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I want to build coreutils from source (because I’m testing a possible bug in the binary package). I tried

sudo port -s install coreutils

But this forces all packages to build from source. Is it possible to use binary packages for its dependencies, only build coreutils from source?

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Not exactly a solution, but I got this answer from IRC:

sudo port destroot coreutils

After that, the binary is found in folder /opt/local/var/macports/build/ (because this is before the installation phase). This is good enough for me.

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