Matlab C API, engdemo.c, and JMatLink “Can’t start MATLAB engine.”

Written by  on February 23, 2009

OK.  Since I stupidly spent too much time on this problem, I feel like I have to write about it here in the hopes that I can decrease the stupidity in the world.

I’ve written a GUI for a Matlab simulation.  On Linux, we use the JMatLink bridge between Java and Matlab.  At some point, when doing a dist-upgrade on my Ubuntu laptop, the JMatLink bridge stopped working, yielding the uninformative error:

Can't start MATLAB engine.

Well, I proceeded to hack JMatLink, turn on debugging for it, futzing with my LD_LIBRARY_PATH, and my PATH, changing JDKs (since there is a problem with the Sun JDKs and the X11 library libxcb (see here and here for more info on that — I finally downgraded to the gutsy libx11-6 and libx11-dev), etc.

In any case, my fog finally lifted and I decided to try the engdemo.c file provided by Mathworks as the canonical demonstration of calling Matlab from C. And, sure enough, I get the same uninformative error: Can’t start MATLAB engine.” So, I Ask.com’ed (no I don’t usually use the Eye of Sauron for searching) for URLs with this text in them and found: this post by “Mohammed Hasan”. Sure enough, I did an:

$ sudo apt-get install csh

and all is now well. [sigh]