Replacing Win95 with FreeBSD for low cost home PCs

Charles Young charles at
Wed Apr 9 18:49:58 PDT 2003

On Thu, 2003-04-10 at 01:24, Mike Meyer wrote:
> In <1049855817.93999.84.camel at feynman>, Charles Young <charles at> typed:
> > What I've done is to set up a meta port of a workstation suite and then
> > install this on each machine from a central dist site via NFS. I found
> > there were fewer issues this way, though the build process can take a
> > mighty long time.
> Might I suggest - to both of you - that these would be easier if you
> built packages out of these, and nfs-mounted the directory with the
> packages in them? That way you'd only have to build things once, and
> could still install everything by installing the package of the
> meta-port.
I like the way you think Mike, however I have chosen to do this via
ports rather than packages because of three reasons:

1. For reasons that I can only define as religious, I like to build
things for a specific target architecture - which means optimising for
the specific CPU and devices in the system. As I'm installing into
offices that have generally grown organically, there is usually no
standardised hardware. This means building a new kernel for each
machine. While this does not necessarily mean anything once I get to
install ports - philosophically I prefer to build an entire system in
the same manner - I've a feeling (completely without measured basis I
might point out) that, for example, behaves better if
built from source on the target machine.

2. I find updating from sources much cleaner that using packages. New
Xft? no problem, just run a portupgrade -fr Xft.

3. One of the companies has two offices separated by a VPN over an ADSL
connection. Bandwidth through this is restricted. I have a push tool
(imaginatively entitled 'pushtool') that triggers a cvsup, portsdb -uU
and portupgrade with the supplied arguments on the remote machine. I use
this to do sitewide updates at selected moments using a central CVS
repository. Doing this via source means that often only patches are
transferred which I don't believe is ever the case for packages. 

I must admit, however that this is a special case, as usually I just
mount /usr/ports/distfiles on the workstations via NFS to a file server,
so generally there would be no difference.

OK having typed all this I find I can't really justify my stance
scientifically except for point 3 and then only in certain
circumstances. It just feels better to me to do stuff with source.

Perhaps I should move this thread to


Charles Young
digital Wranglers

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