What is Fink?
Fink is a project that wants to bring the full world of Unix Open Source software to Darwin and Mac OS X. As a result, we have two main goals. First, to modify existing Open Source software so that it will compile and run on Mac OS X. (This process is called porting.) Second, to make the results available to casual users as a coherent, comfortable distribution that matches what Linux users are used to. (This process is called packaging.) The project offers precompiled binary packages as well as a fully automated build-from-source system.
To achieve these goals, Fink relies on the excellent package management tools produced by the Debian project - dpkg, dselect and apt-get. On top of that, Fink adds its own package manager, named (surprise!) fink. You can view fink as a build engine - it takes package descriptions and produces binary .deb packages from that. In the process, it downloads the original source code from the Internet, patches it as necessary, then goes through the whole process of configuring and building the package. Finally, it wraps the results up in a package archive that is ready to be installed by dpkg.
Since Fink sits on top of Mac OS X, it has a strict policy to avoid interference with the base system. As a result, Fink manages a separate directory tree and provides the infrastructure to make it easy to use.
Why use Fink?
Five reasons to use Fink to install Unix software on your Mac:
- Power. Mac OS X includes only a basic set of command line tools. Fink brings you enhancements for these tools as well as a selection of graphical applications developed for Linux and other Unix variants.
- Convenience. With Fink the compile process is fully automated; you'll never have to worry about Makefiles or configure scripts and their parameters again. The dependency system automatically takes care that all required libraries are present. Our packages are usually set up for their maximum feature set.
- Safety. Fink's strict non-interference policy makes sure that the vulnerable parts of your Mac OS X system are not touched. You can update Mac OS X without fear that it will step on Fink's toes and vice versa. Also, the packaging system lets you safely remove software you no longer need.
- Coherence. Fink is not just a random collection of packages, it is a coherent distribution. Installed files are placed in predictable locations. Documentation listings are kept up to date. There's a unified interface to control server processes. And there's more, most of it working for you under the hood.
- Flexibility. You only download and install the programs you need. Fink gives you the freedom to install XFree86 or other X11 solutions in any way you like. If you don't want X11 at all, that's okay too.
To learn more, go to the Fink home page.