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What's the difference between the Mac OS distributions?

asked 2014-02-06 05:30:56 -0500

Polyergic gravatar image

updated 2015-01-13 15:41:02 -0500

FrédéricC gravatar image

The download page at links to two different distributions, with this description:

Pick (if available) your choice of Sage distribution:

    *-app.dmg - to get Sage as a Mac OS X application that starts like most other Mac applications
    *.dmg - to get the full Sage distribution for traditional Unix command-line like use

Both allow full use of the Sage Notebook and the command line.

The installation instructions at doesn't give different instructions for the different distributions, and I haven't found any other page that gives additional information.

  1. If both distributions allow full use and have the same installation instructions, what is the difference between them?
  2. If one of them can't be opened like a normal Mac Application, why do the instructions say to put it in the Applications folder?
  3. If one of them can be opened like a normal Mac Application, why do the instructions say to do more than just put it in the Applications folder?
  4. If the -app.dmg distribution is everything in the .dmg distribution plus something that makes it run like a normal Mac Application, why is the -app.dmg distribution smaller?
  5. If installation consists of copying it into the Applications folder and setting the program to open it in, how do I invoke sage from a normal terminal session?
  6. If the UI is in a web browser, can I run Sage as a background service and just use it through a browser bookmark?
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Hmm, there should be fairly detailed different instructions, and if you actually download the app bundle you will see a different readme. Strange it isn't there, though. These are all great questions - sorry I don't have time to answer now! I suspect someone else will, though.

kcrisman gravatar imagekcrisman ( 2014-02-06 05:57:48 -0500 )edit

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answered 2014-02-16 04:15:40 -0500

Polyergic gravatar image

After looking at both disk images and looking for things online, before installing anything, I have some partial answers:

  1. There are extended installation instructions included in the distribution disk images does give different instructions for each distribution; the instructions on the website are only for the non-app distribution. Looking at the content of the disk images I see these differences in the directory structures:

    • On the "non-app" image, the sage distribution is in /sage/; on the "app" image, the sage distribution is in /
    • Within those pathes, the only differences are within ./.git/ (which probably shouldn't be included)
    • Between those pathes, the "app" image has what appear to be files intended to wrap the distribution in a MacOS Application bundle
    • Both images include identical /README.txt and an empty (and unnecessary) /.Trashes/
  2. While the non-app distribution must be installed somewhere, it is not clear why the instructions use /Applications/.

    • It seems that in Mac OS, functionality not implemented in Applications but intended to be used by Applications should be packaged as Frameworks and installed in /Library/Frameworks/. This is done, for example, by the official Mac OS installers of Python and Mono. Most of the relevant information is linked from
    • It seems that in Mac OS, command-line executables (consisting of a single file) are often installed in /usr/local/bin/. I couldn't find any documentation of the general rule, but it was easy to find several posts in various forums which refer to that path for different particular command-line tools.
    • I did not find any indication of where large dependencies should be installed to support executables in /usr/loca/bin/ (other than as Frameworks). I would guess that if the executable goes in /usr/local/bin/ the libraries would go in /usr/local/lib/, but it was not easy to find many posts which refer to that path.
  3. The instructions on the website are only for the non-app distribution. Since it does not include an Application bundle, only a command-line executable, it says to tell finder to open the command-line executable in the Terminal. I think it would be better to put the binaries elsewhere (either in a Framework or /usr/local/lib/) and only put an alias in /Applications/.

  4. It's not clear why the image with more data takes up less space.

    • The file containing the app image is 5,400,527 bytes smaller than the file containing the non-app image. The content of the app image is 810,425 bytes larger (although the .git pathes differ, they have the same size). Disk Utility shows each image has the same amount of unused space, and the app image has 866,304 bytes more capacity.
    • These are compressed disk images, so the app image might be more compressible. If the added data compressed to zero that wouldn't make the image smaller. On each image the .git path contains 76,036,793 bytes, so a difference ...
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Asked: 2014-02-06 05:30:56 -0500

Seen: 739 times

Last updated: Feb 16 '14