[RFC] Why FreeBSD ports should have branches by OS version

Torsten Zuehlsdorff mailinglists at toco-domains.de
Mon Jun 26 10:42:21 UTC 2017

Aloha David,

> I think the current process of having rolling-releases packages makes
> unpredictable upgrades as we have to manually check if the upgrade
> will be fine or not. When a user installs FreeBSD 11.0 on its system,
> it probably expects that everything will work fine until a next major
> upgrade like 12.0. That's why I think we really should implement
> branches for a specific FreeBSD version.
> When FreeBSD 12.0 is released, we should create a ports branch that
> will contains only fixes (such as security advisories, crash fixes and
> such). No minor or major upgrades until a new 13.0 version is
> released. This is the only way to make safe upgrades.

The discussions did go on for a while, but lets get more technical. 
While i can understand your use case, it raises various questions:

- How should be EOL-Software handled? For example PHP 5.6, Typo3 7, 
PostgreSQL 9.2 and many more will expire long before FreeBSD 11 expires 
but are still valid (or even default version) when created. Since the 
versions are frozen, how should - at least- security issues handled?
[Yes, i read that a user can switch at its own risk to another branch, 
but lets assume he is very fine with the version (because i have such 

- How should be new dependencies handled? GitLab for example sometimes 
*requieres* updates of its dependencies in order to fix security issues.

- Same as above: how should be dropped dependencies handled? In worst 
case we need to maintain them for nearly 5 years, but nobody (should) 
use them

- How to resolve conflicts? I mentioned GitLab above and now realize, 
that sometimes the GitLab update breaks for example www/redmine because 
it depends at other versions than GitLab.

- Where do get the fixes from? We have around 26.000 ports which needs 
fixes in worst case

- How to handle for example security issues only fixed through an 
update? Which such a long time between "updates" it gets very very hard 
to port/get/write patches in fast developing software. Wordpress or 
Gitlab are typical examples with thousands of lines in code-changes 
every update

- How to make the customer clear, that complains about the software 
(old, outdated, missing features, unresolved bugs, etc) are intentional?

- Where to archive the distfiles? Sometimes upstream completely remove 
them from everywhere they can.

And last: how to make updates from FreeBSD version to version easier? 
Many user already have problems with single major updates. From my 
experiences in Windows or Ubuntu LTS usages with such or very similar 
version handling: the update, even of the OS, is pushed as far away as 
possible, because of the big amount of work required, since everything 
needs to checked/updated/changed.

I have a hard time to image, that is handled in another way by you. So 
if you can me give more insight about your use-case i would be happy to 
read it for a better understanding.

I have various customer requiring (and paying for) very old software 
(for example still PHP 5.3). So i know some of there motivations, which 
boils every time down to "its to expensive to upgrade our software" [but 
they don't mean expensive in money]. So maybe we can make something happen.


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