Create a MATLAB Container Image


You must perform these steps on a Linux platform.
Before starting, you must install the following on the client platform

  • Docker
  • Git


The following steps guide you through the process of creating a Docker container image that contains a Linux environment with a MATLAB installation.
Use the container image as a scalable and reproducible method to deploy MATLAB in a variety of situations including clouds and clusters.

Step 1. Clone this Repository

  1. Clone this repository to your Linux client using

    git clone

  2. Inside the cloned repository, create a subdirectory named matlab-install

Step 2. Choose MATLAB Installation Method

To install MATLAB into the container image, choose a MATLAB installation method. You can use MATLAB installation files or a MATLAB ISO image.

MATLAB Installation Files

To obtain the installation files, you must be an administrator for the license linked with your MathWorks account.

  1. From the MathWorks Downloads page, select the desired version of MATLAB.
  2. Download the Installer for Linux.
  3. Follow the steps at Download Products Without Installation.
  4. Specify the location of the matlab-install subdirectory of the cloned repository as the path to the download folder.
  5. Select the installation files for the Linux (64-bit) version of MATLAB.
  6. Select the products you want to install in the container image.
  7. Confirm your selections and complete the download.


  1. From the MathWorks Downloads page, select the desired version of MATLAB.
  2. Under the Related Links heading, click the link to get the ISO image for the chosen MATLAB version.
  3. Download the ISO image for the Linux.
  4. Extract the ISO into the matlab-install subdirectory of the cloned repository.

Step 3. Obtain the License File and File Installation Key

  1. Log in to your MathWorks account. Select the license you wish to use with the container.
  2. Select the Install and Activate tab. Select the link “Activate to Retrieve License File”.
  3. Click the download link under the Get License File heading.
  4. Select the appropriate MATLAB version and click Continue.
  5. At the prompt “Is the software installed?” select “No” and click Continue.
  6. Copy the File Installation Key into a safe location.

Step 4. Define Installation Parameters

  1. Make a copy of the file installer_input.txt in the matlab-install folder. Move the copy up one directory level, into the root directory of the cloned repository.
  2. Rename the file to matlab_installer_input.txt.
  3. Open matlab_installer_input.txt in a text editor and edit the following sections:
    • fileInstallationKey Paste your File Installation Key and uncomment the line.
    • agreeToLicense Set the value to yes and uncomment the line.
    • Specify products to install. Uncomment the line product.MATLAB to install MATLAB. Uncomment the corresponding line for each additional product you want to install. If you are not licensed to use a product, uncommenting the line does not install the product in the container. Your File installation Key identifies the products you can install.
  4. (Optional) Specify required dependencies in the Dockerfile. Edit the Dockerfile and uncomment the corresponding line for each dependency you want to add. For more information, see Optional Dependencies.

Step 5. Build Image

Use the docker build command to build the image, using . to specify this folder. Run the command from the root directory of the cloned repository. Use a command of the form:

docker build -t matlab:r2020a --build-arg LICENSE_SERVER=27000@MyServerName .

Note: The LICENSE_SERVER build argument is NOT used during the build but by supplying it here during build it gets
incorporated into the container so that MATLAB in the container knows how to acquire a license when the container is run

To build a previous version of MATLAB, for example Dockerfile.R2019b, use a command of the form

docker build -f Dockerfile.R2019b -t matlab:r2019b --build-arg MATLAB_RELEASE=R2019b --build-arg LICENSE_SERVER=27000@MyServerName .

You must supply a tag for the image using the -t option, for example, matlab:r2020a. The tag names the repository for later use and deployment.
Specify the location of the network licence manager using --build-arg LICENSE_SERVER=27000@MyServerName. Replace 27000@MyServerName with the port and location of your license manager. Alternatively, you can use a license.dat or network.lic file to provide the location of the license manager. For more information, see Use a License File to Build Image.

For the R2019b Dockerfile you must also specify the MATLAB release using --build-arg MATLAB_RELEASE=R20xxx, where R20xxx refers to a MATLAB release you are trying to build.

Step 6. Run Container

Use the docker run command to run the container. Use a command of the form:

docker run -it --rm matlab:r2020a
  • -it option runs the container interactively.
  • --rm option automatically removes the container on exit.

Any extra arguments after the container tag are passed directly as command line arguments to the MATLAB process inside the container. For example, the following command prints hello world in MATLAB and then exits.

docker run -it --rm matlab:r2020a -r "disp('hello world');exit"

Optional Dependencies

For some workflows and toolboxes, you must specify dependencies. You must do this if you want to do any of the following tasks.

  • Install extended localization support for MATLAB
  • Play media files from MATLAB
  • Run a network license manager inside the container
  • Generate code from Simulink
  • Use mex functions with gcc, g++, or gfortran
  • Use the MATLAB Engine API for C and Fortran
  • Use the Polyspace 32-bit tcc compiler

Edit the Dockerfile and uncomment the relevant lines to install the dependencies.

Use a License File to Build Image

If you have a license.dat file from your license administrator, you can use this file to provide the location of the license manager for the container image.

  1. Open the license.dat file. Copy the SERVER line into a new text file.
  2. Beneath it, add USE_SERVER. The file should now look something like this:

SERVER Server1 0123abcd0123 12345
  1. Save the new text file as network.lic in the root directory of the cloned repository.
  2. Open the Dockerfile, and comment the line ENV MLM_LICENSE_FILE
  3. Uncomment the line ADD network.lic /usr/local/MATLAB/$MATLAB_RELEASE/licenses/
  4. Run the docker build command without the --build-arg LICENSE_SERVER=27000@MyServerName option. Use a command of the form

docker build -t matlab:r2020a .

For more information about license files, see What are the differences between the license.lic, license.dat, network.lic, and license_info.xml license files?

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