OSX Apps - the bad, the good and the ugly

This section was originally written back in 2006-2008 or so, when I had first made the switch to OS X - primarily from Linux or Windows + Linux VMs.  Leaving for historical purposes, although have made some minor updates.


It just keeps getting better. I used to really dislike it for coding, and skipped over it nearly entirely during the 2.1 - 3.0 changes, but then I needed a sane environment and debugger for Python. Enter Eclipse + Pydev. Recently, I’ve been evaluating Ruby/Rails as well as Pylons, C/C++, Java, and recently it turns out there’s also a Perl plug-in available. Too cool. Runs everywhere, handles all the languages I need.

ETA 2020: There are now a lot more options out there, from Komodo to even Visual Studio Code and others.

MacPorts and Brew

MacPorts is a pacakage manager that allows you to install open source programs onto you Mac - tools like wget, apache - you name it.

I’m familiar with most of the common package formats out there, from RPM to Solaris pkg format, Yum, as well as BSD Ports and Gentoo Portage. This was actually oneof the saving graces in convincing me to finally give OS X a real shot - the ability to install open software on demand, relatively easily. I tried Fink early on in playing with OS X, but MacPorts is by far more problem-free.

That isn’t to say it’s without issues; I wasn’t able to build nmap just today because of a busted dependency. With respect to issues, the BSD Ports system is maintained rather well, while Gentoo’s Portage still seems to want to rename meta-groups and bork your system ‘because they can’ at times. MacPorts seems to be somewhere between the two, which would make sense if it’s derived from the BSD Ports tree itself. Good stuff. Not the best command line interface to it, but still, good stuff. Get it if you’re technical at all.

ETA 2020: I know Homebrew has gotten some good adoption.  I’ve given it a few half-hearted spins.  I think it’s possibly more appropriate for less tech-oriented users, and it tries to use already-supplied-by-Apple components and libraries when/where possible, where MacPorts builds and maintains it’s own separate tree (including binaries going to /opt/local).  At least last time I did a comparison, it was easier to set package configuration options with MacPorts, and I’ve just rarely had any issues at all with MacPorts…MacPorts also had a fair number more pacakages available, and it’s rare and I can’t find a program or package in MacPorts.  I’ll be sticking with it personally, although I have no fundamental issues with homebrew.  The largest, and possibly only real annoyance I have with MacPorts is when I’m running a beta - macports doesn’t release corresponding beta versions of MacPorts..

Battle of Wesnoth

If Total Annihilation, original WarCraft or (meh) StarCraft or other turn-based strategy games rank among your top games, Wesnoth is a no-brainer. It’s not sci-fi based, but is a very good strategy turn based game. Best of all, it’s free, and available for nearly all OSes out there - Linux, Mac, even AmigaOS and BeOS IIRC. Add yes, Windows as well. It has a thriving community publishing new campaigns constantly, is under very active development even post 1.0, and rivals some commercial games. A+!