PyAnsys Libraries on a Windows Subsystem for Linux and Docker

This section shows you how to use a PyAnsys library, more specifically PyMAPDL, in the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). WSL is a compatibility layer for running Linux binary executables natively on Windows 10, Windows 11, and Windows Server 2019. For more information, see Wikipedia-WSL.

This section walks you through the installation of WSL on Windows and then shows how to use it together with MAPDL, PyMAPDL, and Docker.

For more information about WSL, see What is the Windows Subsystem for Linux?.


This guide hasn’t been fully tested with a VPN connection. If you experience any problems to connect WSL to internet, try to disconnect from the VPN.

Running PyMAPDL on WSL

Install WSL

Install WSL by following Microsoft’s directions at Install WSL.

Currently there are two versions of WSL. The oldest is WSL1, whereas WSL2 is the latest and include many improvements over WSL1. It is highly recommended you upgrade and use WSL2 over WSL1.

Install CentOS7 WSL Distribution

We recommend that you use the CentOS7 WSL distribution for working with PyAnsys libraries.

You can install it using an unofficial WSL distribution from or .

Optionally, you can also try Ubuntu, but it has not been tested yet in the context of WSL.

Install Ansys Products in WSL CentOS7


If you are using CentOS 7, before installing MAPDL, you need to install some required libraries:

yum install openssl openssh-clients mesa-libGL mesa-libGLU motif libgfortran

If using Ubuntu, follow the instructions in Running MAPDL: Ubuntu .

Install Ansys Products

To install ANSYS products in WSL Linux:

  1. Download the Ansys Structures image from the customer portal (Current Release). If you are downloading the image on a Windows machine, you can later copy from it to WSL (recommended).

  2. Decompress the source code file (tar.gz) with:

    tar xvzf STRUCTURES_2021R2_LINX64.tgz
  3. To install MAPDL, go into the uncompressed folder and type:

    ./INSTALL -silent -install_dir /usr/ansys_inc/ -mechapdl


    • -silent : Initiates a silent installation (No GUI).

    • -install_dir /path/ : Specifies the directory to which the product or license manager is to be installed. If you want to install to the default location, you can omit the -install_dir argument. The default location is /ansys_inc if the symbolic link is set. Otherwise, it will default to /usr/ansys_inc.

    • -<product_flag> : Specifies one or more specific products to install. If you omit the -product_flag argument, all products will be installed. See the list of valid product_flags in Chapter 6 of the ANSYS Inc. Installation Guides PDF. In this case, only MAPDL (-mechapdl) is needed.

After installing MAPDL directly in /ansys_inc or in /usr/ansys_inc, create a symbolic link with:

ln -s /usr/ansys_inc /ansys_inc

By default, PyMAPDL expects the MAPDL executable to be in /usr/ansys_inc. Whether you install it there or not, we recommend that you link that directory, using a symbolic link, to your Ansys installation directory (/*/ansys_inc).

Post-installation Setup

Opening Ports

Theory: You should open the ports 1055 and 2325 for the license server communication in Windows Firewall Advanced. You can see the steps in How to open port in Windows 10 Firewall .

Reality: This works if you want to run a Docker image using WSL Linux image to host that docker image. The docker image will successfully communicate with the Windows License Server using these ports if you use the '-p' flag when running the Docker image and these ports are open. See Running MAPDL on a Local Docker Image .

If you want to run MAPDL in the CentOS7 image and use the Windows License Server, opening the ports might not work properly because the Windows firewall seems to block all traffic coming from WSL. For security purposes, we recommend that you still try to open ports 1055 and 2325 in the firewall and check if your MAPDL installation can communicate with the Windows Hosts. If you are having problems after setting the firewall rules, you might have to disable Windows Firewall for the WSL ethernet virtual interface. This might pose some unknown side effects and security risk so use it with caution. See Disabling Firewall on WSL Ethernet

Setting Up an Environmental Variable in WSL that Points to Windows Host License Server

Windows host IP is given in the WSL file /etc/hosts before the name host.docker.internal.


This host.docker.internal definition might not be available if Docker is not installed.

Example /etc/hosts/ file

# This file was automatically generated by WSL.
# To stop automatic generation of this file, add the following entry to /etc/wsl.conf:
# [network]
# generateHosts = false       localhost   AAPDDqVK5WqNLve    host.docker.internal    gateway.docker.internal       kubernetes.docker.internal

# The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts
::1     ip6-localhost ip6-loopback
fe00::0 ip6-localnet
ff00::0 ip6-mcastprefix
ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters

You can add the next lines to your WSL ~/.bashrc file to create an environment variable with that IP:

winhostIP=$(grep -m 1 host.docker.internal /etc/hosts | awk '{print $1}')
export ANSYSLMD_LICENSE_FILE=1055@$winhostIP

Running MAPDL on a Local Docker Image

To run a Docker image, you must follow all steps in Running PyMAPDL on WSL .

Additionally, you run a Docker image of PyMAPDL with:

docker run -e ANSYSLMD_LICENSE_FILE=1055@host.docker.internal --restart always --name mapdl -p 50053:50052 -smp > log.txt

Successive runs should restart the container or just delete it and rerun it using:

docker stop mapdl
docker container prune

docker run -e ANSYSLMD_LICENSE_FILE=1055@host.docker.internal --restart always --name mapdl -p 50053:50052 -smp > log.txt

This will create a log file (log.txt) in your current directory location.


Ensure that your port 50053 is open in your firewall.

We recommended that you use a script (batch '.bat' or powershell '.ps' file) to run the above commands all at once.

Notice that we are mapping the WSL internal gRPC port (50052) to a different Windows host port (50053) to avoid ports conflicts.

This image is ready to be connected to from WSL or Windows Host but the port and IP should be specified as:

from ansys.mapdl.core import launch_mapdl

mapdl = launch_mapdl(ip='', port=50053, start_instance=False)


from ansys.mapdl.core import Mapdl

mapdl = Mapdl(ip='', port=50053)

You can also specify them using environment variables that are read when launching the MAPDL instance.

export PYMAPDL_PORT=50053
export PYMAPDL_IP=

Launch Docker with UPF Capabilities

If you want to specify a custom Python UPF routine, you must have the environment variables ANS_USER_PATH and ANS_USE_UPF defined. The former should be equal to the path where the UPF routines are located, and the latter should be equal to TRUE.

In WSL, you can do this using:

export ANS_USER_PATH=/home/user/UPFs # Use your own path to your UPF files.

You can then run the Docker image with:

docker run -e ANSYSLMD_LICENSE_FILE=1055@host.docker.internal -e ANS_USER_PATH='/ansys_jobs/upf' -e ANS_USE_UPF='TRUE' --restart always --name mapdl -p 50053:50052 -smp  1>log.txt


The use of UPFs with Docker images or PyMAPDL is still in the Alpha state.


The specified IP in Running MAPDL on a Local Docker Image is the IP of WSL CentOS from the WSL perspective, whereas the Windows host IP is normally Docker builds the PyMAPDL images using the WSL distribution as the base. Hence, PyMAPDL is running on a Linux WSL distribution, which is running on a Windows host. Because the Docker image shares resources with WSL, it also shares the internal IP with the WSL distribution.

Additional Notes

Other Ansys Installation Flags

You can obtain license server information with one of the following, inspecting the last lines of the INSTALL file:

./INSTALL --help




Specifies information to be used by the client for the license server. Valid only in conjunction with a silent installation (INSTALL).

The format for a single license server is:

-licserverinfo LI_port_number:FLEXlm_port_number:hostname


./INSTALL -silent -install_dir /ansys_inc/ -mechapdl -licserverinfo 2325:1055:winhostIP

The format for three license servers is:

-licserverinfo LI_port_number:FLEXlm_port_number:hostname1,hostname2,hostname3


./INSTALL -silent -install_dir /ansys_inc/ -mechapdl -licserverinfo 2325:1055:abc,def,xyz


Specifies a language to use for the installation of the product.


You can specify an options file that lists the products that you want to install. To do so, you must provide a full path to the file containing the products to install.

Regarding IPs in WSL and Windows Host


You should be able to access Windows host using IP specified in /etc/hosts which normally is This means that the local WSL IP is


It is almost impossible to use for connecting to the Windows host. However, it is possible to use host.docker.internal hostname in the same file (/etc/hosts). This is an IP that is randomly allocated, which is an issue when you define the license server. However, if you update .bashrc as mentioned before, this issue is solved.

Disabling Firewall on WSL Ethernet

This method will show a notification: .. code:: pwsh

Set-NetFirewallProfile -DisabledInterfaceAliases “vEthernet (WSL)”

This method will not show a notification:

powershell.exe -Command "Set-NetFirewallProfile -DisabledInterfaceAliases \"vEthernet (WSL)\""


Windows 10 Port Forwarding

PowerShell Command to View all Forwards

netsh interface portproxy show v4tov4

Delete Port Forwarding

netsh interface portproxy delete v4tov4 listenport=1055 listenaddres= protocol=tcp

Reset Windows Network Adapters

netsh int ip reset all
netsh winhttp reset proxy
ipconfig /flushdns
netsh winsock reset

Restart WSL service

Get-Service LxssManager | Restart-Service

Kill All Processes with a Given Name

Get-Process "ANSYS212" | Stop-Process

Install xvfb in CentOS7

If you want to replicate the CI/CD behavior, xvfb is needed. For more information, see .ci folder.

yum install xorg-x11-server-Xvfb


  • PyMAPDL only works for shared-memory parallel (SMP) when running on WSL. This is why the flag -smp should be included.

  • Because there are some incompatibilities between VPN and INTEL MPI, use the flag -mpi msmpi when calling MAPDL.