MacPorts: Easily install open source software on Mac with MacPorts
MacPorts, formerly DarwinPorts, is a free open source app that allows Mac users to easily install command line software and x11 software in Mac OS X by using the ‘ports’ command line tool for package management.
MacPorts is probably best for more advanced Mac users who have some experience with the command line, because MacPorts itself is also a command line tool.
MacPorts is free to download and to install, but before downloading MacPorts you will need to be sure you have the Mac Command Line Tools installed on the computer as that is a prerequisite. If you’re already familiar with the command line and package management then you’ll probably be right at home with the whole the setup and installation proces.
After you install MacPorts, using it is pretty easy (assuming familiarity with the command line), you can search for, update, and install software with just a few commands.
Search for packages with MacPorts
Search for software with MacPorts (replace irssi with your package):
port search irssi
Install packages with MacPorts
Install software with MacPorts (replace irssi with your package):
sudo port -v install irssi
Update installed packages with MacPorts
Update all installed ports to most recent versions:
sudo port upgrade outdated
If all of this makes MacPorts sounds to you like Fink or Homebrew, well, you’d be right because it’s serving a similar function as a package manager, so it’s pretty close. Functionality is much the same, but some people swear that one is better than the other. If you pick one package manager, you don’t need to install another one, however, as there could be overlap and doubled binaries.
If you would prefer to use a GUI to install command line software, try out Fink Commander, which performs much the same as MacPorts but through a GUI interface. There are several GUI options available for MacPorts but most of them are shareware or commercial, but you can explore those as possibilities if you’re interested.
There are other command line package manager options out there too, for example the tool called Homebrew has gained a lot of popularity and you can install Homebrew on Mac with relative ease, which allows for simple installation, updating, and management of command line tools.