I was recently reading a packaging discussion over on the DragonFly kernel list ("apt-get" thread -- originally "first release date" thread). Some of it touched on the time required to build when using a source-based packaging system. This gave me an idea: why don't we integrate the bento cluster (http://pointyhat.freebsd.org/) with the ports system?

What I envision:
Packages are already being built (for example, http://pointyhat.freebsd.org/errorlogs/i386-packages-5-latest/). The ports system would default to using the package if available, but there would be an option to always compile from source. If the package wasn't available (not yet built, NO_PACKAGE, etc.), the port would be compiled from source as before. All that is needed is to set the default PACKAGESITE to the above URL (or something slightly different depending on architecture/release), make packages the default, and ensure there is enough bandwidth to handle the load (mirrors?). I know security would be a major consideration, but handling the load is the only technical difficulty I see...

I think a significant number of people are turned off from FreeBSD because of how long it takes to upgrade ports. This would speed things up for them while preserving the flexibility of compiling from source for those who want to do so.

This is a simple enough idea; surely others have considered it as well. Any thoughts?

Jon Noack

P.S. The opinion on the DragonFly kernel list was that it was a good idea in principle, but that the *BSD package system is very fragile.

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