Preamble for those here by the grace of Google: Yes, I do eventually get around to talking about Gimp in this episode. Short version: it works but takes hours. Anyway, on with the show!
Setting up a new computer can be a tedious task; there are all kinds of settings and programs and files and whatnot that need to be passed from old to new. When you work with Web development things can get even more cumbersome, as one finds oneself descending deep into the world of IT. There are programs to install that all have to talk to each other, and configuration files to be tweaked. Many of the applications that are required have no user interface of their own, they simply run in the background and answer requests from other applications.
I found myself facing (for the third time in three months) the need to install the latest Apache (and set up virtual hosts), PHP, Pear, MySQL server, PHP email addons, Propel, and on and on. For many of these items, the instructions for installations go something like:
1) Download the source code
2) Configure the build
3) Compile the application
And the instructions go on from there. For most of the above there are shortcuts, and probably-recent-enough versions of some things come built-in with the Mac OS, but when you install it yourself you can get everything where you want it and avoid conflicts. Still, this can be a long, tedious, pain in the butt to get going. And when you install something and it doesn’t play well with the others, finding that one line in the secret config file that’s causing the problem can be a real pain.
Enter MacPorts. MacPorts is a project that has developed a system that does all the steps of the installation for you, and puts everything in standard places so everything else installed with MacPorts can find it and talk to it. There’s still some configuration to do (tell PHP where the database server’s socket is, and set passwords for instance), but overall things are much simpler, and there are very good instructions out there for tweaking and troubleshooting MacPort installs. Since the person writing the instructions knows where all the files are in the standard install, instructions can be much more specific.
With MacPorts installing php 5.3.1 was a simple matter of typing “sudo port install php5” and letting the MacPort system do the rest. Hooray! Setting up a server is suddenly much simpler.
As an aside, MySQL didn’t work when I used MacPorts to install it on a previous machine. Don’t know why. Ran the install, followed the instructions, nothing. After a few hours banging my head against it, I went and got the excellent binary installer. It worked without a hitch. This time around I didn’t bother with the MacPorts version at all.
Anyway, thanks to MacPorts, I was able to get a complete development system up with nary a hitch, in a fraction of the time. Knowing where all the config files were this time around helped as well. I found several useful links on the Web, particularly from HiveLogic and my new buddy Danilo Stern-Sapad who took a little grammar rant from me with grace.
On that note, I read the phrase “How to setup…” so many times in so many places it’s amazing I still have teeth.
Edited to add: I have now written my own tutorial which does into greater detail than the above, and includes a works-every-time MySQL install.
Last night I realized I hadn’t installed GIMP on this computer yet. GIMP is an open-source graphics program that wishes it rivaled Photoshop but it doesn’t really. It’s free, however, and when you consider the incredible amount of work that went into it, you have to be impressed. I don’t do a whole lot with graphics, so GIMP is usually adequate for my needs.
When I went to the Web site for GIMP I found a couple of options for installation, including MacPorts. Just type “sudo port install gimp” into the terminal and that’s that. Pretty sweet.
One thing about a program like GIMP: it’s really a collection of a bazillion smaller parts. Many of those parts require other bits to work. When you run a traditional installer, all the parts are already there and they’re already tied together in a neat bundle. MacPorts does things a little differently; each part knows what parts it depends on to work, so when you say “install gimp” it first looks at the parts gimp needs, then at the parts those parts depend on, and so forth. You get to watch (if you choose to pay attention) the parade of all the little pieces as they’re installed, each the product of an individual or small group of people who have allowed their work to be exploited for free.
For GIMP, the list of dependencies goes very deep. I watched as X11 was installed. X11 is already on my computer, but ok, this is MacPorts and they keep their own realm and that way they can update parts without worrying about how that will affect non-MacPort installations. It’s redundant, but that’s why God made big hard drives.
Then I saw Python 2.6 install. Later, Python 2.5 went by. One of the little pieces seems to depend on an earlier version of Python. This probably means the person in charge of that bit just hasn’t updated it recently. On the installation went. After a while the Gnu Compiler Collection came down the pipe. gcc is a collection of compilers for building programs, and I watched as gcc was built… using the gcc already installed on my machine. Hm. And what’s this? Fortran! Yep, somewhere in the great tree of dependencies (maybe ‘root system’ would be a better term), someone decided that a Fortran compiler was necessary to run GIMP.
Actually, that’s not quite fair; the piece that loaded the Fortran compiler might need it for other tasks not related to GIMP. Just because GIMP uses a library doesn’t mean that’s the only use for it. Still, I ended up with a lot of stuff I don’t need. It’s all invisible and I’d never know it was there if I hadn’t watched the install (which took hours), so it’s not a disaster or anything. And next time I need Fortran I’m ahead of the curve!
Time slipped past, the install continued. I went to bed. When I got up this morning to check if the build was finished, I discovered there had been an error. Yep, the MacPort version of gimp-app doesn’t currently compile on 64-bit operating systems. All that other stuff that was installed? Python 2.6 and Python 2.5, the Gnu Compiler Collection (including Fortran), libgnome and libbonoboui and tkl and tk and gd2 and dozens of other things I don’t know what are, they’re still there, waiting to be useful in some way.
Edited to add: The compile bug has been fixed; I recently used MacPorts to install Gimp on my 64-bit laptop. It took a long, long, time, but now it works just fine.