I am a Linux user and have never used OSX before. Someone asked me for help with installing some software on an OSX "Lion" server. I asked him to give me an SSH shell, assuming that would be sufficient. However things are more tricky than I thought.

I wanted to install homebrew, but it didn't install because there was no cc on the system. After some google, I suppose I need to install Xcode. I just downloaded xcode 4.5 from the apple developer site, and mounted it on the system. It contains a dir Xcode.app with a bunch of stuff in it. How do I go from here?

Can I install Xcode without physical access to the machine? All I really want is get homebrew running at this point.


You might be better off just installing the standalone Developer Command Line Tools (which includes gcc and other standard developer toolchain items). You can get it from Apple's Developer Downloads (which requires a free developer account). Unfortunately there's no direct link, but just search for command line tools and you'll find it (note that there are different downloads for Lion and Mountain Lion).

The download is a DMG. Mount that, and you'll find a .mpkg file, which you can install via the command line: sudo installer -pkg "Command Line Tools.mpkg" -target /.

  • +1 for keeping the bare package in mind. +3 for install from terminal - I'll edit my answer down a bit since Xcode is already downloaded, the tools are there in Xcode.app/Contents/Developer and could easily be copied to a convenient path for running. – bmike Dec 22 '12 at 18:15
  • Yeah, I'm sure how/if the tools included in the Xcode package differ from the standalone download. Presumably somewhat different given that Xcode has the download tools option as well. In any event, if you're starting from scratch and want a "clean" install doing things from the command line only, this is probably the way to go. – robmathers Dec 22 '12 at 18:20
  • 2
    I believe the last time I checked, the Xcode tools have extra headers and things for serving the GUI building and the Command Line tools are stripped down a bit / built separately with slightly different flags when compiled, but also generally the same version as major Xcode releases. In practice, I've never seen the differences get noticed let alone matter. AFAIK, Xcode pulls down the package you mentioned and installs it so you have both - the xcrun version of the toolset and the /usr/bin version of the toolset. – bmike Dec 22 '12 at 18:24
  • Yay it worked. I just installed brew. There is a typo in your post, it should read sudo installer instead of sudo install. – Jeroen Dec 22 '12 at 19:00
  • @Jeroen thanks for that, fixed. Not sure how I missed it. – robmathers Dec 22 '12 at 22:28

I recently had to install Xcode command line tools on Mountain Lion over SSH. Here's how I did it.

  1. If you don't have a free Apple developer account, register for one

  2. Login to https://developer.apple.com/downloads

  3. Download the "Command Line Tools for Xcode" appropriate for your version of OSX

    For me, that was "Command Line Tools (OS X Mountain Lion) for Xcode - April 2014"

  4. Copy the dmg file to your remote

    In the following command, I'm using scp to securely copy the file from my local computer to the remote named remote

    $ scp ~/Downloads/command_line_tools_for_osx_mountain_lion_april_2014.dmg remote:Downloads/
  5. ssh to your remote

    $ ssh remote
  6. mount the dmg file on the remote

    Here, I'm using hdiutil to mount the image

    $ hdiutil attach ~/Downloads/command_line_tools_for_osx_mountain_lion_april_2014.dmg
  7. install the package contained in the dmg

    Here, installer must be run with sudo because this package needs to be installed on the root file system

    $ cd /Volumes/Command\ Line\ Tools\ \(Mountain\ Lion\)
    $ sudo installer -pkg Command\ Line\ Tools\ \(Mountain\ Lion\).mpkg -target /
  8. unmount the dmg file

    $ hdiutil detach /Volumes/Command\ Line\ Tools\ \(Mountain\ Lion\)
  9. delete the dmg file from the remote; optional

    I see no purpose keeping it around, but you can if you want.

    $ rm ~/Downloads/command_line_tools_for_osx_mountain_lion_april_2014.dmg

This is pretty old, but for anyone who comes by this, there is a simple, built-in, one-liner to install the Command Line Tools without the need to download any .dmg or .pkgs. This is available even on a fresh install of macOS.

The command is:

xcode-select --install

According to the man page:

Opens a user interface dialog to request automatic installation of the command line developer tools.

It seems to have been available since Xcode 3.0 was around (OS X 10.5).

  • I see no --install switch in xcode-select version 2311, man page from November 16, 2011, Mac OS X 10.8.5. – Martin Dorey May 18 '17 at 16:17
  • Neither do I in xcode-select version 2349, man page from March 08, 2016. – user44400 Feb 9 at 8:28

The tools you need are all in Xcode.app/Contents/Developer and if you have that folder, you are done installing since OS X applications can run from anywhere.

If you want to use Xcode, just click on the icon or open -a the path to the folder Xcode.app and you will launch the app. Most people move the Xcode.app folder into /Applications (or ~/Applications) to "install it"

Oh - when you fire up Xcode you will want to open the preferences, go to the Downloads pane and install the stand alone command line tools. This places the compilation toolchain in /usr/bin so you don't have to use xcrun --find gcc and xcrun --find make to locate the path to the tools relative to wherever you dropped the Xcode.app folder.

  • Nevertheless Command Line Utilities are also needed to get homebrew to work. It's probably easiest to ask the owner of the OS X system to install the stuff for you (or connect via VNC and do it yourself) – nohillside Dec 22 '12 at 18:12

2018 answer: There is xcode-install vom KrauseFX https://github.com/KrauseFx/xcode-install



tell application "Finder" to open ("Macintosh HD")
tell application "Finder"
    set target of Finder window 1 to folder "Downloads" of folder "vagrant" of folder "Users" of startup disk
    open document file "{{ osx_xcode_file }}" of folder "Downloads" of folder "vagrant" of folder "Users" of startup disk
end tell

Replace Xcode "{{ osx_xcode_file }}" with the version/filename you have downloaded.

Install XCODE

tell application "Finder"
    activate "Xcode"
    with timeout of 1000000 seconds
        copy file "Xcode:Xcode.app" to folder "Macintosh HD:Applications"
    end timeout
end tell

Optionally Delete a previous XCODE

rm /Applications/Xcode.app causes unforsean issues

tell application "Finder"
    activate "Applications"
    considering case
        with timeout of 1000000 seconds
            set sourceFolder to POSIX file "/Applications/Xcode.app"
                delete sourceFolder
            on error errorMessage number errorNumber
                set _error to errorMessage
                set _errorNum to errorNumber
            end try
        end timeout
    end considering
end tell

Save each file as an scriptname.scpt

run: /usr/bin/osascript scriptname.scpt Run as a console user (NOT ROOT)

  • How can you run this via ssh? Also how is this better than the command line only developer tools? – Mark Feb 2 '16 at 17:54
  • Hi Mark, we have a specific requirement to have the full xcode install in place. ssh user@hostname "onascript <path/to/file>/myscript.scpt – casibbald Feb 15 '16 at 18:10

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