Do you Homebrew? Does it outdo MacPorts and Fink?

by Eli on October 18, 2010

An open source social network program called Diaspora has been posted on Github for the public to try out and I decided to give it a whirl. Diaspora has many UNIX application dependencies since it’s currently in development/alpha mode. Not wanting to spend much time on installing the dependencies I looked at several howtos and ran into Homebrew. It’s a package manager for OSX like Fink or MacPorts (previous post). While using it to install the dependencies for Diaspora I realized it was far simpler and more powerful than its counterparts.

Fink has a broad set of applications, which are usually outdated. Macports has more up-to-date applications, but due to how applications are installed you can have redundancies of dependencies (slows down installation speed too).

If you’re curious and want to try Homebrew out, then just do (ruby comes with Snow Leopard).

ruby -e "$(curl -fsS"

For more details on additional installation options follow this link and keep in mind that you will need to have Xcode installed. Homebrew prefers to install the UNIX applications into /usr/local/ (or anywhere you want) so you don’t need sudo permissions.

The basic commands of  Homebrew are

brew install
brew uninstall
brew list
brew search
brew info

A list of the available UNIX applications can be found here, which are called “Formulas” in Homebrew terms.  In case there’s not an application that you’re looking for, creating your own Formula is dead easy.

brew create

For more details check out This aspect is particularly useful for developers.

Sounds almost too good to be true, yes? So far I have installed some complicated and problematic packages without a hitch (e.g. hdf5). I would suggest giving it a run as it could really simplify your computer life with UNIX based applications.

On a side note, many of the astronomy UNIX based applications are complex to install. It would be great if we could install those applications through a centralized system. I think Homebrew is a very good medium to consider (hint, hint developers). If you want to know more details about Homebrew I would suggest reading this blog post.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jonathan Whitmore March 24, 2011 at 6:08 pm

The ruby command needs to update the URL to https, so the command should be:

ruby -e “$(curl -fsS”


2 nobody have to interest that October 6, 2011 at 11:22 am

I don’t understand the love for Homebrew at all. I could live with the arrogance & trash-talking about the older package managers if Homebrew actually was a major leap forward. But blindly depending on system Perl, system Python, etc. is a serious design flaw, not a feature to be bragging about. Ditto for taking over /usr/local. I’ve seen Homebrew fanboys advocating doing things to your UNIX system that would just make your jaw drop. Do not want.


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