I've been meaning, for a while, to install a nice X11 window manager on my iBook. A part of what makes OS X so cool is that it's based on UNIX, so it's nice & easy to run unix software (in my case, analyzing fMRI data) on a server, and have the interface appear nicely on your Mac. OS X comes with a basic unix window-manager built-in, that shows unix stuff right alongside all the regular mac stuff (like Office, Safari, etc.); sometimes, though, if you're doing intensive unix-based work, it's nice to have a full-on UNIX desktop.
I thought this would be pretty straightforward: install Fink, and then use that to install Gnome, and voila.
Not so, really.
It turns out there's a pretty decent lag in development, such that there aren't yet binaries ("executables; what you usually think of in terms of software that you install) for Gnome, for OS X 10.4 (Tiger). Actually, there are, but only for some components (packages) of Gnome, and when I did what I thought was a basic install, nothing actually worked. I wasn't able to find any documentation to tell me what all I need, and there aren't binaries for the "bundle-gnome" package that's supposed to give you everything you need, nicely wrapped-up. And the source code is listed as "unstable".
Okay, no problem, I'll install from source & compile it myself, instability be damned.
Oops, that means I have to go install the XCode Development Tools.
Alright, all set. Go!
That was about 6 hours ago. It's still humming away, working on compiling things. The extra-fantastic thing is that there's nothing like an overall progress-bar to tell you how far along in the process you are. Who knows how long this will take? And who knows if it will actually work, in the end, since it's "unstable" source?
Open source is . . . great.
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Addendum, the following morning:
It didn't work. It finished compiling, but crashes without really getting anywhere if I try to run it, and leaves behind an unruly mess of processes.
So, I thought maybe I'd try to figure out how to just install the "enlightenment" window manager, without gnome. I looked on the Apple support page, to see if anyone had posted to a discussion board about doing this.