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Date:      Sat, 23 May 2020 02:38:51 -0400 (EDT)
From:      Doug Denault <>
To:        freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.ORG
Subject:   updating a FreeBSD workstation
Message-ID:  <>

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Thoughts/questions on updating a FreeBSD desktop.

This comes out of the "FreeBSD 12.0 end-of-life" thread. It seems to me there 
are two distinct sets of users: server and desktop. There have to be a few like 
me with a foot in each camp. My server problem was largely of my own making (no 
serial console and the data center was a 4+ hour drive at the wrong time of 
day). Solved that one. For me I have have no real issues keeping production 
servers update to date. My main issues have been with MySQL and PHP, not 

The desktop is a whole different thing. My solution has been every so often 
start fresh because I can not afford the time to risk a non-working desktop. 
When the ports moved to being based on the release head I had high hopes. I 
think I did not understand what that actually meant. My environment is xfce with 
enough stuff to give me something close to my partner's OS/X system. In addition 
to the "normal" stuff for me this means having, firefox, chrome, libreoffice, 
mysql and tigervnc. This ends up with 625 (or so) ports and packages. I did my 
current system in December.

In this environment, I have never been able to update firefox or the xfce 
desktop/panel components to correct bugs or get a new feature. The EOL thread 
prompted me to figure out the common libraries. This turns out to be a much 
smaller set that I would have thought. One problem is the list below is likely 
not a static set. For my Dec 11.3 build the common libraries are:

     -- xfce :: firefox --           -- thunar :: firefox --
     atk-2 28 1                       atk-2 28 1
     cairo-1 16 0,2                   cairo-1 16 0,2
     desktop-file-utils-0 24          desktop-file-utils-0 24
     gdk-pixbuf2-2 40 0               gdk-pixbuf2-2 40 0
     gettext-runtime-0 20 1           gettext-runtime-0 20 1
     glib-2 56 3_6,1                  glib-2 56 3_6,1
                                      gtk3-3 24 10
     jpeg-turbo-2 0 3
                                      libX11-1 6 9,1
     libXdamage-1 1 5
     libXext-1 3 4,1
     libXfixes-5 0 3_2
     pango-1 42 4_3                   pango-1 42 4_3
     startup-notification-0 12_4

So for example, when glib-2 56 3_6,1 is updated to glib-2 56 3_6,2 or later, I 
can not update using pkg or ports. So I guess the question is, is this a Make 
file issue, or is the next version really not compatible? As long as the answer 
is, either who knows, or it's the same thing, I am pretty much forced to follow 
my pattern of all or nothing updating. This has not really been an issue for me, 
I've had no security issues as these systems have always been behind a router 
and I also use a basic ipfw configuration.

So all of this is to ask is the update problem totally a technical one, or a 
natural consequence stemming from how the FreeBSD project organized?

Douglas Denault
Voice: 301-217-9220
   Fax: 301-217-9277

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