Software installation notes for the Mac

  • Wed 12 February 2014
  • misc

As part of setting up a new-to-me Mac with a fresh OS copy on it, I took notes on what I installed and changed, both to share and to make it less painful in a few weeks when I do the work laptop.

It's important to remember this is a personal laptop, but I'm just as likely to write software or do packet analysis in my personal capacity as in my day job. If you're not a networking geek, you may not have a use for things like iperf and ldns.

Software installed on the Mac:

Homebrew (after playing a bit like it more than Macports)

  • installs cli compiler tools itself, no need for xcode
  • you can edit the bootstrap ruby file to put stuff somewhere other than /usr/local; i prefer /opt/brew
  • can handle having multiple versions of the same software or library

Packages I installed with homebrew:

  • iperf
  • mtr
  • wget
  • ldns
  • netcat
  • youtube-dl
  • bind
  • nmap
  • tcptrace
  • nuttcp
  • tcptraceroute

Not in the main keg; download and edit to suit - hpn-ssh ( )

Periodically I have a need for serial stuff, as in serial console, ham radio programming cables, etc. The de-facto standard for USB serial controller chips is the Prolific PL2303 (although the FTDI FT232 is arguably a superior chip), and it's the chip found in the blue translucent serial dongles one finds on Amazon and the like. It's so popular, in fact, that it's a popular chip to counterfeit in certain far eastern countries that are known for that activity. This has resulted in a bit of an arms race, with Prolific modifying their driver to be a pain and refuse to talk to counterfeit chips. This means it probably will balk at talking to the nice cheap radio programming cable you got at rock bottom price on eBay. What's a tight-fisted hacker to do? Actually, this is a case of FOSS to the rescue. Unlike the Prolific driver, the Linux driver doesn't care whether a PL2303 is apparently fake; if it passes the duck test, game on. So it is with the Mac driver that one gets from Sourceforge. You want this one rather than the one from Prolific.

Mac Apps and Plugins:

  • AdBlock (Safari Plugin) - Does what its name implies. ( )
  • Microsoft Office. No stomach for fiddling with OpenOffice though it's nowhere near as horrible as it used to be or so I have heard. ( )
  • Disk Inventory X - Where did all my disk space go? Disk Inventory X knows - and treemaps are your friend! ( )
  • TextWrangler - the bbedit folks' offering for the parsimonious ( )
  • ZTerm - Beats using screen for talking to your usb serial frob. ( )
  • NetNewsWire - Now payware, still the best RSS reader for the Mac. ( )
  • Chrome - Helps to have another browser besides Safari (my main browser) ( )
  • Flash - YouTube still wants to use this, so if you were planning to watch cat videos... ( )
  • flip4mac - add-on codecs for the Mac - mostly Microsoft ones. ( )
  • Perian - add-on codecs for the Mac, no longer maintained, they recommend you use VLC.
  • VLC - good 'ol Videolan ( )
  • wireshark (don't install via homebrew, download the binary from )
  • apple doesn't provide Xwindows anymore, so use
  • ipython notebook - uses are up to the reader.
  • Haven't gotten around to installing iLife yet. Looking for a better replacement to iPhoto. Maybe Lightroom? Hmm.

Settings tweaks:

  • default message thread scrolling is utterly retarded. Uncheck "Settings -> Viewing -> Show most recent message at top"
  • Turn off autocorrect (yes, Macs have it and it will drive you nuts as a value-subtract if you don't know about it). Uncheck "System Preferences -> Keyboard -> Text -> Correct spelling automatically"
  • Dock icons smaller, mouse/trackpad faster. 24 hour clock with seconds.

Safari preference:

  • Preferences -> Advanced -> Show Develop menu in menu bar
  • Preferences -> Tabs -> Open tabs in new windows [Never]
  • Preferences -> Tabs -> Cmd-click opens in new tab [uncheck]
  • Preferences -> Tabs -> When a new tab or window opens make it active [check]

Then run the following from the command line: Link the airport utility so you can do scans etc from the command line:

sudo ln -s /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/airport /usr/bin/airport

Require that you press a key on the keyboard in order to wake (merely opening lid isn't enough):

pmset lidwake 0