Multiple installation of one ports

Matthew Seaman m.seaman at
Tue Sep 16 19:07:40 UTC 2008

FreeBSD wrote:
> Hi everyone,
> I've been asked by a customer to install Drupal on one server to manage 
> a new site. No problem yet. But, he also asked if it would be possible 
> to install it for other sites.
> I know that there is a warning if you want to install a port that is 
> already installed, but is there a way to bypass this? I know I could 
> install it from the tarball from the website, but I want to be able to 
> use portupgrade and portaudit to deal with it.
> Any suggestions?

This is an interesting problem.  The FreeBSD ports system does not at
present allow multiple installations of the same port, even into
different ${PREFIX}es.  This make sense for most of the software dealt
with by the ports system, but in the specific case of web based
applications having the same application installed into multiple locations
in the same web tree is a perfectly reasonable thing to want to do.

Here are some ideas as to ways you might consider for working round the
problem and still being able to use the ports system in the usual way.
None of these are tested by me in any way, and some of them may not
actually work.

  i) If you have spare IPs available, simply set up jails to run second   
     and subsequent instances of drupal and apache.  This is pretty much 
     overkill but it's a tried and tested strategy and should be reliable.
     The downside is you need to install at least enough of a system in
     each jail to support running apache, etc. plus you have to maintain
     each of the different jail environments separately.

 ii) If you haven't any spare IPs, you can install multiple copies of
     the same port on the same machine by changing *both* $PKG_DBDIR
     and $PREFIX in the environment to distinct values for each copy.  
     Unfortunately changing $PREFIX doesn't give you complete freedom
     to choose where a web app will be installed -- typically a web app
     will be located at ${PREFIX}/www/app-name.  However by judicious
     use of the Alias directive in httpd.conf you can make all those
     different directories appear in the same web tree.  Like option
     (i) you've still got multiple copies of ports to maintain, although
     in this case, it's only the drupal port and anything that depends
     on drupal that you need multiple copies of, rather than the entire
     installation tree of ports.

iii) A kind of wacky idea this, and it will only work for web apps whose
     configuration files are contained within the web root.  That's true  
     of most PHP based web apps -- other languages may differ.
     Install the port once only, in the normal fashion.  Then create
     loopback mounts of the application directory multiple time, each to
     a union fs (see mount_unionfs(8)) where you superpose a separate
     layer to contain just the configuration files for that instance.
     It's conceptually complicated, but all the work should be at the
     setup stage and after that, there's only one instance of your web
     app to keep properly maintained.

 iv) I've no idea if this is at all possible with Drupal, but really the 
     absolute easiest solution is to choose a CMS that lets you manage 
     several different web sites (virtual hosts, web trees, what you will) 
     within the same instance.  



Dr Matthew J Seaman MA, D.Phil.                   7 Priory Courtyard
                                                  Flat 3
PGP:     Ramsgate
                                                  Kent, CT11 9PW

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