Darwin vs macOS

macOS consists of Darwin (kernel/userland) plus Mac stuff on top. pkgsrc used to target Darwin, but given the tools issued discussed below it is not clear that it works on Darwin without macOS. Darwin from Apple is no longer open source.

Users of non-macOS Darwin are invited to submit patches to this file. The only known project is PureDarwin.

Until then, this file remains macOS-centric.

system tools issues

native headers vs SDK

macOS used to include system headers in /usr/include, so that one could treat it like a relatively normal POSIX system. Starting at approximately 10.9, headers were no longer available at the standard location, and one has to use an SDK that puts headers someplace else. pkgsrc supports this, but there has been some confusion where a 10.9 system produced binaries for 10.10, which only mostly works. The confusion is believed to be resolved.

SDK version issues

The SDK supported versions and default versions do are not always the same as the current system version. The following may be useful in understanding one's situation:

/usr/bin/xcrun --show-sdk-version sw_vers -productVersion

pkgsrc attempts to query the system version, and then ask the sdk to use that version. See mk/platform/Darwin.mk for the code.

gcc vs clang

Older versions of OS X (when XCode is installed) provided gcc, and pkgsrc defaulted to using gcc. With 10.9, gcc is no longer present.

i386 vs x86_64 ABI issue

This entire section is only about Intel Macs.

OS X 10.6 and higher supports x86-64 binaries on Intel Macs with x86-64 processors, which is now most of them. i386 binaries are also supported on most (all?) Intel machines.

issues related to ABI 32 vs 64

Note that a pkgsrc package built in x86_64 mode will not run on an Intel Mac that is i386 only. For a longer discussion, see http://mail-index.NetBSD.org/pkgsrc-users/2009/09/24/msg010817.html.

Somewhat separately from pkgsrc's ABI choice, there have been issues with packages which get confused because "MACHINE_ARCH" is in some OS versions set to "i386" (on a 64-bit system!). As of 2016 this should be mostly resolved. version: uname -m : uname -p 10.6: i386 : i386 10.9: x86_64 : i386

default ABI

The ABI is chosen at bootstrap time and encoded into mk.conf. So a change in the default is about what a new bootstrap will do; already-bootstrapped systems should remain unchanged. They should be able to build and run new packages using the old ABI value.

pkgsrc used to set the default ABI as i386, both on systems with i386 processors and on systems with x86_64 processors. On 2015-11-09 the default was changed so that ABI=64 is chosen on machines where "uname -m" reports x86_64. (It remains i386 on others, which are not capable of running x86_64 binaries.)

Generally, users will not need to deal with the default ABI change, except that packages are mostly only portable across machines with the same bootstrapping parameters.

If one unpacks a new binary bootstrap kit over an existing installation, one can end up with a mix. The standard advice is not to do this, and to rrebuild/reinstall all packages from scratch or a compatible binary package set. But, one could also mark packages with the wrong ABI as rebuild=YES and use pkg_rolling-replace.

change in storage of ABI information

On 2016-01-24, the way ABI information was stored in pkgsrc was rationalized and simplified. The new code could compute the wrong ABI for some previously-bootstrapped installations. The problem can be resolved by building bmake with MACHINE_ARCH=x86_64 and updating that package, as described in mail archives:


(One would expect to be able to use make replace to do this. One minor issue is that it requires pkg_tarup, although that will be present on systems of those who use make replace. There also may be an error with architecture mismatch from pkg_install requiring a "-f" option. Repeatable data about recovery is somewhat hard to obtain, as most are past this issue already and no longer interested in experimenting.)

Developer tools and prerequisites


This section applies to 10.6 through 11.

If you haven't already, you will need to install the macOS Developer Tools package (XCode) to obtain a compiler, etc. The procedure depends on the version of macOS; recent versions use the App Store.

Command-line Tools

If one installs "Commmand Line Tools", then pkgsrc can use the compiler.

Since Xcode 7 (installed from the Apple Store) the development environment can upgrade itself without interaction from the user, but will not automatically update the Command Line Tools. This will cause system header files like stdlib.h not to be found by pkgsrc. The command `xcode-select --install' will install the Command Line Tools for Xcode.

In the past at least, Command Line Tools for Xcode could be obtained from https://developer.apple.com/downloads/


Note that as of 10.9, cvs is no longer provided by Apple. You can build devel/scmcvs. To obtain pkgsrc in order to bootstrap and build cvs, it may be useful to git clone https://github.com/NetBSD/pkgsrc.git.


X11 used to be built into macOS, but as of 10.8 it is no longer included. You can install XQuartz from https://www.xquartz.org, or try the newly-added pkgsrc version.

macOS Versions

Because Apple drops support for previous hardware faster than the hardware fails, many machines cannot be upgraded to recent versions of macOS, creating a greater than usual desire to support old systems. Because of the particular history of deprecation, most systems tend to run relatively recent versions or specific older versions.

The stance of pkgsrc is generally to avoid breaking older systems unless keeping support would cause difficulty, and to accept clean patches when there is no harm to non-deprecated versions. This section is partly to document what versions tend to be used and why, and partly to enable cleaning up bug reports without fixes for very old systems.

pkgsrc PRs about 10.12 or older that do not contain fixes may be closed without fixing.

macOS 11 (major versions are now just digits) is the current version; hardware before 2013 cannot be upgraded to this version. Also this version introduces support for Apple M1 processors, using the aarch64 instruction set.

macOS 10.15 is maintained and supports the same hardware as 10.14.

macOS 10.14 is somewhat old but still maintained. It cannot be run on hardware before 2012 and Macbooks before 2015.

macOS 10.13 is old; Apple ended support in January of 2021. Significant amounts of entirely functional hardware cannot be upgraded beyond this version.

macOS 10.12 is very old. There is no known reason to run it, as all (most?) hardware that runs 10.12 can run 10.13.

OS X 10.11 is very old; some hardware cannot be upgraded beyond this version, but most of it is old and slow, dating from approximately 2010 or earlier.

OS X 10.10, 10.9 and 10.8 are extremely old; most hardware that can run them can probably run 10.11.

OS X 10.7 is the last version that works on a few Intel Macs, e.g. the Mac Pro 1.1 and 2.1 and some Mac Minis.

OS X 10.6 is the last version that works on Intel Macs lacking amd64 support, e.g. Mac Minis and Macbooks with Core Duo.

OS X 10.5 is the last version that works on PowerPC Macs.

OS X 10.4 (Darwin 8.11.0) is the last version that works on PowerPC G3 and slower G4 Macs.

Bulk builds

Clearly, it is desirable for a bulk build to be useful on as many computers as possible. The main issues are which ABI and which macOS version. Targeting older versions makes a build run on more systems, and targeting newer versions makes the build closer to what would be obtained from bootstrapping on a newer version and thus avoids some issues.