A general philosophical question about MacPorts

Bill Cole macportsusers-20171215 at billmail.scconsult.com
Thu Feb 21 06:32:27 UTC 2019

On 20 Feb 2019, at 18:56, James Linder wrote:

>> On 20 Feb 2019, at 8:00 pm, macports-users-request at lists.macports.org 
>> wrote:
>>> So my philosophical question is “Why MacPorts these days?”
>> Because running the tools it provides in a VM is a grotesque waste of
>> RAM and disk space and puts a wall up between tools I want to use
>> occasionally and the UI where I prefer to work mostly.
> Bill I disagree! What is a waste? I typically give my VMs 2G from a 
> 32G pool. I run 2 or 3 VMs without noticeing.

The one of my Macs which is most reliant on MacPorts has 2G, cannot 
handle any more, and typically runs with <100M free and 1G in 
/var/vm/swapfile* files. The fallback positions there are NetBSD or a 
trash can, not a VM.

The two Macs that I regularly use as personal machines both could handle 
a permanent 2G (or even 4G) VM at the cost of using the fancy tricks of 
macOS memory management. However, I rely on using tools managed by 
MacPorts often enough on those machines that I'd need a permanently 
running VM holding on to a big gob of memory that macOS would otherwise 
be using as fs cache or to avoid compressing other processes' memory or 
purging purgeable pages. Nearly everything I manage with MacPorts on the 
machines that could handle a big VM is something I use for a few seconds 
(or milliseconds) at a time, perhaps a few dozen times per hour all day 
long or a few times per day. So 99.9% of the time, that big VM's memory 
would be used for nothing but keeping an idle VM in existence. That's a 
waste as I see it.

And that doesn't even touch on the extra friction that would be added to 
how I work.

> You *can* get apple ram from not-apple that is quite cheap.

I've been topping up Macs with aftermarket RAM since the limits were 
measured in MB...

My Macs typically manage to utilize all but a few hundred MB of their 
RAM, so setting aside substantial amounts to mostly do nothing is 
pointless, and since at this point the only one of my 6 machines not 
maxed out would set me back $600 to take from 32G to 64G, the existence 
of "cheap" RAM isn't really relevant. I use tools from MacPorts on the 
best-performing and biggest machines that are available to me for 
arbitrary use, and a VM carved out from those machines just to replace 
MacPorts would be silly.

For me. My usage is atypical. If a 2GB Linux VM works for you as a 
replacement for MacPorts, that's great.

Bill Cole
bill at scconsult.com or billcole at apache.org
(AKA @grumpybozo and many *@billmail.scconsult.com addresses)
Available For Hire: https://linkedin.com/in/billcole

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