I want to stop using macports, and use homebrew instead, I have been reading on their approach and it makes more sense to me. Now, I don't care much about having to reinstall my packages, even if some of them might not exist yet -- apparently, creating a new formula is straightforward.

But I'm a bit concerned about data which is installed in system-owned directories, like the data in MySQL or PostgreSQL. I'd like a bit of advice on how to proceed so as to have the less amount of problems migrating data from one installation to another.

I'm also curious about start scripts for daemons. Macports have complicated wrappers for launchd, but I don't know how homebrew manages that aspect. Can anyone clarify this for me?

Also, any generic advice you can provide regarding this migration will also be welcome. Things to look for, what to avoid, etc.

  • not sure if this is better as a comment or an answer, but perhaps you're also interested in taking a peek at Gentoo Prefix. i myself dropped macports for GP and am having plenty fun with it, but i do come from several years of running gentoo linux, which makes it much easier to troubleshoot occasional systemic quirks. note: handling launchdaemons is a big problem in GP as well.
    – lkraav
    Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 11:04
  • @lkraav: yeah gentoo is awesome, but gentoo prefix duplicates worse than macports, installing his own gcc, libraries and all. So every command is slower because it needs to load all the libraries from the prefix, instead of using the system ones that are already loaded in RAM most of the times. And AFAIK (I used it < 2 years ago) it's not well mantained. Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 13:53

2 Answers 2


Moving data is dependant on the application that manages it, e.g. if it's a database you could do a dump and restore it on the new installation, if it's a configuration file just copy it, etc.

HomeBrew packages create the config files for launchd in the Cellar (read: formula's install dir) and at the end of the install process display an how-to install those files (the caveats method in formulas source) which generally is a simple cp and launchctl sequence.

Creating formulas is indeed easy, and the developers will happily accept your new or updated formulas. The process is,

In summary: fork, clone, create, commit, push, audit (new-formula)

Last but not least: take a look at the wiki.


A bit off-topic but wanted to share my experience on this topic. About 6month / a year ago, I decided to do some cleanup and uninstalled port and fink to the benefit of brew, which I prefer.

Today... Got the three again. Why?

  • brew as my main source
  • port provides MANY more packages than brew and I needed some of them (like wireshark+nox11)
  • fink for some rare packages (I think I only reinstalled it for some dpkg utils)

Just my 2 cents, not everyone needs these packages. But before uninstalling port, check twice the packages you need ;)

  • I've heard other saying that using homebrew and ports side by side is problematic, but I don't remember why. Any comments on this?
    – benroth
    Commented Jul 29, 2014 at 14:46
  • i would like to know as well. there are packages available on macports that are not on homebrew and this is a problem for me. please -v on why it's problematic
    – BlkPengu
    Commented Jul 10, 2022 at 15:47

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