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Last updated
12 August 2005 15:32:18

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Optional OS X 10.3 Software Installation FAQ

This FAQ contains information about UNSUPPORTED software. If you find errors in this documentation, do not hesitate to e-mail Shy. He'll respond in a timely manner to pretty much anything, but if you break something, you're probably on your own.

Table of Contents
  1. Fink Installation
  2. Fitscut Installation
  3. Virtual Desktops with Desktop Manager
  4. Focus Follows Mouse
  5. LaTeX tools
  6. Emacs information
  7. Additional OS X Text Editors
  8. VNC Servers, Clients and More
  9. OS X Planet: a satellite view of the Earth on your desktop
  10. Longhand: a better calculator

I want to install the Unix program XXX but don't know how. What can I do?

Install Fink or Alternative Package Management System

Fink is command line tool (with optional GUI) that brings Debian tools apt-get, dpkg and others to OS X, providing "powerful binary package management." Optionally, you can choose to build packages from source. As of Wednesday, January 26th, Fink, "currently lists 4706 packages in 23 sections." You can browse and search a list of Fink packages available here. Browsing the list of Fink packages may help you decide if Fink is the right solution for using the Unix software you desire on OS X. Several ACS users have been using Fink on their PowerBooks without assistance, and you may discover that it is the right software from you. You may also want to look into DarwinPorts, a version of the BSD Ports system available to OS X users. The ACS System Management team has no experience with Darwin Ports, so you're on your own if this seems like the solution for you.

Fink Installation Instructions

Install Fink from your USER account so that, post-install, it can correctly identify which shell you use and add a proper profile to your environment.

  1. Get the Fink Disk Image
    • (SUPPORTED) Download Fink 0.7.1
    • (UNSUPPORTED) Download the latest version of Fink (if available) from the Fink Website
  2. Mount the Fink Disk Image. Double click on "Fink 0.7.1 Installer.pkg"
  3. Fink will install to /sw/
  4. When the installation finishes, it will try and identify your shell. This will most likely be tcsh, but may be bash. Make sure this step works correctly, and test it by closing any open 'Terminal' windows, opening a new 'Terminal' window, and typing 'fink' to see that it is in your path. If it is not, please see the additional installation notes below to set up your environment properly.
  5. (RECOMMENDED) Install FinkCommander by dragging it from the Fink Installer disk image to your Applications folder. FinkCommander is a GUI interface to fink, and simplifies the act of package management.
  6. (OPTIONAL) Some Fink packages are considered unstable and are typically available only by compiling from source. CFITSIO, a requirement of fitscut, is one such example. These packages are considered "Unstable" because Fthey have not received the thorough testing that Fink packages available via standard installation have received.
    • If you are using Fink from the command line, edit /sw/etc/fink.conf, add unstable/main and unstable/crypto to the Trees: line, and then run fink selfupdate; fink index
    • If you are using FinkCommander (GUI), go to Preferences, go to the Fink tab, and click the checkbox next to "Use Unstable Packages". Then click OK.

Additional Notes: If fink did not properly set-up your environment, please issue the following command from a 'Terminal' window: /sw/bin/pathsetup.sh

I want to install fitscut but don't know how. What can I do?

In order to install fitscut, you will need to have a working installation of Fink. Installation instructions can be found here. In order to complete installation, you must be using unstable packages, so make sure that you have enabled these.

I want virtual desktops on OS X, what do I do?

Desktop Manager is the best virtual desktop manager for OS X. Although the developers consider it "alpha" software, it is usable, elegantly integrates itself into the OS X environment, and provides both sensible keyboard shortcuts as well as an applet in the menu bar.

My old suggestion for virtual desktops was Space. You're free to try it if you want, but it doesn't integrate as nicely as Desktop Manager and the only way to use it involves a small window on screen to change desktops with. This is very unusual behavior, and since it isn't something any user is likely to be used to, it is not my #1 recommendation.

Focus doesn't follow the mouse! Help!

For users migrating to OS X from Linux/Unix, the lack of a "focus follows mouse" feature in OS X may seem like a big problem. However, there are a few solutions which may make your transition to OS X smoother.

I tried your focus follows mouse hints and now I can't make it stop! Help!

Don't like focus follows mouse for X11 and Terminal after all? Enter the commands below into a 'Terminal' window to remove this behaviour

I have some extra cash and I want focus follows mouse for all windows on OS X. Is there anything I can do?

Funny you should ask. There is a piece of commercial software available called CodeTek Virtual Desktop Pro that does exactly this for $40. If you want to buy it and try it for yourself, go ahead. There is even a 15-day free trial available. Please be warned that we've never tried it ourselves, and don't intend to—the Sys Admins do everything with exposé.

I'd like some more tools for using LaTeX on OS X

Glad to hear it. Alex has discovered two very useful LaTeX tools on OS X that you might like to try.

TeXShop is a TeX previewer for Mac OS X, written in Cocoa. It is available as at Apple's TeXShop page.

LaTeX Equation Editor is a program for OS X that allows easy testing, previewing and creation of mathematical formulas using LaTeX. In addition, conversion of mathematical equations to single-page PDF documents is included.. Although you may find other uses, it is primarily for users wishing to include equations formatted in LaTeX into Keynote and PowerPoint presentations. It is available at the Equation Editor Homepage.

I use the standard Mac OS X 'Terminal' version of Emacs. How can I get colors?

Start Emacs, and simply enter: meta-x font-lock-mode.

I'm looking for a new text editor for OS X. Any suggestions?

TextWrangler is a powerful, free text editor from the creators of BBEdit. Alex loves it, and wanted me to recommend it to anyone looking for a new text editor. You can check out the website here. The website contains information on it's features, and you may want to check it out. The creators of the software have a great reputation amongst Mac enthusiasts for high quality text editors.

I want to use VNC on OS X. What can you recommend?

Before I continue, I must stress that WE DO NOT SUPPORT USERS RUNNING VNC ON THEIR LAPTOPS. This means that you will be using VNC at your own risk. If this is acceptable, and you want VNC, there are three important things to keep in mind:

  1. You must specify a password on the OS X VNC Server.
  2. This password must be a different password than you use anywhere else.
  3. You should change this password often.

VNC Software for OS X

Note: Chicken of the VNC has a bug with VNC servers that use "Tight" encoding (i.e. TightVNC on Windows/Linux). In order for CotVNC to work with a "Tight" VNC server, you must disable the use of "Tight" encoding in the client preferences.

I want that cool program that shows the earth, weather, and satellites on your desktop!

I know you do. It's called OS X Planet. Just be careful, it can be very distracting sometimes.

I don't like the default Apple Calculator program. Is there anything better?

Apple recommends Longhand. It is powerful and free, and this is what Apple has to say about it, "Longhand is exceptionally easy to use, but is also surprisingly powerful. It supports all the standard arithmetic functions, but in addition to that Longhand has superb handling of trigonometry, multiple bases (binary, hexadecimal, etc.), matrices, complex numbers, and much more. Longhand is also highly accurate with support for arbitrarily long numbers instead of limiting you to the built-in number size of your OS."