5.4. Using Binary Packages

Contributed by Chern Lee.

At the present time, FreeBSD is transitioning toward a new method of package management. Users of the latest releases may wish to investigate the benefits of using PKGng to manage third party software on FreeBSD. For those not yet migrated to the pkgng tool, the tools discussed here may be used for managing the package database. For simplicity, the sysinstall utility is also available post-install for package management.

All package installation files are stored in the package database directory, /var/db/pkg.

5.4.1. Installing a Package

Use pkg_add(1) to install a FreeBSD binary package from a local file or from a server on the network.

Example 5.1. Downloading a Package Manually and Installing It Locally
# ftp -a ftp2.FreeBSD.org Connected to ftp2.FreeBSD.org. 220 ftp2.FreeBSD.org FTP server (Version 6.00LS) ready. 331 Guest login ok, send your email address as password. 230- 230- This machine is in Vienna, VA, USA, hosted by Verio. 230- Questions? E-mail freebsd@vienna.verio.net. 230- 230- 230 Guest login ok, access restrictions apply. Remote system type is UNIX. Using binary mode to transfer files. ftp> cd /pub/FreeBSD/ports/packages/sysutils/ 250 CWD command successful. ftp> get lsof-4.56.4.tgz local: lsof-4.56.4.tgz remote: lsof-4.56.4.tgz 200 PORT command successful. 150 Opening BINARY mode data connection for 'lsof-4.56.4.tgz' (92375 bytes). 100% |**************************************************| 92375 00:00 ETA 226 Transfer complete. 92375 bytes received in 5.60 seconds (16.11 KB/s) ftp> exit # pkg_add lsof-4.56.4.tgz

If you do not have a source of local packages, such as a FreeBSD CD-ROM set, include -r with pkg_add(1). This automatically determines the correct object format and release, and then fetches and installs the package from an FTP site without any further user intervention.

# pkg_add -r lsof

To specify an alternative FreeBSD FTP mirror, specify the mirror in the PACKAGESITE environment variable. pkg_add(1) uses fetch(3) to download files, which uses various environment variables, including FTP_PASSIVE_MODE, FTP_PROXY, and FTP_PASSWORD. You may need to set one or more of these if you are behind a firewall, or need to use an FTP/HTTP proxy. See fetch(3) for the complete list of variables. Note that in the example above lsof is used instead of lsof-4.56.4. When the remote fetching feature is used, the version number of the package must be removed.


pkg_add(1) will automatically download the latest version of the application if you are using FreeBSD-CURRENT or FreeBSD-STABLE. If you run a -RELEASE version, it instead installs the version of the package that was built with that release. It is possible to change this behavior by overriding PACKAGESITE. For example, on a FreeBSD 8.1-RELEASE system, by default pkg_add(1) will try to fetch packages from ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/i386/packages-8.1-release/Latest/. To force pkg_add(1) to download FreeBSD 8-STABLE packages, set PACKAGESITE to ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/i386/packages-8-stable/Latest/.

Package files are distributed in .tgz and .tbz formats. Packages are available from ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/packages/, or the /packages directory of the FreeBSD DVD distribution. The layout of the packages directory is similar to that of the /usr/ports tree. Each category has its own directory, and every package can be found within the All directory.

5.4.2. Managing Packages

pkg_info(1) can be used to list and describe installed packages:

# pkg_info colordiff-1.0.13 A tool to colorize diff output docbook-1.2 Meta-port for the different versions of the DocBook DTD ...

pkg_version(1) summarizes the versions of all installed packages and compares the package version to the current version found in the ports tree.

# pkg_version colordiff = docbook = ...

The symbols in the second column indicate the relative age of the installed version and the version available in the local ports tree.

=The version of the installed package matches the one in the local ports tree.
<The version of the installed package is older than the one in the local ports tree.
>The version of the installed package is newer than the one in the local ports tree, meaning that the local ports tree is probably out of date.
?The installed package cannot be found in the ports index. This can happen when an installed port is removed from the Ports Collection or is renamed.
*There are multiple versions of the package.
!The installed package exists in the index but for some reason, pkg_version was unable to compare the version number of the installed package with the corresponding entry in the index.

5.4.3. Deleting a Package

To remove a previously installed software package, use pkg_delete(1):

# pkg_delete xchat-1.7.1

Note that pkg_delete(1) requires the full package name and number; the above command would not work if xchat was given instead of xchat-1.7.1. Use pkg_version(1) to find the version of the installed package, or use a wildcard:

# pkg_delete xchat\*

in this case, all packages whose names start with xchat will be deleted.

All FreeBSD documents are available for download at http://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/

Questions that are not answered by the documentation may be sent to <freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.org>.

Send questions about this document to <freebsd-doc@FreeBSD.org>.