MacPorts manual, or info on MacPorts development

Brian Campbell lambda at
Thu Jun 28 08:11:24 PDT 2007

On Jun 27, 2007, at 2:03 AM, Ryan Schmidt wrote:

> I don't know of a way to do that. I think you have to use sudo, and  
> it will do things in /opt/local.

Is that what most MacPorts developers do? What happens when they  
screw something up, and need to throw out their whole /opt/local and  
need to try again? I was hoping for something a little safer.

On #macports, jmpp suggest just chowning /opt/local/var/db/dports/ 
build and /opt/local/var/db/dports/distfiles/* to my user, which  
seems to work well enough, although it feels a bit skeevy. I guess  
chmodding them to be group writeable would work too, as long as the  
groups work out. Is this the best way to safely test ports, only  
actually running sudo when I want to test port install?

Looking at the manual, it appears that the reason I was confused is  
that the manual installs MacPorts into ~/macports, so most of the  
commands (other than ones like port install) can be run without  
superuser permissions. Does this still work in the current version of  
MacPorts? Is this the recommended way to do development?

> I thought the prefix was set at install time. I'm not that familiar  
> with what the manpages say.

That appears to be the case. The man pages seem to be a bit unclear  
on this; perhaps they could be edited to be more nearly correct?

> You've already found the old documentation in the Wayback Machine.  
> That's all there is. Well, and what's in the current wiki.

There is also the doc/guide directory in SVN, which I'm actually  
starting to submit patches to as I learn about MacPorts. The problem  
is that I need to find out what the right way to do stuff is before I  
can actually document it.

> If you're looking for help understanding portfile syntax, it's  
> instructive to look at existing ports.

It's not so much portfile syntax I'm interested in, it's best  
development practices. Also, I would like for there to be an up-to- 
date official manual, to make it easier for people to get started  
creating or updating Portfiles.

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