Ports Tricksby Dru Lavigne
One of the many reasons to love FreeBSD is its ports collection.
Nearly 10,000 applications are available, and any installation is a mere
clean away. In today's article, I'd like to share some of my favorite
Even if you've been using the ports collection for a while, a read through
man ports may reveal some tricks you were unaware of. If you have
lots of disk space but a slow or intermittent Internet connection, this tip
from the manpage is a real gem:
% cd /usr/ports % make readmes
You may want to go grab some lunch while the command does its thing. When it's finished, you'll have a new file called /usr/ports/README.html. Open that file in your favorite web browser and you'll find some very handy hyperlinks. First, there is a link to the FreeBSD handbook, which can be accessed either offline from your hard disk, or online from the FreeBSD web site. Next, there is a link to the Porter's Handbook. If you've ever wondered at the magic behind a port's Makefile or had the urge to make your own port, this is the file to read.
Next, there is a list of hyperlinks to each of the subdirectories in /usr/ports. Don't let the simplicity fool you. Select a subdirectory and one of its applications. I'll click on Editors->AbiWord2. The resulting page contains hyperlinks to the port's description, web site, and maintainer's email address, as well as the email address of the ports mailing list. It also contains a list of all of the port's dependencies. Granted, all of this information was already on your hard drive, but you can't beat accessing it via one bookmarkable web page that is available offline.
Making a Package Repository
Another handy trick is making a package repository. This can be both a time- and bandwidth-saver if you need to install software on multiple machines in a network. It is also ideal for installing software on server machines, as you don't have to install the entire ports collection just to install your required applications.
Pick a machine in your network to contain the package repository. Only this machine will need the ports collection; it won't be required on the rest of the machines in the network. Start by creating a directory to hold the packages:
% mkdir /usr/ports/packages
Then create the packages you need. Here, I'll create two packages:
% cd /usr/ports/www/lynx % make package % cd /usr/ports/mail/getmail % make package
When you use
make package, two things happen. One, a package is
created and stored in a subdirectory of /usr/ports/packages.
Second, the port is installed on the local machine, if it hasn't already been
installed. If you don't want to keep the application installed on the machine
acting as the package repository, simply type
make deinstall once
the package has been created.
Once you've populated /usr/ports/packages with the packages
required by your network, set up an NFS mount to share the package repository.
The easiest way to do this is with
stand/sysinstall. On the
machine holding the packages:
Networking, and then
server. You should see the following message:
Operating as an NFS server means that you must first configure an /etc/exports file to indicate which hosts are allowed certain kinds of access to your local file systems. Press
[ENTER]now to invoke an editor on /etc/exports
Unless you've changed your default editor, /etc/exports will be
vi. The default file contains some example syntax. I
added this line to my file to reflect the network ID used on my network:
/usr/ports/packages -network 192.168.2.0 -mask 255.255.255.0
Once you've saved your changes, you can reboot to initialize the NFS server. If rebooting isn't an option, follow the directions in the handbook. Then, ensure the NFS server is listening for requests:
% sockstat | grep nfs root nfsd 3973 tcp4*:2049 *:*
Next, you'll need to create NFS clients on each machine that is to use the
package repository. This time, in
NFS client instead of
NFS server. You won't be
prompted for anything; you'll just check off the box. Once you've exited the
% nfsiod -n 4
Then, check to see if you can access the package repository. In my example, 192.168.2.12 is the machine containing the packages:
% mount 192.168.2.12:/usr/ports/packages /mnt % ls /mnt All Latest ipv6 mail python www
You'll note that subdirectories were created for
www/lynx. The ipv6 and python
subdirectories were for dependencies of those packages. The All
subdirectory is quite handy:
% ls /mnt/All getmail-3.1.7.tbz lynx-22.214.171.124d.tbz
I'll now try to add a package:
% pkg_add /mnt/www/lynx-126.96.36.199d.tbz
Once I receive my prompt back, I'll check that the application did indeed install:
% pkg_info | grep lynx lynx-188.8.131.52d A non-graphical, text-based World-Wide Web client
If you're used to installing ports, you'll find that packages don't install their dependencies for you. Rather, they complain when one is missing. For example:
% pkg_add /mnt/mail/getmail-3.1.7.tbz pkg_add: could not find package python-2.2.3_2 !
Educate your users simply to install the dependency first (in this case,
python-2.2.3_2), and then install the desired package. Also, when a
user is finished, remind them to
cd out of the NFS share and
% cd % umount /mnt
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