[KDE/Mac] Curious about Ian's GUI frontend for Macports

Ian Wadham iandw.au at gmail.com
Wed Apr 16 00:16:56 UTC 2014

Hi Mario and John,

> On 15 April 2014 15:40, Mario Fux <kde-ml at unormal.org> wrote:
> Then Ian, you mentioned something about an ObjectiveC GUI frontend you once
> wrote for Macports. Is there somewhere code, what were the reasons against it?
> I'm curious and as for endusers we'll need something fancy ;-).

The code is still tucked away on my Macbook, but unfinished.  It is called Fossick.

The FOSS part is obvious, but in Australia a "fossicker" is someone who searches
around a mining site looking for things of value the miners might have missed.
Sometimes fossickers turn up sizeable gold nuggets … :-)

The main reasons against Fossick were that the MacPorts developers prefer the
command line interface of their "port" command, which is very powerful and can be
used in conjunction with scripts to make it even more powerful.  First-time users
have trouble with all that.  Many have no idea how to start a terminal window
and enter a command … or even how to discover that MacPorts exists ...

On 16/04/2014, at 2:13 AM, John Layt wrote:
> Would that be Pallet https://trac.macports.org/wiki/MacPortsGUI which was part of GSoC for a while?

No.  Pallet is, I think, less finished than Fossick.  Also it interfaces to MacPorts via
libraries which are unmaintained and rather out of date.  That is why I decided to
start from scratch on Fossick, which is a pure Apple OS X application, depending
only on standard Apple libraries (Cocoa) and the presence of MacPorts and some
simple Shell commands (i.e. loose binding and limited dependencies).

> I've long said that we needed a FOSS Store for Mac and Windows to make it easy for people to find and install Free software.  Imagine any Mac or Windows user who downloaded Mozilla or LibreOffice got a FOSS Store app instead that had hundreds of free apps?  We'd be able to grow the FOSS world so much faster.  I had hopes that Project Bretzen would fill the role across all platforms but it withered on the vine.  Maybe Bodega will grow to fill the gap.  Maybe AppStream or the like could be adapted.  Maybe we'll all be so busy focussing on our own patch we'll never realise FOSS's full potential...

I think a store is a great idea and my aim was to make it almost that easy when
I designed Fossick.  But I think the biggest barrier to FOSS, on ANY platform,
including Linux, is the "install hump".

Before you can use *any* FOSS you must first go through a huge installation
procedure in which many things can go wrong (and do) and then help is available
only by Googling or email, not face-to-face or over-the-phone.  Free products,
like Firefox, LibreOffice, Java and MySql make life easier and I use them.  The
download and install is still rather lengthy, but it always works "out of the box".
Also data files and config for Firefox and LibreOffice were easy to carry across
to my Apple Macbook when my Linux system died suddenly in 2011.

The "install hump" is why I shrink from recommending FOSS to my family and my
friends at the U3A (University of the Third Age) [1], much as I would like to see them
playing my KDE games.

U3A has hundreds of branches world-wide.  I belong to Moorleigh [2] and
it has flourishing computer classes and a Computer Users' Group that meets
monthly.  Most of this is Microsoft-centric.  Last year I gave a talk on Apple to the
group and now there is a blossoming of iPads at the U3A and a busy iPad class.
One lady of over 80 sits at the back of my Science class with her iPad Googling
on things I am talking about and occasionally correcting me … :-)

You NEED group support in the Microsoft world.  Although the software comes
pre-installed, there is little support to be had at PC shops, even for money.

The Apple Store is different.  They are always happy to see you and I enjoy
dropping in for a chat (old guys like me have money and Apple have discovered
that).  Also, when you buy an Apple computer or iThing, all the installation is
already done --- or it is finished off face-to-face in the Apple Store.

My first installation of MacPorts, qt4-mac, kedlibs4 and kdegames4 took almost
24 hours, with no warning as to how long it might take.  Four cores were running
flat out most of the time and my machine became as hot to the touch as a fresh
cup of coffee.  Very unnerving, even for an experienced old guy like me.

Thanks to binaries, the time has gone down a lot, but it still took 4 hours to do an
upgrade recently and there were a few geeky problems (of my own making) to iron out.

You cannot expect ordinary people to accept that.

All the best, Ian W.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U3A
[2] http://www.u3amoorleigh.com.au/index.htm

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