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Quality Assurance Tasks for the Ports Management Team

There are a number of tasks that the Ports Management Team undertakes to try to improve the quality of the Ports Collection. These fall into two main categories: activities during a release cycle and activities between release cycles.

Activities During a Release Cycle

  • Work with the Release Engineering Team to coordinate the release schedule.

  • Work with the RE team to determine which pre-built packages can be included on the default install ISOs.

  • Manage commits to the CVS tree for package builds via the following steps:

    1. Institute a freeze and produce packages for all the appropriate architectures. Often this process has to be repeated because either bugs are identified in various ports, or changes to the src tree create a risk that the packages that have already been built would not work with those changes.

      To make sure that package builds are consistent and correct, all commits must be approved by portmgr during a freeze. Changes that are generally approved are:

      • fixes to make a package build at all;

      • security fixes to critical packages;

      • problems that are noticed with licensing issues.

      Unfortunately, due to the sheer size of the Ports Collection and the speed that applications are developed, it is impossible to fix every single problem for a release.

    2. The tree is then locked for all commits and a CVS tag is laid down.

    3. The tree is then unlocked and a slush is announced. The intent of this state is to allow routine changes to be made to the Ports Collection, but with the note that these changes will not ship on the release ISOs. What we particularly want to avoid is sweeping changes.

      The reason we want to avoid these commits is if some kind of show-stopper problem is found (either security- or license- related) such that we need to make a change that can go on the release ISOs, we will need to slip the CVS tag on the changed file(s). By allowing unlimited commits, the risk is high that any such change would involve having to recreate all the packages all over again, resulting in an endless release cycle.

    Only once the RE team and portmgr are happy with the final state of the release ISOs is the ports tree completely available for commits again.

Activities Between Release Cycles

  • Manage the Ports Build Cluster machines. These machines continually build packages on all possible combinations of OS release and CPU architecture (in our terminology, build environments.)

    These builds also produce error logs for packages that do not build correctly (see the above URL). Periodically, the team marks these ports as BROKEN so that maintainers may be notified. (See below.)

    Successfully built packages (at least, the ones that are freely redistributable) are also copied to the master FTP server and thus become the default "latest package" for installations that use packages rather than ports.

  • Notify the FreeBSD community of problems within the Ports Collection so that problems do not get overlooked. To do this, there are a number of emailed reports. Ones marked public are posted to freebsd-ports.

    • a public list of all ports to be removed due to security problems, build failures, or general obsolescence, unless they are fixed first.

    • private email to all maintainers of the affected ports (including ports dependent on the above).

    • private email to all maintainers of ports that are already marked BROKEN and/or FORBIDDEN.

    • private email to maintainers who are not committers, who have PRs filed against their ports (to flag PRs that might never have been Cc:ed to them).

    • public email about port commits that break building of INDEX.

    • public email about port commits that send the revision metadata backwards (and thus confuse tools like portupgrade).

    • a public list of all ports that have at least one file that fails to fetch from any non-FreeBSD mastersite. For the complete list of results for all files versus all mastersites, see Emanuel Haupt's port survey.

    • private email to an affected port maintainer when a port is about to be marked BROKEN, Cc:ed to the last committer to the port. (This email is not automated but it should be sent as a courtesy.)

  • Remove expired ports. Ports that have been marked BROKEN for some time are marked DEPRECATED (with an EXPIRATION_DATE) and then are removed if no one has fixed them by that time. The intent of this this process is to try to insure that if a user installs a port, there is the best possible change that it can be made to work.

    In other cases, ports are marked DEPRECATED when they have been replaced by a newer version and the older version is no longer maintained by the authors. The EXPIRATION_DATE should generally be set at least two months in the future to allow everyone sufficient time to upgrade.