There’s good news, and there’s bad news.

New York, NY · 2012-02-20

Categories: osx, yak-shaving, gcc, xcode

The good news

Apple now provides a simple, small package if you want a compiler and its basic requirements, but you don’t want Xcode. You can get the package here. The download is free, though you will need an Apple developer account. (That’s free too.)

If you regularly work on OSX, and you don’t care for Xcode, you know this is a big, big deal. The Xcode download is over 3GB. The new command-line-tools-only download is only 164MB. There’s also a principle or two involved. I want to compile software. I don’t want Xcode or the iOS SDK or anything else. I just want a compiler and its toolchain. The person we owe this to, primarily, is Kenneth Reitz. He’s written more about how it all happened and what it means for Homebrew users on his blog.

How to get in on the fun

Warning: Don’t do any of this until after you’ve read the bad news below. You’ve been warned.

The bad news

Apple no longer provides autoconf or its (relatively) vanilla gcc-4.2. This will cause you some problems if you want to install things that still won’t build with clang or Apple’s llvm-powered gcc. (For example, Ruby 1.8.7.) It will also cause you problems if you want to install something via Homebrew that has a hard-coded dependency on /usr/bin/autoconf. (Up until recently, gnupg was doing this, though that formula was just updated. A quick grep says aplus, fuse4x and sshfs are still offenders.)

How to deal with the bad

Depending on your machine, the gcc-4.2 build will take an hour or so. Use the time to do something useful.