Get Homebrew Working with macOS 11 Big Sur

Posted on November 15, 2020

My 2016 MacBook Pro has been sitting around ignored of late. My primary work laptop has been an Acer Predator for the last year. With the production release of Big Sur, I decided to upgrade the OS the day of release. This weekend, I tried to upgrade HomeBrew and everything it had installed, but quickly ran into a big issue with the Command Line Tools (CLT) being out of date.

For those that are unfamiliar, Homebrew is “The Missing Package Manager for macOS”. Installing software that it supports is easy and it’s considered a must-have if you’re developing on macOS.

brew install <package>

Upgrading Homebrew and its packages can be done just as easily:

brew upgrade

but running this on Big Sur, with the latest version of Xcode (12.2) installed via the App Store will throw this error:

Your CLT does not support macOS 11.0

Xcode Beta

Log into Apple’s Developer Site and download the beta of Xcode, version 12.3 as of this writing. It’s an 11.5 GB ZIP file, which will take time to download. It also took at least 30 minutes to unzip on my machine and I have an SSD. Don’t just drop it into your Applicaitons folder, you’ll need to completely remove your existing install of Xcode from the app store. Take a look at this article for details. I don’t use Xcode other than for the CLT, so be careful and make backups before you start deleting things.

Once you’ve removed the version from the app store, drag the unzipped Xcode Beta into your Applications folder and run it. You’ll have to accept the license agreement to proceed. Once it’s up and running, run your Homebrew upgrade again.

Updated Command Line Tools

I immediately got the same message as before. Installing this beta was reported on multiple sites to have addressed the problem, but for me it didn’t. I forgot that there was command to specially check for issues with Homebrew:

brew doctor

Among others were these messages:

Warning: Your Command Line Tools are too outdated.
Update them from Software Update in System Preferences or run:
  softwareupdate --all --install --force

Warning: A newer Command Line Tools release is available.
Update them from Software Update in System Preferences or run:
  softwareupdate --all --install --force

Running the softwareupdate command found nothing to install. So I followed the next pair of instructions:

If that doesn't show you an update run:
  sudo rm -rf /Library/Developer/CommandLineTools
  sudo xcode-select --install

Since these commands start with sudo, you’ll need to enter your user password so they’ll run. Another download began and the upgraded Command Line Tools were finally installed. If this doesn’t work for some reason, go to More Downloads for Apple Developers where you can download the DMG for “Command Line Tools for Xcode 12.3 beta” (430 MB). I’m not sure if you can run that without the main Xcode beta installed, but it’s worth a try in order to avoid the other large download. If anyone is able to run that without the main beta, please let me know.

Third Time’s the Charm

And finally,

 > brew upgrade
Updating Homebrew...
Warning: You are using macOS 11.0.

==> Upgrading 5 outdated packages:
mongodb/brew/mongodb-community 4.2.7 -> 4.4.1

And there was much rejoicing! And I was finally able to start writing a new blog post.

Or so I thought.

Because updated software always runs perfectly the first time.

Shyeah, right. (Jekyll, I’m looking at you.)

Homebrew and Apple Silicon

If you’re experiencing any other issues with Homebrew, check their Github account before freaking out. Not everything is currently supported on Big Sur, but they’re working on it. The other massive project in progress is supporting Apple Silicon. Take a look at macOS 11.0 Big Sur compatibility on Apple Silicon for more information.

And if you can spare something, make a donation. They deserve it.

About the Author
Adrian J. Moreno

Adrian is a CTO and solution architect specializing in software modernization. More information