The Troubled Programmer

This unintrusive packet manager, with a Git foundation, evolved to de facto standard, and is the easiest way to install UNIX tools on OS X.

THE FIRST MEETING of The Homebrew Computer Club was held in March 1975 in Gordon French’s garage in Menlo Park, San Mateo County, California. The objective of the Club was to maintain a regular, open forum for people to get together to work on making computers more accessible to everyone.


The Homebrew Computer Club was an early computer hobbyist users’ group in Silicon Valley, which met (under that name) from March 5, 1975 to December 1986. Several very high-profile hackers and IT entrepreneurs emerged from its ranks, including the founders of Apple Inc.

Homebrew is a package manager created by Max Howell to make UNIX tools more accessible to every OS X user. It’s one of these intuitive applications that just work.

Basically Homebrew is a Git repository, cloned to /usr/local to avoid sudo during installation; it’s self contained, doesn’t alter the system, and may be removed at any time.

Homebrew installs packages to /usr/local/Cellar and symlinks some of the installation into /usr/local. The packages are installed according to their formulas, which are plain Ruby classes, located in /usr/local/Library/Formula.

Driven by the community, with some 4.000 forks on GitHub, the formulas seem self healing. The ease to contribute to Homebrew almost forces its users to contribute, resulting in frequently updated formulas.

To provide a simple usage example, say, after we installed Homebrew, we fancy to try Erlang; we’d search Homebrew to check if there’s a formula to install it:

$ brew search erlang

And certainly there is—so we’d install Erlang:

$ brew install erlang

Done. Ready to run the Erlang shell:

$ erl

By now I consider Homebrew part of OS X and rely on it, in fact, I tend to abandon software installation entirely, when prompted for sudo. Homebrew isn’t the missing packet manager, it’s the packet manager for OS X. And yes; it runs this beery naming scheme including cellar, kegs, and formulas—Cheers!