Astrophysics: Available Software: Overview

MacOS X systems, as prepared and configured for use in Astrophysics, steer a middle course between the "thin client" (where everything but the user interface is on a server somewhere) and the "full-fat client" (where all possible software is on the user's system). Both extremes have their drawbacks.

The Astro approach is to distribute a "semi-skimmed client": the major Astro-specific software suites (principally Starlink, and the entirety of XCode Tools) are added to the base MacOS X installation; and users can add more optional software to it, using the Self-Service facility (qv), on an as-needed basis. This also permits users to bring their software up-to-date one suite at a time, and at a time of their own choosing, rather than periodically rebuilding every system in Astrophysics at the same time (the "Day of the Dead" approach).

The following software is added to all MacOs X systems:

  • Flip4Mac
  • The GIMP
  • MacTeX ("latex" at the shell prompt; apps in /Applications/TeX)
    • For reference, this includes TeXlive.
  • MS Office 2011 (or later)
  • Perian
  • Remote Desktop Connection Client
  • Sophos Anti-Virus
  • TextWrangler (may be replaced by BBedit)
  • XCode Tools (thence gcc, and clang)

In addition, those in Astrophysics are awarded:

  • CASA
  • gfortran (from HPC, for Starlink)
  • IDL
  • Starlink

    • We may also add AstrOmatic at a later stage. In the meantime, you can install this suite for yourself using Self-Service.

    • We also currently provide SciSoft for Macs, which is badly out-of-date. We are in the process of replacing its useful parts individually. Please contact Physics IT Support (at the usual e-mail address) if this would cause you problems.

Please see also the contents of /Applications/MacPorts, and /opt/local/bin, for clickable and command-line MacPorts programs respectively.

Software is distributed to MacOS X systems in several ways, often depending on its origin.

  • Major suites are installed before the system is delivered, using the Casper suite from JAMF. This also distributes the wherewithal for Applications Setup (qv), and distributes its updates on a periodic basis.

  • Self-Service (part of the Casper suite) permits users to install optional software, or update existing suites.

  • Applications in /Applications/MacPorts, and command-line utilities under /opt/local, are updated periodically by other means from centrally-maintained repositories; likewise various other things like the Sophos antivirus datafiles.

If you find that your system's version of a program is out-of-date, please let us know (at the usual e-mail address), or add a comment via the link at the end of this Page, so we can update it for everybody.

PLEASE NOTE: Newly-built and freshly-updated systems will have the latest available known-working versions of the standard software on them. Updating things which are already up-to-date will at best merely exercise the hard disc, and load down the network. (With older systems, this can cause the hard drive to fail .... and older systems are precisely those which are out of warranty.)

MORAL: Check which version you already have before attempting to update.

Categories: Apple | Astro software | Astrophysics | Mac | OS X