The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Wednesday, 21 January 2004]

Gnome 2.4 on Mac OS X

Saw an announcement over the weekend about the Fink project having ported Gnome 2.4 to Mac OS X, and decided this would be a good time to investigate the current state of Gnome.Thanks to the Fink team for all their work in making the port happen, and to the Gnome team for releasing 2.4. It’s definitely the best Gnome yet, and gets really close to the usability of “traditional” desktop operating systems like the Mac and Windows. The desktop integration works well, and most applications play very nice with each other. Not that I need to right now, as I’m satisfied with Mac OS X, but if I had to move over to the Land of Intel, I do believe I could till that soil quite happily.When used on a Mac OS X box with Apple’s X11, the GTK applications integrate pretty nicely, and will use your Mac fonts if you tell them to, so no need to use the eyeball-tearing “serif” and “sans-serif” generics.There are certainly warts, but not more than the usual Linux-y library dependency nightmares that can be sorted out with a firm hand and heavy googling. The Fink FAQ helps out a lot in the rough patches.For your entertainment, and hopefully to help anybody else who might run into the same problems I did, here’s a short blow-by-blow account of the install process. Note that this was a completely clean, right-out-of-the-box Fink doing its thing on dual-gig G4 with a gig of RAM. The times noted here will certainly vary according to the horsepower of your rig. They may also be quite off, as I was in and out doing other things while the machine worked, but at least the times should be in the ballpark.- Download and install Fink.

  • Configure Fink to use unstable.

  • Let ‘er rip: Fink install bundle-gnome

  • Seven hours of happy text scrolling across the Terminal. Dobedobedah.

  • dpkg: error processing /sw/fink/dists/unstable/main/binary-darwin-powerpc/text/system-tetex_20010808-12_darwin-powerpc.deb (–install): subprocess pre-installation script returned error exit status 1Errors were encountered while processing: /sw/fink/dists/unstable/main/binary-darwin-powerpc/text/system-tetex_20010808-12_darwin-powerpc.deb### execution of dpkg failed, exit code 1Failed: can’t install package system-tetex-20010808-12

  • Oh bugger. Google google. Not finding anything relevant. Let’s just try to install the tetex package.

  • Fink install tetex

  • Three hours of churn. Gee bus. This tetex thingamabob is a monster. Success.

  • Here we go again: Fink install bundle-gnome

  • An hour of happy text scrolling. And death:

  • checking for intltool >= 0.21… 0.29 foundchecking for perl… /usr/bin/perlconfigure: error: XML::Parser perl module is required for intltool### execution of ./configure failed, exit code 1Failed: compiling gnome-panel-2.4.2-6 failed

  • Huh? No XML::Parser? I watched it install Perl 5.6.0 and the kitchen sink. Surely XML::Parser must have been in there? Hmm. The Apple-installed Perl doesn’t have XML::Parser, that’s the one the installer is checking. Checking the Fink-installed Perl. Interesting, it’s called perl5.6.0. Let’s make a symlink from it and call it “perl.” That might fix it. Then remember that fsking around with the default Perl install on a working Unix box is like poking a fork in a power outlet. Delete the symlink. Time for some CPAN action. Some weird problem getting XML::Parser installed from CPAN. Bugger. Google google. There’s a Fink package for XML::Parser.

  • fink install xml-parser-pm581. Success. It would have been nice if the bundle-gnome package had known about that particular package.

  • fink install bundle-gnome

  • Time elapses, but my mind is too weary to comprehend its passage.

  • Yes! Success! Do my little monkey dance.

  • Edit my .xinitrc to start gnome:

  • exec quartz-wm –only-proxy &exec metacity &exec gnome-session

  • All right! We are in The Land of Gnome. A fly in the ointment: Nautilus wants to draw the desktop, which obscures the Mac desktop. Can’t have that. Should be some preference to turn that off. No there isn’t. Used to be one, but it’s gone now. Google google. Ah, you can still turn it off, but you have to do it through GConf. In GConf, go to apps -> nautilus -> preferences -> show desktop and turn it off. Voila! Gnome and Mac tooooogetheeeeeer in peeeerfeeect haaaarmooony…

That’s the saga of the install. All in all, not that painful an experience, and once the Fink team steamrolls a couple of the quirks I experienced, it will officially be much easier to install Gnome on a Mac than on a Linux box. Ah, the irony.

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