Urania

A blog named for the muse of Astronomy containing musings by an astronomer

Two Astronomically Interesting Mac Software Updates Today

Posted on July 19, 2008 by Juan

Today I noticeed two interesting software updates for Mac-based professional astronomers.

The first one I noticed was the updating of Xquartz to version 2.3.0. Xquartz is the updated version of X11 for the Mac OS (even ahead of Apple’s own installed versions) that I prefer to use, largely because bug-fixes get rolled in here before they appear in Mac OS. This version requires Mac OS 10.5.4 and has a couple of caveats attached to it for programmers, notably:

The software supporting the deprecated imake build system is not provided in this package. If you need imake and xmkmf, please install the X11 package that came with your Leopard DVD before installing this version. Alternatively, you can compile these packages on your own or get them from a third party such as Fink or MacPorts. The darwin configuration files used by the imake build system are outdated and not supported. Developers using this build system are advised to migrate to autoconf.

[Added July 24, 2008: Apparently, this version of Xquartz changed the X11.app Icon so it now X11 looks like this

New X11 Icon

when it is on the Dock. Interesting, but it threw me for a second. The only documentation I found of this change is in a Ticket filed with XQuartz’s bug reporting system. Still, I think this is a good idea, as it gives a visual cue that you are using XQuartz as opposed to the default X11 installation.]

Along with a bunch of library changes, the key update appears to be having the Xserver updated to the 1.4 branch of Xorg. There is also “support for adding new $DISPLAY sockets after the server is running” (which I think means using the DISPLAY variable will not break things) and “/usr/X11/bin/Xquartz is just a stub that will ‘do the right thing’,” whatever that means. I have upgraded to it and as a reminder, if you upgrade MacOS after installing Xquartz, you will need to reinstall Xquartz to get it back.

The other interesting software release for Mac-based astronomers I noticed today was SAOImage DS9 which has released version 5.3beta, which appears to be, based on the statement on their homepage that “MacOSX 10.5 users with firewall enabled, please use version 5.3 beta”, geared toward addressing the issue I noticed this April with version 5.2 where launching SAOimage DS9 with a certain firewall setting on the Mac could result in the the application becoming irreparably damaged at launch.

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