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Install Homebrew

Step by step instructions explaining how to install Homebrew on a Mac, either Mac Intel or Mac M1. Developers use Homebrew to install various software packages on a Mac. You'll need Xcode Command Line Tools as a prerequisite, but if you don't have it, Homebrew will install it.

Tip: If you did not use a password to log in to your Mac (that is, if your password is blank), you cannot install Homebrew.
Steps

Here are steps to install Homebrew (details in this complete guide).


  1. ... Prepare your Mac.
    Install Homebrew.
    Update the shell configuration (Mac M1 only).
    Install packages.



These instructions are for a terminal running Zsh, the Z shell, on a newer Mac. Older Macs may be running the bash shell and you should upgrade.
Check for Homebrew

Check if Homebrew is installed:



$ brew


If Homebrew is not installed, you will see:



zsh: command not found: brew


If Homebrew is not installed, there should be no Homebrew files in /usr/local (for macOS Intel) or /opt/homebrew (for Apple Silicon).


Brew install

Homebrew provides an installation script you can download and run with a single command (check that it hasn't changed at the https://brew.sh/). This is the easiest way to install Homebrew.



$ /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/Homebrew/install/HEAD/install.sh)"


The Homebrew installation script will ask you to enter your Mac user password. This is the password you used to sign into your Mac.
  


Password:


You won't see the characters as you type. Press enter when you are done.



You'll see a list of files and folders that Homebrew will install.


Option to install XCode Command Line Tools

If you haven't already installed XCode Command Line Tools, you'll see a message that "The XCode Command Line Tools will be installed." Press return to continue when prompted by the Homebrew installation script. It takes one to two minutes to download and install the Command Line Tools.



You’ll see diagnostic and progress messages. Homebrew installation takes 1.5 minutes on a 2021 Mac M1 Mini, with a 100Mbps Internet connection. It's significantly slower on Mac Intel over a slow Internet connection.



On Mac Intel machines, that's all you need to do; Homebrew is ready to use. On Mac Intel, Homebrew installs itself into the /usr/local/bin directory, which is already configured for access by the shell with the macOS default $PATH environment variable (the default is set by the /usr/libexec/path_helper command).

Add Homebrew shell configuration

On Apple Silicon machines, there's one more step. Homebrew files are installed into the /opt/homebrew folder. But the folder is not part of the default $PATH. Follow Homebrew's advice and create a ~/.zprofile file which contains a command which sets up Homebrew. Homebrew shows instructions at the end of the installation process:

- Add Homebrew to your PATH in ~/.zprofile:
echo 'eval "$(/opt/homebrew/bin/brew shellenv)"' >> ~/.zprofile
eval "$(/opt/homebrew/bin/brew shellenv)"

The Homebrew console output will show your user directory name (the example above contains the Unix ~ tilde shortcut instead).

Alternative shell configuration

Alternatively, you can use a favorite text editor to edit the ~/.zprofile file. Or open ~/.zprofile to use TextEdit to edit the file. You'll need to add the line eval "$(/opt/homebrew/bin/brew shellenv)" to the file.

Some developers don't use the ~/.zprofile file, preferring to set the shell configuration in the ~/.zshrc file. That's okay, but the ~/.zshrc file is evaluated every time a shell is launched. The ~/.zprofile file is only evaluated when you login to your mac user account, so setting the shell with the ~/.zprofile file happens only once at login, saving some overhead.

After you've installed Homebrew, check that Homebrew is installed properly.

$ brew doctor

You should see:

Your system is ready to brew.



On Apple Silicon, if you see zsh: command not found: brew, check that you've created a ~/.zprofile file as described above and restart your terminal application.

If Homebrew is successfully installed, there will be Homebrew files in /usr/local (for macOS Intel) or /opt/homebrew (for Apple Silicon).

Listing installed packages

As you use Homebrew, it is helpful to see a list of all the packages you've installed:
[cpde]
$ brew list

You can also see a diagram of packages and dependencies.

$ brew deps --tree --installed

Right now, immediately after installation, these commands show nothing is installed.

Now you can use Homebrew to install packages. But first, be aware that you may have to reinstall Command Line Tools after a macOS upgrade.

After a macOS Upgrade

After a macOS upgrade (for example, from macOS 11.2.2 to 11.2.3), the upgrade process may remove the Command Line Tools. This can be annoying if you install an upgrade and then find you can't use commands such as git. You may encounter an error like:


xcrun: error: invalid active developer path (/Library/Developer/CommandLineTools),
missing xcrun at: /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/usr/bin/xcrun


Checking for the Command Line Tools folder may show that the folder is there:

$ xcode-select -p
/Library/Developer/CommandLineTools


But look closely and the Command Line Tools folder may be missing essential folders and files after a macOS upgrade. It should look like this:

$ ls -l /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools
total 0
drwxr-xr-x 5 root wheel 160 Jan 9 07:43 Library
drwxr-xr-x 5 root wheel 160 Apr 24 16:19 SDKs
drwxr-xr-x 7 root wheel 224 Apr 24 16:19 usr


It may look like this after an upgrade:

$ ls -l /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools
total 0
drwxr-xr-x 7 root wheel 224 Apr 24 16:19 usr

Homebrew is installed but brew doctor will show problems:

% brew doctor

Warning: Git could not be found in your PATH.
Homebrew uses Git for several internal functions, and some formulae use Git
checkouts instead of stable tarballs. You may want to install Git:
brew install git

Warning: No developer tools installed.
Install the Command Line Tools:
xcode-select --install


You've already installed Homebrew and allowed Homebrew to install Xcode Command Line Tools. Now you must re-install Xcode Command Line Tools from the command line:

$ xcode-select --install


A message will pop up on the screen. Confirm that you want to install the tools.


You'll see a progress indicator as the software downloads.


Finally you'll see a confirmation that the software was installed.


Verify that you've successfully installed Xcode Command Line Tools.

$ xcode-select -p
/Library/Developer/CommandLineTools


Check that you can run git:

git --version
git version 2.30.1 (Apple Git-130)


You've seen how to reinstall Command Line Tools after a macOS upgrade.
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