Chapter 10. Upgrading a Port

Table of Contents
10.1. Using Subversion to Make Patches
10.2. The Files UPDATING and MOVED

When you notice that a port is out of date compared to the latest version from the original authors, you should first ensure that you have the latest port. You can find them in the ports/ports-current directory of the FreeBSD FTP mirror sites. However, if you are working with more than a few ports, you will probably find it easier to use Subversion or portsnap(8) to keep your whole ports collection up-to-date, as described in the Handbook. This will have the added benefit of tracking all the port's dependencies.

The next step is to see if there is an update already pending. To do this, you have two options. There is a searchable interface to the FreeBSD Problem Report (PR) database (also known as GNATS). Select ports in the dropdown, and enter the name of the port.

However, sometimes people forget to put the name of the port into the Synopsis field in an unambiguous fashion. In that case, you can try the FreeBSD Ports Monitoring System (also known as portsmon). This system attempts to classify port PRs by portname. To search for PRs about a particular port, use the Overview of One Port.

If there is no pending PR, the next step is to send an email to the port's maintainer, as shown by make maintainer. That person may already be working on an upgrade, or have a reason to not upgrade the port right now (because of, for example, stability problems of the new version); you would not want to duplicate their work. Note that unmaintained ports are listed with a maintainer of, which is just the general ports mailing list, so sending mail there probably will not help in this case.

If the maintainer asks you to do the upgrade or there is no maintainer, then you have a chance to help out FreeBSD by preparing the update yourself! Please do this by using the diff(1) command in the base system.

To create a suitable diff for a single patch, copy the file that needs patching to something.orig, save your changes to something and then create your patch:

% diff -u something.orig something > something.diff

Otherwise, you should either use the svn diff method (Section 10.1, “Using Subversion to Make Patches”) or copy the contents of the port to an entire different directory and use the result of the recursive diff(1) output of the new and old ports directories (e.g., if your modified port directory is called superedit and the original is in our tree as superedit.bak, then save the result of diff -ruN superedit.bak superedit). Either unified or context diff is fine, but port committers generally prefer unified diffs. Note the use of the -N option—this is the accepted way to force diff to properly deal with the case of new files being added or old files being deleted. Before sending us the diff, please examine the output to make sure all the changes make sense. (In particular, make sure you first clean out the work directories with make clean).

To simplify common operations with patch files, you can use /usr/ports/Tools/scripts/ Before using it, please read /usr/ports/Tools/scripts/README.patchtool.

If the port is unmaintained, and you are actively using it yourself, please consider volunteering to become its maintainer. FreeBSD has over 4000 ports without maintainers, and this is an area where more volunteers are always needed. (For a detailed description of the responsibilities of maintainers, refer to the section in the Developer's Handbook.)

The best way to send us the diff is by including it via send-pr(1) (category ports). If you are maintaining the port, be sure to put [maintainer update] at the beginning of your synopsis line and set the Class of your PR to maintainer-update. Otherwise, the Class of your PR should be change-request. Please mention any added or deleted files in the message, as they have to be explicitly specified to svn(1) when doing a commit. If the diff is more than about 20KB, please compress and uuencode it; otherwise, just include it in the PR as is.

Before using send-pr(1), review the Writing the problem report section in the Problem Reports article. It contains far more information about how to write useful problem reports.


If the upgrade is motivated by security concerns or a serious fault in the currently committed port, please notify the Ports Management Team to request immediate rebuilding and redistribution of the port's package. Unsuspecting users of pkg will otherwise continue to install the old version via pkg install for several weeks.


Once again, please use diff(1) and not shar(1) to send updates to existing ports! This helps ports committers understand exactly what is being changed.

Now that you have done all that, read about how to keep up-to-date in Chapter 14, Keeping Up.

10.1. Using Subversion to Make Patches

When possible, please submit a svn(1) diff. They are easier to handle than diffs between new and old directories. It is easier to see what has changed, and to update the diff if something was modified in the Ports Collection since you began work on it, or if the committer asks for something to be fixed. Also, a patch generated with svn diff can be easily applied with svn patch and will save some time to the committer.

% cd ~/my_wrkdir 1
% svn co 2
% cd ~/my_wrkdir/pdnsd


This can be anywhere you want, of course; building ports is not limited to within /usr/ports/.

2 is a public Subversion server. Select the closest mirror and verify the mirror server certificate from the list of Subversion mirror sites.

While in the working directory, make any changes that you would usually make to the port. If you add, move or remove a file, use svn to track these changes:

% svn add new_file
% svn move old_name new_name
% svn remove deleted_file

Make sure that you check the port using the checklist in Section 3.4, “Testing the Port” and Section 3.5, “Checking the Port with portlint.

% svn status
% svn update 1


This will try to merge the differences between your patch and current repository version; watch the output carefully. The letter in front of each file name indicates what was done with it. See Table 10.1, “Subversion Update File Prefixes” for a complete list.

Table 10.1. Subversion Update File Prefixes
UThe file was updated without problems.
GThe file was updated without problems (you will only see this when working against a remote repository).
MThe file had been modified, and was merged without conflicts.
CThe file had been modified, and was merged with conflicts.

If C is displayed as a result of svn update, it means something changed in the Subversion repository and svn(1) was not able to merge the local changes with those from the repository. It is always a good idea to inspect the changes anyway, since svn(1) does not know anything about how a port should be, so it might (and probably will) merge things that do not make sense.

The last step is to make a unified diff(1) of the changes:

% svn diff > ../`basename ${PWD}`.diff


Any files that have been removed should be explicitly mentioned in the PR, because file removal may not be obvious to the committer.

Send your patch following the guidelines in Chapter 10, Upgrading a Port.


You can have patch automatically generated and the PR pre-filled with your contact information by using the Port Tools port submit command. See Section 9.3, “Port Tools” for more details.

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