Why can't I install MATLAB with the root account in Linux when the installer works for my user account?

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When I try to run the install script as root on Linux, why am I unable to install MATLAB? I can start the installer normally on my user account.

Accepted Answer

MathWorks Support Team
MathWorks Support Team on 7 Oct 2021
Edited: MathWorks Support Team on 7 Oct 2021
This error is related to some of the environment variables from your user account not being passed to root when running the installer. There are 2 specific variables that will cause this, your DISPLAY variable, which will tell the install what screen to start on and XAUTHORITY which gives user permissions to display programs to that screen.
If you are unable to set these variables, please either speak to your IT department for assistance, or install MATLAB to a folder for which you have permissions.
This issue comes in two forms:
  • With no error message
  • With error messages
With no error message
If no error message appears when running the MathWorks installer as root, particularly with MATLAB R2021b, it may be an issue with an inability to access the X Server. As a workaround, please try the following: 
  • Launch Terminal
  • Type the following in the terminal to allow the root user to access the running X server:
xhost +SI:localuser:root
  • After running the command above try running the installer "sudo ./install" 
With error messages


On some distributions, other users are prevented from starting windows on X servers owned by other users. The XAUTHORITY environment variable points to the location of a key on your system that is required to start X applications on that display. Depending on your distribution, this key will be located in different locations. An error relating to XAUTHORITY may appear like the following or with no error message at all:
ERROR: No protocol specified
Exception in thread "main" java.lang.InternalError: Can't connect to X11 window server using ':2' as the value of the DISPLAY variable.
The simplest way to get around this is to allow all users on this machine to start programs on this display:
xhost + localhost
If you are connecting to this machine remotely, run the below instead:
xhost +
This will also allow remote users to start programs on this display. After installing MATLAB, you may want to replace these restrictions with either:
xhost - localhost
xhost -


The DISPLAY environment variable tells program what display they should be started on. You will receive an error such as the below:
ERROR: Error: Installation cannot proceed. You may either:1. Set an X11 display, and restart the install process2. Use the silent install feature by specifying the -mode silent option
ERROR: Exception in thread "main" com.google.inject.ProvisionException: Guice provision errors:1) Error injecting constructor, java.lang.NoClassDefFoundError: Could not initialize class sun.awt.X11GraphicsEnvironment at com.mathworks.instutil.wizard.JEditorPaneHyperlinkHandler.<init>(JEditorPaneHyperlinkHandler.java:57) while locating com.mathworks.instutil.wizard.JEditorPaneHyperlinkHandler while locating com.mathworks.instutil.wizard.HyperlinkHandler for parameter 5 at com.mathworks.wizard.ui.components.SwingComponentFactoryImpl.<init>(SwingComponentFactoryImpl.java:111)
To resolve this, you can temporarily set the DISPLAY variable for root to the value that is set for your user account.
Run the below as your user account:
printenv | grep DISPLAY
This will show your display environment variable. Remember this for later. Now enter the below:
suexport <DISPLAY>
Where <DISPLAY> is the value of the DISPLAY variable from the printenv command.
Tong Zhao
Tong Zhao on 17 Dec 2021
Thank you. I'm using Ubuntu 18.04, and the line
xhost +SI:localuser:root
saved my day. I wasn't able to run sudo ./install previously, and now after the above line in the terminal, I am able to run the installer with sudo authority.

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More Answers (4)

José Carlos Ferreira
José Carlos Ferreira on 18 Dec 2016
Edited: David on 17 Jan 2017
export <DISPLAY>
command, returns a natural error if the previous command show us that DISPLAY=:0 and we replace <DISPLAY> by "0" (without quotes).
export 0
This naturally ends up in the following error:
bash: export: `0': not a valid identifier

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Gerhard Giefing
Gerhard Giefing on 29 May 2019
I've only SSH access.... there is no Display var in any User or the root... any ideas... only need this server as computing machine... no GUI needed ... have only TUI


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