Mike Clarke jmc-freebsd at
Wed Mar 12 10:09:19 UTC 2008

On Wednesday 12 March 2008, Daniel Bye wrote:

> I think it fair to say that most people will use ports to compile and
> install software, rather than relying on the packages on the release
> ISOs, for the simple reason that the ports tree is a moving target -
> the packages included with any particular release are out of date
> (as a set, if not individually) quite quickly, because the porters
> do a fantastic job of adding new software and updating existing ports.
> So, my suggestion (as an old hack who's been around for almost a
> decade ;-) would be to familiarise yourself with the ports tree
> and all its magic - you'll probably find yourself using it in
> preference to precompiled packages. The handbook is the best place
> to start, as ever.

I agree that there are advantages in using ports to ensure things are kept up 
to date but using the packages supplied with the release can be an advantage 
for a newcomer to FreeBSD.

The ports system can be quite daunting until one has become familiar with the 
system especially if even just one of the ports fails to build. A new user 
probably won't have the expertise to recognise and fix the cause of the 
problem. Installing packages from the CD's pretty well ensures that the new 
user can get a new system up and running without complication. Many new users 
would prefer a slightly out of date system that works instead of struggling 
to fix problems in a totally unfamiliar system. When I first started to use 
FreeBSD I relied on the packages on the CDs, as I gained more familiarity I 
was much more confident in using ports for the applications that weren't 
available as precompiled packages.

Although I'm now quite comfortable building from ports I still use precompiled 
packages where they are available because I've got a relatively low powered 
PC which makes very heavy going with the bigger ports (e.g. gcc, firefox, 

Mike Clarke

More information about the freebsd-questions mailing list