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Porticus package manager highlighting outdated packages