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So, what is the difference between brew and brew cask?

I know that homebrew is a package management software. But what kind of software can I get there? Is it open source software and commercial software?

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brew is the core command for the Homebrew project.

The missing package manager for OS X

Homebrew installs the stuff you need that Apple didn’t.

Homebrew typically deals with command line software. Most of the software is distributed under an open source licence. See the Formulas for a list of available installs.


brew cask is an extension to brew that allows management of graphical applications through the Cask project.

Homebrew Cask extends Homebrew and brings its elegance, simplicity, and speed to OS X applications and large binaries alike.

Cask deals with a mixture of software and licences. The software I work on is covered by a commercial licence and available via cask.

Cask offers a way to command line manage the installation of graphical applications.


Availability through brew or cask does not imply any specific licence.

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Ideally duplication between brew and brew cask should be avoided. Graphical applications are suited to brew cask with everything else going through brew. – Graham Miln Oct 27 '14 at 6:52
macvim is available on both. There's even a warning about it in the cask package -- and yet they keep it available. I'm confused why cask exists. – Isaac Nov 18 '14 at 3:39
Reply to issue: "Keep in mind that there are many users that use homebrew-cask but not homebrew. We are different projects with different goals and maintainers, we do not coordinate with each other." – Nick T Jan 12 at 7:27
I am afraid answer from @GrahamMiln is misleading... The key answer is in the linked discussion (#7002): The difference isn’t between binary and app, but between downloaded as source code that will be compiled, or as an already compiled package. The distinction is important because the result is different. brew install macvim takes (possibly way) longer to install then brew cask install macvim. The former provides flexibility, while the later provides speed. – snooze92 Jun 7 at 6:06

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