MatLab, MDCS set up

MatLab Distributed Computing Server

Would you like to use Matlab Distributed Computing Server? We have 256 cores available for your calculations.


Requirements and steps to gaining access are split into three parts.

The first, software, need only be done once.

The second, network requirements will need to be addressed at each place you wish to use MDCS (home, on campus office, off campus office, other). Depending on your needs, this will most likely only happen once.

The instructions are what you need to do each time you use MatLab.

Software requirements

  1. Copy of MatLab 2015a. Available for free online, all staff, students and researchers have access to a free license. You can have more than one copy of MatLab installed at any time.

Network requirements

MDCS requires clients have certain ports open for communication with the cluster.

  1. If you would like to use MDCS from home or from somewhere without strict firewall rules, follow this guide <>_.

  2. If you would like to use MDCS while on campus, you could request formally to have the required ports open (long, potentially unsuccessful process) OR you can request to use a virtually hosted MatLab instance <>_ built by Research Platforms (which is set up with correct software).

Instructions for use in MatLab

  1. Once you have the correct software, and the appropriate network conditions met, you can access the MDCS via these instructions <>_.

    (matlab specific)

Requesting, building and managing a virtually hosted MatLab instance

Audience: User

Duration: 20 mins typing, potentially ~20 mins wait.

Notes: Done once

  1. Request access to MDCS USER (admin to provide. Where do they request access - an email, a phone #?)

  2. Login to (this uses your UniMelb login, eg: simpsonl2/reallyhardpassword

  3. Choose MDCS_users from top left drop down list called "projects".

  4. User will need to create a key. Left menu, choose Access and Security.

  5. Choose the second tab, "key pairs". Name the new key something. (For those interested this is a PGP key. It will be a .pem file, you should open it in notepad or wordpad and take a look.) The page will download a file.

  6. Go to the instances in left menu

  7. "Launch instance" is top right

  8. Name the instance

  9. From "Image Name" drop down (last option) choose mdcs-client-template.

    NOTE: You can choose a Flavor if you like. Step 9 will default you to the correct size m2.small and exclude sizes that don't fit. If you choose any size bigger than the default, you will need to justify your decision. The space available is currently restricted, thus by choosing something larger than default will prevent others from having the same opportunity - we consider this rude. Your VM will most likely be deleted. This is your only warning.

  10. Choose access and Security tab, make sure your key pair is selected

  11. On the same tab select "mdcs" security group, keep default checked as well.

  12. Availability Zone, choose Melbourne for best speeds - the MDCS is built explicitly on UMelb hardware for licensing reasons. You can leave this as default, your VM will be built where ever is free - from sunny QLD to Tasmania.

  13. After 2-5 mins you will get an IP address. Then you can ssh in and get started.

Connecting to the VM, first time login, running MatLab

Audience: User

Duration: First time, 15 mins, every other time, ~1 min.

When connecting to the VM via Secure Shell (ssh), all VMs come with a default user called ubuntu, which will be associated with your key.

Further, because we are running MatLab through the shell, we need to pass the -X flag during login so that the MatLab "window" is passed across the connection:

ssh -X


ssh -X ubuntu@

That works fine in linux. If you are on Mac, you can also do the same through the terminal.

If you are on Windows, you will need to use one of two setups, either Putty/Xming or MobaXterm Home Edition, both of which are free.

The instructions on using MobaXTerm follow the Putty/Xming instructions.

I'm using Putty/Xming

Putty is for ssh, Xming is for what is called "windowing" or X11. Both of these functions are needed. Instructions to get and install both packages.

We will also need to install PuttyGEN because Putty uses public/private keys differently.

Run PuttyGEN: