Portupgrade vs Portmaster and update woes with FreeBSD and other OSes

Copying forward posts from an old Drupal install in case they help and also to pad this blog a bit! Also copying the comment on this one since it’s probably better than my post:

A very informal opinion here but it seems to me that portmaster is better than portupgrade for FreeBSD. I’m sure most have no idea what I’m talking about here. Those are both tool to update a FreeBSD system. The reason I say portmaster is better is that it prompts you for all of the user input at the beginning of the process. Portupgrade seems to require you to monitor the system as it will prompt for user input as it comes across a port needing user input. This can be a bit annoying since it can take some time to compile everything so you have to periodically monitor the process.

This all stems from a failed attempt to install VirtualBox on the FreeBSD machine in order to try Windows 8 (which I still am liking despite other folks disparaging it). In that failure I somehow decided it was a good idea to get the software up-to-date on the FreeBSD machine. In the process I lost GTK based window managers (Gnome, XFCE, most anything not KDE, etc) as I can’t get around an annoying issue with recompiling a basic GTK library as it won’t recognize png files anymore… Something to do with GDK not getting updated with the latest version of png. Whatever, I don’t need a GUI really, WindowMaker still works (ah proto OS X nee NextStep respectfully legacy of Mr. Jobs) should I need one, and everything else still works. I almost decided to go back to Debian with this before I remembered I don’t need no stinking GUI here! Scary stuff I’m sure.

The thing I did learn is on FreeBSD you should read /usr/ports/UPDATING before updating the system as it tells you things you need to do first. It even gives the specific commands you need to do. I wonder if I had looked there first I’d still have a GTK window manager. Debian never had that issue…. But then again Debian was always a year out of date and Ubuntu randomly broke things with updates (well, avahi/AFP/Time Machine support for the server and a netbook update failed badly once). To generallize needlessly, I’ll also never try Red Hat or other non-Debian based Linux distribution after my initial experience with RPM hell, Red Hat (mind 10 years ago), and Mandrake Linux (again 10 years ago). As such I do like the BSDs as even with a periodic update you never at least screw up the core system. Apparently you can still screw up the peripherals, but at least the core is still solid. Perhaps that’s slander towards Debian/Ubuntu, Red Hat, and the *BSDs but that’s been my impression of the non Windows/Macintosh OSes at least.

And the comment:

As a FreeBSD user myself I too prefer portmaster over portupgrade. You make some good points and as far as peripherals go yes, you can damage them if you’re not careful, but ultimately one should understand what they are doing before they do it which is what most others in the open source communities will tell you. When in doubt – back out. Portupgrade also lacks many features portmaster has which should have been in portupgrade. Portmaster also allows you more control over specifics unlike portupgrade.

The UPDATING file, heh yeah. I think it’s safe to say many users new to FreeBSD have gone through this at one time or another or simply just forgot to check. It happens though it’s all part of the learning process. Once you understand how many things about the operating system work it really gives you a different sense of appreciation for its design and functionality as well as stability.

About the Linux distrobutions I can agree. I tried several operating systems before finally falling for FreeBSD, but there was very good reason which are some of the reasons you describe above. I remember RPM hell and I also remember Ubuntu being the last straw in my quest for Linux awesomeness. Don’t get me wrong of course there are many fairly nice Linux distrobutions out there today, but as far as Ubuntu goes I could not handle it anymore with things constantly busting after an update or distrobution upgrade. I did not like the package management nor did I like the unnecessary obtuse command lines to perform tasks.

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