Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dropbox Pulls a TurboTax

So Dropbox ended support for PowerPC. That happened. Going forward, their client will require Snow Leopard, and not only that, but the old clients will stop functioning so you'll only be able to access your data through their web interface. The official cutoff date is May 18, but to try mitigate this and at least get Dropbox to allow PowerPC users to continue using their old clients, Martin Kuka─Ź from viva PowerPC has posted an open letter urging just that. You can read the whole thing here:

http://vivapowerpc.blogspot.cz/2015/01/an-open-letter-to-dropbox-team.html

Also, to add your voice and show Dropbox there's still a demand from PowerPC users, you can go to their forums and post to this somewhat long thread, or even start your own.

As for Dropbox alternatives, I hear second-hand that SugarSync still works with their old Tiger client (direct download). Also, you can try Unison, which I wrote about awhile back. If you're syncing several PCs/devices with Dropbox and only one PowerPC Mac, perhaps you can sync your Dropbox folder with Unison. It's not totally seamless, but it may be workable. If you want to share files with a group of collaborators, you can look into Box.com. They support WebDAV as does Cyberduck, so uploading or downloading the latest file versions with Cyberduck as your client is simple and quick. And if you're accustomed to using Dropbox to transfer individual files to and from your iOS devices, DropCopy can do that for you, too (Tiger and Leopard users, download the Older Version).

As for me, I don't sync on the cloud. I use Unison to sync over my home network. I have to take my Luddite nomenclature seriously.

UPDATE: The editors at LowEndMac have put up a petition at Change.org: Continue to support Dropbox on Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Getting Started With pkgsrc

(UPDATE: The server at sevan.mit.edu is temporarily down. You can use this new one in the meantime.)

Package managers are fun. Package managers are an easy way to get updated software onto your system and keep them up to date, and also an essential tool in maintaining a legacy system like OS X on PowerPC. The best known package managers on OS X are MacPorts and Homebrew (Tigerbrew on PowerPC), but there's another one from BSD land called pkgsrc. Sevan from GeekLAN has made a repository of pkgsrc binaries available for PowerPC users, so here's a quick rundown on how to start using pkgsrc.

Open Terminal.app and enter the following to download and install the pkgsrc tools (all one line):

curl -s http://sevan.mit.edu/packages/bootstrap.tar.gz | sudo tar -zxpf - -C /

Then add the following two lines to your ~/.bash_profile (you can create the file if it doesn't exist):

export PATH=/usr/pkg/sbin:/usr/pkg/bin:$PATH

export PKG_PATH=http://sevan.mit.edu/packages/All/

(don't leave out the trailing / on that last url) Tiger users can then use "sudo nano" to open /usr/share/misc/man.conf and add this line (Leopard instructions are slightly different, please reference the above GeekLAN post for details):

MANPATH=/usr/pkg/man

Finally, close the Terminal window and open a new one so that your new paths are in effect. Now you can begin installing software. Let's say you want GnuPG for use with Enigmail or to encrypt files and folders with gpg encryption, for instance. Simply enter the command:

sudo pkg_add gnupg

You can also try the "-i" option if you're feeling social. After 20 seconds or so the install should be complete and you'll find your gpg tools in /usr/pkg/bin, all ready to go.

So what are the advantages of pkgsrc? You'll notice no compiling was necessary, in contrast to MacPorts which compiles everything, including dependencies already native to OS X. There's a good reason MacPorts does that, but still, it takes forever. Homebrew alleviates this somewhat by relying on native OS X frameworks instead of installing its separate set of dependencies, but Homebrew embeds itself in your /usr/local, which makes it hard to get out of the way if you're juggling more than one package manager. Pkgsrc creates its own directory, /usr/pkg, which can easily be moved with the mv command when you need it out of your path.

The binaries Sevan has built are easily browsable at sevan.mit.edu/packages/, so go check it out.

Package managers are fun. You can use them to install simple console programs, or you can install groups of dependencies that can allow you to compile software, like this person who compiled RawTherapee to run on Leopard.

More on pkgsrc here, including how to build packages from source.