Upgrading FreeBSD

Author: Elijah Savage



This document started as a follow up to The Ultimate Multimedia Server Guide and how to go about keeping your server up to date and patched with the latest O/S patches and security patches. The other reason for this document was to try and create an easy to follow update guide for the not so Unix savvy users that visit my website from time to time. My first time trying to upgrade FreeBSD from sources went well but trying to understand and piece together all the other documentation was more of a daunting task than actually upgrading.

General Information

This guide will lead you through bringing your FreeBSD server up to date to ensure that you get the most entertainment pleasure from your server. Before embarking on this journey I would highly recommend reading this documentation in it's fullest before executing any of it. This guide will require time, patience and attention to detail. This is more time consuming than it is difficult.

You will also notice Blue Font type and Underlined type used throughout this documentation. These are actual www links provided to make finding things a bit easier for you.


1) Base install of FreeBSD and Ports, preferably FreeBSD 6 as it is the latest stable production release at the time of this document.

2) Some sort of Internet connectivity either broadband or some sort of business connectivity like a t1. The faster your downstream connectivity of course the shorter length of time it will take for you to download the sources.

3) Your favorite text editor. I prefer VI but there are others like Emacs and Pico.

4) sudo or root access to your server and also console access.

5) And last but not least a little time and patience.


The tools that are required for this project can be easily installed from our ports tree. Most tools needed are already installed but there are a couple that we will use to make things a little easier on us and also to automate this process for future use. The main choice of tool for this process is CVS, if you are interested in what is really happening take 10 minutes of your spare time to read The FreeBSD Handbook CVS section.

The first thing we will do is install cvsup-without-gui, you may want to install just cvsup if you have installed X11 on your server. I prefer not to have the overhead of X11 or any type of gui running on my servers.

#cd /usr/ports/net/cvsup-without-gui

# make install clean

The above will install cvsup-without-gui and clean the source files out of your ports tree to preserve disk space. CVS will also prompt you asking if it should run MAKE SURE to answer NO to this at this time. There is a tad bit more work to do before running this.

Next we will install a tool that with a little script of my own will help make choosing the fastest cvs server on the Internet for us so that downloading the sources take as little time as possible.

#cd /usr/ports/sysutils/fastest_cvsup

# make install clean

Now that we have that out of the way we need to prepare our cvsup-file for use. I prefer to have my files in /root for easy backup purposes but you could put them any place you like.

# cd ~

# cp /usr/share/examples/cvsup/cvs-supfile /root/cvs-supfile

The file you have just copied to your root directory will need to be edited. This file is a very long file so I will not paste it in its entirety here. I would suggest you read your cvs-supfile completely but this document is about making it a tad bit easier so the lines below is what needs editing. Using your favorite editor change these lines to look like such


*default host=CHANGE_THIS.FreeBSD.org

change to this

*default host=cvsup15.freebsd.org


*default prefix=/home/ncvs

change to this

*default prefix=/usr

This is the first spot in the documentation where we really make sure this is exact. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of this file and comment out EACH of these lines when you are done it should look like this below

## Website


# This collection retrieves the www tree of the FreeBSD

# repository


## CVSROOT control files


# This is to get the control files that cvs(1) needs and the commit logs.


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By: Amza Marian

You can use csup ("/usr/bin/csup") instead of cvsup-without-gui.

 csup(1)   - network distribution package for CVS repositories