FreeBSD: stable vs current ? (i am bsd noob)

hello everyone :slight_smile:

EDIT found a begining of an answer but 5+ years old… see end of post
the main takeaway seems to be:
in *BSD the os is not part of the package management.

I’ve ordered a machine, xeon based.
I plan to install FreeBSD on it. This will be my first foray into BSD.
I am a gnu-linux afficionado. reading docs/man is my hobby.
The current machineS i’m daily driving are archlinux, with everything manualy configured nicely. The updating process is one command (yay -Syu) followed by a reboot if the kernel was updated.

The new machine will :

  • host a ZFS vdev that will be my nas through nfs
  • route/firewall my local network to internet
  • dlna server to my lan
  • have a vnc server (an app I use a lot needs X, but i wanna access it remotely, using vnc is the most practical for me)

I am desperately hoping that all my needs will be available through the freeBSD package manager, and that pkg_add will allow me to have everything I require. (meaning I cross my fingers i won’t have to build anything from source, because such things are a pain to maintain - or are they?).

The motherboard is very proprietary and undocumented (qnap) but I’m fairly confident I will not need a custom kernel.

I have read the handbook chapter called cutting-edge (on maintaining a system up to date , and security updates)

In archlinux, using the package manager yay, i can with one command update the core component of the system (kernel, default librairies and stuff) and the packages that i have chosen to install (, xfce, firefox, etc).

in FreeBSD using

# freebsd-update fetch
# freebsd-update install

seems to do the trick,

QUESTION2 (the bonus question)
Please confirm this will also fetch/install updates to stuff i have installed using the pkg_add command? (if not, is there a pkg_update command or something along those lines)


I know the pros and cons when using debian or archlinux, but i’m fuzzy on the specifics for FreeBSD.

I wanna go stable, as i don’t need bleeding edge (headless box, once configured I will probably rarely ssh into it to do stuff _ other then maintenance _ except that old app running in the vncserver)
do the security updates apply to stable? or do i need to be on current to get them asap?

i would welcome some clarification from one of you, from the pov of the user, if thou have the time.

(the process of upgrading to a new minor or major version is done using the same command, so I’m assuming that your answer will apply in those cases as well)

thank you for reading, have a nice day!

begining of an answer, although 5+ years old:

it discuss the various relase schemes and updates, from a desktop standpoint, but is valid within the context of my question.
any addedenum you guys may have would be welcome.

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freebsd-update is for updating the base OS, where as pkg is used for package management.

Ideally, you want to be running RELEASE.
STABLE is not what you think it is. Stable means the code can change, but application binary interface will remain the same – think of it as a rolling release.
CURRENT tracks the HEAD branch, currently it’s the development branch of FreeBSD 14.

Security updates get applied to all current releases, which at the time of writing this response is 12.3 and 13.0. FreeBSD 13.1 will be released in the coming days, so 13.0 will be retired and updates will be discontinued approximately 60 days following the next release.

I recommend you take the time to go though the FreeBSD Handbook | FreeBSD Documentation Portal

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thank you for your reply

i have read the handbook (but i’m still not clear, there’s a lot, and it’s not noob friendly - at least to me) i will be running RELEASE, hoping that maintaining it up2date will not break any of the pkg i use… (although the ability to rollback dampen the fear).

have a nice day :slight_smile:

I’ve been running FreeBSD on and off for years. My oldest server has survived OS upgrades from FreeBSD 10 all the way to 13. While it hasn’t been flawless upgrades each time, there’s been a few hiccups but easily rectified (hint: always read the release notes!)

I strongly recommend you join the FreeBSD forum, IRC chatroom and Discord (if you’d prefer) … links to all of that can be found here: Community | The FreeBSD Project