[R-SIG-Mac] package management system: Fink vs MacPorts?

Payam Minoofar payam.minoofar at meissner.com
Tue Oct 13 18:08:30 CEST 2009

I have been running fink on my home machine for years, and I've been  
running Macports on my work machine for a few months now. I have to  
run Macports at work because our firewall blocks many of the URLs for  
fink's source repositories.

In my experience so far, fink has been much more elegant and more  
graceful to use. It is operated by a large group of enthusiasts many  
of whom happen to be scientists. So, there is a greater emphasis on  
functionality and good support, especially for scientists.

However, Macports seems to provide packages that are perhaps prettier.  
For example, the Gnome packages on Macports are built with many  
additional xorg GUI libraries, so they tend to look sharper than those  
built via fink. (I base this on pan running on both computers.)

On the whole, I highly recommend fink over macports. The package  
managers are more responsive. The packages are made to be robust, and  
they adhere very strictly to the philosophy that the fink distribution  
does not interfere AT ALL with the OS X system. So, if you ever want  
to remove the fink subsystem, you simply execute
sudo rm -rf /sw
and you're done. Macports does tend to override certain OS X core  
functions, to my understanding.

As of now, I'm having a much easier time building packages on fink  
than I am on macports on Snow Leopard using the x86_64 tree.

KDE is broken on both fink and macports at the moment, but both  
distributions offer native KDE integration. I'm waiting for KDE 4.3 to  
be released so that I can run KDE applications inside quartz. (See  
amarok2-mac in the fink pacakges.) So, the native OS X look is coming  
to both Gnome and KDE.

All of that said, you're much better off using the R binaries  
distributed by the R-Foundation. First, you are far more likely to get  
a more recent package (fink tree is still at 2.7.0 http://pdb.finkproject.org/pdb/package.php/r-base 
) with R.app included. Fink doesn't include the GUI.

The macports distribution of R seems to be up to date,
but it's hard to tell if it includes the GUI.

So, build R yourself only if you have the time and idle processors. :)


Payam Minoofar, Ph.D.
Meissner Filtration Products
4181 Calle Tesoro
Camarillo, CA 93012
+1 805 388 9911 ext. 159
+1 805 388 5948 fax
payam.minoofar at meissner.com
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