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Open source applications for macOS (github.com/serhii-londar)
180 points by yesenadam 34 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 65 comments

There is nothing FOSS about macOS that I personally find appealing. The future of macOS is strictly into direction of further closing and limiting. SIP is monstrosity, Brew is hell under Catalina. There are awesome people who basically hack and find a way to port things, but comparing this with true FOSS OS is naive. Pinch of salt is not needed, the golden days when we had real MacOS are long gone.

Someone asked strange question: Does an app being cross-platform diminish its value to the user? Nope. Several times no. Example: Affinity Designer is cross-platform and thank to this my production workflow can live without "active scanning" from some corporate overlord.

Too much Apple brainwashing is going around, too much.

I'm not sure it's a question of FOSS OS vs non-FOSS OS. Working with MacOS has always felt similar to working with other non-Linuxes -- it's different. When OSX first came along with Rhapsody, while it was a form of UNIX it was definitely painful - stuff rarely built out of box, and there was lots of breakage. It surprises me when people talk about how wonderful OSX used to be that they forget how absolutely painful it was for the first few years of its existence. There was a brief period between 2005 and 2013 when stuff worked reliably (the "golden age" you refer to) - and it wasn't a matter of OSX becoming more open. It was just popular, so OSX was a first class citizen in most configure scripts and the OS didn't really put up any barriers to using it like a Linux with respect to the Linux security/permissions model.

The added restrictions of recent times (e.g. SIP, the move to a non-GNU build toolchain, hard read-only restrictions on the OS region of the filesystem, etc) aren't so much a FOSS issue as them just adopting conventions that aren't present on the Linuxes. The breakage of packages and porting efforts feel very similar to when we used to have to worry about how a package would work on HP-UX, Irix, Solaris, and the various systems that were all similar but not quite identical. That was never a function of FOSS or not - it was just a function of not being all the same.

I find it very frustrating that people try to treat OSX as a Linux - it's not, and it never will be. If you want to support macOS, then support macOS - don't try to bash Linux-isms onto it since they will always feel like a hack since it isn't and never will be a Linux. If that's important to you, there's an easy solution - use Linux. I do that - I have my MacBook that I use as a Mac, and for the stuff that's simply too awkward to use natively there, I just ssh to my Linux workstation and carry on.

What if power users always disabled SIP & didn't use Brew at all, instead used a better package manager like nix (or srcpkg or macports). Still get the benefits of a *nix like environment with the GUI of MacOS

I don't have any particular hate for brew, but I do use macports as it is arguably closer to the "feel" and stability of something like yum.

I've disabled SIP since day one and stick to 10.14. I urge others to disable SIP if they're developers -- each crash report includes its status and as you need it turned off to be able to debug everything, it sends a signal to apple reminding them to not shut the gate on their walled garden.

What differentiates 10.14 to the later two and soon three OSes? 32 bit I know is a thing but that’s not relevant to this discussion.

> but I do use macports as it is arguably closer to the "feel" and stability of something like yum.

That is 'cos it was developed by the same developers, hired by Apple, who also created the ports system on FreeBSD.

Never tried MacPorts (longtime brew user) -- sounds like the grass is a little greener there. Any downsides to switching?

You'll have to use sudo more. :) The advantages are however umpteen:

MacPorts has excellent support for older macOS versions. It is built with C and TCL and is compact and blazing fast, compared to HomeBrew which is a bunch of Ruby scripts. MacPorts has the highest number of packages available for macOS, and all other Package Managers trail behind it (last I remember, it had like 5 times more packages than HB). HomeBrew packages sometimes have dependency on the installed OS packages. This is good for saving space. MacPorts however maintains and installs all dependencies separate from the OS. So there is no danger of corrupting OS installed packages or vice versa. Another advantage is you never know whether Apple has customised some packages for their own use, and if it will behave differently.

MacPorts doesn't do any kind of data collection. HomeBrew has Google Analytics integrated within it (it can, and has to, be turned off). MacPorts adheres to the unix philosophy better than HomeBrew, both in terms of security and where packages are stored in the OS.

Here's a good FAQ to peruse - https://trac.macports.org/wiki/FAQ

Honestly, they're both very good, and any discussion of this is going to be almost bordering on opinion and little else.

Here are a few potential downsides:

- The 'kool kids' tend to use brew -- so sometimes you end up with packages that are not in the ports ecosystem. That said, the total number of ports is, I believe, about 4x larger than brew's formulae. But take that number with a pinch of salt.

- Every time you upgrade the OS (e.g. 10.14 to 10.15) you need to effectively reinstall ports. This sounds hard, but it isn't -- it's also well documented [1]. It's because they link against various OS-specific foundations.

- Very rarely you run into apt-style "dependency hell". This has only happened to me once or twice in ~15 years of using it, and is easily fixed.

The upsides:

- All that being said, it's rock stable

- The documentation is excellent

- It doesn't come with google analytics by default (unlike brew -- which is opt-out, I should say)

- Macports retains the entire dependency tree of a package and offers both source and binary builds

A more detailed comparison could be found e.g. here: https://saagarjha.com/blog/2019/04/26/thoughts-on-macos-pack...

[1] https://trac.macports.org/wiki/Migration

As an ex Apple user I am amazed at extensibility and configuration options in KDE/Plasma.

With minimal effort I have professional environment with enough animation an GUI is responsive and blisteringly fast.

There is no denying that macOS is polished GUI-wise, but as UX for professional work is nothing special. I used Pathfinder for years (shorturl.at/lrxER) to suppress Finder lack of functions.

Another example: In Finder you cannot compress a file and add a password protection. In Dolphin this is integrated and you have a choice of file compression and type of password protection.

Apple is changing visual language of macOS to give impression of advancements and iOS like appearance. In reality the advancements are related to more deep integration to the ecosystem and further closing of the platform.

For people, who are asking what professional GUI must look like, I always give the interface of Soundtrack Pro as an example. This was the pinnacle of MacOS GUI and UX design, clean, with clear separation of controllers and professional color scheme with balanced contrast. Warning: Some skeumorphism ahead: shorturl.at/IJMP9

Seeing Oni (codebase archived), vim, and Visual Studio Code in a row tells me that this list needs an editorial direction.

Because a list of cross-platform, *nix or electron apps in any state of release doesn’t mean much.

This is pretty much par for the course with “awesome” lists on GitHub. They’re basically an unopinionated aggregation of what either they author found or contributed by PR.

Exactly why at a list I co-maintain I strongly suggested to exclude Electron apps and have a clear direction. This move draws objection to this day. For me, there’s value in a curated selection, not a collection of essentially everything there is. Sadly, the “awesome” part of the lists all too often loses its meaning, because everyone interprets it differently. Anything that’s opinionated cannot at the same time be public without washing out.

What about having electron apps in a separate category?

Does an app being cross-platform diminish its value to the user?

It depends who the audience is. If this is about getting mac users interested in open-source, the accessibility of *nix tools on the platform is not a bad inclusion.

Nice! I did a similar list for Windows once: https://orga.cat/windows-utilities

Although mine is more opinionated I think, based on what I use. (And has a section with freeware/paid software at the end)

What I miss the most on those lists is a search option... that is the only reason why I made my own opinionated incomplete one ;)


That’s a good list, a lot of it i already use but i found a few interesting new things too. I especially like your focus on the less bloated more efficient options.

There are no Firefox, Thudnerbird, Nextcloud client... on the list

This is a very odd omission indeed.


Your description of either projects says a lot more about you than about any of the events you are attempting to describe.

Regardless, both Firefox and Thunderbird are and remain open source.

Firefox, so famously lacking an engineering team it just recently shipped a major (controversial) UI overhaul.

Do you have a source for those unfamiliar with the situation?

This is an awesome list -- Handbrake is a great frontend for FFMPEG, and OBS is wonderful for compositing live video streams for lectures. However, I just wished they would start to indicate which apps had native support for M1 since that is going to be the future of Mac.

Even those without native support still work just fine.

This list seems to be an index with no indication of activity. Example is spectacle, while an amazing tool that I love,is no longer maintained and doesn't work on latest osx.

Spectangle can be replaced with Rectangle.app

you are my hero

As someone still on Catalina who makes heavy use of Spectacle, this comes as a sad surprise. Spectacle had a spectacular run over the years.

Use Rectangle or support the dev and get Hookshot.

oh Hookshot.app was made by the spectacle developer? Sold :)

Spectacle says no longer maintained, yes. I have a MBP and mini with Catalina and Big Sur. No problems with the app on either machine.

The first one I looked at (s3-uploader) was abandoned five years ago

Why is Firefox not on the Browsers list?

Coming from Windows, I have just 2 small wishes: ability to drag windows to the edges to quickly organize them side by side, and ability to disable the drag lock - you currently either have to click or wait for a second after dragging anything.

You could try out Rectangle [1]. Other alternatives would be magnet (paid) or veeer (free).

[1]: https://github.com/rxhanson/Rectangle

One of the first things I do when setting up a new Mac is to enable “three finger drag”. I’m pretty sure it also removes the drag lock. You’ll have to get used to the new way of dragging things though.

Indeed, drag lock does not apply to the three finger gesture. The option has moved to accessibility settings from trackpad in recent OSX releases, though, so for a while I could not find it anywhere.

In Mac, you can tile two windows on the screen to organise them side by side. See the Window menu. I can’t comment on the second wish.

For the first I started out with magnet, but ended up with moom. Hovering over the green button in the title bar then shows fine-grained controls to dock the window to a half of the screen, or do basic tiling.

Magnet can do the edge-drag thing: https://magnet.crowdcafe.com

It's actually faster just to use the keyboard shortcuts though.

Some of the applications are way too old. Consult this list with a pinch of salt.

Good? Old doesn't mean bad, and usually means stable (but albeit without bugfixes too). Not sure what "way too old" means though, you mean broken? If they are not broken, I'm not sure why'd you take them with a pinch of salt.

menu bar application built with Electron

No, thank you!

Actually, half of the stuff on that list is cross-platform. Which is good. Recently I've started pulling myself out of apple ecosystem (nixos on desktop, calyxos on my phone) and found out thah the process was easy, thanks to portable software. I was even able to quickly reuse my nix config I used on mac.

The only two things which bother me are bad situation with keyboard shortcuts and some hidpi issues on Wayland.

Emacs is not listed? Am I missing it?

Related, Apple’s open source:


No Blender? No Ardour? poor list

When is macOS going open source?

It partially is already, but not really enough to be useful. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin_(operating_system))

Yeah agreed. Wonder if this next decade will see either Windows or MacOS go fully open source.

Based on the current track record, I'd bet on Windows, but it might not be technically possible to open source everything due to third-party parts. Fun fact: Windows source is already available to governments under the Government Security Program.

I can see Windows maybe just going to a linux base. But the important part for them to open source would be details for .exe executables. This is something I see them not open-sourcing. You'll be able to run .exes on linux, but only if your on the 'Windows' distro. That is at least my take.

The details of Windows executables are all well documented and open - it's very easy to parse a windows executable and run it. The part that's missing to run it without Windows is the implementation of system calls and system libraries. Without those the executable will run into dependencies that you are missing. This is the whole reason for things like WINE - the executables are easy, but the runtime environment that Microsoft hasn't opened up is hard.

Most probably not. I don't see the reasoning behind this, why would either of them do that?

Never? Why would it?

What are we going to do, run it on knockoff M1 processors?

M1 processors are AArch64 so there is a chance one could build a modern hackintosh on top of a non-M1 AArch64 processor.

AArch64 with a lot of Apple specific ad ons, doubt it will ever be hakintoshed.

Fair point, I can see why Apple wouldn't want that! That said, do you want macOS to go open source?

I am not the person you answered to on the previous comment just added a comment on the M1 having a common Instruction Set Architecture. (AArch64)

I don't care if macOS goes open source since I have none of Apple's hardware and I am quite happy with my NixOS setup.

Mac hardware is good, so it going open source would make it possible for you to use it with linux without reverse engineering efforts

Ah, but the only necessary bits are the hardware firmware not macOS itself.

Very soon (in your dreams).

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