[PC-BSD Dev] Status Update and Future Plans

John Hixson john at pcbsd.org
Tue Feb 5 10:39:43 PST 2013

On Mon, Feb 04, 2013 at 03:01:20PM -0500, Kris Moore wrote:
> 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!

Good work Kris ;-)

- John

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