Update: Macports does not work on recent Mountain Lion machines

John Daschbach jldasch at mac.com
Sat Sep 15 09:45:48 PDT 2012

I recently posted about my struggles to get macports to work on a 3 year old iMac with a new clean hard drive and a fresh upgrade to Mountain Lion.    The issue is that many subjobs called from tcl hang/die.  This often happens during configure, but sometimes during build.  Generally it is when clang is being called, but I have now seen it with other related sub processes like javac.

For things which use the standard GNU autoconf tool chain it is possible to install macports that fail by copying the command line which generated the failure from config.log and running it directly from the shell.  This has never failed to work.  Then, one edits the *.state file to show that the config phase completed.  Sometimes then a "port  build" will work, and sometimes not, but the same basic procedure of running the command from the shell and editing the *.state file works.  I have not yet had a failure in the port destroot or port install phase after this.

On this iMac I had the additional tcl/tk package from the CRAN installer to use with R.

Yesterday I got a brand new MacBook Air.  I installed the latest Xcode and the command line tools and macports and nothing else.  This is a perfectly new and clean machine.

The same exact hangs occur on this new machine as with the older machine.  

So on two perfectly clean new installs of Mountain Lion macports does not work for a majority of builds.  The problem is somehow related to the subjobs called from tcl.  A guess would be there is some setting in tcl on new Mountain Lion installs that is causing this.  Since some builds work, but the same builds fail on two different machines in exactly the same place, my suspicion is there is either a subjob memory limit in the tcl environment, or some other restriction on tcl subjobs.   It is hard to see how it is not due to tcl subjobs, as I have not had a failure running the same commands from a normal shell.

Thus, I think it is fair to conclude that this is a universal problem that will be the same for all brand new Mountain Lion systems.


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