Replacing Win95 with FreeBSD for low cost home PCs

Mike Meyer mwm-dated-1050418557.9a7e13 at
Thu Apr 10 07:56:00 PDT 2003

In <1049939391.47109.31.camel at feynman>, Charles Young <charles at> typed:
> 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.
> <snip>
> 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.

That one I can't argue with. I don't have that many different types of
machines, and building for the lowest common denominator doesn't hurt
the faster machines that much. Of course, I'm running a commercial
office suite, so it's probably built for 386 and up. One of these days
I'll convert to openoffice.

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

Portupgrade will install from packages. Just do portupgrade -Pfr 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.

I like doing stuff with source as well. I install things with
LOCALBASE=/usr/opt so that things that I can keep things installed
from ports separate from things locally written or installed from the
net at large. However, I still build packages on the fast machine to
install on the slower ones. I get the options I want and the same warm
fuzzy feeling from having installed from source because *I built the
package from source*.

Mike Meyer <mwm at>
Independent Network/Unix/Perforce consultant, email for more information.

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