Homebrew tutorial: How to use Homebrew for MacOS

The open source Homebrew package manager gives Mac users access to Unix command-line utilities that Apple left out — and a lot more

Homebrew tutorial: How to use Homebrew for MacOS

In the beginning was the command-line. That’s true of almost all operating systems, but somewhere along the way a graphical user interface became the “face” of the computer, and only old hackers or initiates even knew how to open a command-line console or terminal.

Many Mac users can manage marvelously without ever opening the Terminal app, much less typing commands into the Bash shell. If you spend your day editing still images with Lightroom, the MacOS command line likely has little utility for you.

More technical users, and especially software developers, need to work in the shell at least occasionally, if not on a daily basis. Technical users with some Unix or Linux background will discover that not all the usual utilities are installed in MacOS as it comes from the factory, even though at its heart MacOS is a BSD Unix system.

As a software developer and a software reviewer, I often run into this issue. The first time it happened I was following online installation instructions that purported to work on Linux and Linux-like systems (such as Mac OS X, as it was known at the time), but had only actually been tested on one or two distros of Linux. The installation command provided was based on wget, a utility for non-interactive download of files from the web.

Unfortunately for me, wget doesn’t come installed on a Mac, although the somewhat similar curl utility does. Translating wget options to curl options was an annoying extra step I didn’t need; the lack of recursive downloads in curl was a complete showstopper for downloading the HTML documentation.

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