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Starting over: MacPorts

As a long-term Fink user, I've found it hard to summon up the energy to move to Macports (previously known as Darwin Ports), until now. A dead disk provided the necessary impetus to overcome this energy barrier.

MacPorts—so I am told by friends I trust—is closer to the Mac zeitgeist, and has more packages available in fresher versions.

My first experience was not good. I tried the standard install from .dmg with two fresh, fully updated installs of Leopard + x11 + XCode Tools—one on my ageing MBP; one on a sparking new MacBook Air. Neither succeeded in creating the code>.profile that is supposed to adjust the PATH environment variable.

You should start with a standard install as it does almost everything—and may even do it all, for some it succeeds.

In the environment of a shell accessing packages installed by MacPorts, PATH should include /opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin and MANPATH should include /opt/local/share/man. The standard install is meant to create a .profile to achieve this. It didn't.

Googling macports leopard profile led to various suggestions (as usual, others have encountered this problem before me). One of these works—others don't.

Do not add the new paths to /etc/paths and /etc/manpaths.

Do not add new files named macports or MacPorts, containing the new paths, to /etc/paths.d/ and /etc/manpaths.d/.

Do create a file ~/.profile containing the following code:

export PATH=/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:$PATH
export MANPATH=/opt/local/share/man:$MANPATH

Then you can type sudo port -d update in a fresh terminal window, to update your MacPorts installation, and sudo port install emacs-app, for example, to install a Cocoa version of emacs.

You'll find the Emacs installed as a regular application in /Applications/MacPorts/.

Note: If you already have a .bash_profile or .bash_login, you can and should append the commands above to that file, and optionally rename rename that file as .profile, instead of creating a new .profile.

Explanation: (for the full story try man bash)

When bash is invoked as an interactive login shell, or as a non-inter-active shell with the --login option, it first reads and executes commands from the file /etc/profile, if that file exists. After reading that file, it looks for ~/.bash_profile, ~/.bash_login, and ~/.profile, in that order, and reads and executes commands from the first one that exists and is readable.


Anonymous said...


As one of the main Fink people involved I would like to understand where the myth is coming from that macports has more packages? If you carfully compare the PDB and the listing of macports you can clearly see that is not the case. with unstable enabled, compiling your own packages Fink has far more packages available. Freshness is based on user demand.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

did'nt know where to ask this but is there a program that lets me clean all rubbish off my macbook or is there something i can do for more space.... space is just dissapearing.. help please

Anonymous said...

I put them in my .bash_profile not my .profile and it worked for me.

alanh said...

On my copy of Leopard, I put the settings in ~/.bash_profile. my .profile seems to be ignored.