Modernizing freebsd-update or moving to source upgrades

Colin Henein fbsdq at
Sun Nov 5 14:18:32 UTC 2017

Greetings all.

With the new EOL policy, people will need to be upgrading a lot more than before, and I am wondering if there are plans to improve or 
replace the freebsd-update utility with something more modern.

I have enjoyed using freebsd for almost 20 years. I was delighted when freebsd-update first came out, but have found many challenges using 
it. It works fine for within-release upgrades and pretty well for minor-point releases, but I have twice had catastrophic failures when 
upgrading across a major release boundary that could not be downgraded using the tool. This makes me extremely nervous to run 

Aside from catastrophic failures, the system provided for "merging" configuration files is one that only a robot could love. Tens to 
hundreds of files to merge (frequently the code intended to prevent version numbers from needing to be merged does not work, especially if 
freebsd-update has been used to perform upgrades more than once, especially multiple major upgrades). If any error is made in this 
delicate process it is impossible to go back and fix a file that has already been saved. No warning if any merge tag is missed, and merge 
characters can easily be saved into (and break) critical files.

I certainly appreciate the work of the original developer in creating the tool, but if the community is moving to more frequent updates 
then I would suggest that this tool needs to be revisited to improve usability and safety.

If this tool is not going to be updated soon, then I think I need to move to updating fbsd from source.  

QUESTION: Do I need to do anything special to change over to updating fbsd from source if I have been using freebsd-update in the past? I 
see the instructions at section 23.5 of the handbook. Can I just check out a new source tree with SVN from the 11.1 repository and follow 
the steps to overwrite 11.0 with 11.1? Very much appreciate any tips, especially on merging files in etc.


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