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Warden® is an easy to use, graphical jail[1] management program. Using Warden®, it is possible to create multiple, isolated virtual instances of FreeBSD which can be used to run services such as Apache, PHP, or MySQL in a secure manner. Each jail is considered to be a unique FreeBSD operating system and whatever happens in that jail will not affect your operating system or other jails running on the PC-BSD® system.

Warden® has been redesigned for PC-BSD® 9.1, and is now part of Control Panel. A command line version is also available for those who prefer to work from the command line or to script their jail management.

Some of the new features in Warden® include the ability to:

  • create three types of jails: a traditional FreeBSD jail for running network services, a (less secure) ports jail for safely installing and running FreeBSD ports/packages from your PC-BSD® system, and a Linux jail for installing Linux
  • set multiple IPv4 and IPv6 addresses per jail
  • quickly install meta-packages of common network server applications on a per-jail basis
  • use Update Manager for installed meta-packages on a per-jail basis
  • use User Manager to manage user accounts on a per-jail basis
  • manage ZFS snapshots on a per-jail basis if the PC-BSD® system is formatted with the ZFS filesystem
  • export a jail which can be then be imported into the same or a different jail


Creating a Jail using Warden®

Warden® can be started by clicking on its icon in Control Panel or by typing pc-su warden gui from the command line. You will be prompted for the adminstrative password as only the superuser can create and manage jails.

The first time you start Warden®, you will be prompted to set the network interface as your jails will not work if the wrong interface is configured. Click Yes to set the interface using the screen shown in Figure 8.19a. You can access this screen at a later time from JailsConfiguration.

Figure 8.19a: Warden® Configuration


This screen allows you to configure the following:

  • Jail Network Interface: all jails created within Warden® share the same physical interface. Use the drop-down menu to select the network interface to be used by the jails.
  • Jail Directory: contains all of the created jails where each jail has its own sub-directory named after its IP address. By default, it is /usr/jails. If you change this directory, make sure the location has sufficient space to hold the jails.
  • Temp Directory: used when exporting and importing jails. Make sure that the directory has sufficient space to create a tar file of the jail and its contents.

Once you click the Save button to save your interface configuration, you will be presented with the main Warden® configuration screen, shown in Figure 8.19b.

Figure 8.19b: Initial Warden® Screen


To create your first jail, click the + button or go to FileNew Jail. A jail creation wizard, seen in Figure 8.19c, will launch.

Figure 8.19c: Creating the New Jail


The first screen in the jail creation wizard will prompt you for the following information:

IP Address: input the IPv4 or IPv6 address to be used by the jail and access its contents. Choose an address on your network that is not already in use by another computer or jail.

Hostname: you can change the default of "Jailbird" to another value. The hostname must be unique on your network. Use a hostname that reminds you of the type of jail and your reason for creating it.

When finished, click Next to select the type of jail, as shown in Figure 8.19d:

Figure 8.19d: Select the Type of Jail


There are three types of jails supported by Warden®:

Traditional Jail: select this type if you are creating the jail in order to install and run network services. For example, this type of jail is appropriate if you wish to run a web server or a database which is accessible to other systems on a network or over the Internet. This is the most secure type of jail as it is separate from the PC-BSD® host and any other jails that you create using Warden®.

Ports Jail: select this type of jail if your intention is to install software using FreeBSD packages and ports and you wish to have access to that software from your PC-BSD® system. This type of jail is less secure then a traditional jail as applications are shared between the jail and the PC-BSD® system. This means that you should not use this type of jail to install services that will be available to other machines over a network.

Linux Jail: select this type of jail if you would like to install a Linux operating system within a jail.

The remaining screens will differ depending upon the type of jail that you select.

Traditional or Ports Jail

If you select "Traditional Jail", you will be prompted to set the root password as seen in Figure 8.19e.

Figure 8.19e: Setting the Traditional Jail's Root Password


Input and confirm the password then press Next to see the screen shown in Figure 8.19f. If you instead select to create a "Ports Jail", you will go directly to Figure 8.19f.

Figure 8.19f: Select the Jail Options


This screen allows you to install the following options:

Include system source: if you check this box, make sure that /usr/src/ exists on the PC-BSD system as the source is copied to the jail from this location. If it is not installed, use Control PanelSystem ManagerTasks ➜ Fetch System Source to install it.

Include ports tree: if you check this box, the latest version of the ports tree will be downloaded into /usr/ports/ of the jail. This will allow you to compile FreeBSD ports within this jail.

Start jail at system bootup: if this box is checked, the jail will be started (become available) whenever you boot your main system. If the box is not checked, you can manually start the jail whenever you wish to access it using Warden®.

Once you have made your selections, click the Finish button to create the jail. Warden® will display a pop-up window containing status messages as it downloads the files it needs and creates and configures the new jail.

Once Warden® is finished creating the jail, a message should appear at the bottom of the pop-up window indicating that the jail has been successfully created. Click the Close button to return to the main screen.

Linux Jail

If you select the "Linux Jail" and click Next, you will be prompted to set the root password as seen in Figure 8.19e. After inputting the password, the wizard will prompt you to select a Linux install script, as seen in Figure 8.19g.

Figure 8.19g: Select the Linux Distribution to Install


The installation script is used to install the specified Linux distribution. At this time, installation scripts for Debian Squeeze and for Gentoo are provided. Scripts for other distros will be added over time.

NOTE: a Linux installation script is simply a shell script which invokes a Linux network installation. In the case of Debian Squeeze, it invokes the debootstrap command.

Once you select the install script, the wizard will ask if you would like to start the jail at boot time as seen in Figure 8.19h.

Figure 8.19h: Linux Jail Options


Click the Finish button to begin the Linux installation.

Managing Jails

Once a jail is created, an entry for the jail will be added to the "Installed Jails" box and the tabs within Warden® will become available. Each entry indicates the jail's IP address, hostname, whether or not it is currently running, and whether or not any updates are available for the meta-packages installed within the jail. The buttons beneath the "Installed Jails" box can be used to start or stop the highlighted jail, add a new jail, or delete the highlighted jail.

This section provides an overview of how to manage jails using the tabs within the Warden® interface.

Info Tab

The Info tab, as seen in the example in Figure 8.19i, provides an overview of a jail's configuration. If you have created multiple jails, the Info tab displays the configuration of the currently highlighted jail.

Figure 8.19i: Info Tab of Warden®


In the example shown in Figure 8.19i, three jails have been created. The first jail is a traditional jail, the second is a ports jail, and Debian Squeeze has been installed into the third jail.

The Info tab contains the following information:

  • Jail Type: will indicate if the jail is a Traditional, Ports, or Linux jail.
  • Size on Disk: indicates the amount of space being used by the jail. The jail itself takes up about 300MB of space, source is about 300MB, and ports are about 850MB.
  • Start at boot: a status of "Enabled" indicates that the jail will automatically start when the system reboots. "Disabled" means that you will manually start the jail as needed.
  • Active Connections:
  • Additional IPs:
  • Listening on Ports: indicates which ports have been opened on the jail.

Tools Tab

The tools tab, shown in Figure 8.19j, allows you to manage common configuration tasks within a jail.

NOTE: make sure that the desired jail is highlighted when using the Tools tab.

Figure 8.19j: Tools Tab for the Highlighted Jail


This tab provides the following buttons:

  • User Administrator: opens User Manager so that you can manage the highlighted jail's user accounts and groups. The title bar will indicate that you are "Editing Users for Jail: IP_of_Jail". Note that any users and groups that you have created on your PC-BSD® system will not be added to jails as each jail has its own users and groups. This button is not available if a Linux jail is highlighted.
  • Service Manager: opens Service Manager so that you can view which services are running in the jail and configure which services should start when the jail is started. Note that this button is not available if a Linux jail is highlighted.
  • Launch Terminal: opens a terminal with the root user logged into the jail. This allows you to adminster the jail from the command line. This button will be greyed out if the highlighted jail is not running. You can start a jail by right-clicking its entry and selecting Start Jail from the menu or by clicking the start jail icon (blue arrow icon below the list of jails).
  • Check for Updates: launches Update Manager to determine if any of the jail's meta-packages have newer versions available. Update Manager will also indicate if system updates are available to be installed into the jail. Note that this button is not available if a Linux jail is highlighted.
  • Export Jail: launches a pop-up window prompting you to choose the directory in which to save a backup of the jail (and all of its software, configuration, and files) as a .wdn file. Creating the .wdn file may take some time, especially if you have installed src, ports, or software.

Snapshots Tab

If you chose to use the ZFS filesystem when you installed PC-BSD®, you can use its snapshot feature to make point in time filesystem backups of jails. A snapshot is essentially a picture of what the filesystem looked like at that point in time. Snapshots are space efficient in that they take up zero space when created and the snapshot only grows in size as files contained within the snapshot are modified after the snapshot was taken. In other words, ZFS manages the changes between snapshots, providing a way to return to what a file looked like at the time a snapshot was taken.

Since jails share the filesystem used by PC-BSD®, any type of jail, including a Linux jail, can take advantage of this ZFS feature if the ZFS filesystem was selected during the installation of PC-BSD®.

The snapshots tab, shown in Figure 8.19k, is used to create and manage snapshots within the currently highlighted jail.

NOTE: this tab will be greyed out if you are not using the ZFS filesystem.

Figure 8.19k: Snapshots Tab for the Highlighted Jail


To create a snapshot of the jail, click the +Add button. A snapshot indicating the date and time will be added to the slider bar. If you create multiple snapshots at different times, use the slider bar to select a snapshot.

Once you have created a snapshot, the following actions can be used to manage the snapshot. Make sure that the desired snapshot is highlighted in the slider bar before clicking these buttons:

  • Restore: returns the system to what it looked like at the time the snapshot was taken. Think about what you wish to accomplish before using this option as any changes to files that occurred after the snapshot was taken will be lost. Unless you really want to go back to this point in time, this is probably not what you want to do.
  • Mount: if you wish to retrieve some files or directories from a snapshot, use this button. Once mounted, a message will indicate where on the PC-BSD® system the jail's contents have been mounted.
  • Unmount: when you are finished accessing the contents of the mounted snapshot, click this button to unmount the snapshot.
  • Add: use this button to create additional snapshots.
  • Remove: use this button to remove the highlighted snapshot.

This screen also allows you to schedule automatic snapshots. To enable this feature, check the box "Scheduled Snapshots". Use the drop-down menu to set the frequency to daily or hourly. You can also type in or use the arrows to configure the number of days to keep each snapshot.

Packages Tab

The packages tab, shown in Figure 8.19l, allows you to install meta-packages within the specified traditional or ports jail. Software installed using this method will be tracked by Update Manager, meaning that Warden® will be notified when updates are available for the installed software.

Figure 8.19l: Packages Tab for the Highlighted Jail


NOTE: by default, jails use the "warden" metapkgset which provides packages suited to a server, command line installation. At this time, meta-packages are not available for Linux jails meaning that this tab will be greyed out if a Linux jail is highlighted.

The following meta-packages are available:

  • Database-Servers: MySQL and PostgreSQL
  • Development: ccache and distcc
  • File-Servers: Samba
  • Languages: PHP
  • Virtualization: VirtualBox
  • Web-Servers: Apache, Lighttp, NGINX, and Squid

Hover over a package to receive a short description. If you right-click a package, it will indicate which packages and versions will be installed.

Right-Click Menu

A jail's right-click menu contains the following options:

  • Start or Stop this Jail: allows you to start a jail (if it is currently not running) or to stop a jail (if it is currently running). You will not be able to access a jail that has not been started. The icon next to the jail will change to indicate the current status: a red X for a stopped jail and a blue arrow for a started jail.
  • Toggle Autostart: toggles a jail's Autostart between "Disabled" (does not automatically start when the PC-BSD® system is booted) and "Enabled" (will start the jail when the PC-BSD® system is booted). The Info tab will be updated to indicate the new "Start at boot" status. Note that toggling autostart will not affect the current running status of the jail (i.e. it does not start or stop the jail right now) as autostart is only used when the system boots.
  • Export jail to .wdn file: allows you to save the jail (and all of its software, configuration, and files) as a .wdn file. This allows you to quickly clone a pre-configured jail to a new jail on either the same or another PC-BSD® system. The exported jail will end with a .wdn extension and the filename will be the IP address of the jail. When exporting a jail, a pop-up window will prompt you to choose the directory in which to store the backup. A progress bar will indicate that the export is in progress. Creating the .wdn file may take some time, especially if you have installed src, ports, or software.

NOTE: you should close all network connections to the jail before exporting it as Warden® will need to stop the jail in order to back it up. If your jail is running services (e.g. a webserver), export the jail at a time that will least impact network connections to the jail.

  • Delete Jail: removes the jail and all of its contents from the PC-BSD® system. You will be prompted to confirm this action.

Importing a Jail

The File menu can be used to create a new jail, import a jail, or exit Warden®.

If you click FileImport Jail you will be prompted to browse to the location of a previously created .wdn file. Once selected, you will be prompted whether or not to use the same IP address for the new jail. If you are creating a new jail on the same system that still has the original jail installed, select No and input the IP address for the new jail. However, if you have deleted the original jail or need to restore that same jail on another computer (for example, there was a hardware failure on the system containing the original jail), you can choose to use the same IP address. You will then be prompted whether or not to use the same hostname. Again, only say Yes if that hostname is no longer in use; otherwise, select No and input a unique hostname for the jail. Warden® will then recreate the jail with all of the original settings. Whether or not those settings include the original IP address and hostname depends upon your selections.

Using the Command Line Version of Warden®

The Warden® GUI is based on a Bourne shell script. This script can be manually run from the command line on a PC-BSD® server or by users who prefer using the command line. Advanced users can also refer to the command line version in their own scripts.

If you type warden at the command line, you will receive a summary of its usage:

Warden version 1.2                                                                                                                 
Available commands                                                                                                                 
Type in help <command> for information and usage about that command                                                                                                                                                               
 help - This help file                                                                                                            
 gui - Launch the GUI menu                                                                                                                                                     
 auto - Toggles the autostart flag for a jail                                                                              
 checkup - Check for updates to a jail                                                                                        
 chroot - Launches chroot into a jail                                                                                        
 create - Creates a new jail 
 details - Display usage details about a jail
 delete - Deletes a jail
 export - Exports a jail to a .wdn file
 import - Imports a jail from a .wdn file
 list - Lists the installed jails
 pkgs - Lists the installed packages in a jail
 start - Start a jail
 stop - Stops a jail
 set - Sets options for a jail
 type - Set the jail type (portjail/normal)
 zfsmksnap - Create a ZFS snapshot of a jail 
 zfslistclone - List clones of jail snapshots
 zfslistsnap - List snapshots of a jail
 zfsclonesnap - Clone a jail snapshot
 zfscronsnap - Schedule snapshot creation via cron
 zfsrevertsnap - Revert jail to a snapshot
 zfsrmclone - Remove a clone directory
 zfsrmsnap - Remove snapshot of a jail

Each command has its own help text that describes its parameters and provides a usage example. For example, to receive help on how to use the warden create command, type:

warden help create
Warden version 1.2
Help create
Creates a new jail, with options for system source, ports and autostarting.
Available Flags:
 --src       (Includes /usr/src system source)
 --ports     (Includes the ports tree)
 --startauto (Start this jail at system boot)
 --portjail  (Make this a portjail)
 --linuxjail <installscript> (Make this a linux jail and use supplied script for installation)
 warden create <IP> <HOSTNAME> <flags>
 warden create jailbird --src --ports --startauto

You do not need superuser access to use the view commands but will for any commands that create or manage a jail. The warden command will display an error message if a command requires superuser access and you currently are not the superuser. On PC-BSD®, you can put pc-su at the beginning of the warden command to be prompted for the administrative password. On a FreeBSD server, you can type su to become superuser, then repeat the warden command.

Managing Software Not Available in Packages Tab

The rest of this section demonstrates how to install and upgrade software that is not available in a jail's packages tab.

Note that the software you install into a traditional jail will not be available to your PC-BSD® system. In other words, software installed into a traditional jail is meant to be used within the jail, or, in the case of network applications such as a web server, to be configured to be available over the network.

The commands demonstrated in this section can also be used to install software inside a ports jail. The software you install into a ports jail will be available to your PC-BSD® system. If you are interested in installing software on your PC-BSD® system that is not available as a PBI or you wish to learn how to use FreeBSD packages and ports without affecting the software that came with your PC-BSD® system, install the software within a ports jail.

NOTE: to manage software in a Linux jail, use the package management system provided by that Linux distro. For example, in Debian Squeeze, use txt=Missing Link[2].

All of the commands in this section assume that you have highlighted the jail that you wish to install software into and clicked ToolsLaunch Terminal.

Installing FreeBSD Packages Within a Traditional or Ports Jail

The quickest and easiest way to install software inside the jail is to install a FreeBSD package. A FreeBSD package is pre-compiled, meaning that it contains all the binaries and dependencies required for the software to run on a FreeBSD system.

When dealing with FreeBSD packages, the following command line utilities are used:

  • pkg_add: used to install packages. If you have never used this command before, take the time to read man pkg_add to get an overview of how this command works.
  • pkg_delete: used to uninstall packages. If you have never used this command before, take the time to read man pkg_delete to get an overview of how this command works.
  • pkg_info: used to get more information about the packages that have been installed. This command provides many useful switches so it is well worth your time to read through man pkg_info and to experiment with various switches.

A lot of software has been ported to FreeBSD (currently nearly 24,000 applications) and most of that software is available as a package. The best way to find FreeBSD software is to use txt=Missing Link[3]. If you are using the firefox PBI, it provides a FreshPorts search plugin for quickly finding software.

Figure 8.19m shows the search results for electric; the search was performed using the firefox plugin.

Figure 8.19m: FreshPorts Search Result


Each listing in the search results includes the name of the software, the version, a description, the category (e.g. security), the email address of the port's maintainer, a CVSWeb link containing the details of the port, and a link to the software's main website. Each entry includes the command used to compile the port (as described in the next section) and the pkg_add -r command used to install the package.

To install a package, use the pkg_add command using the remote (-r) switch to install the specified package from the FreeBSD packages repository. For example, this command will install the electric package:

pkg_add -r electric
Fetching ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/amd64/packages-9-stable/Latest/electric.tbz... Done.

You should receive a message indicating that the package was successfully fetched, then your prompt back. Depending upon what is already installed within the jail, your messages may indicate that dependent packages were also fetched. Some packages include post-installation instructions that will be displayed in the message. Occasionally you will see a warning about a version mismatch; you can ignore these as they do not affect the installation of the package. Unless the message includes an error indicating that the system was unable to fetch or install the package, the installation was successful.

You can confirm that the installation was successful by querying the package database:

pkg_info -ox electric
Information for electric-7.0.0_4:

Most packages install their binary (executable) in /usr/local/bin and configuration files in /usr/local/etc/. You can find out exactly what was installed using the -L (list) switch. If you include -x, you will not have to type in the entire name and version of the package as pkg_info will match any installed packages containing your query string.

pkg_info -Lx electric | more
Information for electric-7.0.0_4:
<snip rest of output>

The pkg_delete command can be used to uninstall either a package or a port. If you include the -x switch, you do not have to give the full name and version of the software. Be sure to give enough of a name so that you do not inadvertently uninstall other software matching the name:

pkg_delete -x electric

If you just get the command prompt back, the delete was successful. You can verify this by checking that the package no longer exists in the package database:

pkg_info | grep electric

You will just get your prompt back if no installed software matches that name.

If the software has other applications that depend upon it, pkg_delete will refuse to uninstall it. If you wish to override this setting, you can use the -xf switch to force the delete. However, use the force switch with caution as forcibly removing software can adversely affect the applications that required it as a dependency.

Compiling FreeBSD Ports Within a Traditional or Ports Jail

Typically, software is installed using the pkg_add command. Occasionally you may prefer to compile the port yourself. Compiling the port offers the following advantages:

  • not every port has an available package. This is usually due to licensing restrictions or known, unaddressed security vulnerabilities.
  • sometimes the package is out-of-date and you need a feature that became available in the newer version.
  • some ports provide compile options that are not available in the pre-compiled package. These options are used to add additional features or to strip out the features you do not need.

Compiling the port yourself has the following dis-advantages:

  • it takes time. Depending upon the size of the application, the amount of dependencies, the amount of CPU and RAM on the system, and the current load on the PC-BSD® system, the amount of time can range from a few minutes to a few hours or even to a few days.

NOTE: if the port doesn't provide any compile options, save your time and the PC-BSD system's resources by using the pkg_add command instead.

You can determine if the port has any configurable compile options by clicking on its CVSWeb link in FreshPorts. To continue the example shown in Figure 8.19m, Figure 8.19n shows the results when the CVSWeb link is clicked for electric.

Figure 8.19n Viewing a Port's Information at FreshPorts


If you click the link for Makefile, you can read the commit messages for every version of the Makefile; this can give you a good idea of how long the port has been available, how often it is updated, and any major changes that have occurred. Alternately, to view the current Makefile, click on the Rev. number--in this case, 1.24. The distinfo contains the checksums for the source files; again, you can either read the current revision or scroll through the list of commits. The pkg-descr contains a description of the software; if you read the revision, it will begin with the commit message. The pkg-plist contains a list of what is installed (i.e. it is the equivalent of running pkg_info -Lx as described in the FreeBSD packages section). When reading this list, mentally replace anything between %% markers with /usr/local/.

Before you can compile a port, you must first install the ports collection into the jail. If you did not choose to do so when the jail was created, you can install the ports collection using the following command. You will know that you have the ports collection when /usr/ports/ is populated with many subdirectories, each representing a category of software.

portsnap fetch extract

If you compile additional software at a later date, you should make sure that the ports collection is up-to-date using this command:

portsnap update
Ports tree is already up to date.  

Once you have the ports collection installed into your ports jail, change to the subdirectory of the application you wish to install, for instance /usr/ports/cad/electric, and issue the command to make and install the application. FreshPorts provides the location to cd into and the make command to run.

cd /usr/ports/cad/electric
make install clean

If the port's Makefile includes OPTIONS, a configure screen will be displayed. The example in Figure 8.19o shows the options for the openvpn port.

Figure 8.19o: Configuration Options from a Port's Makefile


To change an option's setting, use the arrow keys to highlight the option, then press the spacebar to toggle the selection. Once you are finished, press enter. The port will begin to compile and install.

NOTE: if you change your mind, the configuration screen will not be displayed again should you stop and restart the build. Type make config && make install clean if you need to change your selected options.

If the port has any dependencies with options, their configuration screens will be displayed and the compile will pause until it receives your input. It is a good idea to keep an eye on the compile until it finishes and you are returned to the command prompt.

How long the compile will take can range from a few minutes to many hours, depending upon the size of the application and the speed of your system. The make command will spit out many messages, most of which you can ignore as they are simply an indication of which source is currently being compiled. Occasionally, make will encounter an error and will stop with an error message. If the solution for the error is not obvious to you, try a web search for the keywords in the error message.

NOTE: sometimes due to licensing reasons a port will require that a file be downloaded manually and placed into the /usr/ports/distfiles/ directory. After downloading and copying this file to that directory, repeat the make command to finish the compile.

Once the port is installed, it is registered in the same package database that manages packages. This means that you can use the pkg_info command to determine what was installed, as described in the previous section.

Keeping Software Up-to-Date

Any software that you install using the Packages tab within Warden® can be kept up-to-date using Update Manager. Simply highlight the jail and go to ToolsCheck for Updates. Update Manager will also indicate when security patches and newer versions of the operating system are available and should be used to keep the jail's operating system patched and up-to-date.

However, you will need to manually upgrade any software that you installed using pkg_add or any ports that you compiled yourself within a traditional or ports jail. In order to do this, you will need to:

  1. Update the ports collection so that it is in sync with the latest version.
  2. Install the portmaster utility which is used to upgrade FreeBSD packages and ports.
  3. Read /usr/ports/UPDATING so that you are aware of any gotchas before you attempt to upgrade the software.
  4. Perform the upgrade.

These steps are demonstrated in more detail in this section.

Update the Ports Collection

If you used pkg_add to install the software, you may not have the ports collection installed within the jail. This is the case if /usr/ports does not exist or is empty. To install the latest version of the ports collection, use this command:

portsnap fetch extract

If the ports collection is already installed, use this command to make sure that it is up-to-date:

portsnap update

Install an Upgrading Utility

At this time, the portmaster command is the recommended utility for upgrading software installed using packages or ports. To install this program within the jail, use this command:

pkg_add -r portmaster

Read /usr/ports/UPDATING

Before upgrading installed software, always read through /usr/ports/UPDATING first. This file contains any gotchas or special instructions that are needed to upgrade certain ports. Ports maintainers add to this file as new gotchas are discovered. However, you will want to start reading the file at the entry that is closest to the date that your version of PC-BSD® was released (if you have not upgraded anything yet) or the date you last upgraded, and read your way up to the top of the file. For example, this entry indicates that FreeBSD 9.0 was released on January 12:

 AFFECTS: Nobody
 AUTHOR: wxs@FreeBSD.org
 FreeBSD 9.0 released.

As you read through the entries from that date up to the last entry at the beginning of the file, make note of any entries that match the software that you have installed. If you are unsure of what software is installed, this command will tell you:

pkg_info | more

Occasionally, a software upgrade (e.g. perl) may affect many applications. If you come across such entries that affect your installed software, be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

If your software is up-to-date and you prefer to be notified as new entries are added to /usr/ports/UPDATING, consider subscribing to its RSS feed[4].

Perform the Upgrade

After using the portsnap command to update your ports collection and reading /usr/ports/UPDATING, you are ready to upgrade your installed software using the portmaster command.

The following command will look for out-dated ports and offer to upgrade them for you. If any of the software has configuration options, you will be presented with their configuration menus to make your selections.

portmaster -a
===>>> Gathering distinfo list for installed ports
===>>> Starting check of installed ports for available updates
<snip some output>
===>>> The following actions will be taken if you choose to proceed:
       Upgrade mpg123-1.12.3 to mpg123-1.12.5
       Upgrade p5-Object-InsideOut-3.69 to p5-Object-InsideOut-3.72
       Upgrade linkchecker-5.3 to linkchecker-5.4
       Upgrade tomcat-6.0.29 to tomcat-6.0.29_1
===>>> Proceed? y/n [y] 

If you press enter to accept the default of yes, the upgrade will begin. As each upgrade completes, you will be asked if you want to delete the source for the old version of the software (which can save disk space). If you do not want to be prompted, include -D or -d with the portmaster command. There are many switches available for portmaster so it is a good idea to man portmaster to see which ones interest you.


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FreeBSD_jail
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aptitude_(software)
  3. http://freshports.org
  4. http://updating.versia.com/atom/ports
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