epilogue said:
>> Just out of curiosity, is it incorrect to simply say that ports build
>> packages?
> Yes.

Well, now I've received one explicit "yes" answer and one explicit "no" answer
to this question, leading me to believe that there might not be a clear
consensus even among experienced FreeBSD users. (I count myself as one also.)
It's possible that we're splitting hairs with all of this, but splitting hairs
is what explanation is all about.

> For any given application, the FreeBSD >>> package <<< for that
> application is a >>> single file <<< which you must download. The package
> contains >>> pre-compiled <<< copies of all the commands for the
> application, as well as any configuration files or documentation. A
> downloaded package file can be manipulated with FreeBSD package management
> commands, such as pkg_add(1), pkg_delete(1), pkg_info(1), and so on.
> Installing a new application can be carried out with a single command.
> FreeBSD >>> port <<< for an application is a >>> collection of files <<<
> designed to >>> automate the process of compiling <<< an application
>>>> from source code <<<.

What this leaves out is the state of the software after it has already been
installed. Lowell Gilbert confirmed my assumption that whether you install a
piece of software via a port or via package, they are indistinguisable from
each other on the system AFTER they've been installed. That is to say, you can
install a port and then operate on it with the pkg_* commands, even though it
was not installed as a package. Hence the assertion that "ports build
packages," even though it looks like it may be technically incorrect to refer
to post-installed software as "packages" since one has no way of telling how
the software was installed after the fact.

> the fbsd handbook is one of the very best in *nixland.  please pay it the
> attention it deserves.

Believe me, I do. Indeed, I could hardly do my job without it. Thanks for your

Charles Ulrich
System Administrator
Ideal Solution - http://www.idealso.com
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