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Linux is home base for open source software, and things always go much more smoothly in that environment. I can almost understand how some folks throw away OS X and install Linux on Apple hardware -- almost, but not quite. Until Linux feels better than OS X on a laptop, I guess I'll keep playing these games...although I've got my eye on a nice-looking Underwood typewriter. [Full story at InfoWorld.com]
Last week's column drew more than the usual number of responses:

Dominique Hermsdorff:

Yes, it was fun to install from source in the 90's. Today, you can achieve more productivity by using automated installers such as yum. I find the title of your opinion piece a little bit unfair because nowadays you can install packages quite quickly without having to build from source.

I agree that the title did unfairly tar all of open source with the brush of OS X's peculiarities.

M. David Minnegerode:

You should install fink. It's a package manager like darwin-ports, up2date, apt-get, yum, etc., etc.

I do use installers and package managers when I can, and lately I've seemed to be getting better results with darwin-ports than with fink. However in this case, neither seemed to have all the pieces I needed.

Brook Milligan:

It is true that there are a number of issues when dealing with creating a nontrivial collection of installed open source software. This is, of course, not limited to open source software; how many times have you tried to add a proprietary package to a Windows box only to discover that the dependencies were not quite right, leading into the same morass you mention?

The point I would like to raise is that there exists a solution that both deals with the problem fairly well and does so in a way that captures expertise from many different platforms, thereby making the results usable in a platform-independent way. The system is pkgsrc a packaging system derived long ago from the FreeBSD ports system. It has evolved a great deal, though, and now offers a truly multiplatform way of building internally consistent sets of packages from source, installing binary packages, performing automated security audits, etc., all for a wide array of different OS/hardware platforms (including Mac OS X/Darwin).

Brook hasn't tried pkgsrc with OS X, and neither have I, but it might be worth a shot next time around.

The Underwood typewriter, by the way, is a reference to a 1998 (not 1988, as written) issue of The Perl Journal, whose cover famously featured a configure script running on that venerable box. I searched in vain for an online image of that classic TPJ cover. If anyone can point to one, I'd love to link to it from here.

Update: Brian Jepson had a copy lying around. Here's a photo of the cover. Thanks, Brian!

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2006/05/02.html#a1440