Five open source Mac applications you should be using

We focus quite a lot on Linux stuff here at FOSSwire, which is fine, because it is a very important open source system, but it's easy to forget that there are other platforms out there, and even if the platform itself isn't open source, there are plenty of applications you can be using which are.

In this post, I'm going to run through five top open source applications for Mac OS X.

#1 - Growl

Growl logo

Growl is an amazing piece of software. At heart, it is an open source notification system for OS X. All sorts of different applications can plug in to the functionality it provides, and display popup notifications on your desktop. It is fully customisable, with different themes for the notifications. Support for Growl is extensive across many Mac apps - open and proprietary, with plugins available for many Apple shipping applications that don't have support too.

At the time of writing, their site is down/unreliable, so snagging the download link directly can be a pain. However, Growl is included with Adium (the next application I'm going to look at), so keep reading to get yourself a copy.

#2 - Adium

Adium logo

Adium is a multi-network instant messaging client which is fully extensible and customisable with plugins. It is notable for its use of libpurple, the same underlying IM code that powers Windows and Linux program Pidgin.

It supports more IM networks than you can shake a stick at and there is a lively community of people who work on plugins called Xtras. Xtras allow you to completely customise the look, feel and behaviour of your chat client. If iChat isn't giving you enough - or you're stuck using a second rate official client for an obscure network, Adium is a great choice.

Download Adium (includes Growl)

#3 - MacPorts

MacPorts logo

If you're a hardcore Unix junkie, using OS X can be frustrating as there isn't an easy way to pull down software packages automatically like there is in almost all Linux distributions and plenty of other Unixes too. It's perfectly possible to download and compile everything yourself, but this can be tiresome, especially if what you're installing has a lot of dependencies.

Enter MacPorts. MacPorts provides you with a command line package manager which you can use in a similar way to apt or yum, for example. It ships with built-in repositories for pretty much everything most people will need, but you can add third-party repositories if necessary. If you're a Unix person at heart, MacPorts can make the Mac experience that much easier.

Also check out Porticus, which is a GUI for the MacPorts command line tool.

#4 - Smultron

Smultron logo

OK, so this one is sort of a programmer's thing, but it is such a good app in my opinion I'm going to include it. Smultron is a programmer's text editor, with full syntax highlighting and other features such as split window view, tabs, command line scripting, AppleScript, find as you type and more.

It is a formidable competitor to some of the commercial and proprietary programmer's text editors on the Mac, and for many uses it can be a vital tool in your arsenal. The latest version is Leopard only (so that it can take advantage of the latest features), but older versions can also be downloaded for Tiger.

Because it is Mac-specific, it integrates well and provides a good Mac-like experience, rather than sacrificing that for platform independence.


#5 - Camino

Camino logo

Firefox on the Mac is a little, well... rubbish. It integrates poorly, is slow and bloated and generally doesn't really feel like it fits in. Equally, Safari doesn't give you the compatibility and power that the open source Gecko rendering engine provides either.

Camino is a browser built on top of Mozilla's Gecko, but with a completely native shell built in Apple's Cocoa. The result is a browser that is fast, looks good, and behaves like a proper Macintosh application should, while still giving you the advantages of having Firefox's rendering code running underneath.

The only caveat (other than a curious lack of auto-updating facility) is you don't get Firefox's extensions, which can be one of the reasons for using Firefox over Safari in the first place. If you're not bothered about that, though, give Camino a try.


Wrap up

There are plenty more open source gems out there for the Mac, so if you think there's something worthy of mentioning, feel free to leave a note in the comments!

Avatar for peter Peter Upfold -

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: Five open source Mac applications you should be using

  1. # Posted on 19 February 2008 at 01:20 PM

    [...] Open Mac apps Filed under: OSX — 0ddn1x @ 2008-02-19 20:20:35 +0000 [...]

  2. # Posted on 20 February 2008 at 01:00 AM

    <strong>Story added...</strong>

    This story has been submitted to! If you think this story should be read by the free software community, come vote it up and discuss it here:

  3. Thinakar Pushparaj (guest)

    # Posted on 23 June 2008 at 09:23 PM

    Dear Sir/Madam

    I am a year 12 student at Tawa College and I was wondering if I could have permission to use your Camino image for an powerpoint presentation assessment I am making

    Please reply soon to [[ EDIT: email supplied ]] Yours faithfully

    Thinakar Pushparaj

  4. Peter (guest)

    # Posted on 24 June 2008 at 04:28 PM


    I have emailed you about this. To summarise for the benefit of others - the Camino logo is not owned by FOSSwire, it is owned by the Mozilla Corporation.

    Their policy on the use of the logo, and other Mozilla trademarks, is available from <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>.

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