Installing Software

The FreeBSD Install Ports Tree

The FreeBSD ports system offers a very flexible method of installing software applications on a system. After issuing a beginning command, ports will automatically download and build the application, as well as install any required dependencies.

To help manage disk space, the ports system uses a tool called poudriere. It can upgrade obsolete ports and remove distfiles if necessary, thereby saving valuable space.


If you are an advanced user, you might want to use the ports system to install software on your machine. The ports system downloads source code for a program, compiles it into an installer package, and installs the application for you. It also gives you the ability to set compile flags that can make an application more specific to your system.

The pkg_add utility uses the ports system to add new applications to your machine. The utility will download the appropriate packages from a server on your network. It will check whether the files are the correct format and version.

When running pkg_add, you should be sure that you are su’ed to root and have a working internet connection. You can also specify the pkg_destdir variable to store downloaded packages in a different directory. This will prevent the files from being overwritten. You can also restrict the search to a particular branch of the ports tree by using the special form %branch. For example, ‘pkg_add python%stable’ will only match the stable branches of the python project.


The ports system offers a powerful method for installing software on FreeBSD. Its hierarchy of directories under /usr/ports categorizes each piece of software that can be built on the platform. The first level of subdirectories categorizes software primarily by function and language, with additional subdirectories for individual pieces of software. This software is downloaded from the Internet, patched and configured if needed, then compiled and installed on the system with minimal user intervention.

The pkg_add command can also install individual packages from the ports tree. This feature is useful if you want to install only a specific component of an application or if you want to install multiple applications at once. However, this method does not provide as much control as the ports system.

There are several make “targets” that allow you to search the ports collection for a particular criteria. One of these is search, which searches the ports collection for a given package name or description. Other options include quicksearch and portmaster, which offer more flexible searching options.


The ports system provides a filesystem hierarchy that enables you to build and install applications for your FreeBSD operating system. When you issue a make command, a series of commands are automatically run to download the source code, patch it if necessary, compile and install the application. It will also install any required dependencies and configure them if necessary. The result is software that runs on your system and which can be viewed with pkg-info.

While the ports system does a lot of work automatically, it is not able to revisit options that were configured for a port after it has been built and installed. This is a drawback of the ports system, but it can be overcome by using flavors.

It is important to note that the config-recursive target walks recursively through the dependency tree to fetch, build, configure and install ports. It may take some time to fetch a large number of files.


The ports system provides a way to build and install third-party applications on FreeBSD. It consists of Makefiles arranged in a hierarchical directory structure. The first level of the directory structure categorizes software based on function or language, and each category contains subdirectories that contain individual pieces of software.

When a user issues make(1) in the port directory of a desired application, the ports system automatically downloads the application source code, patches it and configures it, and builds it. It also recursively walks the dependency tree to ensure that all required software is installed. It then displays the results.

The ports system also includes a number of useful features that help manage disk space. For example, it can display the INDEX file for each port and the date it was last updated. It can also show the email address of the port maintainer. This makes it easy to track changes. It can even create a ZIP archive of the INDEX file for distribution.

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