The following text is taken directly from the Open MPI README file in the development branch.
Open MPI Version Numbers and Binary Compatibility
Open MPI has two sets of version numbers that are likely of interest
to end users / system administrator:
* Software version number
* Shared library version numbers
Both are described below, followed by a discussion of application
binary interface (ABI) compatibility implications.
Software Version Number
The version number of Open MPI distribution tarballs are the union of
several different values: major, minor, release, and an optional
* Major: The major number is the first integer in the version string
(e.g., v1.2.3). Changes in the major number typically indicate a
significant change in the code base and/or end-user
functionality. The major number is always included in the version
* Minor: The minor number is the second integer in the version
string (e.g., v1.2.3). Changes in the minor number typically
indicate a incremental change in the code base and/or end-user
functionality. The minor number is always included in the version
number. Starting with Open MPI v1.3.0, the minor release number
took on additional significance (see this wiki page for more
o Even minor release numbers are part of "super-stable"
release series (e.g., v1.4.0). Releases in super stable series
are well-tested, time-tested, and mature. Such releases are
recomended for production sites. Changes between subsequent
releases in super stable series are expected to be fairly small.
o Odd minor release numbers are part of "feature" release
series (e.g., 1.3.7). Releases in feature releases are
well-tested, but they are not necessarily time-tested or as
mature as super stable releases. Changes between subsequent
releases in feature series may be large.
* Release: The release number is the third integer in the version
string (e.g., v1.2.3). Changes in the release number typically
indicate a bug fix in the code base and/or end-user
functionality. If the release number is 0, it is omitted from the
version number (e.g., v1.2 has a release number of 0).
* Quantifier: Open MPI version numbers sometimes have an arbitrary
string affixed to the end of the version number. Common strings
o aX: Indicates an alpha release. X is an integer indicating
the number of the alpha release (e.g., v1.2.3a5 indicates the
5th alpha release of version 1.2.3).
o bX: Indicates a beta release. X is an integer indicating
the number of the beta release (e.g., v1.2.3b3 indicates the 3rd
beta release of version 1.2.3).
o rcX: Indicates a release candidate. X is an integer
indicating the number of the release candidate (e.g., v1.2.3rc4
indicates the 4th release candidate of version 1.2.3).
o Prior to October 2014, nightly snapshot tarballs would include a
repository version number as well, such as r1234, indicating
that that snapshot tarball was built at Subversion r1234).
Starting in October 2014, although the major, minor, and release
values (and optional quantifiers) are reported in Open MPI nightly
snapshot tarballs, the filenames of these snapshot tarballs follow a
slightly different convention.
Specifically, the snapshot tarball filename contains three distinct
* Most recent Git tag name on the branch from which the tarball was
* An integer indicating how many Git commits have occurred since
that Git tag.
* The Git hash of the tip of the branch.
For example, a snapshot tarball filename of
"openmpi-v1.8.2-57-gb9f1fd9.tar.bz2" indicates that this tarball was
created from the v1.8 branch, 57 Git commits after the "v1.8.2" tag,
specifically at Git hash gb9f1fd9.
Open MPI's Git master branch contains a single "dev" tag. For
example, "openmpi-dev-8-gf21c349.tar.bz2" represents a snapshot
tarball created from the master branch, 8 Git commits after the "dev"
tag, specifically at Git hash gf21c349.
The exact value of the "number of Git commits past a tag" integer is
fairly meaningless; its sole purpose is to provide an easy,
human-recognizable ordering for snapshot tarballs.
Shared Library Version Number
Open MPI started using the GNU Libtool shared library versioning
scheme with the release of v1.3.2.
NOTE: Only official releases of Open MPI adhere to this versioning
scheme. "Beta" releases, release candidates, and nightly
tarballs, developer snapshots, and snapshot tarballs likely will
all have arbitrary/meaningless shared library version numbers.
For deep voodoo technical reasons, only the MPI API libraries were
versioned until Open MPI v1.5 was released (i.e., libmpi*so --
libopen-rte.so or libopen-pal.so were not versioned until v1.5).
Please see https://svn.open-mpi.org/trac/ompi/ticket/2092 for more
NOTE: This policy change will cause an ABI incompatibility between MPI
applications compiled/linked against the Open MPI v1.4 series;
such applications will not be able to upgrade to the Open MPI
v1.5 series without re-linking. Sorry folks!
The GNU Libtool official documentation details how the versioning
scheme works. The quick version is that the shared library versions
are a triple of integers: (current,revision,age), or "c:r:a". This
triple is not related to the Open MPI software version number. There
are six simple rules for updating the values (taken almost verbatim
from the Libtool docs):
1. Start with version information of "0:0:0" for each shared library.
2. Update the version information only immediately before a public
release of your software. More frequent updates are unnecessary,
and only guarantee that the current interface number gets larger
3. If the library source code has changed at all since the last
update, then increment revision ("c:r:a" becomes "c:r+1:a").
4. If any interfaces have been added, removed, or changed since the
last update, increment current, and set revision to 0.
5. If any interfaces have been added since the last public release,
then increment age.
6. If any interfaces have been removed since the last public release,
then set age to 0.
Here's how we apply those rules specifically to Open MPI:
1. The above rules do not apply to MCA components (a.k.a. "plugins");
MCA component .so versions stay unspecified.
2. The above rules apply exactly as written to the following
libraries starting with Open MPI version v1.5 (prior to v1.5,
libopen-pal and libopen-rte were still at 0:0:0 for reasons
discussed in bug ticket #2092
3. The following libraries use a slightly modified version of the
above rules: rules 4, 5, and 6 only apply to the official MPI
interfaces (functions, global variables). The rationale for this
decision is that the vast majority of our users only care about
the official/public MPI interfaces; we therefore want the .so
version number to reflect only changes to the official MPI API.
Put simply: non-MPI API / internal changes to the
MPI-application-facing libraries are irrelevant to pure MPI
Application Binary Interface (ABI) Compatibility
Open MPI provided forward application binary interface (ABI)
compatibility for MPI applications starting with v1.3.2. Prior to
that version, no ABI guarantees were provided.
Starting with v1.3.2, Open MPI provides forward ABI compatibility in
all versions of a given feature release series and its corresponding
super stable series. For example, on a single platform, an MPI
application linked against Open MPI v1.7.2 shared libraries can be
updated to point to the shared libraries in any successive v1.7.x or
v1.8 release and still work properly (e.g., via the LD_LIBRARY_PATH
environment variable or other operating system mechanism).
* A bug that causes an ABI compatibility issue was discovered after
v1.7.3 was released. The bug only affects users who configure their
Fortran compilers to use "large" INTEGERs by default, but still have
"normal" ints for C (e.g., 8 byte Fortran INTEGERs and 4 byte C
ints). In this case, the Fortran MPI_STATUS_SIZE value was computed
Fixing this issue breakes ABI *only in the sizeof(INTEGER) !=
sizeof(int) case*. However, since Open MPI provides ABI guarantees
for the v1.7/v1.8 series, this bug is only fixed if Open MPI is
configured with the --enable-abi-breaking-fortran-status-i8-fix
flag, which, as its name implies, breaks ABI. For example:
shell$ ./configure --enable-abi-breaking-fortran-status-i8-fix \
CC=icc F77=ifort FC=ifort CXX=icpc \
FFLAGS=i8 FCFLAGS=-i8 ...
* A second bug was discovered after v1.7.3 was released that causes
ABI to be broken for gfortran users who are using the "mpi" Fortran
module. In short, for versions of gfortran that do not support
"ignore TKR" functionality (i.e., gfortran <=v4.8), Open MPI was
providing interfaces for MPI subroutines with choice buffers (e.g.,
MPI_Send) in the Fortran mpi module. The MPI-3.0 specification
expressly states not to do this. To be consistent with MPI-3, Open
MPI v1.7.4 therefore removed all MPI interfaces with choice buffers
from the no-ignore-TKR version of the Fortran mpi module, even
though this breaks ABI between v1.7.3 and v1.7.4. Affected users
should be able to recompile their MPI applications with v1.7.4 with
Other Fortran compilers that provide "ignore TKR" functionality are
not affected by this change.
* The Fortran ABI was inadvertantly changed between Open MPI v1.8.1
and v1.8.2 for users who built Open MPI with gfortran >= v4.9. In
particular, if an MPI application was built against Open MPI <=
v1.8.2 with gfotran >= v4.9, and the MPI application used
MPI_SIZEOF, it will not be ABI compatible with Open MPI v1.8.3. The
ABI incompatibility problem was fixed in v1.8.4.
* The 1.8 series suffered an inadvertent break in ABI compatibility
prior to release 1.8.5 due to a test that rejected TCP connections
from processes compiled against another version. The test
incorrectly checked all three parts of the version number, thus
preventing a process compiled against 1.8.3 from connecting to one
compiled against 1.8.4. This was fixed in 1.8.5, so ABI will be
maintained from there forward.
Open MPI reserves the right to break ABI compatibility at new feature
release series. For example, the same MPI application from above
(linked against Open MPI v1.7.2 shared libraries) will likely *not*
work with Open MPI v1.9 shared libraries.
NOTE: The 1.8 series suffered an inadvertent break in ABI compatibility
prior to release 1.8.5 due to a test that rejected TCP connections from
processes compiled against another version. The test incorrectly checked
all three parts of the version number, thus preventing a process compiled
against 1.8.3 from connecting to one compiled against 1.8.4. This was fixed
in 1.8.5, so ABI will be maintained from there forward.