MathGroup Archive 2010

[Date Index] [Thread Index] [Author Index]

Search the Archive

Re: switching between versions 7 and 8

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg114919] Re: switching between versions 7 and 8
  • From: John Fultz <jfultz at>
  • Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2010 03:51:23 -0500 (EST)
  • Reply-to: jfultz at

Answers inlined below:

On Wed, 22 Dec 2010 02:34:46 -0500 (EST), AES wrote:
> In article <iepdkl$g3r$1 at>,
> Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at> wrote:
>> I run the same system as you. I have three versions of Mathematica
>> installed on my MacBook Pro: 6.03, 7 and 8. I can run any of them
>> without problems (not at the same time, of course). The only thing I
>> have done was to rename the applications Mathematica v.6 as Mathematica
>> 6.03 and Mathematica v. 7 as Mathematica 7. The application Mathematica
>> 8 is named Mathematica. I did the renaming before installing the newer
>> version of course. That's all. I have never had any problems with my
>> installation.
>> I feel one of us must be failing to notice something very simple ;-).
>> Andrzej Kozlowski
> I don't expect that I'll ever try to run more than the latest version of
> Mathematica on my MacBook or MacBook Pro, because I have all I can do to
> keep up with one version (presently have 7 installed and 8 downloaded
> but not yet installed).
> So, I'm posting this query primarily for my own education (and _not_
> with any hidden or concealed agenda).
> Appended below is a complete listing of the auxiliary folders, files,
> Caches, CharacterEncodings, Configurations, defaults, documentation,
> fonts, FrontEnds, Kernels, Paclettes, Paclette Managers, Preferences,
> Repositorys, resources, Setups, and so on that the Print Window utility
> shows are in the current ~/Library /Mathematica folder on my current
> MacBook
> There seem to be 189 (!) of these folders and files (although including
> Navigator bulks this up in part), including what seem to be residues in
> this list from my having acquired and used every version of Mathematica
> back to
> v1.  Haven't bothered to dig out whatever other auxiliary Mathematica
> files may reside elsewhere on my HD, but there certainly are some.
> So:
> 1)  When you (or others) keep and use multiple versions of Mathematica,
> do you (or does Mathematica automatically) create separate, different
> versions of all of these auxiliary files (like different Preferences or
> different default or init or font files) for all the versions you're
> running?

The front end can keep versioned preferences files.  This is controlled in the 
Preferences dialog, in the System pane, under the setting "Create and maintain 
version specific front end preferences".  Other things are shared between all 
versions of Mathematica.  In the case of applications, that means that you only 
have to install them once, and they'll work in all future verisons of 
Mathematica.  In the case of kernel init.m files, you could easily select 
versions if you wish by using conditionals which depend on the symbol 

> 2)  Or does just renaming the multiple versions by adding v6, v7, etc,
> to the application name automatically create and preserve new separate
> version-labelled versions of all these auxiliary files?

No.  Renaming has no effect whatsoever on $BaseDirectory and $UserBaseDirectory.

> 3)  If you have multiple versions of Mathematica installed, along with a
> notebook that you normally run in v6, and you accidentally open this
> notebook in v5 or v7, does doing that automatically modify some of the
> hidden metadata associated with that notebook, such that it will behave
> differently (even maybe only slightly) the next time you open it in v6?

If you save the notebook in the newer version then yes, you may end up with some 
parts of the notebook which are not compatible with older versions.  Note that 
by "not compatible", my meaning is technically strict, but not as scary as you 
might think.  Older versions will still actually open the file (you won't end up 
with a total failure).  And everything that you would typically see in an Input 
cell will continue to work.  But you might find, for example, that certain 
outputs are formatted in such a way that they won't be read by earlier versions.  
For example, in v8, some Image[] outputs use a new, much more efficient format 
which was not supported in v7.  Those Image[]s would show up blank and with pink 
boxes around them (if I recall correctly...haven't actually tried this 

> 4)  Just to pick one further example, one presumably wants the font
> management system on a Mac to be aware of _all_ the (separate and
> distinct) Mathematica fonts that are present and used in all these
> Mathematica versions.  (For example, maybe you're going to Export a file
> with text content from one of the Mathematica versions, and then open it
> in some other application like Acrobat or Excel on your Mac.)  WIll the
> Mac's font management (and the font menus in other Mac applications) get
> further cluttered with each separate version of Mathematica you keep?

Sorry, I don't recall exactly how Mathematica's font management works on Mac, 
but there's certainly no need for clutter.  Fonts are always backward compatible 
(well, ahem...except when we renamed them from "Math" to "Mathematica", but that 
was a *long* time ago).  Fonts in version 8 would work perfectly well for 
version 5.  They are, literally, the same fonts (including names, ids, etc.), 
but only with newer version numbers and more glyphs.

> For myself, I'm about to move my life to a new MacBook Pro; and trying
> to keep my own life protected from all these complexities, I think that
> rather than just migrating my current Users and ~/Library folder from my
> existing MacBook to the new one, I'm going first install v8 on the new,
> virgin MacBook Pro; reset all preferences and defaults by hand; and then
> hand-transfer over nothing but plain notebooks from the old to the new
> machine.  Only thing I don't know is just what license hassles doing
> this will get me into . . .

I can certainly appreciate this.  Whenever I get a new machine, I appreciate the 
opportunity to start from a clean slate as well.  If for no other reason than it 
gives me a chance to clear out the junk which I just wasn't using.

I don't see anything wrong with the method you propose.  And I can't imagine
what licensing issues you might run into, unless you have a Mathematica 
application installed which has a separate licensing technology (and I don't
think you do, based upon your listing).


John Fultz
jfultz at
User Interface Group
Wolfram Research, Inc.

  • Prev by Date: Re: switching between versions 7 and 8
  • Next by Date: Re: Compare matrices using Chi square for Exploratory
  • Previous by thread: Re: switching between versions 7 and 8
  • Next by thread: Re: switching between versions 7 and 8