Maya 2016 for Linux Users and Students

3D Applications

Over the past few months I’ve been seeing a bunch of posts in the Autodesk AREA forums and other sites asking about the Linux version of Maya for students and installing Ext 1. I’m hoping that through this post you will begin to understand what is required to accomplish these things and why you should wait for Maya 2017. I should emphasize that this post is geared towards students and not subscription members.


This post will not show you how to install Maya. Installing Maya on Linux is no easy feat for beginners (like myself). Windows and OS X are child’s play compared to Linux. I highly recommend reading through the Maya documentation (found here) on how to do this correctly. Make sure you carefully read the instructions, as well as look at the “Additional Linux Notes” page. The notes provide detailed information on the dependent modules required for successful installation.

It’s recommended you use an RPM package manager compatible distro, such as RHEL 6/7 and CentOS 6.5/7 (Fedora unofficially). Some people have managed to install Maya on other distros, but it is beyond the scope of this post.

Time for the good stuff! First, make an Education Community account if you don’t already have one. You could download Maya from here, but I would highly recommend not doing so. The Education Community page doesn’t have a good track record of maintaining the most up-to-date  release. To get the download, you should go to the Maya Support page and download the latest service pack. More on why later. Next, head back over to the Education Community, select Maya, and use that page to get your License and Product key information (it should be displayed on the page as well as sent to you in an email). Follow the Maya documentation to install the software.

Congratulations, you have Maya 2016 SP5 installed! Now you want Extension 1, correct? Well, you can’t have it. As of the time of writing, Autodesk only allows subscription members access to Ext. 1 for the Linux variant. Those of us on Windows and OS X get to download Ext. 1 + SP3 from the student center. Unfortunately, only those of us on Windows get to upgrade to SP5. For some reason the Extension is just not available to Linux users. More on this and previous topics now.

So earlier I mentioned to download Maya from the support area, as well as Windows users being the only one’s capable of upgrading . The reason for this has to do with the way Autodesk rolls out updates for Maya on different operating systems. For Windows users, there is a free tool which gets installed called “Autodesk Application Manager” whose sole purpose is to check on a regular basis (or manually) with Autodesk to see if there are available updates for any AD software on a user’s machine. It also downloads and installs the updates per the user’s request. UNIX-like systems such as OS X and Linux do not have this kind of feature, as Service Packs are released as full package installs. To install an update on these operating systems, Autodesk instructs that you completely uninstall Maya, then install the new SP. This was one of the reason’s that I switched from OS X to Windows.

How does this effect students trying to install Extension 1? Well, instead of going to the Maya page on the student center, they have to go to the All Products page and select “Maya Extension” where you can download Ext. 1 + SP3 as one package. From there, Windows users can upgrade to SP5 and call it a day. OS X users are stuck on SP3 as, remember, updates are full installs. Installing SP5 would require you to uninstall Maya, thus removing Ext. 1 from your system.

So how does this effect Linux students? Long story short, unless you join the subscription service, you can’t get the Extension 1 release for Maya 2016. This brings me to my original conclusion: Wait for Maya 2017. With this new release, all of the work that was put into 2016 and its Extension will be culminated into one base, so everybody gets the same tools again. Linux users will be able to get the new Type tool, Vector support, Parallel Evaluation for dynamic rigs, and all of the look development improvements added in Extension 1. We will also get all of the new tools added for 2017, as well as a more refined and stable program, which is what Autodesk is appearing to do with Maya as a whole.

And the best part? You won’t have to wait long! Based off of Autodesk’s release schedule since 2010, major versions of Maya are released every April. So one more month of waiting. Whether you choose to spend that time on Windows/OS X with the Extension release or on previous versions of Maya is up to you. I will be waiting until then to migrate most of my CG tools over to my Fedora drive to take advantage of what Linux has to offer.

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