Through the Looking Glass

February 24, 2004

Over the weekend I picked up the Visual title "Unix for Mac." I have another Visual series title, and like that book, this one is easy to work with an informative. Although some of the information is very basic, the book as a whole is a great learning tool. Even though I have been poking around in the guts of Mac Unix for the better part of a year now, I picked up several new ideas, tools, and tips.

The area most fascinating to me is X Windows. I only vaguely understand all I know about X; perhaps just enough to get myself seriously off the known map. Following the steps in the book I downloaded and installed fink and Fink Commander. Using fink (a package manager) I was able to easily download and install the latest XDarwin build. The process made me feel a bit like Alice as a simple "fink install" command resulted in an astonishing dump of console messages in my terminal window.

Later that same day I decided I wanted to try the KDE desktop package for XDarwin. There was a bundle entry in the list of packages through fink that, when installed, would collect all the necessary bits and put it all together for me. This process started with the same seemingly simple command "fink install bundle-kde-ssl". I did that more than 12 hours ago and it is still churning along.

To be fair, my computer has gone to sleep in this time period. But for a single command to result in hundreds of thousands of lines of output is rather astounding. It's like the Energizer Bunny, going and going and going. All of this just to see what it would look like. Wow.

Update: The build of all the KDE packages spanned 36 wall-clock hours. Twice my PowerBook locked up completely (due to other factors) and twice Fink resumed the build when I restarted it. I am very impressed with Fink, and even more wowed by being able to run KDE 3.1.4 on my Mac.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.