Getting started with FreeBSD

Giorgos Keramidas keramida at
Wed Oct 11 10:55:57 PDT 2006

On 2006-10-11 01:20, cothrige <cothrige at> wrote:
> * Garrett Cooper (youshi10 at wrote:
> > I find it interesting that a former Slackware user would be
> > complaining about compiling stuff, but you probably used
> > slapt-get to update your packages.
> Well, I am probably coming off whiny.  However, I am pretty typical of
> the Slackware crowd in that much of what I am running I compiled from
> source.

The same thing can be accomplished with FreeBSD.  You still have the option
to compile things your way, install them in /opt instead of /usr/local,
trim things down to the bare minimum that fits your preferences, etc.

Slackware, with its free for all, build it however you want it to look like
attitude, is the one Linux distribution that approaches the BSD spirit more
than any other distribution, if you ask me.

> But the base system is still binaries and that does speed things up.

That's ok.  The `base system' of FreeBSD is also a bunch of binaries.

You can get it going by installing the `bin' collection of packages from
the official release CD-ROMs.

> Pat doesn't patch everything endlessly and so it works well and as
> intended, so there is really no trade off.  I am all for compiling, but
> why do it when nothing is any different?  Firefox works great from
> binaries, and so I have never bothered to try compiling it.  Same for
> openoffice and java.  Even in Gentoo I installed the binaries of those.

You can always install portsnap and portupgrade.

The first of these tools will fetch you an up to date /usr/ports tree in
blazingly fast speed.

The second tool can upgrade your installed `ports and packages', either by
fetching pre-built packages from the network or by compiling locally.

Once a port is compiled and installed from source, it is NOT DIFFERENT from
a binary package, which you fetched from the network a week ago.  At least,
it is not different as far as the package management tools of FreeBSD (the
pkg_xxx tools) are concerned.

A common trick I use is to build ports on a fast machine, or fetch them
from the network, and then run a small local script to save them all as
binary packages in `/usr/pkg/i386/freebsd-7.0'.

Then, I periodically burn this directory to a CD-ROM or DVD disk, and I can
quickly reinstall it all with:

    # mount /cdrom
    # cd /cdrom
    # cd pkg/i386/freebsd-7.0
    # pkg_add *

> What I guess is troubling me here though is just figuring stuff out.

Don't worry.  It takes a bit of time.  Keep testing stuff and learning how
it all fits together, and you may have lots of fun :)

> However, after reading you post, I am thinking that the packages are
> only available for the snapshots labelled RELEASE.  Am I right?


More up-to-date versions of the Ports are compiled in the
systems by our package people, but they are not always in sync with
/usr/ports and it takes a lot of time to build them all.

> All updates and changes made in between one release and the next are via
> sources.  Would that be accurate?

This is, indeed, *one* of the options.

> If so, I can say that is also fairly simple, simply non-intuitive.  In
> some ways like having a separate ports system from the base.

It is not `in some ways'.  It is *EXACTLY* this way.

Note how the ports/ tree is separate from the src/ source tree at:

There is a fundamental difference between something in the `base system'
(i.e. something which lives under the `src/' tree) and something that
installs thirdparty software, as part of the Ports collection.

> Simple, even sensible, but in some ways non-intuitive.

It certainly takes some time getting used to.  That's fine.

> Let me know how ridiculously off-base I am in my current understanding.
> That is really what I am trying to do, find out what I should do to
> maintain things as move along the learning curve.  Thanks for the help.

Try things out.  Test more things.  Break a few.  I know I've trashed many
installations of FreeBSD before I managed to build this one.  But it was
*SO* much fun doing that ... I'd do it again.

Welcome to FreeBSD, BTW :)

-- Giorgos

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