in Apple, Mac

OS X package management

Mark Pilgrim writes about the benefits of the easy-to-use package manager in Ubuntu and then feels sorry for his Mac OS-using friends.

“But Jesus H. Christ, it must suck giant wet donkey balls to be stuck on an archaic OS where you need to be dropping into the terminal and tweaking configuration files and compiling shit all the time. I hope the translucent menu bar is worth it. “

I agree wholeheartedly that a good package manager really makes life a lot easier. At work the other day I was about to begin installing TWiki by following the rather lengthy installation guidelines. As I was on a clean install of Ubuntu 7.10 I fired off a apt-get install twiki and lo and behold, two minutes later the whole thing was there including mysql and a large part of the CPAN library.

On OS X I have been using MacPorts from the terminal. It provides similar features to apt-get but you don’t get update notifications without diving into the terminal. And I rarely dive into the terminal to manually check for updates.

So, I googled around for a decent GUI and found Porticus. Porticus provides a nice GUI, checks for package updates and with a few clicks you can have your environment up to date. It even integrates nicely with Growl. The big difference is of course that packages aren’t pre-compiled (does that disqualify the use of “packages” to describe them?). MacPorts will download the source and build it on your machine. This is strange as Mac platforms are well known and vary little. Why not save everyone the build step and just push the universal binaries?

Porticus package manager highlighting outdated packages

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  1. Why not save everyone the build step and just push the universal binaries?

    MacPort variants are enough reason to not provide binary packages.

  2. @pianohacker
    Mark Pilgrim is indeed a troll. It is laughable to spend 20 years of your computing life and suddenly discover you were dancing with the devil (and make a name on the internet blogosphere with that “discovery”). Yes indeed, he should get a life.
    Know what’s more funnier though? He scorns the fact that to become and ADC member “you give up your rights”, but did you now he had to sign the same kind of contract giving up his rights when he went to work for Google? I guess you didn’t. But I digress.
    And what’s the nonsense about a dmg anyway? Guess it must be too diffciult to mount a disk image and copy a file to a folder…

  3. Just thought I’d mention Gentoo Linux and Portage.
    If you don’t know about Gentoo, find out!
    With the portage system it is possible to compile your linux essentially from scratch!!
    (If you are an Ubuntu user that doesn’t see the point in this, keep doin what yer doin :P)
    For all the folks interested in fine tuning their installations, this means you (potentially; depending on the settings in your /etc/make.conf file) get an operating system + all software compiled to run on your specific processor. Think speed :)
    I’ve seen where Windows XP took roughly 45 seconds to open Mozilla Firefox (from freshly booted system after completely finishing boot) on an old 900MHz Duron with 256MB SDR. This same system running a custom compiled version of Gentoo for the Duron loaded Mozilla Firefox in roughly 10-15 seconds (and furthermore, is stable and smooth).
    This is the beauty of custom compiled code :) (Coupled with on OS thats worth a damn).
    But I’m getting away from my point. Yes Ubuntu is good to get the Windows User off of Windows, but if you actually want to see what linux can really do, give Gentoo a look. For you Ubuntu people that dont get why you compile code, its cuz you can build it how u want. As in, for your processor, optimized to the level of your liking.

  4. Your initial quote from Mark is a bit ridiculous. 90% of the programs most OSX users are installing are provided in binaries, so no one’s really dropping into terminal, and yes, the translucent menu bar was worth it!

    I wish the open source community would just man up and start providing binaries for their programs. Instead of dropping down to terminal and changing config files like Mark said, I just don’t install the programs, because chances are I can find a free or cheap alternative that will save me time and frustration. It’s attitudes like bryanl’s that are the reason why open source will never be as prevalent as commercial software. Open source communities are willing to give users a solution (such as MacPorts) but not the solution they want (binaries). I know it’s an extra step, but until it gets done, the average user is not going to want to waste their time with these programs.

  5. And let me also add that Macports isn’t even a complete solution. It’s command line based. You know how many mac users even know they have a terminal!! So in response Bryanl’s “MacPort variants are enough reason to not provide binary packages”, I have to say that’s a load. You’re saying there’s no reason to provide binary packages, but the alternatives have users not only installing an additional program (macports) in order to install the one they want, but expect them to know how to navigate a terminal. Or they could download a GUI for it, which means in order to install ONE application, they now have to download and install THREE! I’m sorry Bryanl, but that’s just not really a proper reason to not provide binary packages.

  6. Although I remain pretty much an Apple Remote Desktop newbie, this product ships with a facility to make custom packages (PackageMaker.app) I have tinkered with. ARD can then install the packages on other networked Macs registered with the ARD client. ARD makes updating programs like Sophos Anti Virus over the LAN a lot easier. Apple charges $500 for ARD, so perhaps that is why it seems to be missing from this discussion. I do not know whether it leverages any open source components.

    Mark Frautschi