Crusty upgrade (was Make Question)

Matthew Seaman m.seaman at
Wed Jun 17 06:09:57 UTC 2009

Peter Clark wrote:
> Lowell Gilbert wrote:
>> Manolis Kiagias <sonicy at> writes:
>>>> I have inherited an old FreeBSD 5.1 machine(5.1-RELEASE-p18). I
>>>> realize that the short answer to my question is more than likely to
>>>> upgrade the OS to a current release and I would if I had that option
>>>> right now, but I do not. I needed to upgrade the perl/openssh/openssl
>>>> implementation on this box. My first thought was to use the port on
>>>> the machine that was from that era but make fails. So then I thought
>>>> to csup the ports tree and try with a new version, that fails as well.
>>>> The error is as follows:
>>> 5.1 (in fact all 5.X) has reached EOL. The latest ports tree won't
>>> compile stuff for 5.X.  Use the following line in your ports-supfile to
>>> get the last ports tree that was supported in 5.X:
>>> *default release=cvs tag=RELEASE_5_EOL
>>> instead of
>>> *default release=cvs tag=.
>>> Still, since this is going to be really old you may still have problems
>>> (missing distfiles and so on). But is worth trying if you must stay with
>>> 5.X for whatever reason.
>> One thing it won't do is get you any of the bug fixes to the ssh port.
> As a number of people have pointed out this is turning into a bigger 
> headache than it needs to be. The good thing is that allowed me to get 
> the ok to upgrade the system. This box will be taken out of service in 
> the near future but I do need it to remain functional for a couple months.
> Is there a recommended upgrade path? I know about cvsup and whatnot. 
> What I mean is are there some blatant gotchas when making this big a 
> jump (5.1p18 -> 6.4)? Are there some recommended stops along the way or 
> can it be done in one fell swoop. Is Colin Percival's 
> a viable way to approach this?
> This is a production box so I want to cover my bases before I jump into 
> this.

FreeBSD 5.1 was a transitional release between the old 4.x series where
the giant lock reigned supreme, multiprocessor support and threading had not
been very well developed; and 5.4 or above where the essentials of the modern fine-grained locking, multithreaded, multicpu-core style were established. 
Which means that upgrading across those versions is only for gurus or masochists.
It's also way before freebsd-update was available (possibly even before it was
conceived in the mind of Colin).

My recommendation is to buy a replacement HDD (or HDDs), swap into the machine
reserving the old disk(s) as your fall-back in case of disaster, and then build
a new system from scratch using an up to date version of the OS.  Given the HDDs
in that box must be about 4 years old anyhow, swapping out the disks is a pretty
good idea just from a reliability point of view.  Personally I'd go for 7.2-RELEASE
on the basis that a) it performs better than 6.x and b) there's more support
lifetime remaining for the 7.x series.



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

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