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Installing Mathematica to run off the Central (Athena) License Server

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This Mathematica installation procedure is only authorized for faculty/staff users installing Mathematica on MIT-owned machines. Students installing Mathematica on personally owned machines must continue to use the Student Mathematica License.


  • You will not need to register with Wolfram Research or download anything from their web site.
  • You will not need to update the annual license file, this is handled on the server.
  • Running Mathematica this way requires that you maintain network connectivity, and requires use of the MIT VPN if you are off the MIT campus.

Switching an Existing Mathematica Installation to get Licenses from the Central License Server

If you have machines where Mathematica is already installed and you want to switch licensing to get licenses from the central license server, you don't need to perform the installation steps below. You just need to change your existing mathpass license file contents to this single-line mathpass.

The default location for the mathpass file is (first line for all users on machine, requires administrator login, second line is for a specific user only):

  • Windows
    • C:\ProgramData\Mathematica\Licensing\mathpass
    • C:\Users\<user>\AppData\Roaming\Mathematica\Licensing\mathpass 
  • Macintosh
    • /Library/Mathematica/Licensing/mathpass
    • ~/Library/Mathematica/Licensing/mathpass 
  • Linux
    • /usr/share/Mathematica/Licensing/mathpass
    • ~/.Mathematica/Licensing/mathpass 

Installing Mathematica

If you are tight on disk space, please note that this installation method may temporarily require as much as 10 Gb of space; you can reduce this during installation by running the installers directly from an external drive such as a USB flash drive on Windows and Macintosh, but this may not work on Linux. After installation completes, Mathematica will use:

7-8 Gb (Windows 32-64bit)
7 Gb (Macintosh)
8.5 Gb (Linux)


This software is licensed under an academic license agreement between MIT and Wolfram Research. It may be used only by MIT faculty, staff and students (Authorized Users) in support of classroom instruction and research activities of students, teaching faculty and staff, and research staff. The right to use the Programs for any other purpose, including commercial purposes, is expressly prohibited. Authorized Users must stop using the software and delete it (and any accompanying license key) from any non MIT-owned computers they have installed it on when they cease to be affiliated with MIT. By clicking on the links below, you agree that you are an Authorized User, that you will use the software only for MIT purposes, and that you will comply with the stated termination conditions when you leave MIT.

You will need the installer for your platform (access limited to MIT faculty/staff) which you can download from the following links:

Mathematica 11.2.0 for Windows
Mathematica 11.2.0 for Macintosh
Mathematica 11.2.0 for Linux

When a new Mathematica release becomes available from the vendor, we will change the installer version. You can revisit this page to look for the updates, and install the new version as per step 1. below (if you haven't deleted your existing mathpass file you should not need to perform the activation steps).


  1. Launch the downloaded installer (on Windows, extract the zip archive and launch setup.exe). Select the desired installation options and let the installation complete.
    On the Macintosh, you will need to enter the Administrator Password to install Mathematica Extras for all users.
    On Linux, you may need to copy the installer to the local hard drive to avoid an error message about insufficient disk space, and you may need to be logged in as root to install to the default location (/usr/local/Wolfram).
  2. Launch Mathematica; this may happen automatically (on Linux, perform the first launch as root if you want the password file to be installed for all users in the default location); the activation dialog will open. Do not enter an Activation Key; click on Other ways to activate instead.
    Mathematica Activation Screen
  3. On the following screen, click on Connect to a network license server.
    Select Activation Method Screen
  4. On the next screen, enter this line in the Server name dialog, then click on Activate.
    Enter Server Name Screen
  5. You may be asked to agree to a license; clicking I accept... is the only way the installation will complete.
    Result: Mathematica is activated and ready to run.

After installation is complete on all platforms, you can delete the installer to save space.

IS&T Contributions

Documentation and information provided by IS&T staff members

Last Modified:

September 18, 2017

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