FreeBSD Server – Ports tree maintenance

In the new FreeBSD server i am dumping the old CVSUp/Portupgrade and going for new and improved tools for ports management.

For maintaining the ports tree up to date i will use portsnap. Why? You can read about the advantages in the portsnap web page. It’s already in base system, so no need to install nothing. Try:

# portsnap

and should print the usual help options. So first thing is to fetch and apply the whole ports tree. It will overwrite every custom file that you have in ports tree /usr/ports/ like patches. Distfiles will survive and config options also (as they live in /var/db/ports/).

# portsnap fetch extract

Now we have a fully updated ports tree, and the portsnap own database in /var/db/portsnap/.

From now on simply update the ports tree with

# portsnap fetch update

Much simpler than the cvsup command and config file… all that is left is to put this in auto-pilot. You have the cron option, witch is nothing more than a sleep by a random time, so all the clients don’t slashdot the portsnap server. You can test it with:

# portsnap cron update

Both handbook and man pages explicitly warn about automatic ports tree updating, as one can be installing a port at the same time and “cause major problems” (meaning ending up with a corrupted or non-working software installed), so you should only update the index.

# portsnap -I cron update

Personally i will live on the edge and take the risk of actually updating the ports tree, not just the index, as the risk of forgetting to update the ports tree before installing packages and installing deprecated/legacy software is much higher than installing at the sime time the tree update is running.

The handbook goes for the cron to do this, but i use periodic and make this a part of the normal maintenance works (automatic email reports, logs, logs rotation all for free)

Create local daily dir if not exists

# mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/periodic/daily/

add really simple sh script with full paths, save and set execution perms

# Updates the Ports tree
/usr/sbin/portsnap cron update
exit $rc

For the report about old/obsolete packages i go again for periodic… but this time is already there all done for us (the FreeBSD users), just add in /etc/periodic.conf


The ports tree is now managed, next post about the packages themselves.