Installing COMSOL on Linux

Solution Number: 1086
Title: Installing COMSOL on Linux
Platform: Linux
Versions: All versions
Categories: Installation

Problem Description

This solution provides some tips and troubleshooting guides for installation on the Linux platform. For basic installation information, please refer to the COMSOL Multiphysics Installation Guide


Verify that a display is available

The installation program is an X-Window application and needs access to an X-Window display to run. Make sure that your DISPLAY variable is set up correctly and that you have access to an X-Window display: from a terminal window, issue the command xclock to test that the X-Window display is working properly (see also the Troubleshooting section below).

Administrative rights

To install your COMSOL software products in a system directory such as /usr/local, you might need to run the installation program as the root user. The COMSOL installer for Linux does not modify any files on your system outside the COMSOL installation directory.

Mounting a DVD

DVD drives in Linux need to be mounted (if you are reading this, the OS has probably not mounted the DVD automatically). Specifically, they need to be mounted into a mount point on the file system. Mount points are like directories, and the directory can be anywhere. However common practice is to have them within the /media or /mnt directories. These are system directory areas and thus require root privileges to alter, add or edit.
The mount point/directory usually already exists on the system, it will just be empty. If no mount point exists it can be created:

mkdir -p /media/COMSOL54

Note: You may need to add sudo before the command to run this command as root. A root password will be required.
The user now has to determine the name of the physical DVD drive within their system. Almost all peripherals (hard drives, dvd drives, input devices etc) are all installed and named within the /dev directory. To discover the name of the DVD drive list the directory:

ls /dev

this will give similar output to (not exactly the same):

console ram0
(+lots more)

It does not matter what you get (as it will be different on all systems) just look out for dvd or cdrom, or something similar. In this case, it’s likely that the device is simply called dvd.

One common error message on installation if you do not have execute rights to the DVD drive is

setup: line 496:
Permission denied

You should re-mount the drive using the following command (needs to be done as root, or put sudo before the command):

sudo mount -o exec -t iso9660 /dev/dvd /media/COMSOL54

The exec option is to ensure that the disk gets execute permissions. If successful, you should get output similar to:

mount: block device /dev/dvd is write-protected, mounting read-only

OR it may complain that either /dev/dvd is wrong or that /media/COMSOL54 does not exist.

If this is the case check the name of the device and confirm that the mount point exists.
You can now run setup as described above, using the mount directory for the drive.


The exact details of the errors reported will be different on each system, so just look for similarities below.

  1. If the terminal reports that:
    setup cannot be found (or similar)
    or another unexpected window pops up, then you have most likely issued the command: setup not ./setup. The latter forces the machine to use the setup program in the directory the user is in, the former triggers Linux to search for setup in its path. If it finds setup elsewhere on the system before looking in the current directory, it will run that setup, which will generally not be preferred.

  2. If you try to start COMSOL with the start command comsol and you just get a delay of a minute or two, and then the prompt returns without error messages, it is likely that you have no access to an X-window display. See the top of this page. Another symptom of not having access to an X-display may be the error message below. Once again, make sure you have access to a display by testing the xclock command.

    GLib-GObject-WARNING **: invalid (NULL) pointer instance
    GLib-GObject-CRITICAL **: g_signal_connect_data: assertion 'G_TYPE_CHECK_INSTANCE (instance)' failed
    Gtk-CRITICAL **: gtk_settings_get_for_screen: assertion 'GDK_IS_SCREEN (screen)' failed

  3. If you have other graphics-related problems or crashes, please go to the troubleshooting section in solution 933

  4. If COMSOL crashes when accessing the help system, install the following package:
    Debian® and Ubuntu®: libwebkitgtk-1.0-0
    Red Hat® Enterprise Linux®: webkitgtk (not included in RHEL7 but available through EPEL).
    openSUSE®: libwebkitgtk-1.0-0 or libwebkit-1_0-2


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