Does MacPorts need ALL of Xcode?

Ian Wadham at
Mon Sep 27 21:36:03 UTC 2021

Hello Chris,

> On 27 Sep 2021, at 8:42 am, Chris Jones <jonesc at> wrote:
> The majority of ports will indeed build fine with just the CLT installed.

So what is the “recipe” to install just the CLT with no version of Xcode present? And can that recipe be included in the MacPorts Guide?

> There are a number though where the build does indeed require a complete Xcode installation, which is why the baseline recommendation is to install Xcode. However if you are ok with perhaps running into the occasional port failure (the likelihood for which depends on which ports you use) you likely can get by just fine with just the CLT.

Couldn’t those ports list Xcode as a build dependency?

If a dependency has to be another MacPorts package, then perhaps there could be a dummy Xcode in MacPorts, maybe just a Portfile, that checks the presence and version of the

Otherwise, new MacPorts users may be paying a 20Gb disk storage penalty forever more. And the time to download and install Xcode could become a disincentive for new MacPorts users in any case…

Cheers, Ian Wadham.

> Chris
>> On 26 Sep 2021, at 10:07 am, Mircea Trandafir <tramir at> wrote:
>>  I’ve been using only the command line tools for more than a year with absolutely no issues (other than the occasional “version not detected” error, but I think that happens with Xcode too).
>> -- 
>> Mircea Trandafir
>> Associate professor
>> Department of Economics
>> University of Southern Denmark
>> Campusvej 55, 5230 Odense M
>> Denmark
>> Email: mircea.trandafir at
>> Web:
>>> On Sep 26, 2021, at 5:52 AM, Ian Wadham < at> wrote:
>>> Hi guys,
>>> I have recently upgraded my MacOS from High Sierra 10.13 to Catalina 10.15, mainly because I would like to start playing with a package called Flutter, which has a dependency on Xcode 12+ in its MacBook version.
>>> It appears that Xcode is following some variant of Grosch’s Law, or maybe Parkinson’s Law (software expands to fill the hardware space available to it). So I am wondering, if all a user needs are some MacPorts packages, whether it is necessary to install all (or even any) of Xcode just to get the command-line tools.
>>> I have been using MacPorts to get access to FOSS for more than 10 years and have watched the Xcode requirement grow from around 1 Gb of disk to around 20 Gb in Catalina. In Xcode 9, on High Sierra, the requirement was around 10 Gb. So it has roughly doubled in two version steps of MacOS.
>>> At first I used to regard the Xcode overhead as being like some sort of tax on the pleasure of using FOSS, but now it is taking up an unhealthy portion of the 250 Gb in my MacBook Pro’s 250 Gb internal SSD drive.
>>> I have to put up with this if I wish to use Macports and Flutter, even though, like Dave Horsfall, I am unlikely to use Xcode as an IDE. So is it possible to have MacPorts depend on some minimal subset of Xcode?
>>> Cheers,
>>> Ian Wadham.

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