MAC OS X connection to FreeBSD?

Chuck Swiger cswiger at
Mon Nov 20 17:25:30 UTC 2006

Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:
[ ... ]
>>> The biggest problem with MacOS X is that a lot of UNIX software that
>>> runs on FreeBSD and such, is not ported to MacOSX, and it's very
>>> difficult to compile on MacOSX.
>> This is completely wrong. Take a look at macports [1] (formerly
>> darwinports) for a large repository of UNIX software that compiles
>> very cleanly on OSX. It's nearly 7 years since OSX shipped to the
>> public. In that time, most opensource software was updated to compile
>> cleanly on OSX. The primary changes to allow this were to the
>> "configure" scripts so they recognize darwin as a base OS. If other
>> patches were necessary, most software maintainers accepted these
>> patches back into their trunk.
> I spent a lot of time trying to build KDE on Panther and end up at a
> dead end.  There's many problems there.

That's not a very specific bug report.  It's at least possible that reading 
this would help:

> A lot I understand were fixed in Tiger and there's somewhat of alpha
> binaries out there - but they must use magic to build them.

No magic.  A guy called Torrey Lyons (sp?), who used to be a Darwin developer 
and ran (runs?) the XonX project, IIRC, did most of the work to port and 
integrate X11 with OS X, and got things like pasteboard integration and 
rootless X11 support, way back in the Rhapsody and 10.1/10.2 days.

10.3 and 10.4 should have shipped with a reasonable X11R6 distribution 
available as an optional installation item.

> In any case, Tiger won't run on anything that doesen't have firewire
> so you can just toss out your older iMacs right there.

Apple recommends you run Tiger on G4 or later hardware, but I believe that 
Tiger will run on G3 hardware if you can get a DVD drive attached.

Given that the G3 machines came out in what-- 1998?-- the situation is 
probably more to Apple's credit than to its detriment.  Frankly, if you need 
to throw out 8-year-old machines in order to run the latest version of the OS, 
and you've gotten 8 years of decent utilization out of the hardware during 
that time, you're way ahead of the typical 3-year depreciation cycle for 
business PCs.

Ted, you do know that Win98 & ME simply won't run on modern PCIe motherboards, 
right?  You do know that XP and Vista don't run, or run with extreme 
compromises to video support and performance, on Pentium-pro machines without 
AGP or with maybe AGPx1 slots with say, a 4MB Riva128 card?

> Command line programs do compile, but you have to make
> many changes in some of them.  Macports is fine if the program you want is
> in there.  If not and your rolling it yourself, then you better know
> what your doing.

It helps to know what you are doing, regardless of the platform or the 
software in use.

>> OSX has excellent support for most UNIX software.
> Uh, huh.  Yeah, right.

OSX has excellent support for the Unix software I want to run.

> There's not a lot of UNIX software out there that supports all
> the major flavors of UNIX very well, which is why the FreeBSD ports
> system is so important for FreeBSD.

Or pkgsrc for NetBSD, or Fink for MacOS X, or RPMs for Linux.

> And unfortunately more and more
> UNIX software is being written and built on Linux and not tested
> on FreeBSD.  Take mysql for example, it's heavily dependent on
> threads and while the FreeBSD threads implementation is superior
> to the Linux implementation, mysql didn't work at all with it until
> recently, and it doesen't work as well as under Linux.

With due respect for the FreeBSD developers, it's not at all clear to me that 
FreeBSD has a better threads implementation than Linux.  I've seen lots of 
results favoring one or the other, although it seems clear that mysql in 
particular has been tuned closely with and for Linux.

Of course, Solaris has been targetting highly parallel systems (with 64, 128 
or more CPUs or CPU threads of execution) since before Linux was first 
released, and Sun's been optimizing Solaris for highly multithreaded Java apps 
for quite some time.  For that matter, multithreaded Java performance is a 
fairly high priority at Apple, too, but Apple doesn't sell hardware with 
dozens or hundreds of CPUs.

There are plenty of other reasonable choices besides MySQL, however-- postgres 
or OpenBase come to mind, or even the classic BerkeleyDB for some cases.  I 
think postgres and FreeBSD make a fine combination.


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