Updating the system

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Note: If you only want to install security updates, it's enough to subscribe to FreeBSD security notifications and follow the instructions in each advisory. Otherwise, read on.

In FreeBSD, the base system and ports can be updated independently if desired. Here's how to do it.

Updating the base system

First, get the latest system source (/usr/src/) of the branch you're tracking (stable or current). This can be done via cvsup or ctm (see below). Then follow the steps outlined in upgrading the base system.

Updating applications

First update the ports tree (/usr/ports/). This can be done via cvsup, ctm or portsnap. The ports can then be automatically updated using portupgrade.

Downloading methods

The most common method used is cvsup (see how to update the ports tree). However, you might not be able to use it if you're behind a restrictive firewall (blocking tcp port 5999) or on a weak connection. In that case you can use ctm to obtain differential updates by email or ftp.

For updating the ports tree, a third option is available. Portsnap is an automated tool which offers many advantages over both the other methods:

  • secure (uses cryptographic signing)
  • very efficient in terms of bandwidth consumption and server load
  • uses http only
  • easy to use
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