What version is this software?

When a package is updated, some bugs may be fixed, and others may be introduced. If you need to contact IT Support, it helps to include this information in your problem report.

  • Many suites will announce their versions in their startup banners. With graphics programs, this is often by displaying a small "About" window, sometimes only briefly.

  • Graphics software will usually have an "About" entry on a toolbar menu. For example, clicking "Safari", then "About Safari", shows me that I'm using version 6.0.4 of Safari as I write.

    Caveat: Applications which use X11 for graphics display may or may not override X11's own version information.

  • Many of the programs and suites which need to be Activated (please see Applications Setup) will send version-related information to your Terminal (or xterm) when you do so. For example, at the time of writing, the current versions of Scisoft and Starlink are announced as:

    Scisoft (inc IRAF) 2012-November-13 for Lion
    Starlink hikianalia (2013-April-12)

    • Saying (for example)

      Activate installed starlink

      pretends to do an Activation, but without affecting your current shell. In this case, it will also display version information about all versions of the software in question which it finds installed on your system. (This aspect of Application Setup is under development. I may yet rename this to "Activate --pretend", or that might end up meaning something slightly different.)

    • The Help and Search facilities in Applications Setup can display or search manifests for SciSoft, Starlink, and MacPorts, including version information. For example:

      Activate help macports | grep -i gsl

      yields (at the time of writing):

      gsl @1.15_1 (active)

      and the more comprehensive (and comprehensible)

      Activate search gsl

      yields, amongst other things:

      macports: gsl @1.15_1 (active)
      scisoft:  GSL 2.14
      starlink: gsl: 1.12

      .... which reveals a tyop in Scisoft's manifest file (its version is actually gsl-1.14, one minor revision behind the latest release from Project GNU).

  • Some command-line utilities will give version information, and then immediately exit, in response to a command-line flag such as --version (one dash or two) or -V (that's a capital V). If that fails, try -h or --help, or generally getting creative at the command line or the utility's command-input prompt.

Remember my family motto:

If all else fails, Read The Instructions.

Categories: Apple | Astrophysics | Mac | OS X