Open Letter from Etre Check on the future of Audacity

Mac OSX v125 Catalina Public Beta 6 & Audacity v23.3.2

EtreCheck identifies Audacity as a 32 bit app because of the funky way Audacity works. I wrote to EtreSoft and they promptly replied. Here is their reply and why users may want to start migrating away from Audacity unless Audacity commits to a total rewrite of the app.

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Dear Norm:

Open source, cross-platform software like Audacity sometimes fails the 64-bit check. Such software tends to do “clever” tricks that make it difficult or impossible to do these kinds of checks.

In the case of Audacity, the “executable” defined in the application bundle is actually a script, “audacity.sh”. This script allows the user to use Linux-style dynamic library tricks to load custom versions of dependent libraries like Lame and FFmpeg. Then the script calls the underlying, 64-bit executable.

But since there is no direct link between the app bundle and that 64-bit executable, when EtreCheck looks for apps that do not have 64-bit executables, Audacity is one of the results. This is because the executable is a script. It would be impossible for EtreCheck to try to determine what the real underlying executable might be.

While Audacity’s script is relatively simple, other open source, cross-platform software can have very complicated such scripts.
My suggestion would be to contact Audacity and file a bug report.

They should use more robust methods of finding and loading dynamic libraries. Those old Linux-style tricks may not work in the future. The particular environment variable they are working with has been used in malware before, so it is possible that it may not behave as expected on a Mac. Apple is really tightening up these things. Some such scripts, perhaps all, will not work at all in future versions of macOS. Even Audacity’s script may not work. Just because it launches doesn’t mean that the script can be manipulated to launch custom versions of dynamic libraries. That may be something that Catalina no longer permits.

While EtreCheck’s “32-bit” label may not be accurate, this is software that is likely to not work in future versions of macOS and may not even function properly in Catalina. You should contact the developers of Audacity and encourage them to do extensive tests on Catalina and review Apple’s published security roadmap for future versions of macOS.
John Daniel
Etresoft, Inc.

Audacity on Mac is recent versions and certainly the current version is a 64-bit app.

Note too that LAME is now built-in in this 64-bit app.

FFmpeg is an optional download for extending import and export to additional formats. In order to make it work on Mac with the 64-bit app you need the 64-bit version of the FFmpeg libraries.

WC

I’m guessing that you mean Audacity 2.3.2 (?)

If EtreCheck says Audacity 2.3.2 for Mac is 32-bit, then that’s a bug in EtreCheck. Audacity 2.3.2 for Mac is 64-bit.
Since EtreCheck is not capable of determining whether Audacity is a 32-bit or 64-bit executable, it should say “unknown” (or something similar) rather than incorrectly stating that it is a 32-bit app.

Audacity supports the current released operating system for Mac. Audacity also releases updated versions of Audacity. Pre-released operating systems are not officially supported by Audacity on any platform.

I’m not sure what they mean by “Linux-style tricks”. “DYLD_FALLBACK_LIBRARY_PATH” is a Mac specific environmental variable (Mac OS X Manual Page For dlopen(3))

This is not an Audacity bug. IF at some point in the future, Apple make changes that prevent Audacity from working on their released operating system, then that could be logged as a bug. We don’t log hypothetical bugs that “may” occur “if” certain changes are made in a future version of an operating system. We also don’t log bugs in other software. The fact that EtreCheck incorrectly states that Audacity is a 32-bit application is not an Audacity bug - it’s a bug in their software.

It’s not accurate. Have EtreCheck logged this as a bug?

See this Forum announcement Audacity under macOS 10.15 Catalina

And many thanks to noraa for posting that workaround

Peter