Fixing MATLAB on Fedora

The other week I had to set up a new installation of MATLAB r2016a on a (somewhat) fresh Fedora installation. After running the installer, I ran into a bunch of library errors when trying to run external C++ programs1 from MATLAB or when trying to plot something. When running an external C++ program, MATLAB would complain about missing versions of CXXABI and GLIBCXX in libstdc++2. When plotting something, MATLAB would complain about

The first problem is caused by MATLAB trying to use its own, older version of libstdc++. The second problem is caused by MATLAB trying to use the system’s version of libmwosgserver. To fix the error when running C++ programs, I had to tell MATLAB to use the system’s version of libstdc++. To fix the error when plotting, I had to tell MATLAB to use its own OpenGL libraries rather than the system’s.

The fixes are easy to make, you need to edit a couple of lines in a startup script. First of all, find out where the system’s version of libstdc++ is located ($ indicates text to enter in a shell):

$ find /usr -name '' -exec dirname '{}' \;

The first line is MATLAB’s version of the library, the second the system’s 64-bit version of the library, the third the system’s 32-bit version. If you’re somehow still on a 32-bit system you’ll need to note down the path /usr/lib. Otherwise, the path you need is /usr/lib64. Now you need to edit MATLAB’s init script. The exact location will depend on where you installed MATLAB to. Assuming you installed MATLAB into the /usr/local directory then you’ll need to edit /usr/local/MATLAB/R2016a/bin/

This script is essentially a massive switch statement that sets different environment variables depending on which operating system and architecture you’re on. Find the case statement corresponding to your architecture (glnxa64 for 64-bit Linux) which will look something like this:

case "$ARCH" in

For me that was around line 164 but it will probably depend on which version of MATLAB you’re running. Inside this case, find the line that says


and change it to


This pushes MATLAB’s OpenGL libraries and the system’s C++ libraries to the front of MATLAB’s load path, forcing it to use those versions of the libraries. Save the file, restart MATLAB and you should be good to go.

  1. Since I use fish as my shell, that meant any external command. ↩︎

  2. Really it was the external program complaining, not MATLAB. ↩︎