Comment #1 on issue 270 by tempo...@gmail.com: Precompiled protoc binary for OS X
http://code.google.com/p/protobuf/issues/detail?id=270

The main reason why we provide a precompiled binary on Windows is because obtaining and using development tools for Windows is relatively difficult. MSVC costs money, and Cygwin and MinGW are very different from what most Windows developers are used to.

Linux is exactly the opposite. Practically every Linux user has a C++ compiler installed already, even if they don't actually know C++, so compiling from source is trivial. Meanwhile, if we wanted to provide a precompiled binary, we'd need to provide a different one for each distribution -- or provide a statically-linked one which would be enormous.

OSX is somewhere in between. Xcode has to be installed, but it is free, and once you install it, building protoc from source is quite easy. Meanwhile, the mechanics of distributing binaries for Unix-style commands (as opposed to full-fledged Mac apps) in a way that will not have compatibility problems across versions of the OS is not entirely clear to me.

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