Getting started with FreeBSD

Garrett Cooper youshi10 at
Tue Oct 10 21:43:25 PDT 2006

ke han wrote:
> Patrick,
> Since you are already knowledgeable of X-11 apps on slackware, this 
> opinion may not concern you.
> My opinion of FreeBSD is do not try to configure X-11 desktops and 
> apps with it.  Its just too much effort.  I have the same opinion of 
> any *nix system that require the user to install/configure their own 
> desktop experience.
> If you want a good desktop that does provide updates to some apps 
> (firefox included), start with PC-BSD,  This is 
> built on FreeBSD 6.x and keeps the base enough as in the 
> release so as to enable you a true freebsd system so you can still use 
> ports or packages in addition to PC-BSD's PBI installer....but without 
> the trouble of integrating and maintaining your own desktop experience.
> enjoy, ke han
> On Oct 11, 2006, at 11:10 AM, cothrige wrote:
>> I am a complete newb to BSD trying to get started learning a bit about
>> how to make my way in it.  I have been using Slackware over the last
>> four years or so, and this has made me a bit used to one way of doing
>> things and now the FreeBSD way is kind of rattling me.
>> For some background, I installed from the FreeBSD 6.1-RELEASE discs,
>> and this is also what I get from uname -r.  What I don't understand is
>> the relationship between ports, packages and security.  For instance,
>> I am currently using firefox, which I keep seeing online is
>> not terribly secure.  However, I am confused about what FreeBSD makes
>> available to update this and other similar packages.  I installed this,
>> and most of the rest of the system, from the discs via packages, and
>> hope to keep packages as my main method.  I have had some experience
>> in the past with twenty hour compiles of kdelibs on Gentoo and really
>> don't want that again but I cannot find any info anywhere on how to
>> approach updating for security via packages.
>> I installed once previously as a test, and in that system followed the
>> only online information I could find which seemed relevant, and that
>> was regarding cvsup.  I backed up the ports directory and setup a
>> supfile according the handbook and a couple of examples, and went
>> ahead and ran it.  From there I started checking how things would go
>> if I ran portupgrade on a couple of apps.  I chose the infamous
>> kdelibs as my sample.  When I ran portupgrade -P, just to check
>> things out and see what I would get, it failed to find a package and
>> started grabbing the source.  No, couldn't do that, so I killed it.
>> I then tried again with portsnap and got the same result.
>> When I looked at the complaint I found that it was looking for what
>> appeared to be a nonexistent file.  I am not sure now, but it was
>> something like kdelibs-3.5.4 and the server it was searching on,
>> something which ended in ...packages-6.1-release I think, had only
>> kdelibs-3.5.1.  As a matter of fact, I went through all the
>> directories I could find online (including 6 and 7 stable, release and
>> current) and was unable to find the package my system was looking for
>> in any of them.  This failure, and the confusion which ensued, are
>> what cause me to wonder just how to keep things like the
>> aforementioned firefox up to date.
>> I am now in a situation where I am unsure of what to do as regards
>> updates, and can really find nothing which clarifies things much
>> online.  Everything I find says to run cvsup and use a supfile
>> entirely like that which I used before, and that did not work out.
>> How do I use new, more secure ports and yet still be able to use
>> binary packages?  Is updating ports with cvsup the only way?  And if
>> so, what did I do wrong before?  The inability to use binary packages
>> for giant, though in my case needed, bloatware like kde made me leave
>> Gentoo behind and I want to know whether that is the only future for
>> FreeBSD too.  I am assuming that since there are binary packages
>> online for these files they must be usable, I just don't know how to
>> get to them from tools like portupgrade.  Or if that is how you even
>> try to upgrade a system from packages.  I just can't find any really
>> relevant guides for this type of thing, so I am supposing that
>> everyone just compiles everything.
>> Any help in this is very much appreciated, and sorry if I am
>> overlooking super obvious information somewhere about this.  I
>> probably am, but I just can't find it.
>> Patrick
A few misconceptions I wanted to help clear up for you:

FreeBSD, like Gentoo Linux, (and most other Unix variants) compiles 
ports from source and installs them for the most up to date versions 
possible provided by the ports maintainer.

It seems that PCBSD actually has an extra layer for package maintenance 
called PBI files, which are essentially precompiled binary packages from 
the looks of it. Not sure if you want that sort of simplistic 
pre-packaged scheme though, but (at first glance) it seems like a good 
package maintenance system..

The best means to update FreeBSD's ports (bandwidth wise if you update 
frequently) is using portsnap. I don't have the conf file right in front 
of me, but it's pretty self-explanatory what needs to go where in order 
to update the ports tree for the system. You must use CVSup (or another 
Supfile capable downloading system) for getting system files though.

Btw (Off-topic, but true):
Nothing in Gentoo (or FreeBSD or any other variant of Unix for that 
matter) says you have to install KDE ;). You can install the same 
metapackage in any Unix OS, if you love the bloat--uh, I mean 
functionality--or use another DE/WM to navigate around your desktop.

I find it interesting that a former Slackware user would be complaining 
about compiling stuff, but you probably used slapt-get to update your 



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