stable vs releng

Matthew Seaman matthew at
Wed Aug 22 08:53:07 UTC 2018

On 21/08/2018 22:41, Paul Macdonald via freebsd-questions wrote:
> Like many i suspect, i have a bunch of boxes on releng, as that used to 
> be the long term support branch.

It still is the longterm support branch.  You seem to be confused by the 
new support model, where instead of thinking in terms of a major.minor 
version number (eg. 11.2) as the supported branch, it's now the major 
version (11) that has the long term support and the minor version now 
indicates point releases along the branch.   The idea is that you should 
be able to routinely upgrade 11.0 -> 11.1 -> 11.2 over the course of the 
11 branch.

Now, this has proven a bone of contention for a number of people for two 

Firstly: implicit in the idea that a minor release should be a simple 
upgrade is that there should only be more restricted sorts of changes 
along the 11 branch -- we need a higher standard of backwards and 
forwards compatibility within the branch.  So no removal of drivers, no 
changes to ABIs, compatibility for 3rd party kernel modules across all 
the kernels in the branch etc.  Some of that I think we're getting 
right, other bits we aren't doing so well with.

Secondly: the process of upgrading from 11.1 to 11.2 using 
freebsd-update(8) still requires special command line options and is in 
fact exactly the same in form as doing an upgrade between branches in 
the old support module.  It still feels like a much more significant 
upgrade than it's meant to be.

> Thats all changed obv , and stable is now the long term support branch.

No -- STABLE is still exactly what it always was: a development branch. 
It is less volatile than HEAD and you can generally be confident that if 
you track STABLE on a machine you won't run into any nasty surprises. 
But that's not an absolute guarantee...

> q1) Is it any easier now to change from a releng branch to stable

The process of switching from RELEASE to STABLE is exactly the same as 
it always was.  By moving away from 'RELEASE' you forfeit easy 
availability of pre-compiled system software.  Instead, what you have is 
access to the source code which you can track along the various branches 
in the repository fairly easily.  Some facility with git(1) or svn(1) or 
svnlite(1) is useful in this case.

> q2)  the offical freebsd download links all link to releng, where is 
> stable for iso/img downloads?

Since STABLE isn't a release branch, it isn't covered by 
freebsd-update(8), and while there are DVD images and other installer 
bits created at intervals, those are described as 'snapshots':

Since freebsd-update(8) isn't available, you're expected to pull down 
the system sources and build your own in order to update.  As I said: 
STABLE is a development branch; you're expected to compile stuff...



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