Multiple matlab sessions on a windows server
July 12, 2013 4:09 AM   Subscribe

Is this possible: windows 2012 server with multiple (3-4) users working through remote desktops and running concurrent MATLAB sessions under a single license.

I need to purchase a server for a research lab that will primarily use MATLAB for data analysis. For various reasons, I prefer that all the analyses and results are kept on the server. The way I want it to work is that users log in to their own personal remote desktop, and then run MATLAB under the username to which the MATLAB install is licensed. I've seen this done before on a linux server using X Windows and vnc - users connect to their X11 desktop, open a shell and su to the user with matlab privileges in order to run matlab. Is it possible to do something similar on a Windows 2012 server?
posted by logicpunk to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
With a single license, it's possible to run multiple MATLAB instances from the same machine. However, only one machine can use a license at a time. Multiple concurrent users begets the need for multiple licenses.

I'd get at least two licenses if I were you.
posted by oceanjesse at 4:38 AM on July 12, 2013

I don't think this is technically possible, and it's most certainly frowned upon by The Mathworks who would rather you buy multiple absurdly expensive licenses.

Is MATLAB a requirement for all of this work? If you're just doing some basic scripting, maybe you could get away with using GNU Octave for the initial development work, then run it in MATLAB for the final output.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:46 AM on July 12, 2013

Response by poster: I'm familiar with Octave, but the Matlab requirement is not really negotiable.
posted by logicpunk at 4:50 AM on July 12, 2013

If using something other than MATLAB isn't an option, then you really have no choice but to obtain a single license and see if this works.

The worst that can happen is you're stuck with only one person being able to use MATLAB at any given time.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:57 AM on July 12, 2013

I assume the Windows server requirement also isn't negotiable? I've never had issues running multiple copies of Matlab simultaneously on a Mac, even under different usernames. (Though those licenses included Parallel Computing toolbox; not sure if that makes a difference, but I doubt it.)

Might things be any easier if you were able to avoid X and go the -nodesktop route, having everyone use it via a command line?
posted by supercres at 7:05 AM on July 12, 2013

You can do this on a Linux machine. Or a mac, but Matlab on OSX is much slower and harder to set up.

Matlab on Linux is a bog standard Xwindows app, so with putty and Xming you can set it up to use the matlab gui on a windows client.

To do what you are asking in windows, you will need to get licenses for Terminal Server. It will work that way. Or at least did 5-6 years ago when I last did it. Far cheaper and easier to set up a linux machine to do this. This is my current setup, and I have ~70 users on 2 clusters using Matlab in this way.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:45 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

At least under the terms Mathworks has previously offered me, this would be a violation of the license agreement with Mathworks even if it is technically possible.

Mathworks allows you to use a license as floating (one person on any computer, but only one computer at a time) or node-locked (one computer for any user, but only one user at a time), but not both. Now, your license agreement may be different, but I would approach this as a legal question, not a technical question.
posted by saeculorum at 8:12 AM on July 12, 2013

Mod note: This thread needs to not become a "help me illegally use software" discussion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:19 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

saeculorum is correct about violating the license agreement.
posted by Silvertree at 1:32 PM on July 12, 2013

Response by poster: Apologies if the question is inadvertently about if it's possible to violate a license agreement; as I said, I've seen this sort of thing done before and don't have any reason to suspect the person responsible for it was engaged in any sort of sketchy behavior.

As for using linux vs Windows, I was aware that it's possible to make it work with linux, but I don't really have the time to learn how to competently administer a linux server, whereas I have previous windows admin experience (albeit from a decade ago...). The cost for terminal service licenses is worth being able to keep the thing running without depending too much on paid support.
posted by logicpunk at 5:54 AM on July 13, 2013

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