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The official site says:

A tap is homebrew-speak for a git repository containing extra formulae.

But:

  • Why are taps kept separately from regular formulae? Why use the distinction at all?
  • What are the implications of installing software from taps versus regular formulae?

I presume brew uses the distinction for a reason, and since they warn the user about it, I would like to know why.

  • These seem like better questions for the homebrew project team; consider logging an "unclear or missing documentation" issue at github.com/Homebrew/homebrew/issues – Graham Miln Feb 11 '14 at 14:06
  • (Let's see if there's a larger picture here before closing this.) Is there some aspect of managing this tool that will be improved by knowing this distinction or are you perhaps trying to learn how to modify the tool / roll your own packages? – bmike Feb 11 '14 at 15:32
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    @bmike As a user the tool, I want to understand the implications of installing software from a tap as opposed to from a regular formula. When brew says it couldn't find a formula but there seems to be a tap for it, what does that exactly mean? I presume they use the distinction for a reason, and since they warn the user about it, I would like to know what the difference is. – Amelio Vazquez-Reina Feb 11 '14 at 15:34
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    Boom! If you could edit that into the natural flow of the question - it will likely get a far better answer. I don't have one offhand, but have bookmarked it in case I can think of something to assist. Great question BTW. – bmike Feb 11 '14 at 15:40
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Why are taps kept separately from regular formulae? Why use the distinction at all?

Taps are repositories that contain formulae. All formulae, even 'regular formulae' are stored in a tap. The default tap is mxcl/master. However, 'taps' usually refer to third-party taps.

Third-party taps contain formulae that are managed by a third-party, and therefore aren't included in the default since they can be updated at any time by the author.

Technically, there is no distinction between regular formulae and taps since regular formulae are in a tap, but that tap is pre-added.

What are the implications of installing software from taps versus regular formulae?

The formulae in taps aren't verified by Homebrew, and could contain anything. Always exercise caution and verify that the tap is from a legitimate source. In essence, core non-tap formulae are installed on a wider user base and have not only eyes from the maintainers of homebrew watching over them, but crowd sourced eyes which make compromised code less likely to be installed from formulae.

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