How I like to code

How to install Perforce DVCS

For 9 years now, I’ve used Perforce; before that, it was MKD, Subversion, VisualSourceSafe, CVS and a few others.

In the past year, I used Git.

One cool thing that Git has that Perforce didn’t have was being able to save your changes while not being connected to a central server.

However, Perforce recently added native DVCS to their source control tools so, checkouts and submits are now possible while offline.

Here are the steps you need to take if you want to use Perforce DVCS on your computer. Note, I’m using macOS, so my instructions are for that platform only.

Installation steps
Step 1: download Helix server at
You will need both p4d and p4 command line utilities, so head over to and download the “Helix Server” for your machine.

Step 2: Double-click the tar file to extract it
I think this step speaks for itself; on my computer I was able to double-click the tar file and everything appeared in a new folder.

Step 3: Make a folder for the binaries to live in
I created a bin folder in ~/Perforce/. I happen to have a dedicated Perforce folder in my home directory that I use for a lot of projects and the bin directory seemed to be a logical place to store the files.

From the command line you can type the following to make the folder:
mkdir -p ~/Perforce/bin

Step 4: Copy the binaries to the bin folder
Copy the p4d and p4 command line utilities to the ~/Perforce/bin folder (or whatever folder you just created)

Step 5: Add the path to the PATH environment variable
I edited my ~/.bash_login file using emacs to add the following:
export PATH=~/Perforce/bin:$PATH

Step 6: Load the Perforce bin path
Relaunch or open a new Terminal Window or source your .bash_login via
source ~/.bash_login

Step 7: Init your offline project
Here is how I got up and running:
p4 init -C1 -n

The extra settings after init tell p4 what case-sensitivity is should use and whether or not to enable Unicode support. If I didn’t add those, p4 would try to find a server to copy those settings from and that won’t work for me.

Step 8: Enjoy
From here, you use the and p4 to perform all of your Perforce commands and enjoy the goodness that is Perforce… like the super-large-file-support-without-choking feature 😉

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