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    If you’re upgrading to Big Sur and need to install third-party software, I’ve now added a new repository of 20,000 binary packages for Big Sur here, in addition to our existing sets for older releases:


    If you’re already served well by Homebrew or MacPorts then feel free to ignore ;-)

    Big Sur required some quite invasive changes due to removing shared library files, so you can’t use the Mojave repository like you could with Catalina, but thankfully it hasn’t impacted the number of available packages compared to previous releases.

    Overall Big Sur looks pretty good to me. It’s certainly significantly more stable and quite a bit faster than Catalina in my experience, as well as fixing some major issues in the NFS server. Running pkgsrc bulk builds is a great way to expose bugs in macOS, and even with the latest updates Catalina would regularly crash.

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      Neat, maybe I should try pkgsrc again. Last time I did a few years back it was missing several packages I needed, so I ended up with nix.

      Does anyone have a rough idea of the relative sizes of the package sets? nixpkgs claims 60000 packages over all, but it’s unclear how many of those are available on macos. And neither Homebrew nor MacPorts seem to advertise a number.

      Incidentally, nixpkgs support for Big Sur seems not too far off: https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/pull/98541

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        Let me know if there’s stuff missing that you need and we can take a look. I’m sure we’re missing stuff, but we rely on users to tell us what.

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        Did this mean that compiling all of those packages with the just released Big Sur resulted in a complete success?

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          I’ve been building on the betas for a while now. Bulk builds are never a complete success, as pkgsrc contains many packages that don’t build on all 20+ platforms, but the results are comparable to those running on Mojave.

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        Are rounder dock items really one of the most exciting features of a new major Mac OS version update?

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          When addressing someone, we’re advised, “know your audience”. When reading something addressed to millions of people, know when you’re an outlier among the audience. Yeah, most users are going to think the look and feel is the most significant change.

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            I do sometimes look at a conversation about operating systems and wonder if I should join in, but very often the discussion is about the difference in appearance in screenshots. And this is amongst software developers.

            It’s a bit disappointing when I want to geek out about filesystems, context switches, scheduling, user vs kernel mode drivers - and learn something. That’s one reason I check the news on lobste.rs more than anywhere else.

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              I see what you mean. Do you feel like an end user facing marketing article like this one is an off-topic link?

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                Here, yes, but I don’t mind too much. I can just ignore it. So long as there are also more technical articles posted I’m happy!

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            For the regular user it will be the first change they will see. Also the overall design of the whole system changed, so this may be pretty important for the users. On the developer side there are other changes, like for example removal of files for dynamically loaded libraries. Now these will be loaded from system cache.

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              This tweet should win a prize for “best at saying what we’re all thinking”.

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                And it’s not even a good design. I’ve been using it since early dev previews. Even after getting used to it, I still don’t like it. It has uneven spacing, inconsistent border radii. It feels like if it was a 3rd party amateur iPad-themed skin for macOS (reminds me when I used to skin WinXP to look like a Mac).

                It has real usability failures — gray items in the semitransparent alerts can be totally invisible depending on what background you have. Sheets were replaced with alerts centered in the window (far away from the toolbar), and with centered text. It makes alerts’ long text descriptions look like a mess, so applications will stop explaining the details. The control center 1:1 copy from iOS feels bizarre when operated with a mouse. Toolbars are low contrast and lots of buttons are borderless or with very very faint borders.

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                The update just failed for me. Apparently there is some server outage going on at Apple. It was affecting “trustd” and launching third-party apps, I don’t know how it affects the update process but it just failed to complete the download. Be aware.