package manager odyssey

I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to install package managers on my Mac.

In the name of love and the pursuit of all things tech, I remember first hearing about Fink, oh, lo, many years ago and eagerly running off to corners of the internet to add it to my computer. And completely hosing something. I don't remember all the gory details, but I remember the cleanup being something akin to cleaning up a Superfund site.

Years later, after listening to the proselytizers whisper excitedly MacPorts, I … waited. The consensus, however, was unanimous: MacPorts was the thing. (Well, except for the lovers of Fink.) And I went to install MacPorts. As I recall, it wasn't quite the horror of the Fink episode, but MacPorts did leave debris and destruction.

If I remember correctly, I fell for the MacPorts pitch at least one more time after that. And when that went south, I started to become leery of this strange new beast called package manager which I didn't really understand. And it seemed like I was not going to be able to learn about them because I couldn’t get them to play nice with my Mac!

Enter Homebrew. And, oh, the hue and cry from Homebrew devotees and adherents is heard even now. It is the default for Mac. And — given my history with package managers — there was no blanking way that I was going to even touch it.

And then a devotee made the ultimate offer. They were going to guide me to the altar. A techie was going to walk me through the easy process and my life was going to change forever. (Cue the heavenly music and dawning lights.) Guess what happened? If you guessed an erased hard drive and a reinstallation of the operating system, you win!

There were just so many Homebrew zealots that — I'm chagrined to say — that was not the last time I attempted it. I fell for the oh-Homebrew-had-some-issues-before-but-it's-much-better-now and the oh-it-works-better-on-the-new-operating-system and a few others. What I quickly learned was to always backup first, before any attempts. It made cleanup and recovery quicker.

The last attempt was by someone who appeared to be at least a level 303 (maybe even 404) geek who talked to me for at 10 minutes, insisting that they had done many, many installations and assured success.

Yep. Homebrew beat him, too. He was mortified when my Mac threw up. And I was not surprised. And that was the last time. I greet Homebrew zealots like Spike Lee greets Jehovah Witnesses.

Except.

Except Nix.

(Of course I backed up first.)

I have never seen anything on the command line install so smoothly. Most installations at least burp or belch once or twice during installation. Nix was smoother than silk.

And I exhaled today. I'm about to get hands-on with a package manager. (Woo-hoo!)

15. December 2017 by sojourner hardeman
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