Staying up to date with security patches

Bill Moran wmoran at
Fri Jul 2 20:03:03 UTC 2010

In response to Ed Flecko <edflecko at>:

> Hi folks,
> I've carefully read many different sources about keeping FreeBSD up to
> date, and I'm not quite "crystal-clear".
> I'm building a server with 8.0, and because it's a server, it will
> have very little software installed on it (probably Apache, maybe
> BIND, etc.), and my primary concern is that it's stable and secure
> from a "patching perspective" (I'll work on "hardening" the OS later).
> Since I will be doing a custom kernel at some point, I won't use
> freebsd-update, I'm using cvsup instead.
> If I understand the docs correctly, I want my "supfile" (in my case,
> I'm simply modifying "stable-supfile") file to have an entry like:
> *default release=cvs tag=RELENG_8_0
> 1.) The _0 will keep me up to date with the security patches, which is
> what I'm after, right?


> 2.) How often "should" one synchronize your server (PC, etc.)? You
> don't need to do it daily with cron, do you? I've subscribed to the
> FreeBSD security update list, so that's probably the only time one
> really needs to synchronize, rebuild, etc., isn't it?

You only need to sync and rebuild when a security problem is announced
via that mailing list.

> 3.) What's the smartest way to keep your installed applications
> updated (i.e., Apache, BIND, etc.)?

Install ports-mgmt/portaudit and run it daily (I believe it installs
so that it will email you daily results as part of periodic) and when
it tells you that one of your installed ports is out of date, take
care of it.

There's no "schedule".  Because, despite what MS would have PHB's believe,
security problems are not found on any schedule, they're found whenever
they're found.

Thus, your best approach is to monitor and be proactive.

Bill Moran

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