FreeBSD Custom Package Server

Matthew Seaman m.seaman at
Sat Apr 5 07:49:34 UTC 2008

Maxim Khitrov wrote:

> I maintain several FreeBSD servers all of which currently use the
> ports system to install and update the needed software. I don't like
> using packages since I often need customizations made during the build
> process. For instance, my remote VPS has only 2 GB of disk space, so I
> need to build everything with the "-Os -s" optimization to make
> executables as small as possible. At the same time, some of the
> systems are also very limited in memory or processing power, so
> rebuilding certain ports (even with the help of ccache) is often a
> slow process.
> I'd like to help myself with a deployment of my own package server. It
> would work in a similar manner to the official FreeBSD servers, but
> there should be a dynamic component to it such that the client could
> request any number of customizations to the resulting packages.
> Basically, I don't want to sacrifice any of the flexibility of the
> ports system, only offload the actual build process to another
> dedicated machine.

I like this idea. I like it a lot.  However I can see that it has the
potential to get very complicated and messy unless you have some clearly
thought-out architectural principles that you build the system around.

Personally, I'd take a leaf out of the package build cluster here: build
packages in a tinderbox style jail.  Maintain as many different jail setups
as you have different environments to build packages for.  'environment'
meaning the unique combination of CPU architecture, OS version, compilation
flags and port build options -- unless you've got a number of homogeneous
systems that's quite likely to equate to maintaining an environment per
client host.

Even so, the capability to off-load package building onto a separate
-- presumably pretty high specification -- machine and to reduce the required
down-time for upgrading the live servers; that would be more than sufficient
justification for doing this.



Dr Matthew J Seaman MA, D.Phil.                   7 Priory Courtyard
                                                  Flat 3
PGP:     Ramsgate
                                                  Kent, CT11 9PW

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