Packaged for easy digestion
This tutorial provides a deep dive of Homebrew, a package manager for Mac OSX (MacOS) like Chocolatey for Windows, apt-get for dpkg, or yum for RPM.
Step-by-step instructions are provided here to install Homebrew itself and then install Homebrew packages based on the name of formulae specified for installation in a command such as:
brew install wget
DEFINITION: A formula provides instructions on how to install packages and their dependencies, such as where to find tar.gzip files for download.
Brew installs packages in its own Cellar directory (folder) and adds symlinks to the /usr/local folder.
Homebrew is the newest and most popular package utility on OSX.
Its web page is at http://brew.sh
Alternatives to Homebrew:
sudo port install tree
Make a full backup of your system before following these instructions.
If XCode is not already installed, you are prompted to install it.
Homebrew requires OS X 10.5+ and the Xcode command line tools.
Since the El Capitan version of Mac OSX, file permissions in /usr/local have changed, causing error messages such as:
The linking step did not complete successfully The formula built, but is not symlinked into /usr/local
So in a Terminal shell window at any folder:
sudo chown -R :staff /usr/local
Install Homebrew if you haven’t already.
ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)"
CAUTION: Don’t press Enter on the Terminal until the Download Software dialog reaches 100%.
Press the Enter key to the message:
Press RETURN to continue or any other key to abort. then
To proceed, enter the root password, or type Ctrl+C to abort.
NOTE: The download is from
HISTORICAL NOTE: Previously, the Homebrew installer was at
Identify where the Homebrew program itself is located:
The “brew” above is a shell script file.
Update Homebrew itself
Get Homebrew version:
The response (at time of writing) indicates Homebrew is not “v1.0” yet:
Homebrew 0.9.9 (git revision e9cc; last commit 2016-06-12) Homebrew/homebrew-core (git revision 3977; last commit 2016-06-12)
NOTE: Homebrew is open-sourced at
To update Homebrew itself and its formulas:
Yes, run it twice to make sure all dependencies took.
Each run can take several minutes.
### Search for a formula to install #
Use an internet browser (such as Google Chrome) to view formula defined in
Install the wget command-line utility by formula name (for example, wget):
brew install wget
This installs to folder /usr/local/bin/wget.
See Tips & Tricks on how to use proxy, remove the beer mug emoji, highlighting within editors, etc.
Get a count of kegs, how many files, and the disk space they take:
brew info –all
A sample response:
15 kegs, 18,528 files, 540.6M
Where did it go?
List where .tar.gz “bottle” files are downloaded into from the internet:
DEFINITION: A “Bottle” is a pre-built binary Keg used for installation instead of building from source. It can be unpacked.
The response includes your user name, which enables Homebrew to work without using sudo (elevation to root).
The equivalent of the above is:
List bottles downloaded:
Examples of responses:
autoconf-2.69.el_capitan.bottle.4.tar.gz maven-3.3.9.tar.gz awscli-1.10.44.el_capitan.bottle.tar.gz node-6.2.2.tar.xz docker-1.11.2.el_capitan.bottle.tar.gz openssl-1.0.2h_1.el_capitan.bottle.tar.gz gimp-2.8.16-x86_64.dmg pkg-config-0.29.1.el_capitan.bottle.tar.gz libgpg-error-1.23.el_capitan.bottle.tar.gz readline-6.3.8.el_capitan.bottle.tar.gz libksba-1.3.4.el_capitan.bottle.tar.gz
List brew formulas installed:
The alternative commands above all do the same thing of the same folder, for example:
autoconf awscli libgpg-error libtool maven node pkg-config xz automake docker libksba libyaml mysql openssl readline
There is no response if no brew package has been installed.
See one level below one of the above folders for a specific formula, such as openssl:
It is usually a version number, such as:
DEFINITION: A “Keg” is the installation prefix of a formula, such as:
List brew package .rb (Ruby language) files installed:
The response is a long list.
List brew package folders:
The response is a long list.
Different ways to install weget.
The above is one of several ways to install the wget command-line utility.
One way is to install Apple’s Xcode.
brew install –build-from-source wget
Test wget operating:
Verify brew installation:
If you see this message at the top of messages returned:
Warning: Unbrewed header files were found in /usr/local/include. If you didn't put them there on purpose they could cause problems when building Homebrew formulae, and may need to be deleted.
The above may occur if curl and nodejs were installed without using homebrew.
Remove them before installing node and curl using Homebrew:
rm -rf /usr/local/include/node/
Create symlinks to installations performed manually in Cellar. This allows you to have the flexibility to install things on your own but still have those participate as dependencies in homebrew formulas.
First, see what exactly will be overwritten, without actually doing it:
brew link –overwrite –dry-run openssl
The response is:
Warning: openssl is keg-only and must be linked with --force Note that doing so can interfere with building software.
“Keg-only” refers to a formula installed only into the Cellar and not linked into /usr/local, which means most tools will not find it. This is to avoid conflicting with the system version of the same package.
Alternately, if aswcli is specified for dry-run, the response is:
Warning: Already linked: /usr/local/Cellar/awscli/1.10.44 To relink: brew unlink awscli && brew link awscli
NOTE: Homebrew installs to the Cellar it then symlinks some of the installation into /usr/local so that other programs can see what’s going on.
A symlink to the active version of a Keg is called an “opt prefix”.
If you see this message:
Warning: Broken symlinks were found. Remove them with `brew prune`:
A sample response:
Pruned 1598 symbolic links and 185 directories from /usr/local
List formula (package definitions):
brew edit $FORMULA
The above command brings you to your default text editor (vim or whatever is specified in the $EDITOR variable).
Type :q to quit out.
Upgrade brew formulas
List brew packages that are obsolete:
To stop a specific package from being updated/upgraded, pin it:
brew pin $FORMULA
$FORMULA is ???
To allow that formulae to update again, unpin it.
Download and update ALL software packages installed:
To see which files would be removed as no longer needed:
brew cleanup -n
No response if there is nothing to clearn.
To really remove all files no longer needed:
A sample response:
Removing: /Users/mac/Library/Caches/Homebrew/mariadb-10.1.14.el_capitan.bottle.tar.gz... (36.6M) ==> This operation has freed approximately 36.6M of disk space.
List brew tap packages already installed:
Brew Cask Install
Homebrew cask extends homebrew and brings its elegance, simplicity, and speed to MacOS (OS X) GUI applications and large binaries.
With Cask, you can skip the long URLs, the “To install, drag this icon…”, and manually deleting installer files.
Install brew cask:
brew tap caskroom/cask brew install brew-cask
Applications are kept in their Caskroom under /opt and symblinked to $HOME/Applications.
https://caskroom.github.io, the home page, said there are 3,197 casks as of June 5, 2016.
QUESTION: Is there a graph of growth in cask counts over time?
Install the cask extension to Homebrew:
brew tap caskroom/cask
ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/master/install)" < /dev/null 2> /dev/null ; brew install caskroom/cask/brew-cask 2> /dev/null
Search for a cask by name, in website is where casks are obtained:
Alternately, run a search command. This example searches for “yo”:
brew cask search yo
PROTIP: One should see the cask definition before using it. I would be suspicious of casks with sparse information.
The safe way to get the homepage URL of the programmer is from here (don’t Google it and end up at a rogue site).
Look at some cask definitions:
https://github.com/caskroom/homebrew-cask/blob/master/Casks/google-chrome.rb is a sample cask definition:
Install the cask:
brew cask install google-chrome
Cask downloads then moves the app to the ~/Applications folder, so it can be opened this way:
Open the installed cask from Terminal:
open /Applications/"Google Chrome.app"
Installing with cask enables you to cleanup:
brew cask cleanup
Download Fink commander Fink Installer.pkg from
This explains: Fink stores data in the directory “/sw” by default. This goes against the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard’s recommendation to use “/usr/local”. Within Fink’s directory, a FHS-like layout (/sw/bin, /sw/include, /sw/lib, etc.) is used.
For more documentation on brew, look here and:
Social media from brew’s readme:
- @MacHomebrew on Twitter
- IRC freenode.net#machomebrew
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Read archive of emails at https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/homebrew-discuss
More on OSX
This is one of a series on Mac OSX:
- MacOS Hardware and accessories
- MacOS Terminal Tips and Tricks
- MacOS Keyboard tricks
- Text editors and IDEs on MacOS
- MacOS Setup automation with Ansible
- MacOS Configuration dotFiles
- MacOS Homebrew installers
- Applications on MacOS
- Backups on MacOS
- Utilities for MacOS
- Windows on Apple MacOS
- PHP on MacOS
- Java on MacOS
- Maven on MacOS
- Ruby on MacOS
- Python on MacOS
- Node on MacOS installation