Support for unreleased beta apple operating systems (was Support for ancient machines and operating systems)

Ken Cunningham ken.cunningham.webuse at
Mon Jan 8 15:52:16 UTC 2024

There is no hiccup in MacPorts support for PowerPC systems, despite the dramatic title of the PR.

Also there is no hiccup in support for older released Apple operating systems. 10.4 and 10.5 remain fully supported by MacPorts (although 10.4 might be on last legs).

There is also no need (IMHO) for a fork of MacPorts to support older Apple operating systems.

What there was a difference of opinion about was whether MacPorts should provide *specific* and rather extensive support for an unreleased early PowerPC beta of an Apple operating system that was a stepping stone to what became MacOSX 10.6 that had been found in an old developer's drawer and released into the wild through various websites.

The problem was that there were many fragile and sharply increasing *specific* workarounds added into the ports tree solely to support running this PowerPC beta on MacPorts. 

These were kludgy and hard to eyeball debug. Nobody could test them very well, as the number of users of this unreleased beta PowerPC SnowLeopard OS were extremely few. They were scattered throughout the ports tree and patches in ways that made them very difficult, and time consuming, to properly vet.

MacPorts has always considered 10.6 as supporting i386 and x86_64, and a great many ports and portgroups were written with this in mind. That fits very nicely into the support MacPorts provides up to 10.13, that also support i386 and x86_64, so that whole block of systems can be managed often one unit. Once legacysupport came out, the number of changes in Portfiles that were needed to support 10.6 was actually very minimal, and that was the whole idea. 

However, to support a 10.6 PPC beta meant redoing a large number of these assumptions to accommodate cross-compiling PowerPC code. Different compilers, different universal options -- an entire redo. In addition, the 10.6 beta is missing a number functions and capabilities that 10.6.8 Intel has, and to 10.5.8 PowerPC has further fixups and enhancements added to it by Apple that never made it into the unreleased 10.6 beta.

There is no reason anyone needs to use 10.6-for-PowerPC. Of course, you can if you want, and go ahead and make some changes in ports to support that if you care to. That is a reason for someone to fork MacPorts ports tree, but there is certainly no reason those changes need to be distributed to every MacPorts user.

To be honest, I can't really believe we're even having the conversation about whether we support a specific unreleased stolen Apple OS from a developer's drawer that doesn't fit into the existing structure and requires hundreds or more additions to the ports tree. It was just nuts from the beginning to allow this into MacPorts.


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