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Old 7th October 2008
zelut zelut is offline
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Question A few FreeBSD n00b questions

I recently started using FreeBSD and I have some pending questions if anyone would like to tackle them.

1) I installed 64bit, but now I find that 64bit does not support framebuffer or higher resolution in the console using something like kldload vesa, etc. Are there really any benefits of running 64bit on a personal desktop?

2) I think I prefer to use ports after trying both ports and packages, even though it does take a hell of a long time to build xorg + gnome2 on a fresh install (just finished after ~12hrs!) Somewhere I saw mentioned 'portupgrade'. How safe is this to use regularly? Does it recompile the upgraded components as needed?

3) what other tools should I know about for keeping my machine up to date, both ports and the core OS?

thanks in advance
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Old 7th October 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zelut View Post
1) I installed 64bit, but now I find that 64bit does not support framebuffer or higher resolution in the console using something like kldload vesa, etc. Are there really any benefits of running 64bit on a personal desktop?
If you have less than 4 GB of RAM, and you don't do a lot of high-precision/computationally-intensive math, there's very little benefit to running a 64-bit desktop OS. Especially since there's still a lot of 32-bit-only software out there (Flash, nVidia drivers, etc).

Quote:
2) I think I prefer to use ports after trying both ports and packages, even though it does take a hell of a long time to build xorg + gnome2 on a fresh install (just finished after ~12hrs!) Somewhere I saw mentioned 'portupgrade'. How safe is this to use regularly? Does it recompile the upgraded components as needed?
I, personally, stopped using portupgrade a year or so ago, once portmaster became available. Portmaster is just a shell script that uses the ports tree and package database (/var/db/pkg) directly. No external dependencies, and runs using standard FreeBSD apps.

Portupgrade is a ruby program that keeps its own, separate ports database (portsdb) and package database (pkgdb). Requires a couple of ruby ports be installed, and you have to constantly keep the portsdb and pkgdb in-sync with the ports tree and package database. A lot of redundancies that can get out-of-whack.

Quote:
3) what other tools should I know about for keeping my machine up to date, both ports and the core OS?
These are the tools I use to keep my systems up-to-date:

portsnap(8) can be used to keep the ports tree (/usr/ports) up-to-date. Be sure to read /usr/ports/UPDATING after every update. This comes with the OS.

pkg_version(1) can be used to see if any of your installed software has updated versions available in the ports tree (pkg_version -vl '<'). This comes with the OS.

portaudit(1) can be used to scan your installed packages for known security issues (portaudit -Fda). It will also warn you if you try to install a port with a known security issue. This has to be installed from the ports tree (ports-mgmt/portaudit).

portmaster(8) can be used to upgrade your installed software, using the newer version available in the ports tree. This will also update any dependencies. Be sure to read /usr/ports/UPDATING beforehand. This has to be installed from the ports tree (ports-mgmt/portmaster).

What I do is to run portsnap, then portaudit, then pkg_version, redirecting the output to files named ports-with-issues and ports-with-updates. Then i read through those two files to see if there's anything needs upgrading, or anything that warrants an upgrade. Then run portmaster to upgrade *only* those apps.

One note of caution: don't use -a to try and auto-upgrade every port you have installed. Instead, just update the apps with security issues, or with new features that you need. Don't upgrade just for the sake of "running the latest version". You'll find things run a lot smoother, if you're smart about the upgrades.


For the base system, there are two methods of doing upgrades:
* binary using freebsd-update(8)
* from source using the buildworld cycle

Which you use is up to you. I tend to do everything from source, for the most control. Others tend to do everything via binary, for the least amount of work/time. You'll want to read through handbook for information on them both.
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