OK, so I spent a bit of time yesterday thinking about some alternatives to Matlab versus the time/money balance of learning a completely new system. Today’s adventure activating Matlab 2008a has me definitely leaning in the “alternative” direction.

A little background on Matlab 2008a and the activation model. With 2008a Matlab has moved to an activation model, where you have to basically register your computer with The Math Works. With an individual license there are two choices you have: lock the license to a computer, or lock it to an individual. As I use Matlab at home, at work, and on my laptop I chose to lock it to myself.

Now Matlab 2008a came out in February 2008, and I’m just trying to install it now, which is all based on my fear of activation, since usually I am eager to download and install the latest version. So I bit the bullet yesterday and installed the OSX (laptop) and linux versions. Usually I get a nice CD package with installations for all platforms but that must have ended as well.

So this morning I figured that I would give installation a go. Usually a 5-10 minute affair, I spent 90+ minutes on this, and it still doesn’t work on the linux box. Basically what would happen is that I would go through the automated steps (generate the file key, license file, download and give info where needed, rinse, repeat) and watch Matlab completely have a hissy fit that either my username didn’t match, or my host ID didn’t match or that I didn’t have the desk pointed northeast (well, not that last one). I did my civic duty and dug around the troubleshooting site, where I found exactly three entries for activation problems. This must mean that I am completely unlucky to both have a problem and to have a non-standard problem that could not be fixed with answers #1-3.

At any rate, time is money right? So I figured I would give tech support a call. I got through on the second try, and actually go a human who was surprisingly helpful. The main problem on both machines was that the host ID generated was from the MAC address of the active internet connection, which is not what the license manager wants to see. So the laptop fix was an easy one after all, just use the MAC address of the primary connection, which was the wired connection (I was using the wireless at the time). In hindsight, yeah, that makes sense, but there’s still too much voodoo involved for me.

The linux box was worse, where I do not have eth0 enabled since I have problems with it, and I use eth1 instead. So while to the operating system there is only eth1 (as far as I understand) the license file wants to communicate with eth0, which of course doesn’t exist in the software space (now I may be way off on this, but this is what I could come up with for now). So my options are to either rename eth1 to eth0, or activate eth0. Well guess what, at this point I’m inclined to just not run Matlab 2008a since I don’t really feel like risking the possibility of borking my internet connection just to get the latest version of Matlab running. So remind me again why I am paying those maintenance fees? Maybe I’m no activation super genius, but should it really be this difficult to get software that you’ve paid good money for to run? Sure, there’s still an open thread with tech support but how much more time do I want to spend on this today? Well that’s easy, none.

Now I may feel differently in a bit and try again. Or I may just drink more coffee and start installing Sage or Enthought and see how that goes. Or maybe I’ll just try to get some work done.

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