Publicizing MacPorts

Craig Treleaven ctreleaven at
Mon Apr 19 19:54:11 UTC 2021

> On Apr 19, 2021, at 2:51 PM, Jason Liu <jasonliu at> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 19, 2021 at 1:25 PM Craig Treleaven <ctreleaven at <mailto:ctreleaven at>> wrote:
> Also, why should we consider that MacPorts is in competition with Homebrew?  Both MacPorts and Homebrew seem to have a sufficient number of contributors to keep going for the foreseeable future.  Nether packaging system has to "win" nor does the other have to "lose".  The projects do have differing philosophies that may make one more suitable than the other for particular users.
> Although this is a nice sentiment, I believe the reality is that MacPorts is in fact in competition with Homebrew. And not just Homebrew, but with other package managers as well, such as Munki, and even to some extent other deployment products such as Jamf/Casper and Jenkins. My belief is that the total number of systems running macOS as its operating system is the entire "pie" of systems that could potentially use one of these macOS package managers. In addition, the vast majority of users will only use one package management product, hence my opinion of why it's a pie with a limited number of potential users that gets divided up. The possible exception to only using one product per machine might be, say, in an enterprise setting (you can read my personal anecdote below for an example).
> In addition, it has traditionally been the case that package management systems say on their websites that installing multiple package managers on one machine can cause problems... e.g. MacPorts doesn't work well with Fink and Homebrew, Homebrew doesn't work well with Fink and MacPorts, etc. People on this mailing list are tech savvy enough to deal with the potential conflicts that might occur regarding environment variables, $PATH order, etc. but the vast majority of users won't be, and thus would stick to using only one package manager. If one product "wins" by getting installed on a particular system, then the others "lose”.

I wasn’t trying to suggest that a user should install multiple package managers.

MacPorts needs contributors and maintainers to go forward.  We don’t _need_ users!  It is the same amount of work to create or update a package regardless of the number of users.  Several of the packages I maintain have very few reported users…sometimes only me.  

As long has we have a decent volume of people contributing to MacPorts the project will continue.  As a port maintainer, it is gratifying to think that my work may be benefiting others.  It is not that important whether it is 10 people or 10,000.  I think that many of our maintainers do so because they need the ports that they are working on.  IOW, they’d do so even if there were no other users.  Obviously, several of our most prolific maintainers have different motivations.

To be cynical, I think Homebrew users are more commonly command line newbies and therefore probably generate a high volume of simple and repetitive questions.   AKA ’support desk hell’!  Perhaps we are fortunate that MacPorts users tend to be a little more savvy.  ;)


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