Finding Ports to Install in FreeBSD

Last updated: Apr 18, 2008

FreeBSD is founded on the idea that compiling is faster/better than using pre-made packages. To make compiling easy FreeBSD uses a “package management” system called ports; however, it is difficult to find the port to compile since FreeBSD’s package management system is really just empty directories with build instructions. These directories are categorized by the package application so that you can browse them, but it is difficult sometimes to find a package.

One way to find ports is by using the echo command and some wild cards. This is my favorite method. For example if we were looking to install the Apache web server we could use this command:

echo /usr/ports/*/*apache*

If you are feeling lucky you can even use the change directory command to go right into the port’s directory.

cd /usr/ports/*/*portupgrade*

An alternative way to find ports would be to use ports built in search feature.

cd /usr/ports
make search name=apache

You could also visit FreeBSD’s online ports search.

To stay updated with new ports you can check out FreshPorts. FreshPorts offers a service that will email you anytime there is a new version or change to a specific port. This is really helpful if you are running a production server that has a mission critical port on it, like an Apache web server.

Using one of these methods you are sure to find what you are looking for.

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