computing‎ > ‎

Computing on mac

Mac OSX comes with a huge collection of tools pre-installed. Xcode has almost everything that a developer needs: gcc, openmpi, svn, perl, python, ruby, lapack, blas, etc. I only had to install a fortran compiler and recompile openmpi to get fortran support. The default openmpi in Mac does not have fortran support.


Macports is my preferred choice for installing additional softwares. You can also try Fink or Homebrew. If you are behind a proxy server, then to get Macports to work properly, you need to set some environment variables for http and rsync and do the following

sudo visudo

Enter your password and add the following additional lines and save the file. You need to know how to use vi/vim for this.

Defaults env_keep += "http_proxy HTTP_PROXY"

Defaults env_keep += "https_proxy HTTPS_PROXY"

Defaults env_keep += "ftp_proxy FTP_PROXY"

Defaults env_keep += "rsync_proxy RSYNC_PROXY"


OSX comes with vim which is good enough for me. Emacs is also installed though not the gui version. MacVim provides a gui version of vim. For emacs you can try Aquamacs Emacs. Xcode also has a nice editor which I use for all C++ work.

Document preparation/viewing

LibreOffice: Built on openoffice.

MacTex: Everything you need from tex. It has its own editor called texshop and a pdf viewer. It comes with BibDesk which is great for managing your bibliography database. (free)

Acrobat: For viewing pdf files. I prefer to use builtin Preview. (free)

Skim: Another PDF viewer.  (free)

djview: For viewing djvu archive files. Most ebooks are packaged as djvu files. The available binaries are old versions; you can install this via Macports.

Plotting/visualization tools

Plot: Very powerful plotting tool for 2-D plots, exclusively for Mac. (free)

Grace: Another powerful tool for 2-D plots. You can install this from Macports.

Gnuplot: This can be installed via Macports.

Gnuplot can work with AquaTerm which is the graphics renderer on the Mac; for this install AquaTerm. You can also use X11; for this add the following line to $HOME/.gnuplot file

set term x11

Paraview: A free vtk-based parallel visualization tool. Install the binary (free).

Visit: Another free and powerful tool for scientific data visualization. It supports many file formats. Install the binary. (free)

cgx: I use this to view plot3d files. Needs some trick to compile opengl on the Mac. (free)

vigie: My old favourite, great for 2D data visualization. Compiles on Mac. (free)

Image tools

Inkscape: Inkscape is a Vector Graphics Editor, similar to Adobe Illustrator, that strives to be SVG Compliant, open source, responsive and extensible. (free)

Asymptote: Asymptote is a powerful descriptive vector graphics language that provides a natural coordinate-based framework for technical drawing. Labels and equations are typeset with LaTeX, for high-quality PostScript output. (free)

Engauge: This open source, digitizing software converts an image file showing a graph or map, into numbers. The image file can come from a scanner, digital camera or screenshot. The numbers can be read on the screen, and written or copied to a spreadsheet. You can get a Mac binary here. (free)


vlc, mplayer, realplayer

Diff tool

OSX comes with a nice diff tool called opendiff which is a command line tool. 

System tools

AppDelete: Deletes installed apps thoroughly. (free)

Onyx: For some system maintenance


  * [[ | MacResearch]]
  * [[ | Fink]]: A ports system for Mac
  * [[ | Free and Open Source Educational Software for MacOSX]]
  * [[ | List of free, opensource software for the Mac]]
  * [[ | HPC on Mac OSX]]
  * [[ | David Alison]]: Blog of a Mac user.