[PC-BSD Dev] Status Update and Future Plans

Kris Moore kris at pcbsd.org
Mon Feb 4 12:01:20 PST 2013

Developers & Testers,

If you've been following the trac commit list with any regularity,
you've seen a lot of commits go by in the past months, all having to do
with pkgng, and a lot of internal churn to how we do our updates and
such. I've written an article for the upcoming BSD Magazine detailing
some of the reasons for this, and the "new direction" we are taking with
regard to PC-BSD releases, but I also want to post here to give
everybody a heads up.

First of all, I want to let you know, that I've personally not been
satisfied with the frequency of PC-BSD releases and updates. With us
tracking the upstream FreeBSD releases, it has really tied our hands
getting new releases out to the public. The past couple of releases had
a delay of almost a year between them, which is WAY too long in my
opinion. To further compound the problem, our build system wasn't
designed to do frequent updates of packages and our utilities, which
made getting updates out to the community a long and tedious process.
This is all going to change. What we are looking at going to now is more
of a "Rolling-Release" model, first for our utilities & system packages,
and eventually for the FreeBSD base itself.

So what benefits will this change bring? Well, for starters, we will now
be able to quickly get new features and bugfixes in our core utilities
out to PC-BSD & TrueOS users. Instead of having to wait for the next
point release, or some specific targeted bugfix, we can get you running
new features in a timely manner. In addition to the PC-BSD utilities, we
will also be able to keep your system packages (I.E. any FreeBSD binary
package) updated and in sync with the ports tree. This means when the
next KDE release hits, or NVIDIA driver, apache, etc, we can now make it
available to you within a matter of a few days.

To facilitate all this new rolling-release-goodness, I've been neck-deep
in converting our build framework into heavily using pkgng. Even all of
our PC-BSD utilities and system-modifications will now be distributed as
a pkgng package. What this means is not only do you get access to quick
updates, but it'll be possible for the first time to take a vanilla
FreeBSD system, switch to our pkgng repo, and turn your system into a
PC-BSD or TrueOS box. And this will not be some partial repository, the
plan is to offer a *complete* binary package repository, so if you now
want to install package X,Y, or Z you can do so without ever having to
touch the ports tree or compile by hand. PBI's will not be affected, so
you can run either depending upon personal preference. Plus this keeps
us independent from whats happening upstream with FreeBSD packages.

As for the base system, I am also looking to set us up running our own
"freebsd-update" server. This will allow us to create and run two
additional "branches" of PC-BSD, based upon FreeBSD -STABLE and
-CURRENT. This is a bit farther out, but I'm already moving bits and
pieces around to make this happen. This means when you go to the PC-BSD
website, you will now be able to download from three sets of images,
-RELEASE, -STABLE, -CURRENT, and these ISO's will be frequently updated
with new installer features and packages.

So what if you want to run the same set of packages for a long period of
time? Well, the good news is that we aren't going to force this on you.
So if you want to grab an ISO, and run a particular desktop environment
version forever, then you can do so. The PBI system will still operate
independently, so you can keep running those releases without touching
your base system packages.

With all this said, what's the timeframe? I'm hoping to get the first
testing ISO out in the next several weeks, so we can begin beating up
the new updating system. I'll also make available an online update for
existing 9.1 users to switch to pkgng and jump on the new repository.

Thanks for reading, and looking forward to an exciting 2013 for PC-BSD!

Kris Moore
PC-BSD Software

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