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Google Summer of Code 2010

This is the main tracking page for MacPorts' Google Summer of Code.

Information about the past years can be found at SummerOfCodeArchive.

Applications for SoC

Application period has opened!
Apply now for Google Summer Of Code 2010!
MacPorts at GSoC website

General Info

Applications must be done online, on the Google SoC website. You will find more information on their page on Advice for Students. Student applications deadline is April 9, 19:00 UTC. The official timeline should be consulted for the other dates.

There are several things to consider. We are willing to support and mentor students who want to gain an experience by working on The MacPorts Project. We have many ideas for potential internship subjects, yet we are open to anything that is both interesting and relevant to MacPorts. Motivated students do not necessarily need to know Tcl language beforehand, especially if they already know several script languages such as Python, Ruby, PHP or Perl.

For the MacPorts project

The best way to apply is to first make contact with us, either by sending a mail to the MacPorts developer mailing list, to the potential mentors listed below, or to IRC members on #macports on FreeNode.

What we expect from students for their applications:

  • Write your own abstract and proposal, copying text from this idea page is not enough.
  • Show us that you fully understand your task and know what you want to do over the summer.
  • At best, include a short weekly roadmap covering how you would work on the task.

What you should do before handing in an application:

  • Get familiar with the MacPorts project resources. Especially check out the code and read the guide.
  • Read the Tcl Tutorial
  • Subscribe to the mailing lists macports-dev and macports-users if you do not already read them. Don't be too shy to post.
  • Get in contact! Most important is to discuss your contribution ideas with potential mentors by e-mail, on the MacPorts development list or the IRC channel before applying.


The following committers have agreed to be mentors for SoC 2010 (append for e-mail)

Name Email Area
Juan Germán Castañeda Echevarria juanger GUI, MPWA
Perry Lee? perry
Rainer Mueller raimue Administrator, config files, rev-upgrade, depcheck
Jeremy Lavergne snc
William Siegrist wms Backup Administrator


This is a list of some potential tasks that student SoC members could undertake. These are just ideas, and while they express our current concerns, we are open to blue-sky projects related to MacPorts.

Please note that this list is absolutely not exclusive! If you have any idea about what you want to see improved in MacPorts, you are free to propose this as your own project. In any case, we recommend to talk to mentors before writing your application.

Core Tasks

Configuration files handling

MacPorts has no way to track configuration files. Currently if a configuration file is part of a port it will get overwritten on every upgrade which makes it less useful. At the moment, many ports only install default configuration files and the user has to copy it to the original location. But this always requires manual action and the user is not informed of updates in this configuration file.

For this task, investigate how other package management systems handle this. Find the best way to support it in MacPorts and implement it. See also #2365.

Classification: easy to medium task
Programming languages: Tcl
Potential mentor: raimue

Graphical user interface

Extend and improve the existing basic GUI which has been implemented as part of GSoC 2008/2009. Pallet is at the moment functional to install/uninstall ports, but for example it cannot handle variants yet. Also, it is slow if you have many ports installed.

Some feature proposals:

  • Variant selection
  • Interactive dependency tree/graph

The GUI is driven by the MacPorts Framework, which acts as an wrapper of the MacPorts Tcl API to Objective-C. To enhance the GUI you will probably have to implement the respective features in the framework first.

It would be your task to identify possible improvements for the GUI. This can either be new features or (speed) improvements to existing ones.


Classification: medium task
Programming languages: Objective-C and Tcl
Potential mentors: juanger

MacPorts Web Application (MPWA)

A very good start has been made on a Web Application for MacPorts to serve as a basis for easier user submission and maintenance of ports, not to mention monitoring of port build status, browsing of ports, etc. This work is known as MPWA and is written in Ruby on Rails. This task is to complete the work on MPWA so that it is usable for day to day usage by the MacPorts community. Work is needed on user credentials and authentication, port dependency integration, port submission and tracking, etc. This is a very exciting project and can help MacPorts scale to support a larger community.

Read more about the MPWA design and model and look at the existing code.

Classification: moderate, with good follow through vision, and architecture required
Programming languages: Ruby, perhaps a bit of Tcl
Potential mentor: juanger


MacPorts project does not provide binaries yet (installation of software without compiling them). This project consists in working in concert (or cooperatively) with whomever does (virtual chroot) to setup a mechanism to automatically build packages, send reports on failures and implement a distribution mechanisms to allow users to fetch binary packages. This task could extend to support universal binaries, cross-testing (building on an intel box and testing on a powerpc box) and extending the livecheck mechanism to automatically send reports when ports are updated.

See also MacPorts AutoBuild.

Classification: relatively challenging to challenging task
Programming language: Tcl
Potential mentors: TBD

Scan for broken dynamic libraries for rebuild

Upgrading any port can naturally break its dependents if using dynamic libraries. The only way to fix this is currently rebuilding all dependents, no matter if necessary or not. MacPorts should get a new command to scan installed dynamic libraries and binaries for linker errors and mark the corresponding port for rebuild. After checking all files, broken ones should get rebuild in the correct order. Probably it has to do the check again after each set of rebuilds.

port rev-upgrade [portname] 

If you are familiar with Gentoo, this would be the equivalent of the revdep-rebuild command. See #17473 for more information.

Classification: easy to medium task
Programming languages: Tcl
Potential mentor: raimue


This task consists of implementing a new dependencies engine for MacPorts. The current dependency engine properly deals with installing packages, but it does not deal satisfactorily with dependencies on variants (and versions), uninstalling and upgrading. This very challenging task requires a complete formalization of the use cases (installation, upgrade, uninstallation) and of the user needs before any implementation, as well as a deep understanding of the dependency relations (required for fetching, building, configuring; static and dynamic linking; dependence at runtime).

Classification: very challenging task
Programming languages: Tcl and C
Potential mentors: TBD

Check dependencies after destroot

MacPorts currently has trace mode to check which files are accessed during build and if they are in the dependency chain. This requires injecting the tracelib in all code that is run and interception all open calls and make checks on the pathnames which slows down the procedure. This task is about creating another feature for verifying the dependencies of a build.

A new phase would be created which is to be run after the destroot phase to verify files.

  • It would iterate over all binaries and dynamically linked libraries in the destroot which are going to be installed and check the recorded paths against the dependency chain.
  • It will report broken symlinks, e.g. those pointing to the destroot

Any problems found should be reported.

This would be great to do a quick check if the dependencies are met without the effort from trace mode. It could also help to identify unnecessary dependencies. If this actually runs fast enough it could as well be enabled by default, although it should only be necessary for maintainers.

Classification: medium task
Programming languages: Tcl and C
Potential mentor: raimue

MacPorts Port for self-management

The MacPorts port should be the source for updating a user's MacPorts installation.

Currently the MacPorts port is used to build the .dmg installer for MacPorts that is used for the initial installation of MacPorts, and port uses the "selfupdate" mechanism for maintaining the MacPorts installation. The selfupdate mechanism is (at least not documented as such) not accessible through the MacPorts API and does not use the MacPorts mechanisms for maintaining ports

Classification: challenging task
Programming languages: Tcl and C
Potential mentor: TBD

Perl modules integration from CPAN

There has been an attempt to write a script for automatic generation of Portfiles from CPAN. This would simplify the maintenance of Perl modules in MacPorts. Revive this project and finish the script or rewrite it.


Classification: easy to medium task
Programming languages: Perl and probably Tcl
Potential mentor: TBD

Automatic testing

MacPorts project currently includes a test framework to test features of the infrastructure. However, the tests do not cover all the code and they are not executed on an automatic basis. This task consists of extending the test framework and could be broadened to develop a code coverage technology for MacPorts to make the infrastructure more robust to future changes.

Classification: relatively easy to very challenging
Programming languages: Tcl, C
Potential mentor: raimue


Sweep through all Portfiles and look for useful opportunities to add more built-in Tcl functions that make Portfiles more (usefully) terse, powerful, flexible or easier to write. I'm sure there is an entirely family of helper functions yet to be written here.

Classification: medium task
Programming language: Tcl
Potential mentor: TBD

Shell Environment

Add support for providing basic and port-provided environmental services to users in the ~/.profile, ~/.cshrc, and ~/.xinitrc files, so that instead of manipulating the user's .profile to modify certain paths, the installer could append "source /opt/local/etc/bash.rc" to the end of a user's .profile file and that bash.rc would source all the files in /opt/local/etc/bash.d.

This task alone is most probably not enough for the whole Summer Of Code.

Classification: easy task
Potential mentors: raimue

Additional tasks

Task A1: Ports

  • Porting of additional packages to MacPorts
  • Cleanup and/or remove obsolete ports

Classification: medium task
Potential mentors: TBD

Task A2: Documentation and Website

  • Improve MacPorts documentation
  • Improve MacPorts website
  • Custom Trac plugins

Note: Pure documentation proposals are not allowed by Google.

Classification: minor task
Programming languages: php, python
Potential mentors: TBD