"Hmm, DL'd the latest...none of the apps runs, and the Python script does nothing. I'm impressed. Also impressed by the confused state of the website. Hmm."
I'm not sure if the latest is stable. I use the 4107 version from April. The Kicad devs have done a lot of revising the PCB and library file formats after that version.
Download the package and unarchive it. You'll get the resulting KiCad directory. Drag that somewhere useful, perhaps into your home directory, perhaps into /Applications (which I did).
The applications should open without issue. Start with launching the kicad program; that's the umbrella app/project manager. From there you can create new projects and from with a project you can create schematics and PCB layouts.
NB: in that archive is a directory called data. That directory includes the default libraries and templates. On OS X, the applications all prefer to see the libraries in ~/Library/Application Support/kicad, so move data to that location (rename data to kicad). In that directory, the subdirectory library holds the schematic symbols and the subdirectory modules holds the footprints.
"It is easy for me to blame the OS, when I can directly compare win7 running the latest firefox to MacOSX running the latest firefox on the same exact hardware. One crashes regularly, the other is windows. "
I'm truly sorry, but your argument is still baseless. It's the APPLICATION that keeps crashing, so the developers of the APPLICATION need to get their act together.
"Could you expand a bit on your KiCad/gEDA comparison. I haven't come across any informed ones before!"
I tried to get gEDA working on OS X and it ended up being impossible. There was a dependency of a dependency whose maintainer was so anti-Mac that he was able to ensure that his piece of the puzzle simply wouldn't build on OS X without being hacked.
Plus the gEDA developers are not interested in user suggestions. (By not interested, I mean, "openly hostile.") For example, I suggested that they should figure out how to have net names show up in traces and vias and holes in the PCB layout, and I was basically told, "Why do you need that?" Well, I need it because I don't work on trivial one-layer boards, that's why.
And finally, gEDA's library system for footprints and symbols is just ... awful. M4 macros and all sorts of horridness.
Kicad is actively developed. Certainly there's a lot of developer hubris there, too, and some bug reports get unacknowledged (a show-stopper I reported in July is still listed as "we haven't even bothered to look at it yet").
Most of the issues with Kicad on OS X seem to be with the differences in the wxWidgets layer.
I've designed a couple of boards with it, and it works. Just ignore the stupid CvPCB thing and embed footprint names in the symbol and you're all good.
"Yeah, ludicrous that Altera supports some random flavour of Linux, but not OS X."
Xilinx is exactly the same way. The underlying tools are all Unix and there's a translation layer handling the GUI. Doesn't make any sense.
Of course, some of us are old enough to remember how long it took Xilinx to support Linux while they were still actively supporting HP-UX and Sun-OS, both of which were basically dead.
As we unveil EE Times’ 2015 Silicon 60 list, journalist & Silicon 60 researcher Peter Clarke hosts a conversation on startups in the electronics industry. Panelists from incubators join Peter Clarke in debate.