|Fink project leaders:
Max Horn (http://sourceforge.net/users/fingolfin/)
David R. Morrison (http://sourceforge.net/users/dmrrsn/)
Apple's new operating system, Mac OS X, has many advantages.
Besides having a beautiful UI, its foundation is built on top of a UNIX variant called Darwin.
With its UNIX underpinnings, many users want to run the large library of Open Source applications that are available on Linux and other UNIX Platforms.
A project called Fink provides an easy yet powerful way to install and keep up-to-date 100's of UNIX applications that have been ported to OS X (using Debian's apt-get as a starting point).
Fink is written in Perl and licensed under the GPL (General Public License).
The project was started in late 2000 by Christoph Pfisterer. After playing around a bit with all the needed ingredients, Christoph Pfisterer ended up with a bunch of Perl scripts that were able to automatically patch, build and install GNU software on Mac OS X public Beta.
He thought it could be helpful to other people, therefore he made up a the name: Fink, then he registered it. After that he put up his 0.1 release tarball on December 28, 2000.
Fink is named after the "Darwin Finken" or "Darwin finchs", a bird and a play on the OS X UNIX under layer "darwin". Any Mac OS X user who wants to install UNIX software in an easy and managed fashion. This includes developers who need certain libraries and tools (e.g. libxml2 or subversion), and also end users (e.g. to run Gnome, KDE or The Gimp).
Based on the number of downloads an estimate of 10000 users of Fink binary distribution and around 15000 people using the source distribution. If you'd add the people using Fink from CVS the estimate rises to 30000 users. There are a lot of things showing that Fink is a success.
The authors recieved dozens of mails on their various mailing lists every day.
Apple has at one point supported them by giving Christoph a beta release of Mac OS X 10.1. Various major projects (OpenOffice, Mozilla/Chimera etc.) are reffering to Fink in their build instructions. SourceForge is using Fink on the compile farm. There are even books covering Fink available now.
The reason why Fink is a project that is so well recieved is that it offers something to the two major kinds of Mac OS X users: people coming from the Mac, and people coming from UNIX. UNIX users are happy to have an easy way to install their known tools and environment, using a foundation (debian tools) they often know. On the other hand, Mac users are usually not intimate with the console, so for them Fink is a good way to still install the UNIX stuff they want without having to mess with configure scripts or patches. They have found that there are quite a lot of people that do their first steps on the CLI level (Command Lined Interface) via Fink. And if they do decide that they don't want to keep this "UNIX stuff", they can get rid of Fink easily, too.
They provide many tools that people need, and they've grown a community which offers great support to users (on mailing lists and IRC). The documentation is also good, particularly for an Open Source project.
The next goal they are pursuing is to release a binary distribution for Mac OS X 10.2. Also work is in progress on Gnome2 and KDE 3.1. There are still many worthy things to do (besides packaging more and more stuff). The docs always need to be extended to keep track with Fink's development. They are investigating a user-level-mode (currently, Fink needs root rights. this is a problem for security sensitive users, and also for users that want Fink but are not admin of the machine they work on).
- Lt. Borgdrone
This article was originally written by Borgdrone