FreeBSD Security Survey

Brent Casavant b.j.casavant at
Sun May 21 21:38:45 PDT 2006

On Sun, 21 May 2006, Colin Percival wrote:

> In order to better understand
> which FreeBSD versions are in use, how people are (or aren't) keeping
> them updated, and why it seems so many systems are not being updated, I
> have put together a short survey of 12 questions.

I applaud this survey, however question 9 missed an important point,
at least to me.  I was torn between answering "less than once a month"
and "I never update".

While I find ports to be the single most useful feature of the FreeBSD
experience, and can't thank contributors enough for the efforts, I on
the other hand find updating my installed ports collection (for security
reasons or otherwise) to be quite painful.  I typically use portupgrade
to perform this task.  On several occasions I got "bit" by doing a
portupgrade which wasn't able to completely upgrade all dependencies
(particularly when X, GUI's, and desktops are in the mix -- though I
always follow the special Gnome upgrade methods when appropriate).

I can't rule out some form of pilot error, but the end result was pain.

After several instances of unsatisfactory portupgrades (mostly in the
5.2 through early 5.4 timeframe), I adopted the practice of either not
upgrading ports at all for the life of a particular installation on a
machine (typically about one year), or when necessary by removing *all*
ports from the machine, cvsup'ing, and reinstalling.  This has served
me quite well, particularly considering the minimal threat profile these
particularly systems face.

So, in short, that's why *I* rarely update ports for security reasons.

There are steps that could be taken at the port maintenance level that
would work well for my particular case, however that's beyond the scope
of the survey.  Thanks for taking the time put the survey together, I
certainly hope it proves useful.

Thank you,
Brent Casavant

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