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<chapt><heading>Staying current with FreeBSD<label id="current"></heading>
<p><em>Contributed by &a.jkh;.</em>
THE FREEBSD CURRENT POLICY
Last updated: $Date: 1996-07-05 11:30:15 $
This document attempts to explain the rationale behind
FreeBSD-current, what you should expect should you decide to run it,
and states some prerequisites for making sure the process goes as
smoothly as possible.
<sect><heading>What is FreeBSD-current?</heading>
<p>FreeBSD-current is, quite literally, nothing more than a daily
snapshot of the working sources for FreeBSD. These include work in
progress, experimental changes and transitional mechanisms that may or
may not be present in the next official release of the software.
While many of us compile almost daily from FreeBSD-current sources,
there are periods of time when the sources are literally un-compilable.
These problems are generally resolved as expeditiously as possible,
but whether or not FreeBSD-current sources bring disaster or greatly
desired functionality can literally be a matter of which part of any
given 24 hour period you grabbed them in!
Under certain circumstances we will sometimes make binaries for parts
of FreeBSD-current available, but only because we are interested in
getting something tested, not because we are in the business of
providing binary releases of current. If we do not offer, please do not
ask! It takes far too much time to do this as a general task.
<sect><heading>Who needs FreeBSD-current?</heading>
<p>FreeBSD-current is made generally available for 3 primary interest groups:
<item> Members of the FreeBSD group who are actively working on some
part of the source tree and for whom keeping `current' is an
<item> Members of the FreeBSD group who are active testers,
willing to spend time working through problems in order to
ensure that FreeBSD-current remains as sane as possible. These
are also people who wish to make topical suggestions on changes
and the general direction of FreeBSD.
<item> Peripheral members of the FreeBSD (or some other) group who merely
wish to keep an eye on things and use the current sources for
reference purposes (e.g. for <em>reading</em>, not running). These
people also make the occasional comment or contribute code.
<sect><heading>What is FreeBSD-current <em>NOT</em>?</heading>
<item> A fast-track to getting pre-release bits because you heard there's
some cool new feature in there and you want to be the first on
your block to have it.
<item> A quick way of getting bug fixes.
<item> In any way ``officially supported'' by us.
We do our best to help people genuinely in one of the 3
``legitimate'' FreeBSD-current categories, but we simply <em>do not
have the time</em> to help every person who jumps into FreeBSD-current
with more enthusiasm than knowledge of how to deal with
experimental system software. This is not because we are mean and
nasty people who do not like helping people out (we would not even be
doing FreeBSD if we were), it is literally because we cannot answer
400 messages a day <em>and</em> actually work on FreeBSD! I am sure
that, if given the choice between having us answer lots of questions or
continuing to improve FreeBSD, most of you would vote for us
<p><enum> <item> Join the &a.current and the &a.cvsall .
This is not just a good idea, it is <em>essential</em>.
If you are not on the <em>FreeBSD-current</em> mailing list you
will not see the comments that people are making about the
current state of the system and thus will probably end up stumbling
over a lot of problems that others have already found and
solved. Even more importantly, you will miss out on
potentially critical information (e.g. ``Yo, Everybody!
Before you rebuild <tt>/usr/src</tt>, you <em>must</em>
rebuild the kernel or your system will crash horribly!").
The <em>cvs-all</em> mailing list will allow you to see the commit log
entry for each change as it is made along with any pertinent
information on possible side-effects.
To join these lists, send mail to &a.majordomo and specify:
In the body of your message. Optionally, you can also say `help'
and Majordomo will send you full help on how to subscribe and
unsubscribe to the various other mailing lists we support.
<item> Grab the sources from ftp.FreeBSD.ORG. You can do this in
<item> Use the <ref id="ctm" name="CTM"> facility. Unless you
have a good TCP/IP connection at a flat rate, this is
the way to do it.
<item> Use the CMU <ref id="sup"> program (Software Update
This is the second most recommended method, since it allows
you to grab the entire collection once and then only what has
changed from then on. Many people run sup from cron
and keep their sources up-to-date automatically.
<item> Use ftp. The source tree for FreeBSD-current is always
We also use `wu-ftpd' which allows compressed/tar'd grabbing
of whole trees. e.g. you see:
You can do:
ftp> cd usr.bin
ftp> get lex.tar.Z
And it will get the whole directory for you as a compressed
<item> Essentially, if you need rapid on-demand access to the source and
communications bandwidth is not a consideration, use sup or ftp.
Otherwise, use CTM.
<item> If you are grabbing the sources to run, and not just look at,
then grab <em>all</em> of current, not just selected portions. The
reason for this is that various parts of the source depend on
updates elsewhere, and trying to compile just a subset is almost
guaranteed to get you into trouble.
<item> Before compiling current, read the Makefile in /usr/src
carefully. You should at least run a `make world' the first time
through as part of the upgrading process.
Reading the &a.hackers will keep you up-to-date on other
bootstrapping procedures that sometimes become necessary as we move
towards the next release.
<item> Be active! If you are running FreeBSD-current, we want to know
what you have to say about it, especially if you have suggestions
for enhancements or bug fixes. Suggestions with accompanying code
are received most enthusiastically!