There is no way to know what port options mean (in general)

Andrew Reilly andrew-freebsd at
Wed Mar 26 00:43:44 PDT 2008

Hi all,

I had posted this as a send-pr, and Edwin (reasonably) suggested
that the denizens of this list might prefer to discuss it here,
than in GNATS.  Fair enough.  The issue:

"make config" in many port directories produces an interactive
dialog where one may select various make environment variables
to be set. There is a one line description of each flag, to help
one make this selection. Unfortunately, in many situations, this
description is unhelpful, as flag FOO will have description "foo
support", or possiblly "libfoo support". Unless one is fairly
well familiar with both the package and the libraries, one can
not readily know what the implications of setting these controls
one way or the other is.

To complicate things, some options are mutually exclusive, and
one only discovers this when the build or install subsequently

How-To-Repeat: make config something like print/ghostscript-gpl,
and wonder what a FreeType bridge might be ("bridge", as opposed
to just using the FreeType library to render TrueType fonts?)
Notice that SVGALIB -- svgalib support doesn't mention that
svgalib is i386-only: you have to wait for the build to fail to
discover that.

Suggestion: In lieu of interactive F1 or ? keys popping
up descriptive windows (which could be nice), it would be
keen if ports could grow a new target with a name like
"desc-config" that would print out a paragraph (supplied by
the port creator/maintainer) that had at least a(n) (explicit)
reference to the port that the config knob pulled in as a
dependency. Better would be a short paragraph about why one
might want to do that, and perhaps what alternatives might

Thoughts: ?



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