Doing GNU/Linux on a Mac

I like to work in multiple operating systems, partly because some things are much easier in one OS than others (and some things are only available in one OS), and partly because I like the way it gives me a broader idea of what computing is about, in the same way that I imagine being properly multilingual would give you a broader idea of what language is. And if I were properly multilingual I might not write such dreadful run-on sentences.

Most of the time I work on Macs, because one of the things I particularly like about them is that they’re very shiny, visual and easy to use on top … but underneath it’s basically ¬†POSIX-compliant BSD Unix, so you can do the full-on GNU/Linux command line thing properly if that’s the best way to get a job done. Historically, one of the big drawbacks of Unix-related stuff – and legendarily GNU – was that getting hold of a new bit of software and making it work on your machine could be a bit … involved. Especially when to get X working you had to install Y and Z, and Z required P and Q, which both require Y, and so on. Never mind keeping it all up to date. But modern package managers do a great job of making it much, much simpler.

Alas, the Mac doesn’t come with a package manager – Macs have their own (generally much more user-friendly) way of installing software, which doesn’t work for GNU/Linux software.¬†Happily, there are several ways of dealing with this.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Steve Evans

This post is a techie log of what I did to make a Mac work a bit more like a GNU/Linux machine at the command line, for my own reference (I’m expecting to have to do this again soonish), and for anyone running in to the same problems I did.

Continue reading “Doing GNU/Linux on a Mac”