OS X Essentials: MacPorts

There is plenty of great  Mac software available. Among my favorites are the instant messaging client Adium, the editor TextMate and the media center Plex. This is software that is OS X-only – stuff I really miss when I run Linux. However there is now way around the fact that Linux has an advantage when it comes to general Unix software. Most stuff is only an apt-get away in Debian-derived Linux distributions, while you need to Google around to find a disk image when you are on a Mac, or – even uglier – download and untar something under /usr/local or similar.

However it is in fact perfectly possible to achieve an apt-get level of convenience on a Mac! The silver bullet is MacPorts – a Mac implementation of the BSD ports system. The only problem is just that MacPorts is a ports implementation meaning that only source code is pulled from the net, all binaries are built locally (in the case of MacPorts with the Apple Xcode tool chain). MacPorts is thus a bad fit for the impatient (especially if one for instance would aspire to install the Gimp port with all its dependencies). I’ve no complaints with regard to the user interface (command line based just as apt-get) or port availability and upstream synchronization frequency. Everything I have desired to install so far has successfully been pulled down, configured, built and installed under the MacPorts prefix /opt/local.

I was delighted to find that MacPorts even provided a port of Java build tool staple Maven.

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