macports rot

Rainer Müller raimue at
Thu Dec 6 00:08:41 UTC 2018

On 03.12.18 17:00, Jonathan Stickel wrote:
> I would like to express some concerns about trends I've noticed in the
> Macports community. I've been a Macports user and contributor for many
> years. I understand the imperfect nature of open-source projects run by
> volunteers. Interest and contributions, both by developers and periphery
> contributors, waxes and wanes. It seems to me that Macports is waning.
> With the move to github, developer and port-maintainer attention to
> tickets on trac really dropped off. This was partially made up for by
> increased attention and fast turnaround with pull requests. Recently,
> even pull requests are languishing. Reasonable fixes are ignored, or, if
> problems with the contributions are identified by developers and
> maintainers, the problems are pointed out with no effort to provide
> constructive input.
> I try to help where and when I can. When something is not working for
> me, I try my best to find a fix and contribute a pull request. I also
> respond in a reasonable time to tickets and PRs for ports for which I am
> maintainer. I think this is quite reasonable and the best I can do
> considering my paying job. I know that I do not have enough time to act
> as a developer, and so I am not asking for that.

Your observation might be right, but maybe this just becomes more
visible now on GitHub. Just take a look at the number of open tickets on
Trac. There are also many tickets with proposed ports or fixes. However,
if the submitter does not have enough interest to follow through, the
ticket will just hang there.

I feel like many "oldschool" developers already left the platform,
because more and more functionality is put behind some wall that only
Apple can penetrate. Gatekeeper, signed Kernel Extension, and SIP impose
limits on what you can do with macOS, while non-Apple developers do not
even get proper logging when APIs become forbidden and blocked.

I guess that users coming to macOS now are used to graphical interfaces
and do not have a strong background in using the command line. I am sure
many are more happy with Homebrew, where they do not even have to use
sudo! ;-)

Somehow the Homebrew community managed to get their ubiquitous marketing
on almost every software project website. Compare this with the MacPorts
website, which has not seen any redesign in more than 10 years...

Although a good package management system should not need to advertise
itself, as every software would be available without users being told
where to look – the package manager should be their first choice.

> So where is Macports headed? I think the core architecture and systems
> of Macports are well built. It just needs a little more attention. How
> can we achieve that? Has Homewbrew simply siphoned off too much user and
> developer base? I don't know.

I would also like to point out that there was also no discussion on the
recent thread that we have a problem with the process to on-board new
project members... That is one of the most important things that needs
to be solved as it affects the whole community.

Similarly on the recently failed online meeting and especially the topic
of joining the Software Freedom Conservancy or more general to form any
kind of legal entity.

The project definitely needs more steering. But to be fair and
transparent on this, I am personally not able to provide this at the moment.


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