One of the simplest facets of using a Mac, by far, is the process for installing apps. By dragging an app to a folder, most applications will be ready to use–the exception is packages, which still require the standard installation process.

Unfortunately, following these pretty basic steps doesn’t ensure that patches or dependencies are installed. This flies in the face of one of Apple’s philosophies, “It just works,” and it can lead to lost productivity. The solution is Homebrew.

SEE: Free ebook–Executive’s guide to Apple in the enterprise (TechRepublic)

What is Homebrew?

Homebrew is a package manager for macOS that provides simplified management of software for Apple computers, similar to those found in Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu.

With its deep integration with the Terminal and large software repositories, such as GitHub, Homebrew allows users to install, configure, and uninstall software packages from the command line. The package manager runs double duty–it installs the selected apps and performs checks to verify that any dependencies that may exist are installed correctly in order for the software to work properly.

Why you may or may not need Homebrew

Homebrew’s package management capabilities extend to acquiring the source code for the requested applications and compiling them on-the-fly without the user having to do this manually prior to installation. This opens up a world of software solutions to everyday users that can reap the benefits of using specialized open-source software in production without possessing the development skill set to build the package.

Homebrew is not for everyone. While it might be argued that open-source software could benefit almost anyone, software is only as good as the utility it provides to the user. An app might promise to fully automate video workflows from 4K cameras; however, if you work in finance or healthcare, that particular app may not be useful to you.

How to install Homebrew

Installing Homebrew is likely the easiest installation I’ve ever performed on any system, let alone a Mac. It requires only an account with admin-level privileges, which you’ll use to enter one command into the Terminal to download, install, and configure the package manager so your Mac will be ready to install third-party apps through the package manager or script them remotely.

To install Homebrew, enter this command into Terminal:

/usr/bin/ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

With Homebrew installed, here are repositories to check for application source code that will get you started on the open source roadmap. You’ll be managing packages on macOS in no time.