fink, darwinports

Several people seemed vehement about the fact that Darwin Ports is better than Fink. Why? Are there dissenting opinions?

What is the Darwin Ports analogue to the FinkCommander GUI? If the answer is "there isn't one" then that says to me that Fink is already a thousand times better than DP, even given the fact that FinkCommander is an awkward, hidious Tk thing or whatever it is.

I just want an easy way to install various bits of open source software on OSX, preferably without ever compiling any of it. Fink will give me binaries. Will DP? I can't tell. All the documentation on the web site seems to be aimed at "people contributing software to DP", not to people like me who just want to use it. This apparent focus does not fill me with confidence that it's what I want.

Update / Summary: Concensus seems to be that Fink has more stuff, but DP is more stable. Maybe there's a GUI, maybe there are binaries; I haven't investigated, because I finally came to my senses and realized that both Fink and DP represent a good deal of what I came to OSX to escape. So I plan to use them absolutely as little as possible. Software I actually want will probably have a .dmg installer.

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82 Responses:

  1. sungo says:

    no, it won't give you binaries without compilation. it is a ports system, like freebsd's ports or pkgsrc, specifically built for darwin. it is compilation only and last i recall there is no fancy gui for it.

    the main reason people get so vehement about fink-alternatives is that the fink developers have a nasty habit of releasing horribly broken builds that fuck everyone's boxes up for weeks. they also can take weeks to fix massive brokenness. in that light, stabbing oneself in the eye can be a better alternative to fink.

    • Time for the unix guru type at the desk across from me to get ethereal running on his ibook: two days (first he tried compiling it, then darwinports, then source fink). Time for stupid old me with binary fink: 2 minutes.

      I think adminny types like dports because it lets them believe that they're running something called Darwin/BSD, not something called Apple Mac OS X.

      • Actually, I'm not sure he ever did get it working. A shiny new problem distracted him.

      • resunatrue says:

        The problem is that if you ever need to install a package that hasn't been finkified, you have to finkify it, because fink puts stuff places ./configure would never dream of looking. This, well, it tends to turn people off fink after they've been burned a time or two.

        I started out being really big on fink. I figured, OK, it puts stuff under /sw but I can live with that... how hard can it be?

        Oh boy.

        Let's just say I'm not at all big on fink any more. I look for a real Mac OS X package for stuff, first, but if I can't get that and Darwinports fails as well... I go right to the source and configure and install it myself. Using fink is just setting yourself up the bomb.

    • rpkrajewski says:

      I wonder if it would help to set up a little compile farm that just fed off DarwinPorts and made packages. Is that feasible ?

    • semiclever says:

      I second this. I hate DarwinPorts a little less than I hate Fink. Fink looks better on paper but the quality of packaging is uneven. Ages ago when I used Fink's xemacs it was configured with the packager's favorite color scheme - something like black on yellow. Awesome. The whole fink source / binary double layer system seems very strange to me and often the GUI seemed, um, less than useful. But that was a year ago, maybe it's unbroken now.

      The main plus to DarwinPorts is that it delivers what it promises. The main minus is it basically promises ./configure; make && make install

      Maybe I'm just mad at Fink because when I installed Fink I expected Debian, and i got, well, Fink.

      Use Fink until it pisses you off, then switch to DarwinPorts. That's what everyone else seems to do.

      • masterkill says:

        "Use Fink until it pisses you off, then switch to DarwinPorts. That's what everyone else seems to do."

        I used fink until its crazy package dependencies got to me. At about the time I switched, the depencies of libxml2 included gtk-doc, python, db3, readline, gdbm, gmp, expat (!!!), and tcltk-dev. (And I think python wanted xfree, too.)

        DP is *better*, though it's still rubbish. For example, to upgrade everything you need to do

        $ sudo port selfupdate
        $ sudo port -a upgrade

        which is, oh, about 10 times more difficult than it needs to be. (Until Tiger (?) you needed to cvs, configure, make install, then manually seek out packages that needed upgrading...)

      • resunatrue says:

        The main plus to DarwinPorts is that it delivers what it promises. The main minus is it basically promises ./configure; make && make install

        Yep. But on the gripping hand, 99% of the time that (and a bare minimum of tweaking in terms of patches and configure options) is PRECISELY what you need.

    • kfringe says:

      There are binary packages to be had for Tiger. FYI: there are binary packages to be had for all of the BSD variants too. They're spiffy that way. It's only the total retards like me that have bunches of knobs that they don't really need in their configs that ever build anything from source.

      As for the horribly broken build thing: I'm with you on the stabbing of eyes. I just think that using something else is easier.

      Look for my post below for pointers.

    • jerronimo says:

      Not to mention that people get things working with Fink, then never bother doing updated releases for Fink when new versions come out.

  2. pdx6 says:

    I've ran both Fink and DP, and DP tends to have more ports that aren't broken compared to Fink. Annoyingly, yes, there are no binaries available, which makes installing larger packages take a longer time.

    • zonereyrie says:

      Rather off topic, but have you noticed that the 'THE' in your icon also looks like:

      Took several parses to figure out what "WTF Mac Store" meant...

      • pdx6 says:

        There is a store called "THE MAC STORE" in Seattle near the U-district. The sign outside their window looks like it says "WTF", instead of "THE", just as you stated.

        Just a little bit of Mac humor. I mean really, WTF, Macs?

  3. bitpuddle says:

    I think people like DarwinPorts because Jordan Hubbard is involved and because of its MetaPkg format. Fink is certainly more mature.

  4. fflewddur says:

    Both systems have plenty of problems, but the issues with DarwinPorts at least involve *current* software. Even the Fink unstable branch is generally horribly out of date. Example: they still ship GTK+ 2.4 in unstable, six months after the release of the binary-compatible 2.6. The Gimp is still at version 2.0, and even that must be a recent addition because the last time I was playing with Fink (a few months ago), they only had version 1.2.

    • eugenia_loli says:

      Indeed, Fink has horribly outdated packages, possibly because they don't have enough maintainers.
      As for DarwinPort's GUI, there was an internal Apple project developed, and the first idea was to put it on OSX 10.3 (in fact, the first betas shipped with it in it). But then Apple decided to not go the hard-core unix route, they removed it from the final product, and we never heard again about this GUI app ever again, while Darwin Ports feels to be a bit in limbo atm.

      In other words: don't bother too much with either Fink or DarwinPorts. They both sport half-maintaned solutions. I am sure there is an equivelant native Mac app anyway for everything.

    • otterley says:

      You're running a Mac and you want to run GIMP? WTF is the matter with you people?

      • eugenia_loli says:

        Unfortunately, I have to second that... All one needs is $79 for Photoshop Elements 3, which is good enough to run circles around Gimp's usability and even features.
        Sure, you can't beat the $0 price of Gimp, but at least for users who are not familiar with Gimp, Elements is a better deal overall asa it's easier to put your head around.

        BTW, Gimp is available for OSX for free, without the need of either Fink or DarwinPorts: It just needs the X11 package installed as comes with OSX's CD/DVD.

        • clamu says:

          I haven't tried GIMPshop, but it looks like a possible alternative to Elements. It's basically a version of the GIMP with a Photoshop-like interface hacked on. Sadly it uses X11, so its disgusting look could be a killer.

          • taffer says:

            Note that "skinnable" UIs generally mean the developers decided to ignore "usability" in favour of "configurability" and/or "the cool".

            I so love being in on discussions where "it needs to be skinnable!" comes up before "maybe we should design the UI"...

            • edge_walker says:

              Uh, what? I agree, but I don’t see anything on either site that says either GIMP or GIMPShop is skinnable, or that GIMPShop is a skin of GIMP. The dude forked GIMP to shuffle the menus around. Are you talking about gtk+’s own themability? Or something else?

        • pfrank says:

          eh, is... nice looking I guess. I just deleted it after I tried inserting some text and it crashed every single time I scrolled through fonts. I guess I'll stick with the old version of Gimp I can get through Fink..

      • fflewddur says:

        A combination of youth and idealism?

        You're really going to scream when I tell you I also run GNOME in an X session...

        • eugenia_loli says:

          I used to do that too (with Fink). But I see no reason to anymore. I have two PCs (and two laptops) that they run Arch Linux, so why bloat the pretty good OSX experience with yet another environment on top? There are no gtk apps that I need that I can't find in the mac land for free. Well, except Gnumeric, Drivel and Inkscape that is, which i don't really use much anyway, only occasionally.

          I understand that it is of a value though if you are a GTK developer and you have only one laptop/computer.

        • edlang says:

          "A combination of youth and idealism?"

          jwz's subscription for Soviet Youth expired years ago.

      • bodyfour says:

        I've got Gimp installed on my mac via Fink. The one time I had to do 10 seconds worth of editing it worked perfectly.

        For those of us who don't need to do image editing more than once a year or so even Elements would be a dumb waste of cash.

        • otterley says:

          Alternatively, you could just upload your image to one of the many free image hosting services and do your minor editing there. I just did it the other day with Yahoo! photos and it was (IMHO) far easier than trying to figure GIMP out.

          • edge_walker says:

            Are you sure you tried a recent version? The 1.x series UI sucked rocks, but the 2.x UI is quite livable in my experience. Or at least, the one I had with Photoshop ca 5.0 wasn’t much better. PaintShop Pro (I used 5 thru 7, I think) has been the only image editing software I took to really easily.

    • ralesk says:

      Is fink like... the debian of mac ports? :D

      (that said, I laughed my arse off at's announcement of the Sarge release -- it includes "up to date software" like KDE 3.3 and GNOME desktop 2.8 etc. etc. Perl 5.8.4. I mean, what, up to date?!)

  5. bodyfour says:

    I use Fink, personally. I've thought about switching to DP but have the same reservations you do.

    I've actually been running unstable Fink (and thus using the compile-from-source method of installing) since until this week the stable branch didn't support 10.4. It was a pretty rough transition but it looks like they finally got glib working well enough to run non-trivial GNOME apps.

    I have noticed a lot of regressions in 10.4 either in the X11 server or ssh forwarding — running X apps on my linux box often now die with "Bad Atom" errors and such.

    • jwz says:

      That may just mean that you need to put "ForwardX11Trusted yes" in ~/.ssh/config now. It's a "feature".

      • moof says:

        It's a "feature".

        I think you mean 'It's s3kur3!@#!@!@#111eleven'.

        (much in the same way that compiling software yourself is more secure than downloading a binary - i.e. not at all.)

      • wfaulk says:

        Or use "-Y" instead of "-X".

      • bodyfour says:

        Yep, that fixed it! Hey, maybe this lazyweb thing will catch on after all.

        I'm pretty saddened by this problem though... when I first read about the Untrusted X11 support in newer OpenSSH I thought "hey, that sounds like a great idea!" I didn't realize that it wouldn't work with X apps more complicated than xlogo.

  6. kfringe says:

    Damn you to hell. You know I don't use those guis. Frivolity, I say. But, to answer your question: there is and there isn't.

    First off, you don't have to compile. The binary package base is at That's one step. You can see the announcement mesage here. Basically you'll wind up clicking on a file in your web browser and letting the mystical network gnomes deal with the rest. That should handle the immediate problem of getting the crap on to your machine.

    As for the gui... Have I mentioned "damn you to hell" yet? Because I meant to. The thing you're looking for is called DPGUI. I hear it works, but it's new, so I fear and mistrust it. You'll be happy to know that it's another thing keeping tcl alive.

    I do think that a pretty GUI to a broken package system might not be a thousand times better than no gui to a solid package system, but that's just me. Fortunately, this isn't a call that anyone has to make. If you look at the documentation again, you'll see that the parts that concern you as a user are very, very small. You've been in linux-land too long. Those sections aren't small because they're undocumented; they're small because that's all there is to it. It really is that simple.

    Do you want the bad news about this now or later? I'll warn you, there's a little bad news. It's nowhere near the debian inspired insanity of Fink-bad-news, but it's bad news.

    • kfringe says:

      Jeeze. I was wrong. The documentation has not been updated to reflect the new level of easy.

      The section of the manual about installing darwinports is no longer correct. Forget the cvs stuff. Just make sure that xcode is on you box and get this.

    • jwz says:

      You know, I'm just going to try my damndest to not use either of them.

      I guess I'm expected to use /usr/bin/cpan to install Perl libraries? Or is there some smurfier Apple way?

      • sungo says:

        there's not. cpan is the smurfiest way out there.

        • resunatrue says:

          CPAN is the package management system from heck, goshdarn it.

          After I went to grab something (I forget what, now) from CPAN and it reinstalled Perl for me... that was a special moment for dang sure.

      • kfringe says:

        The smurfier way is dports. Sorry. Your binary package fetish can be satisfied, though.

        /p5 in the repository will take you where you need to go.

        Oh, and thanks for the excuse to use the word "smurfier." I swear, man, one snorks reference and your cool kid card is getting revoked.

    • cananian says:

      I'm curious about the bad news...

      • kfringe says:

        I'm curious about the bad news...

        The gui will manage packages and install source packages. The gui will not install binary packages; you need to use a web browser for that. No, there is no perfect solution to be had.

        Worse yet: none of the ported software will run any better on a Mac. If it was gross on linux, it's going to be at least as gross on OS X. You need to be really motivated to contaminate your spiffy fruitbox with that stuff.

        I would guess that jwz wants to play with xscreensaver on his mac. Dports will make that easier on him than fink will. Anything else he plans to do is probably best handled by ssh to a linux box.

  7. riffraff says:

    yee, it involves compiling, no, it's not that hard.

    actually, it's gentoo! so things will be compiled for your hardware quite well, and it's a metadistribution, so you automatically gain the benefit of the gentoo package library maintainers work. just install, emerge, and bob's your uncle.

    TigerCow? - Gentoo for Mac OS X

    there are rumblings about people providing precompiled binaries too, but that's sort of heretical to the gentoo worldview, imho.

    • kfringe says:

      Oh man... That makes three immature package systems, two that are source centric, two that have incomplete tcl guis, two that are takeoffs from the worst of linux zealotry, and one that is known to be for ricers.

      This needs a Venn Diagram!

      • drstein says:

        Oh brother. I wish that stupid website would just go away. *sigh*

        That being said, Portage has been ported to Mac OS X, and from what I've heard, it works quite well and has also been updated for 10.4 (Tiger).

        The Gentoo folks have been doing a good job at keeping the documentation & packages up to date. :)

        • korgmeister says:

          I dunno. I tried Gentoo once.

          Man, that was a fun installation procedure. I made a typo somewhere, didn't know where and got completely fucking lost.

          Eventually I just decided I was jack of that crap and decided to "rm -rf /*" the thing.

          • drstein says:

            So instead of asking anyone for help on the IRC channel, reading the documentation, checking mailing list archives, or asking in the forums, you just declared "Gentoo is crap" and deleted it?

            That hardly says anything about the *distro* - but this isn't the place for a distro flamewar. To each his own. :P

    • narosis says:

      could I query if you utilize ardour or rosegarden, or are aware of individuals who do?

  8. cyeh says:

    In the end, you can only trust binaries you build yourself, from source. Yes, it's a pain. Yes, it would be preferable to just be able to download binaries, have them installed, and have them work. However, open software just doesn't WORK that way. Whenever you install binaries, you are implicitly held hostage by the skill and care of the person who compiled and built the package.

    I've been screwed over way to many times by installing binaries that were built and packaged by a moron.

    The only way you can be ever be sure that's it's going to be done properly is to compile it yourself. Believe me, the absolute last thing I want to do when I get home is configure and compile yet more software. But yet, when I do it, shit works.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, see, my experience is the exact opposite. I have encountered a broken binary far, far less often than I have encountered "you are lost in a twisty maze of undocumented dependencies, all alike".

      • cyeh says:

        I've become a fan of the freebsd ports system, because it takes care of the dependency problem for you. If you tell it to, it will just download all of the source tarballs that you need, compile and install them, then compile and install your target application. And this generally works because the freebsd ports system will patch up things such that things stay in a 'freebsd' style install paradigm.

        In the end, I would rather end up with a broken set of source that won't compile than a binary that doesn't work.

      • kfringe says:

        You'll find compiling under a ports system that understand upgrades to be a different experience than the ./configure && make && make install waltz. Except for the aging, of course. I'm sorry to say that the dependency hell and twisty little maze are sadly absent.

  9. eugenia_loli says:

    can someone send me a link with a tutorial/info on how to install the binary packages for darwin? the documentation of opendarwin only talks about ports that nneed compiling, while I need the info on how to install the binaries...

    • kfringe says:

      Mileage, etc, etc...

      1. Make sure that you have Xcode installed.
      2. Get the DarwinPorts base installed following the instructions.
      3. Then it's basically lots of clicking in the package repository.

      Letting Dports compile tends to be easier. The binary package repo is pretty new and a little incomplete, but what's there does work. Your other option is to use DPGUI, but I think that will insist on compiling. It's definitely a point-and-drool operation, though. The instructions are in a very short pdf in the DPGUI zip file.

  10. keithkml says:

    I just got a mac and so far I'm disappointed with Fink. The ethereal build doesn't work on Tiger. Asking fink commander to retrieve binaries for it shows a bunch of cryptic errors saying certain packages (which don't exist) have illegal dependencies. However, I tried installing some stuff with darwinports from the command line a few weeks ago and it went pretty badly. I ended up having to compile some packages by visiting the website, downloading the latest targz, and compiling myself.

  11. gytterberg says:

    ... but you should just use Linux. ;)

  12. ciphergoth says:

    Don't both Fink and Darwinports represent everything you went to the Mac to get away from?

    • jwz says:

      Yes, they totally, totally do. I had a moment of weakness. I'm not made of stone.

      The things that drove me to that dark side were:

      • An irresistable desire to see if xscreensaver still works on 10.4;
      • Wanting to use wget, since I know it better than curl
      • Wanting to keep using Privoxy, since I'm used to it. (But that's ok, I found a .pkg of Privoxy.)
      • rbeef says:

        The packages for Tor include Privoxy, too, if you don't mind feeling like you're on a dialup connection.

      • resunatrue says:

        the best way to get wget on Mac OS X.

        1. Download wget-1.9.1.tar.gz (or whatever the latest is when you get it)
        2. Open a Terminal.
        3. cd wherever you stuck the download.
        4. % tar xvfz wget-1.9.1.tar.gz
        5. % cd wget-1.9.1
        6. % ./configure
        6. % make
        7. % sudo make install

        If you're gonna do the UNIX thing, and using wget is doing the UNIX thing, then just do it. Package management tools are at best a necessary evil, but most of the time they're not worth fucking with. Get your /usr/local the way you like it, tar it up just in case, and forget about it. If you're not doing the UNIX thing, then rejoice in the NeXT goodness and get everything in bundles. And by that I mean ".app" bundles, not ".pkg" bundles. Remember, package management tools are evil, and that goes for ".pkg" as well. When a developer thinks "I'll take this app I wrote that installs with drag and drop and put it in a package" their computer should generate a... ah, you know the drill.

    • solios says:

      The ability to nerd the fuck out with fully supported hardware? That would be whole point of DP and Fink, imo - you still get to putz around with the nerd things you want to putz with while the shit you never want to fuck with EVER (like SOUND) Just Works without sacrificing virgins, etc.

  13. transgress says:

    despite my previous comment, i love you because your unwillingness to tinker with your computers is not only completely understood, but also the mark of someone who has been an engineer ;]

  14. hotabay says:

    You're being slashdotted.

  15. scosol says:

    i can't explain that one either, darwin ports seems to have more stuff, but a lot of stuff isn't well-maintained-
    fink has worked great for me-
    after you've got the usual libs in place, a lot of other weird/obscure stuff that isn't in fink (like fluxbox and rox) will usually compile direct from source without issue-
    the worst i've had to do is munge a "configure" script here and there, because a lot of shit isn't looking for "Darwin"...
    welcome to the dark side, rms be damned! :P

    • resunatrue says:

      You are an alien life form. You are some kind of alien creature that has eaten and replaced some poor human. That's the only reason I can think of why you'd even be thinking about installing something like fluxbox or rox on OS X.

  16. micahel says:

    fink appears to want to turn your machine into a badly administered debian box, which may feel comforting during the transition period. I still have it installed, for latex, but try to ignore it as much as possible.

    I haven't used DarwinPorts.

    There's much less need for either compared to a few years ago (or maybe I've just got better at finding packages of software I care about).

  17. jcurious says:

    $20 shareware called port authority

    this entry came up while goggling for a gui... so I figured I'd update the comments here in case anyone looks here over 2 years after it was created