Saturday, August 9, 2014

Get your pkgs from the src on PPC

Ob10.4FxNews: about 50% done with the Firefox 33 patches. Not sure if it'll even build yet after the irregexp changes, but we'll see when I have the rest of the changes landed.

One of the things that keeps our Power Macs relevant (besides this project, of course) is a steady stream of ready-to-use open source software; as even 10.6 becomes considered "legacy" this is an even greater concern. In fact, because TenFourFox depends on gcc 4.6 to build (a compiler never shipped with any version of PPC OS X) and various other tools, we wouldn't exist as a project without it.

For years, getting such ported software meant MacPorts (what we currently use here at Floodgap HQ) and Fink, and lately Tigerbrew. However, other than Tigerbrew, which Misty DeMeo specifically targets at PowerPC OS X 10.4, both MacPorts and Fink no longer officially support PowerPC even on 10.5 or only do so on a best-effort basis. Whatever support exists is what's there modulo occasional port updates contributed by nice folks, and as a result I've lately started backing up /opt before I go updating a port lest I endure bustage I can't back out. More to the point, virtually no pre-built MacPorts binary packages remain for 10.4, so every update is an arduous and possibly fruitless build from source code.

So I'm delighted to shamelessly pimp a new alternative which is also available, but based on a very old friend. If you are familiar with the BSD family (I've used NetBSD on 68K Macs and Power Macs since 2000, and to this day I have a NetBSD Macintosh IIci and Cobalt RaQ 1 providing critical services on the internal Floodgap HQ network), you are almost certainly already familiar with pkgsrc, which evolved from the FreeBSD ports subsystem to be the default package manager in NetBSD and is now available on Linux, proprietary Un*ces like Solaris, AIX, HP-UX and IRIX, and even MINIX, Haiku and Cygwin. pkgsrc has also supported Darwin and OS X since 2001, and at least in theory still should build packages on 10.4, but it's all going to be from source now too because the binary packages currently available are for -- you guessed it -- 10.6. And that's assuming they build.

That's where Sevan Janiyan comes in: an up-to-date build of substantial parts of pkgsrc-current for 10.4/10.5 on PowerPC, with pre-built binaries saving you enormous amounts of time. Using his easy-to-follow instructions, install the bootstrap, set your environment up, and start pkg_adding your way to awesome. All the usual suspects are there, including Perl, Python, Ruby, gcc and lots of necessary libraries.

Not everything builds yet, which is why not all the standard packages are available (besides the fact that a G4 Mac mini compiling any large project is generally a pedestrian affair). However, the mini so far has chugged through 1064 out of a queue of 2083 packages over the last week, and fixes are landing for the pieces that don't build yet. Not bad for a little white box on the shelf.

The more package managers we have that work on PowerPC, and the more binary offerings we have available, the better off we'll be and the easier it will be to bring things back up if something fails. So thumbs up to Sevan for another alternative, along with the hard work Misty still does on Tigerbrew and our usual unsung suspects quietly keeping MacPorts and Fink still viable on the platform Apple wishes would just go away.


  1. Thanks for the binary news. I'm still running servers using 10.4 and had to migrate to MacPorts because the binaries disappeared and had to start compiling to update.
    I know what you mean about keeping copies of the /opt, I had a showstopper for libpixman for a few weeks and here it was related to gcc-4.0 vs gcc-4.2 when I updated MacPorts to 2.3.0
    I've been thinking updating all my servers to 10.5 because there seems to be less library and misc binaries to update as compared to 10.4. They can all run 10.5 albeit a little slower than 10.4.

  2. Thanks to all you guys who are still building tools and software for PowerPC Macs. You guys are heroes :-) I have an iBook G4 with Mac OS X 10.4 + Classic (OS 9.2.2). I still enjoy using it thanks to people like you.


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