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MacPorts became really a pain because it does compile the packages on your machine, like the infamous gentoo and I would like something with a smaller footprint on your machine.

I know that Fink and other solutions exists but from what I remember form few years ago they are less maintained than macports.

I would like to read a more informed opinion regarding which solution would be optimal and why.

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If (when) you decide to switch to Homebrew, there might be useful info in:… – koiyu Apr 6 '11 at 9:46
Note that MacPorts does not always compile on your machine now If you have a common setup it will have precompiled packages – Mark May 26 '15 at 11:48
up vote 22 down vote accepted

Alternatives for MacPorts


  • Uses OS X binary versions when available
  • Compiles OS X optimized versions
    • Compiling usually faster than with MacPorts
  • Easy to use, e.g. to install wget: $ brew install wget
  • Tries to separate already installed software from what is installed through brew
  • … while taking advantage of already installed software and libraries (e.g. doesn't install a working version of Perl twice)
  • Installing software doesn't need root access
  • Actively developed on github


  • Uses Debian tools like dpkg and apt-get
  • Easy to use, e.g. to install wget: $ fink install wget
  • Can be used to install precompiled packages or to compile everything from the source
  • Has a separate directory tree to avoid interference with the system


  • Last version 2010-04-10


  • Has GUI
  • Nothing new on the website since 2008
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I know these are alternatives, but I cannot produce a good comparison without usage experiences. In its current form the answer is biased, but I made it as a CW so whoever knows better, can add/correct the list. – koiyu Apr 6 '11 at 12:20
Just pick homebrew and forget about the others. – sorin Jan 8 '13 at 13:17

Yes, you can try Homebrew

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Can you provide more information regarding your experience, and why this should be better than MacPorts? – sorin Apr 6 '11 at 8:15
@Sorin There's some good points in… I switched from MacPorts to Homebrew after the first long compile (which hasn't been so much of a problem since), so I really can't provide truthful comparison, but I share all the views pointed in the blog post. There's no sudoing with brew. – koiyu Apr 6 '11 at 9:51
Sorry, but my impression is that brew does compile each package on my machine and this is exactly what I was trying not to do. – sorin Apr 6 '11 at 11:26
@Sorin Homebrew uses binaries whenever available, hence many installs are reasonable in length. Also installing and compiling mkvtoolnix (which doesn't have OSX binaries) was noticeably faster (in human and in CPU time) with brew than with ports (this is the only comparison I can provide, and YMMV with other programs). – koiyu Apr 6 '11 at 11:45
@Sorin: Koiyu is right on use of binaries – I-M-JM Apr 6 '11 at 11:46

Macports now provides compiled binaries for Snow Leopard and Lion for normal options.

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Thanks, but I dropped using MacPorts and Fink long time ago. Both projects where not agile enough to add support for new OS X versions. Brew was able, and it keeps being this way. – sorin Jul 2 '12 at 9:10
Macports does support Mountain Lion – Mark Jul 2 '12 at 9:14
Sorry, I cannot update the comment: they were not able to add support IN TIME. Brew had support on the day Apple released it and I got support even while the Lion or ML was in developer preview. – sorin Jul 2 '12 at 9:18

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