "Classroom".
Choose installation location; I'll leave the default.
Now I'm asked to "Select products to install". The options are "Product" (what does that mean?!) and "License Manager 11.14". Both are unchecked. I'm supposed to have a license manager server running on a server somewhere (I believe), so I assume I don't need the license manager. I guess "Product" means "MATLAB R2017b", so I'll select "Product". Oh, that also selects "License Manager 11.14". Er... I'm pretty sure I don't need a license manager...., so I'll uncheck it. (I could be hosing myself. I have no way of knowing, because the documentation is lacking.) Oh, if I uncheck the license manager, it unchecks "Product". Okay then, I guess I'll leave both of them checked.
Now it's asking for me to "Provide license file location". What is this?!! I've checked my email from when I renewed the maintenance agreement; I can find no license file. Maybe I've accidentally lost that email. Maybe it's hidden in the extracted folder from the downloaded installer? Maybe it's generated on the web site (my account doesn't seem to show me any such capability).
Convoluted. Convoluted. Convoluted. And no documentation to explain it.
There is a "licenses" folder in the unzipped download, but it has a .bin file. I'll try to select it. Oh, the browser window doesn't see mapped network drives, which is where I have my installer. Dandy. So I'll copy that file down to my local Desktop; maybe that'll work. Copied it down; the browser window can see it; and boom! This file obviously is not a license file. At least not a complete license file, as it wants me to edit it. Of course, how am I supposed to edit a .bin file?
Now I'm asked about "License Manager Configuration". Again, why am I installing a license manager, when I (as I understand it) already have a license server running elsewhere?
And on and on it goes.
I am exceptionally frustrated. Maybe I'm stupid. My friends and family typically remark about my high intelligence, but maybe they're all wrong, and I really am stupid. Because I'm making no headway whatsoever on wrapping my brain around MATLAB installation. None. Nada. Zip.
Steven Lord
Steven Lord on 15 Dec 2017
The installation documentation is available online. If after reading through the steps in that documentation you're still having difficulty, I strongly recommend you contact Technical Support as Karen recommended. They can explain the meaning of the various terms used by the installer and help make sure you get everything you need installed correctly.
Kent West
Kent West on 18 Dec 2017

I appreciate that link. My mistake was looking in the "MATLAB" category on the Support/Documentation page.

Okay, first page of that documentation suggests that the first step is to "Determine Which Installation Procedure to Use". The options are:

- An Internet connection and installation DVDs - An Internet connection and no DVDs - No Internet connection. You want to install products offline. - Concurrent Licenses - Network Named User Licenses

I'm guessing I want "Concurrent Licenses", since I have a license server.

But I think I'll stop here, as some of y'all have suggested, and contact Technical Support. For some reason, as smart and able as I am usually with technology, this MATLAB licensing is just eating my lunch.

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Answers (2)

Karan Gill
Karan Gill on 14 Dec 2017
Edited: Karan Gill on 14 Dec 2017
You definitely need to contact support: . I doubt this forum can here. Support can help with your licensing issues/questions.


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Jan on 16 Dec 2017
Edited: Jan on 16 Dec 2017
"Log in with a MathWorks Account" and "Use a File Installation Key".
Using the method to login in your MathWorks account is easier and allows a direct online activation. But for an offline machine without contact to the internet the File Installation Key method is required.
Does that mean when I set my student employees to installing this app, I'll have
to give them my creds? Or each of them has to create a MathWorks account?
No, of course you do not have to give others your password. Either you install Matlab on the students computers, or they create their own accounts and you associate them with your license. Then they can download and install Matlab by their own, but you can control the usage, e.g. remove the association, when the term is over.
The options are "Product" (what does that mean?!) and "License Manager 11.14".
The "Product" is MATLAB itself - you guessed correctly.
I am exceptionally frustrated.
I can reconsider this. Although the actual steps of the installation take some minutes only, the process is not really intuitive. I have installed Matlab over a 20 times now on different online/offline/classroom/multi&single-user modes. And I still struggle from time to time. But whenever I'm in trouble, I could contacted MathWorks successfully. E.g. this helped me: (but this concerns an offline installation, which is not your problem).
Sit down. Switch off the computer and drink a cup of coffee. Working with computers is frustrating, but we are more patient than they are dull. Ask other human, especially from the staff of MathWorks. After they have explained the steps and showed you the corresponding documentation, the installation will work and you can -- no, not start to work, but take the next break and drink the 2nd coffee. Good luck!

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Kent West
Kent West on 18 Dec 2017
> Either you install Matlab on the students computers, or they create their own accounts and you associate them with your license.
I appreciate your gentle answer. I've decided to just contact Technical Support directly. If they don't want to spend money on technical support, then they should make their product easier to install.
I quote you above, because I didn't make myself clear. I'm not wanting to give MATLAB to students; I'm wanting to use student employees to install MATLAB for faculty/etc. These student employees won't be using MATLAB themselves, and therefore don't need MATLAB accounts.
But no need to answer to this. Like I say, I've contacted MATLAB Tech Support; we'll see what they can do for me.
-- Kent

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