I just upgraded my laptop from kde 3.5.1 taking a shot at using portupgrade and/or portmanager. From my previous experience portupgrade has been greatly enhanced/simplified. portmanager builds a database that gives a great status report and identifies orphaned port/packages. IMO these packages compliment one another.

The problems with these tools are largely (I think) not of their own making. They depend on the ports tree and/or packages to accurately define requirements and dependencies. OpenOffice, to name one package, does not do this. Further, if you run kde (and probably any other comparable desktop), the interactions of dependencies are hopelessly complex. If you do not stay 'reasonably' current, using these tools (even as good as they are now) is much more complex and takes longer that simply clearing things out and starting over. The PC-BSD project seems to address this issue by picking a working set of ports. In my case I upgrade when a have a spare moment or when kde is around a year old.

I decided I would install and look at port manager first, mostly because of my previous (and outdated) experience with portupgrade. portmanager currently does not allow (or attempt) to use packages, so I also installed portupgrade.

My plan of attack was to remove kde and OpenOffice and try to upgrade the remaining ports/packages. My next step was to use portmanager to remove the orphaned (leaf) ports. This is not a good plan because this does not (necessarily) yield the set of ports that the kde package requires, and some of the leaf ports were both up-to-date and later required.

Currently my laptop has nothing on it except kde 3.5.6, openopenoffice 2.2.0 and gaim. This requires something in excess of 200 ports. Starting from a base more than a year out of date, the upgrade tools did not have a chance to work (easily). I ended up with 2.5 days of building and required a second pass to clean up some dependencies. I then installed the kde package and had to uninstall one or two ports because dependency conflicts. OpenOffice installed with no issues other than the package from the OpenOffice site did not require its dependencies all of which I had erroneously removed as leafs.

For some, the above is a bit complex (if not daunting) and I certainly do not have enough resources to build kde and OpenOffice from scratch. that process would add at least a week to the time I spent building.

For a desktop system either constructed from packages or that has not been updated for several months, I think a viable alternative is to clear things out and install from packages starting with your desktop. This takes about two hours after you are familiar with the process and assumes using twm which is built into Xorg. If Xorg needs updating that must be done from the console. Xorg takes just a few minutes if a current version is available on cdrom.

Using portupgrade with the noexecute option will give a sense of how complex upgrading will be. In some cases I still find starting over to be a viable and easier option to portupgrade/portmanager. To me it has the advantage over PC-BSD of having a more current set of applications.

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