Chapter 6. User Applications

6.1. So, where are all the user applications?
6.2. How do I download the Ports tree? Should I be using SVN?
6.3. Does FreeBSD support Java™?
6.4. Why can I not build this port on my 9.X -, or 10.X -STABLE machine?
6.5. I just tried to build INDEX using make index, and it failed. Why?
6.6. I updated the sources, now how do I update my installed ports?
6.7. Do I need to recompile every port each time I perform a major version update?
6.8. Do I need to recompile every port each time I perform a minor version update?
6.9. Why is /bin/sh so minimal? Why does FreeBSD not use bash or another shell?
6.10. How do I create audio CDs from my MIDI files?
6.11. Where can I get an Office Suite for FreeBSD?
6.12. Can I convert from pkgng to the old package tools?

6.1.

So, where are all the user applications?

Refer to the ports page for info on software packages ported to FreeBSD. The list currently tops 24,000 and is growing daily, so come back to check often or subscribe to the FreeBSD announcements mailing list for periodic updates on new entries.

Most ports should work on the 8.X, 9.X, and 10.X branches. Each time a FreeBSD release is made, a snapshot of the ports tree at the time of release in also included in the ports/ directory.

FreeBSD supports packages, which provide a compressed binary distribution. Package can be installed and uninstalled again easily. On FreeBSD, pkg(7) to install packages.

6.2.

How do I download the Ports tree? Should I be using SVN?

Any of the methods listed here work:

  • Use portsnap for most use cases. Refer to Using the Ports Collection for instructions on how to use this tool.

  • Use SVN if custom patches to the ports tree are needed. Refer to Using Subversion for details.

  • Use CTM, as described in Using CTM to receive patches by email over an unreliable Internet connection.

6.3.

Does FreeBSD support Java™?

Yes. Refer to http://www.FreeBSD.org/java/ for more information.

6.4.

Why can I not build this port on my 9.X -, or 10.X -STABLE machine?

If the installed FreeBSD version lags significantly behind -CURRENT or -STABLE, update the Ports Collection using the instructions in Using the Ports Collection. If the system is up-to-date, someone might have committed a change to the port which works for -CURRENT but which broke the port for -STABLE. Submit a bug report, since the Ports Collection is supposed to work for both the -CURRENT and -STABLE branches.

6.5.

I just tried to build INDEX using make index, and it failed. Why?

First, make sure that the Ports Collection is up-to-date. Errors that affect building INDEX from an up-to-date copy of the Ports Collection are high-visibility and are thus almost always fixed immediately.

There are rare cases where INDEX will not build due to odd cases involving WITH_* or WITHOUT_* variables being set in make.conf. If you suspect that this is the case, try to make INDEX with those make variables turned off before reporting it to FreeBSD ports mailing list.

6.6.

I updated the sources, now how do I update my installed ports?

FreeBSD does not include a port upgrading tool, but it does have some tools to make the upgrade process somewhat easier. Additional tools are available to simplify port handling and are described the Upgrading Ports section in the FreeBSD Handbook.

6.7.

Do I need to recompile every port each time I perform a major version update?

Yes! While a recent system will run with software compiled under an older release, things will randomly crash and fail to work once other ports are installed or updated.

When the system is upgraded, various shared libraries, loadable modules, and other parts of the system will be replaced with newer versions. Applications linked against the older versions may fail to start or, in other cases, fail to function properly.

For more information, see the section on upgrades in the FreeBSD Handbook.

6.8.

Do I need to recompile every port each time I perform a minor version update?

In general, no. FreeBSD developers do their utmost to guarantee binary compatibility across all releases with the same major version number. Any exceptions will be documented in the Release Notes, and advice given there should be followed.

6.9.

Why is /bin/sh so minimal? Why does FreeBSD not use bash or another shell?

Many people need to write shell scripts which will be portable across many systems. That is why POSIX® specifies the shell and utility commands in great detail. Most scripts are written in Bourne shell (sh(1)), and because several important programming interfaces (make(1), system(3), popen(3), and analogues in higher-level scripting languages like Perl and Tcl) are specified to use the Bourne shell to interpret commands. Because the Bourne shell is so often and widely used, it is important for it to be quick to start, be deterministic in its behavior, and have a small memory footprint.

The existing implementation is our best effort at meeting as many of these requirements simultaneously as we can. To keep /bin/sh small, we have not provided many of the convenience features that other shells have. That is why other more featureful shells like bash, scsh, tcsh(1), and zsh are available. Compare the memory utilization of these shells by looking at the VSZ and RSS columns in a ps -u listing.

6.10.

How do I create audio CDs from my MIDI files?

To create audio CDs from MIDI files, first install audio/timidity++ from ports then install manually the GUS patches set by Eric A. Welsh, available at http://alleg.sourceforge.net/digmid.html. After TiMidity++ has been installed properly, MIDI files may be converted to WAV files with the following command line:

% timidity -Ow -s 44100 -o /tmp/juke/01.wav 01.mid

The WAV files can then be converted to other formats or burned onto audio CDs, as described in the FreeBSD Handbook.

6.11.

Where can I get an Office Suite for FreeBSD?

The open source Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice office suites work natively on FreeBSD.

FreeBSD also includes a variety of text editors, spreadsheets, and drawing programs in the Ports Collection.

6.12.

Can I convert from pkgng to the old package tools?

Short answer: no.

Longer answer: converting back is non-trivial and requires lots of manual editing of internal package database files. However, if pkg2ng has just been run, remove /var/db/pkg/local.sqlite and extract /var/backups/pkgdb.bak.tbz.

All FreeBSD documents are available for download at http://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/

Questions that are not answered by the documentation may be sent to <freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.org>.
Send questions about this document to <freebsd-doc@FreeBSD.org>.