I generally have one of Fink, MacPorts, Homebrew installed. Most often for a single, small, and trivial package. I've found that all my day-to-day software exists in OS X versions.

So, which non-OS X unix software do you find is required, interesting, or otherwise always on your computer.

I'm looking to broaden my horizons. I have enough unix/linux experience to not be afraid, I just haven't found a good use-case yet.

For added clarity, I'm not looking for anything already installed with OS X. So, please, no ssh, vi, etc, unless you explain the reason you need a different version.

  • 2
    community wiki?
    – Thilo
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 3:56
  • I'm being pedantic here, but it's "OS X" and not "OSX".
    – pratul
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 8:22
  • @Thilo, yes, I thought that when I started typing, and had forgotten it by the time I finished.
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 20:22
  • Let's have a discussion on Ask Different Meta if anyone objects to closing this to new answers at this point.
    – bmike
    Commented Feb 21, 2013 at 3:30

9 Answers 9


I frequently reinstall MacPorts (e.g., when there's a new major version of Xcode) so I keep a file with a list of my essential ports for easy reinstalling.

Here's my list of essential software that doesn't come with OS X.

  • Great list - just the sort of thing I'm asking about.
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 20:21
  • I've added hyperlinks and a few extras.
    – ocodo
    Commented Sep 21, 2011 at 0:52

These are all brew tools:


Those are for greater scripting compatibility or just better features (gsed supports things like '\t' and other things you'd expect)


Use Growl from the command line


lynx is useful if for nothing other than lynx -listonly in scripting.

wget is also handy for just throwing a URL and downloading it.


easily send email from command line. I wrote more about it here.


multimarkdown tools for obvious reasons


Download youtube videos just by throwing the URL at it.


git and Mercurial command line. I know there are GUI out there, and I use those, too, but for some things, the command line is the fastest way to get things done.

ssh (to log into other computers that are not running OSX, so I am not sure that counts) and rsync (to get data in and out from them)

command line scp. Again, there is Cyberduck, but sometimes the command line is fastest.

Arguably, all of the above is programmer stuff.

Back in the day, I used OpenOffice via X, but now we have OpenOffice as a (more or less) Mac app, and even Quick Look can show you Excel and Word files.


vim or its mac counterpart macvim. I can't stress enough that anybody who has even remotely to do something on the terminal should take the time to look at a couple of tutorial videos on youtube and print out the awesome Graphical vi-vim Cheat Sheet.

Other than that I use the usual suspects like wget, tail, wc, ssh, scp or grep. For subversion I much more like the graphical ui built into NetBeans.

  • vim comes installed already. I use it all the time. As do I use ssh, scp, and grep. Curl I can use instead of wget. wc is there as well as tail. I'm looking for different or new software.
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 20:19
  • I use macvim for all my programming. It uses the same ~/.vimrc file as the preinstalled vim, so all your settings remain the same whichever version you choose, but it lets you use standard Mac shortcuts as well as the regular vim ones. (:w or Command-S... You decide!) You can also set different types of documents to automatically open in macvim.
    – daviewales
    Commented Dec 3, 2012 at 10:36

Can't live without using Emacs in console mode via Terminal.

  • wget (download files from inet)
  • nmap (scan ip)
  • unrar (It's more up to date that the GUI)
  • imagemagick (way faster to do thumbs than photoshop)
  • mencoder (to do some trasnformations between media formats, I use it regularly to extract audio from DVD's)

developer stuff: git, postgresql, mongod

  • nmap - great answer - yes, I do use this a lot, although I got the OS X build, not the ports version. I'm happy with curl instead of wget.
    – Alex
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 20:20

I use iperf to measure my network bandwidth whenever I make a change to any computer or network gear.

  • bash-completion
  • git
  • emacs (OSX's installed version is 4 years old)
  • inkscape
  • nmap
  • iperf
  • 2
    Which emacs features added in the last 4 years do you like?
    – GEdgar
    Commented Aug 8, 2011 at 21:01

MAMP 2.0.1.


  • Apache 2.2.17
  • PHP 5.3.6
  • phpMyAdmin
  • XCache 1.3.1
  • SQLite Manager 1.2.4
  • MySQL 5.5.9
  • SQLite Library 2.8.17

You can control everything through the MAMP web-browser interface, with almost no need for the command-line.

I use it to host a local WordPress installation for testing and development.

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