"stable" ports?

Ivan Voras ivoras at freebsd.org
Mon Mar 29 15:57:29 UTC 2010


First of all, I'd like to have this particular discussion in the open
with ports developers and maintainers. So please - if you are a "simple"
user, without a port to maintain, you will be given another thread if
anything comes out as a result from this discussion.

There is a discussion[*] currently in The Forbidden Palace about the
possibility (it's just that - a discussion of viability) of having a
"stable" ports branch which would in the future as a consequence enable
building binary packages and deploying them in the way of Linux's "apt"
and "yum" tools.

One way to do it, my proposal, would be to maintain a stable "overlay"
of the ports, one for each major supported branch (i.e. 6.x, 7.x, 8.x),
containing ports deemed "important" for some reason.

Some more potential properties:

* Ports in the stable branch/overlay would be maintained with more
rigorous checking.
* Updates which break shared libraries would not be allowed within such
a branch/overlay (i.e. no updating gnome 2.xx to 2.x(x+1), libpng,
libjpeg, xorg).
* Binary packages for a whole X.Y branch would be built on X.0 (e.g. on
7.0 for all 7.x branches).

This is obviously pretty fuzzy - rules would need to be specifically
made later.

The biggest problem would seem to be the burden this would have on ports
developers vs the gains that could be gotten from this system.

In some cases the burdens are obvious - the maintainer(s) would need to
e.g. maintain three versions of the ports - a random example would be
e.g. X.Org 7.0 for 6.x, 7.2 for 7.x and 7.4 for 8.x. Another would be
keeping PHP 5.2 for 7.x and 8.x and having 5.3 in the future
(CURRENT/9.x) branch.

Some of the benefits are also obvious. The scheme would allow faster and
more convenient updating of the system, without breakage of shlibs
within a branch.

Within all this, I think one point is important: there should be no
inventing of wheels or pioneering work on this. Much the same concepts
are already proven to work with Linux systems (stable package branches,
apt and yum), so this is not very much unknown territory. Here not be
dragons :)

I consider this just an opinion-collecting thread: Would you, as a
maintainer / developer, be interested in something like this, and why?

[*] the discussion was started unexpectedly following my post bringing
to attention.

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