Date of a FreeBSD installation

Devin Teske dteske at
Thu Jan 13 21:57:41 UTC 2011

On Thu, 2011-01-13 at 13:50 -0800, Chuck Swiger wrote:
> On Jan 13, 2011, at 1:46 PM, Devin Teske wrote:
> > This is nearly always accurate on any FreeBSD system (when wanting to
> > query the date the machine was built):
> > 
> > 	ls -l /etc/defaults/rc.conf
> I gather that you don't ever run mergemaster, which would update this file?
> My machine installed in 2001 has a Dec 2010 date for that file:

I view the running of mergemaster as part of a system upgrade which at
that point... I'm saying that the system is undergoing a "rebuild" in
which case, `ls -ltr /etc/defaults/rc.conf' is accurate (but, yes... I
agree with you that this is dependent upon the definition of "accurate"
-- entirely subjective to the definition of "when did I build this
machine?"; not everybody considers "built" to be "inception").

That being said... because mergemaster _can_ touch every file on the
system, you really can't get an "accurate" answer from _any_ file's

You're going to have to resort to things that aren't touched during a
system upgrade if you want to find out the `true' answer as to when the
box was first ... what? partitioned? newfs'd? clue me in here.

What _is_ the definition of "built" ??? When the hardware pieces were
coalesced into a single chassis? If that's the case, I'd be looking at
model numbers of internal parts.

> -r--r--r--  1 root  wheel  36037 Dec  1 14:13 /etc/defaults/rc.conf
> Regards,
Devin Teske

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