The problem ...

The problem is like the problem with running Windows on NeCTAR.  It is a licensing thing:

  • Details will depend on the user's home University's site license for MatLab.
  • For UQ, the "staff / postgrad students, using University owned equipment" caveat applies, which means no non-UQ folks cannot use MatLab on QRIScloud.  There is also a caveat that MatLab can only be used interactively; i.e. no "batch use".
  • For Monash, the user/equipment caveat applies, but not the batch use restriction.
  • For others, ask your local IT services.

My understanding is there are people working on the licensing issue "at a number of levels".

Using a MatLab TAH on NeCTAR

Based on the information and instructions on this page, the following procedure would notionally allow you to get a legal license to run MatLab on one NeCTAR instance:

  1. Create a user account for yourself on the MathWorks website.
  2. Submit a request to the User's University's I.T. HelpDesk to have one of the University's TAH (Total Academic Headcount) licenses allocated to your MathWorks user account.
  3. Sign in to the MathWorks website and download the MatLab installer; e.g.
  4. Copy the installer to your virtual instance.
  5. Install as per the instructions on the page above.
  6. Activate the installation immediately.


  • It is not clear what would you would need to do to reinstall MatLab on a fresh NeCTAR instance.  From a technical stand-point, it could be analogous to transferring a "home use" license from one home computer to another one.  (Bear in mind that you cannot nominate or change the IP or MAC address of a new NeCTAR instance.)
  • It is not clear what would happen if you installed MatLab on multiple NeCTAR instances and tried to activate them all.  If you are going to do this, check with your University IT first to find out if it is OK to do.  They may need to allocate extra TAH licenses to you.
  • It is not clear what would happen if (say) a UQ staff member attempted to use a UQ TAH license to activate MathLab on (say) a NeCTAR virtual running at Monash.  I suspect that it might "work" ... but it is almost certainly a violation of MathLab license agreement.

Other Alternatives

One alternative is to purchase MatLab licenses directly from Mathworks that would allow you to run on any nominated computer ... and then nominate a NeCTAR instance.

Another approach would be to investigate / use an open source alternative to MatLab.  The Wikipedia page on Numerical Analysis Software is a good place to start looking.  (Or Google "open source matlab".)

Carl Bennett
Carl Bennett says:
12 October 2016 08:44 AM
I can't see any reason in the Matlab Terms of Use which would prohibit such use. In fact, I'm surprised that there are not a swag of VM templates with Matlab, X2Go and a GUI Desktop Environment pre-installed.
Licensing can be achieved by either:
- Downloading a copy of Matlab you want via the Mathworks website (you'll need to register a Mathworks account first, which will require a "key" from your institution) - recommended
- If you already have the install media, obtain a "File Installation Key" (or FIK) from your IT department.

Personally I license *a lot* of Matlab instances and there is no problem under my institution's Total Academic Headcount licensing agreement with Matlab.
Should I mention that I work for the IT department of my institution?