Universal variant for all MacPorts?

Ryan Schmidt ryandesign at macports.org
Tue Jun 19 20:34:53 PDT 2007

On Jun 19, 2007, at 22:22, Tabitha McNerney wrote:

> I noticed that some MacPorts have the "universal" variant. I  
> imagine this means that any port with such universal variant can  
> build to both the PowerPC and Intel architecture targets. But, not  
> all MacPorts have universal variants. I soon have to be supporting  
> an Xserve PowerPC and an Xserve Xeon. Is there anyway I can build  
> all of my MacPorts as universal so that I will be able to conserve  
> my MacPorts maintenance and gain re-use across both machines?

The problem is that each piece of software needs to be tested  
individually for whether it can be built universal. The global  
ability to build ports universal was very recently added to MacPorts,  
and most port authors and users don't have access to both an Intel  
and a PowerPC Mac, so testing the universal variants is a very slow  
and not-at-all-coordinated process. For ports that have been tested  
for universal compatibility and found *not* to work, the universal  
variant has been explicitly removed from those ports. For the other  
ports, where a universal variant currently exists, it may work, or it  
may not. You just have to try it out. And for each port where it does  
not work, you'll have to file bugs, and, if possible, provide  
solutions. :-/

Now that I have a fast Intel Mac and recompiling is not the  
interminable process it was on my PowerPC Mac, I'm trying to go  
through all my ports and rebuild them universal. So far I've  
successfully built subversion and all its dependencies universal, but  
other software hasn't been so cooperative. php5, for example, is  
going to be very difficult, since it has so many dependencies, and  
all of those dependencies must be universal before php5 can be.

I just wrote an email to the dev list with some suggestions for  
improving the portfile syntax regarding universal support, if you're  


Also, I recently rewrote the FAQ entry on MacPorts's universalness:


If that doesn't completely address your concerns, please let us know,  
and if possible provide suggestions on how the FAQ entry could be  

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