Where should non-macports sw be installed? (Was: Problem with Macports, homebrew, and ghostscript

Brandon Allbery allbery.b at gmail.com
Fri Feb 14 10:32:50 PST 2014

On Fri, Feb 14, 2014 at 12:56 PM, Gregory Shenaut <gkshenaut at ucdavis.edu>wrote:

> I've been reluctant to use anything under /opt because in the event I ever
> need to scrub macports and start over, it's easier to remove /opt and
> reinstall macports from scratch.

Other third party software uses /opt as well (and even some Apple software;
see xquartz). /opt/local is the only part that MacPorts touches; the rest
of /opt is (and is there to be) fair game.

It's a pity that macports isn't an official part of the system, like the
> freebsd ports are in fbsd, because if it were, then they (and not other
> ports) could simply install things right into the main system hierarchy. I
> believe that historically, really core elements of the OS went into /bin
> /lib

This is a nightmare when installing newer versions of OS-provided things
and when trying to keep base system and add-ons separate. Linux likes to
pretend this is not a problem but its package managers are not really good
enough to deliver on their claims; this often manifests as system upgrade

systems. As a result we have /opt /sw and so on (I have no idea why the
> original pattern of /usr/ucb wasn't followed with /usr/mp, /usr/fink, and
> so on, but it wasn't), as well as a host of

/usr is often read-only on BSD-derived systems (while the relationship is
now rather distant and I think OS X can't actually get away with r/o /usr,
it is nevertheless BSD-derived and userspace is synced somewhat regularly
with FreeBSD-CURRENT). /usr/ucb made sense in the original BSD context
since it was populated as part of an OS install and could be considered
read only afterward, plus you still had the original AT&T versions of
utilities available when needed for portability; "aftermarket" stuff
doesn't really belong there (if you're remounting /usr r/w constantly to
add software, you're doing read-only wrong)

/opt originated on Solaris, in part to support read-only (or shared;
consider zones) /usr, but it seems like everyone else has come up with
their own justification for it.

brandon s allbery kf8nh                               sine nomine associates
allbery.b at gmail.com                                  ballbery at sinenomine.net
unix, openafs, kerberos, infrastructure, xmonad        http://sinenomine.net
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