m.seaman at infracaninophile.co.uk
Thu Feb 19 10:56:40 PST 2004
On Thu, Feb 19, 2004 at 10:58:54AM -0500, Pedro Sam wrote:
> On Wednesday February 18 2004 20:30, Robert Huff wrote:
> > Kevin D. Kinsey, DaleCo, S.P. writes:
> > > >Where is a good place to start?
> > >
> > > 5.2-RELEASE. Grab the floppies from ftp.freebsd.org
> > > and install over the 'Net.
> > If this is your first installation, go with 4.9. 5.x is still
> > rated "early adopter"; while nothing's exactly broken, there are
> > more likely to be surprises lurking in wait for the inexperienced.
> Just wondering... if one installed 4.9, would the system be stuck with really
> outdated userland apps? or would CVSup be able to update the userland ports,
> without changing the base system?
Ummm... you've got a bit of an incorrect idea about how FreeBSD works.
The OS consists of the kernel plus the user system (aka 'the world')
-- that is, the complete set of system libraries and standard
applications. Under FreeBSD all of these parts are developed in
synchrony, and all out of a unified source tree. Generally you will
always update kernel and world together -- occasionally there may be
security updates or the like where you single out a particular
application for rebuilding, but that is not a frequent occurrence.
The system sources are divided into a number of branches: there is a
branch corresponding to each release, known as a 'Release' or
'Security' branch, because the only permitted changes to it are
security fixes; and there are two active development branches, known
at the moment as 4-STABLE and 5-CURRENT. There are also the old
1-STABLE, 2-STABLE and 3-STABLE branches as well, but those are
essentially quiescent nowadays and mostly of historical interest.
The 5.x release branches start out as snapshots of the 5-CURRENT
branch, and the 4.x releases likewise of the 4-STABLE branch.
5-CURRENT is the real bleeding edge where there is no guarrantee that
anything will work at any particular point and the code base is
occasionally liable to sweeping and invasive changes. Only system
developers should be running 5-CURRENT. 5.x releases are for testing
the major new features introduced in 5-CURRENT: they offer a better
user experience than raw 5-CURRENT but don't generally come up to the
required standards of stability and performance you'ld normally expect
from a FreeBSD release.
4-STABLE is the branch for tried and tested changes merged from the
current branch. You should always be able to compile and run the
latest 4-STABLE sources -- the 'STABLE' in the name does not imply
'unchanging' as the term does in some other projects, but that the
system versions so labeled will run with a high level of stability.
4-STABLE is suitable for day-to-day use by ordinary users, although if
you're betting your business on FreeBSD, one of the 4.x-RELEASE
branches would usually be a better choice.
Eventually the 5-CURRENT branch will reach a suitable level of
refinement that it will be possible to create the 5-STABLE branch.
That's intended to occur with the release of FreeBSD-5.3. Arround
that point the current branch will be renamed 6-CURRENT and all of the
major development works will be shifted there. 5-STABLE will become
the principal target for merging in the tested changes and the
releases branched from it will be recommended as the best versions of
the OS to run. That's still several months away, at the minimum
though. Work on 4-STABLE will gradually tail off and that branch will
head for honourable retirement like it's predecessors.
3rd party software -- ports: essentially everything installed under
/usr/local or /usr/X11R6 -- is built and updated completely
independently of the development of the main system sources. There's
only one ports tree and it serves 4-STABLE and any of the release
branches, although limited resources mean that testing can only be
done on the latest 4.x and 5.x release branches.
You can always grab the latest ports tree and compile what you want
from source: this generally gives the best results and it's easy
enough even for inexperienced users. However, installing pre-compiled
versions of the ports, called 'packages' will often be quicker. As
complete a set of packages as possible is created to go with each
release. Between releases, and as resources allow, updated packages
are produced as new upstream versions of ported software appear --
you'll find those in the 'Latest' directories on the FTP sites.
However, so long as you use packages compiled for a version of the OS
with the same major version number, you should (in theory) be able to
use those packages on other versions of the OS than the release they
were compiled under. Unfortunately, that's something that cannot be
Ports/packages already installed on your system should continue to
work even if you upgrade the base system. If you upgrade over a major
version number, you will have to install compatibility libraries --
basically a copy of libc.so from an earlier version of the system.
> This way, one can get an update(perhaps unstable) userland, but need not fear
> the OS crashing...
I'm sorry? This is FreeBSD -- we don't do "crashing"... Well, not
often anyhow. If you run 4-STABLE or one of the releases derived from
it and make good choices of hardware (ie. not the latest trashiest
Windows-only gimmickry, but more solid kit, espeically components that
have been available for long enough to get the bugs out) you will find
that the primary causes of your system unexpectedly failing to work as
expected are a) lack of mains power b) hardware failure and c) pilot
Dr Matthew J Seaman MA, D.Phil. 26 The Paddocks
PGP: http://www.infracaninophile.co.uk/pgpkey Marlow
Tel: +44 1628 476614 Bucks., SL7 1TH UK
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