a friendly homebrew-style CLI workflow for the administration of Mac applications distributed as binaries
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"To install, drag this icon..." no more!

Let's see if we can get the elegance, simplicity, and speed of Homebrew for the installation and management GUI Mac applications like Google Chrome and Adium.

brew-cask provides a friendly homebrew-style CLI workflow for the administration of Mac applications distributed as binaries.

It's implemented as a homebrew "external command" called cask.

Let's try it!

Get brew-cask

Pull down my work-in-progress Homebrew formula from https://gist.github.com/2010774 like so:

$ brew install --HEAD https://gist.github.com/raw/2010774/8744c097cc9fdfda21fb4a07d140b23cfaf06b78/brew-cask.rb

Now let's install our first Cask

Let's see if there's a Cask for Chrome:

$ brew cask search chrome

Cool, there it is. Let's install it.

$ brew cask install google-chrome
Success! google-chrome installed to /usr/local/Cellar/google-chrome/17.0.963.56

Now we have Google Chrome.app in our Cellar, let's get it linked somewhere useful:

$ brew cask linkapps
/Users/phinze/Applications/Google Chrome.app -> /usr/local/Cellar/google-chrome/17.0.963.56/Google Chrome.app

And there we have it. Google Chrome installed with a few quick commands; no clicking, no dragging, no dropping.

open "~/Applications/Google Chrome.app"

What Casks are available?

Just run brew cask search with no arguments to get a list.

How do I update brew-cask?

Currently you'll have to brew rm brew-cask and then run the command above to reinstall.

What is a Cask?

A Cask is like a Formula in Homebrew except it describes how to download and install a binary application.

Casks currently have three fields:

  • url: (required) points to binary distribution of the application
  • version: (required) describes the version of the application available at the URL
  • homepage: the same as Homebrew's - it doesn't do anything yet, but will be wired in

What's the status of this project? Where's it headed?

It's really just a start at this point, but it works, and I've got big plans!

brew-cask currently understands how to install dmg and zip files that contain a app file. I'd like to extend it to be able to handle pkg files as well as the numerous other permutations of compression and distribution in the wild (app inside dmg inside zip; folder inside dmg; etc.).

I plan to use the Cask model to allow per-project customization of behavior, like Homebrew does with Formula. This would allow weirdo applications like Eclipse ("really you want me to drag that whole folder to Applications?") to contain their complexity.

Each Cask will then encapsulate and automate the story of how a given application should be installed. If all goes well - I'm hoping to build up a community-maintained collection of Casks that becomes the standard way that hackers install Mac apps.

Alfred Integration

I've been using Casks along with Alfred to great effect. Just add /usr/local/Cellar as a Search Scope in Alfred's preferences, and then applications become available in Alfred immediately after a brew cask install. Your fingertips will thank you!