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I recently installed Matlab R2013a and it is working fine, however the only way I can start it is by running /usr/local/MATLAB/R2013a/bin/matlab in the terminal. If I type in matlab it says command not found, and I can't seem to get an icon in the side-bar launcher. How can I make it so I can run from the command matlab or from a launcher?

Edit: I have created a link so I can launch it by typing matlab in the terminal. I still can't get the unity icon launcher working though. I managed to create an icon via a matlab.desktop file in /usr/share/applications. When I click it, it launches Matlab, but after the initial loading screen Matlab shuts down instead of launching the application. It works through the terminal though. My matlab.desktop file is:

[Desktop Entry]
Comment=Matlab R2013a
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you sure the matlab.desktop file has executable permissions? If it does not, it won't launch. – Dan Johansen Oct 9 '14 at 9:41

The lock to launcher is indeed not working for matlab. There is however a .desktop file that is part of the Matlab installation.

sudo ln /usr/share/app-install/desktop/matlab-support:matlab.desktop /usr/share/applications/matlab.desktop

You have to update a few things in that file:

[Desktop Entry]

Exec=matlab -desktop
Comment=Scientific computing environment


Give the icon an absolute file path:


And change:


Now you should be able to lock the icon to the launcher as well as start matlab from there.

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This is working. – eccstartup May 3 '15 at 10:46
And Terminal=true is not required. – eccstartup May 3 '15 at 10:46
This is a nice and complete answer +1. @Isaac Vandermeulen should consider accepting this. – NKN Feb 14 at 0:49

For me this works perfectly ...

Open a terminal and then your own icon-

sudo wget -O /usr/share/icons/matlab.png

2.give your access permission

sudo touch /usr/share/applications/matlab.desktop

3.edit your .desktop file

sudo gedit /usr/share/applications/matlab.desktop

4.and paste the following into the document.

#!/usr/bin/env xdg-open
[Desktop Entry]
Name=MATLAB R2014a
Comment=Start MATLAB - The Language of Technical Computing
Exec=matlab -desktop

that's it..! Save, and you should have a new desktop shortcut in your launcher

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In your matlab.desktop file, you need to specify that you want to execute in the desktop.

Your Exec= should look like this:

 Exec=/usr/local/MATLAB/R2013a/bin/matlab -desktop
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Create a symbolic link in /usr/local/bin, i.e. as su

ln -s /usr/local/MATLAB/R2013a/bin/matlab /usr/local/bin/matlab

Once MATLAB is running, an icon should appear in the launcher toolbar. Right click it and lock it to the launcher.

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That works so I can run it by typing matlab in the terminal. However, the lock to launcher is not working. Is there a way to make it show up when I search matlab in the unity launcher or so that I can have a desktop icon for it? – Isaac Vandermeulen Jan 8 '14 at 3:52

I had the same problem, and fund that much of the difficulty came from Matlab installing the .desktop file into ~/.local/share/applications/, rather than /usr/share/applications/. With that in mind, my solution:

  1. Ensure that you can launch matlab by typing matlab in terminal. If not, then you can install a sym link to do so, or replace my matlab commands below with the full path to the matlab executable.

  2. Download a matlab icon and save it to ~/.local/share/icons/matlab.png

  3. Create a new file: ~/.local/share/applications/matlab_version.desktop with the contents: [Desktop Entry]
    Encoding=UTF-8 Version=1.0 Type=Application Name=MATLAB Icon=matlab.png Exec=matlab -desktop StartupNotify=fals[ Terminal=false

  4. Check that the file you just created (matlab_version.desktop) has permissions set to be executable.

  5. Navigate to ~/.local/share/applications/ using nautilus file explorer, and then double click on matlab_version (it hides the file extension here)

  6. That should launch matlab. If it works, then right-click on the matlab icon in the unit launcher and then select 'lock to launcher'. If it doesn't work, then check that the file has execute permissions, and that your sym link is working.

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