Finking About Packages


In case you're another immigrant to Mac OS X from mainstream UNIX, the Fink 10.4-transitional tree is officially deprecated today. This is good (due to full Intel support) but also bad (because Leopard is just around the corner, and it took nearly all of Tiger's lifetime to do) and a bit of a nuisance, since the upgrade method is a bit on the destructive side and Fink still has some rough edges.

For starters, the Fink installer I got complains about some obtuse permissions problem because it's buggy - it needs to be run under an administrative account, and despite prompting for admin auth when run as a regular user it does not work properly.

Still, that's not really a problem (heck, I just realized that 0.8.0 had the same issue, since I just switched to my admin account after installing Fink, and found the 0.8.0 package still in the trash...).

The real problem was that I was hoping there was a reasonable chance of having updated binary packages for some of my favorite tools and there wasn't really much of interest (to me, mind you). ImageMagick, for instance, has a few new features I'd love to try, but the Fink version is a bit outdated. I suppose there aren't yet enough maintainers to give Mac OS X a boost in this regard, but hopefully that's bound to change as Intel machines become more popular and developers feel the need to scratch their usual itches at the Mac OS X CLI.

So it seemed as good a time as any to switch to DarwinPorts on one of my machines. And no, DarwinPorts is not dead, they're just fine, thank you.

I'll keep the other one running Fink because I really like having binary packages available and love FinkCommander as a package management tool, but I'm enough of a BSD geek to feel at home with DarwinPorts.

Sure, it takes a while to install some packages, but that's not much of a problem for simple stuff. Subversion, however, has umpteen dependencies, so I just went and got a binary package for it.

Plus I have spent countless hours compiling all sorts of stuff on all sorts of crufty UNIX variants, from HP-UX and AIX to the Cygwin userland, so natively compiling stuff for Mac OS X is mostly a matter of setting the relevant pathnames to /usr/local.

Dependencies are a right pain, though (especially if you pick up Linux-centric source packages, which tend to rely on everything plus the kitchen sink being available), which is why sometimes I wish there was an "official" way to set up UNIX userland software in Mac OS X.

Or at least just one. Having two (or three, if you count the Portage-like stuff that was floating around a year or so back) is somewhat of a waste of time...

Oh, and by the way, there's a new Security Update out. Among other (much more important) things, you now have to enter 8-digit Bluetooth pairing PINs. I don't remember the details for PIN handling in Bluetooth stacks, but somehow I don't think these are all that much safer...