Create a MacOS X App Bundle Using Homebrew

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This tutorial explains how to build (version >4) using Homebrew. Most user should either download the binary or use a package manager as described here. The former App bundle (version <=3.8) was created using Macports and called Octave from /usr/opt/local which is problematic with recent OS X (>=10.10). Therefore is now installed in /Applications/ using homebrew. It does not interfere with local installations or package managers.


  • Install Xcode via the Mac App Store.
  • Install the command line tools by xcode-select --install.
  • Optional: install XQuartz, e.g. if you want to use Gnuplot with X11 backend.

Creating the App Bundle and Disk Image

The following script will ask some questions, e.g. regarding the installation path (/Applications/ is recommended) or whether Octave should be compiled with or without graphical user interface and finally whether a disk image should be created or not.


# determine install dir
if [ "$1" != "defaults" ]; then
	read -p "In which directory do you want Octave to be installed? [/Applications/]: " install_dir

# check if 
if [ -d "$install_dir" ]; then
	echo "Directory $install_dir exists. Please remove it, e.g."
	echo "> rm -rf $install_dir"

# ask the user about feautures
if [ "$1" != "defaults" ]; then
	read -p "Do you want to build the GUI? [Y/n]: " build_gui
	read -p "Do you want to build a development snapshot [y/N]: " build_devel
	read -p "Do you want to create a DMG image? [y/N]: " build_dmg
	read -p "Where do you want to store the DMG? [$HOME]: " dmg_dir

# set default values if nothing has been specified

# create applescript for starting. The cli version starts a terminal session.
# A future applescript could check whether cl-tools are installed or set gnuterm settings
tmp_script=$(mktemp /tmp/octave-XXXX);
if [ "$build_gui" == "y" ]; then
cat >"$tmp_script" <<EOF
on open argv
set filename to "'" & POSIX path of item 1 of argv & "'"
do shell script "export GNUTERM='qt';export PATH=/Applications/\$PATH;cd ~;/Applications/ --force-gui --persist --eval \"edit " & filename & "\" | logger 2>&1"
end open
on run
do shell script "export GNUTERM='qt';export PATH=/Applications/\$PATH;cd ~;/Applications/ --force-gui  | logger 2>&1"
end run
on path_check()
if not (POSIX path of (path to me) contains "$install_dir") then
display dialog "Please move Octave to $install_dir" with icon stop with title "Error" buttons {"OK"}
error number -128
end if
end path_check
cat >"$tmp_script" <<EOF
on run
tell application "Terminal"
do script "export GNUTERM='qt';export PATH=/Applications/\$PATH;cd ~;clear;octave"
end tell
end run
on path_check()
if not (POSIX path of (path to me) contains "$install_dir") then
display dialog "Please move Octave to $install_dir" with icon stop with title "Error" buttons {"OK"}
error number -128
end if
end path_check

# create appbundle
osacompile -o"$install_dir" "$tmp_script"

# install brew
mkdir -p "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/usr"
curl -L | tar xz --strip 1 -C "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/usr"

# be conservative regarding architectures
sed -i '' 's/march=native/march=core2/g' "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/usr/Library/Homebrew/extend/ENV/super.rb" 
sed -i '' 's/march=native/march=core2/g' "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/usr/Library/Homebrew/extend/ENV/std.rb" 

# start compiling
cd "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/usr/bin"
./brew tap homebrew/science
./brew install imagemagick --with-librsvg
./brew install graphicsmagick --with-quantum-depth-16

# we prefer openblas over Apple's BLAS implementation
./brew install arpack --with-openblas
./brew install qrupdate --with-openblas
./brew install suite-sparse421 --with-openblas

# use github mirror to gnuplot 5.1 (devel)
./brew install gnuplot --with-qt --with-cairo --universal --verbose --HEAD

# get newest octave formula and then build octave
curl -o "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/usr/Library/Taps/homebrew/homebrew-science/octave.rb"
octave_settings="--build-from-source --without-java --universal --with-audio --with-openblas"
if [ "$build_devel" == "y" ]; then
	octave_settings="$octave_settings --devel"
if [ "$build_gui" == "y" ]; then
	octave_settings="$octave_settings --with-gui"
./brew install octave $octave_settings

# get octave version
oct_ver="$(./octave --version |sed -n 1p |grep -o '\d\..*$' )"
oct_ver_string="$(./octave --version | sed -n 1p)"
oct_copy="$(./octave --version | sed -n 2p | cut -c 15- )"

# rebuilding fontconfig from source seems to fix gnuplot font problems
./brew uninstall fontconfig
./brew install fontconfig --build-from-source

# create a nice iconset (the octave icons in "share/icons" are not reliable)
tmp_iconset="$(mktemp -d /tmp/iconset-XXXX)/droplet.iconset"
mkdir -p "$tmp_iconset"
./convert -background none -resize 16x16 "$svg_icon" "$tmp_iconset/icon_16x16.png"
./convert -background none -resize 32x32 "$svg_icon" "$tmp_iconset/icon_16x16@2x.png"
./convert -background none -resize 32x32 "$svg_icon" "$tmp_iconset/icon_32x32.png"
./convert -background none -resize 64x64 "$svg_icon" "$tmp_iconset/icon_32x32@2x.png"
./convert -background none -resize 128x128 "$svg_icon" "$tmp_iconset/icon_128x128.png"
./convert -background none -resize 256x256 "$svg_icon" "$tmp_iconset/icon_128x128@2x.png"
./convert -background none -resize 256x256 "$svg_icon" "$tmp_iconset/icon_256x256.png"
./convert -background none -resize 512x512 "$svg_icon" "$tmp_iconset/icon_256x256@2x.png"
./convert -background none -resize 512x512 "$svg_icon" "$tmp_iconset/icon_512x512.png"
./convert -background none -resize 1024x1024 "$svg_icon" "$tmp_iconset/icon_512x512@2x.png"
iconutil -c icns -o "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/octave.icns" "$tmp_iconset"

# modify some entries in the Application plist
defaults write "$install_dir/Contents/Info" NSUIElement 1
defaults write "$install_dir/Contents/Info" CFBundleIconFile "octave"
defaults write "$install_dir/Contents/Info" CFBundleIdentifier org.octave.Octave 
defaults write "$install_dir/Contents/Info" CFBundleShortVersionString "$oct_ver"
defaults write "$install_dir/Contents/Info" CFBundleVersion "$oct_ver_string"
defaults write "$install_dir/Contents/Info" NSHumanReadableCopyright "$oct_copy"
defaults write "$install_dir/Contents/Info" CFBundleDocumentTypes -array '{"CFBundleTypeExtensions" = ("m"); "CFBundleTypeOSTypes" = ("Mfile"); "CFBundleTypeRole" = "Editor";}'    
plutil -convert xml1 "$install_dir/Contents/Info.plist"
chmod a=r "$install_dir/Contents/Info.plist"

# collect dependencies from the homebrew database
# clean up the strings using sed
touch "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/DEPENDENCIES"
for f in $(./brew deps octave)
	./brew info $f | sed -e 's$homebrew/science/$$g'| sed -e 's$: .*$$g' | sed -e 's$/Applications.*$$g' | head -n3 >> "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/DEPENDENCIES"
	echo "" >> "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/DEPENDENCIES"

# change owner
# chown -R admin:wheel /Applications/

# create a nice dmg disc image with create-dmg (MIT License)
if [ "build_dmg" == "y" ]; then
	# get make-dmg from github
	tmp_dir=$(mktemp -d /tmp/octave-XXXX)
	git clone $tmp_dir/create-dmg

	# get background image
	#curl xxx -o background.tiff

	# running create-dmg; this may issue warnings if run headless. However, the dmg
	# will still be created, only some beautifcation cannot be applied
	cd $tmp_dir/create-dmg
	./create-dmg \
	--volname "Octave-Installer" \
	--volicon "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/octave.icns" \
	--window-size 550 442 \
	--icon-size 48 \
	--icon 125 180 \
	--hide-extension \
	--app-drop-link 415 180 \
	--eula "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/usr/opt/octave/README" \
	--add-file COPYING "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/usr/opt/octave/COPYING" 126 300 \
	--add-file DEPENDENCIES "$install_dir/Contents/Resources/DEPENDENCIES" 415 300 \
	--disk-image-size 1250 \
	--background "../background.tiff" \
	"$dmg_dir/Octave-Installer.dmg" \

	echo DMG ready: $dmg_dir/Octave-Installer.dmg