Understanding Network License Files

Network Licenses

Network licenses contain the encrypted passcodes for each product that your organization is licensed to install and run. If you are the license administrator or system administrator of a network server, there are times you must access the network license files.

MATLAB Installation

When you install MATLAB® software, the installer performs the following processing of the network license file:

  • On the server, the installer:

    • Makes a copy of the network license file named license.dat, and puts this copy in the \etc folder of the MATLAB installation folder.

    • Adds a SERVER line and a DAEMON line to the file. The SERVER line identifies the server host and port number. The DAEMON line identifies the name of the network license manager daemon.

    • Stores the processed license file in matlabroot/etc, where matlabroot is the MATLAB installation folder.

    • When it creates an options file during installation, it also adds the Options= syntax to the DAEMON line in your license file. This syntax specifies the path name of the options file.

      For example, if your server is named thunderball and its IP address is, the SERVER and DAEMON lines in your license file would look like this:

      SERVER thunderball INTERNET= 27000
      DAEMON MLM "C:\Program Files\MATLAB\R2019b\etc\win64\MLM.exe" \
                  options="C:\Program Files\MATLAB\R2019b\etc\mlm.opt"
  • On the client machine, the installer:

    • Creates a copy of the license file you specify named network.lic, and puts the file in the \licenses folder in the MATLAB client installation folder.

    • Deletes all the INCREMENT lines and the DAEMON line in the license file, leaving the SERVER line. It also adds the statement USE_SERVER to the file. This line points the client to the network license file on the server, which contains all the passcodes for the products.

MATLAB Search Path

MATLAB reads the license file at startup to check for product licensing. MATLAB searches for the License file in the following locations, in the specified order:

  • License File specified on MATLAB startup command line using the -c option.

  • Environment variables MLM_LICENSE_FILE and LM_LICENSE_FILE.

  • The profile folder of the person starting the program

  • The \licenses folder in the MATLAB installation for files named license.dat or any file with the extension .lic.

After it finds a license file, MATLAB stops searching.

Set MATLAB Search Path

By default, MATLAB installs the license file on the client machine in the \licenses folder in the MATLAB client installation folder. However, you can override that location in one of the following ways:

  • Specify the path to the License File on the command line during MATLAB startup using the -c option. MATLAB searches this path first.

    You can specify a list of paths to search. When you use the -c option, you explicitly prohibit the searching of the environment variables. When using the -c option, keep in mind the following:

    • If the path to your License File contains a space, enclose the path name in quotation marks.

    • If you are specifying more than one License File, make sure to enclose the entire list of License Files in quotation marks.

  • Set environment variables. MATLAB searches these paths second.

    • MLM_LICENSE_FILE - Specifies the location of the license file, but only for MathWorks® products. (Recommended, because it affects only MathWorks products.)

      MATLAB searches for this environment variable first

    • LM_LICENSE_FILE - Specifies the location of the license file for all applications using the network license manager on this server.

  • Restrict a license to an individual user. MATLAB searches this path third.

    MATLAB searches the profile folder of the person starting the program. For a license that is restricted to use by a particular user, the activation application puts the license file in a folder in the profile for that user.

Inside the Network License File

The network license file is a specially formatted ASCII text file that contains encrypted product passcodes for each product you are licensed to run. Each product passcode identifies the number of keys available for that product. The network license manager grants or denies access to a product depending on the availability of the license keys associated with each product.

  • Each INCREMENT line identifies a product, the number of keys available for the product, and other information. (The INCREMENT lines in your license file might not include every element shown in the example.)

  • The backslash (\) character indicates that the line continues onto the next line.

  • The lines that begin with a pound sign (#) are comments. The MathWorks installer uses the information in these comment lines such as license server host ID or internet address when it processes the license file during installation.

# BEGIN-------cut here-------CUT HERE-------BEGIN
# MATLAB license passcode file.
# LicenseNo: 12345           HostID: INTERNET=
INCREMENT TMW_Archive MLM 18 01-sep-2015 0  \
INCREMENT MATLAB MLM 18 01-sep-2015 1  \
INCREMENT SIMULINK MLM 18 01-sep-2015 1  \
INCREMENT Signal_Toolbox MLM 18 01-sep-2015 1  \
# END---------cut here-------CUT HERE-------END

Modifying Network License Files

In general, you do not need to modify the network license file on the server or on the client machines. However, there are some situations in which you must edit the license file:

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