Non-Linux FOSS: Don't Drink the Apple Kool-Aid; Brew Your Own!

Some tools that I use on the command line are so basic and so ingrained in my day-to-day actions that it's weird when they're not available. This often happens to me on OS X. I love that OS X has UNIX underpinnings. I love that the terminal window is a real terminal window and works like a terminal window should work.

But, I don't like the lack of basic tools that are available. Even more, I dislike that I can't simply apt-get (or yum) the missing applications into my system. Thankfully, I'm not alone. If you've ever opened a terminal window on OS X and tried to use wget, you know the feeling too. Enter: Homebrew.

(Image from Homebrew)

The concept of Homebrew has been around for quite a while. Fink, MacPorts and probably a few others give you the options to install software that isn't part of OS X itself. Those other options make me uncomfortable, however, because they're more integrated into the UNIX ports system. It might seem odd that better integration makes me uncomfortable, but it does. I'd rather have something I can erase easily without affecting the rest of the system. I'd rather have the non-native applications live separately from the native apps. Part of that is personal preference, but part of it is based on years of experience with troubleshooting problems. If there's a problem with Homebrew, it's much easier to troubleshoot.

Anyway, if you'd like to have a package manager for some of the "missing" programs in OS X, but you'd also like to be able to delete the entire system fairly simply, Homebrew is perfect for you. Simply head over to (cool URL, right?) and paste the installation script into a terminal window. There's an un-install script as well, or you simply can delete the bits manually. Even if you're just curious, it's easy to install Homebrew and give it a go.


Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.