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portsnap - fetch and extract compressed snapshots of the ports tree


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portsnap [-I] [-d workdir] [-f conffile] [-k KEY] [-p portsdir] [-s server] command ... [path]


The portsnap tool is used to fetch and update compressed snapshots of the
.Fx ports tree, and extract and update an uncompressed ports tree.


The following options are supported:
-d workdir Store working files (e.g. downloaded updates) in workdir. (default: /var/db/portsnap, or as given in the configuration file.)
-f conffile Read the configuration from from conffile. (default: /etc/portsnap.conf)
-I For the update command, update INDEX files, but not the rest of the ports tree.
-k KEY Expect a public key with given SHA256 hash. (default: read value from configuration file.)
-p portsdir When extracting or updating an uncompressed snapshot, operate on the directory portsdir. (default: /usr/ports/, or as given in the configuration file.)
-s server Fetch files from the specified server or server pool. (default: portsnap.FreeBSD.org , or as given in the configuration file.)
path For extract command only, operate only on parts of the ports tree starting with path. (e.g. portsnap sysutils/port would extract sysutils/portsman, sysutils/portsnap, sysutils/portupgrade, etc.)


The command can be any one of the following:

fetch Fetch a compressed snapshot of the ports tree, or update the existing snapshot. This command should only be used interactively; for non-interactive use, you should use the cron command.
cron Sleep a random amount of time, then operate as if the fetch command was specified. As the name suggests, this command is designed for running from cron(8); the random delay serves to minimize the probability that a large number of machines will simultaneously attempt to fetch updates.
extract Extract a ports tree, replacing existing files and directories. NOTE: This will remove anything occupying the location where files or directories are being extracted; in particular, any changes made locally to the ports tree (for example, adding new patches) will be silently obliterated.

Only run this command to initialize your portsnap-maintained ports tree for the first time, if you wish to start over with a clean, completely unmodified tree, or if you wish to extract a specific part of the tree (using the path option).

update Update a ports tree extracted using the extract command. You must run this command to apply changes to your ports tree after downloading updates via the fetch or cron commands. Again, note that in the parts of the ports tree which are being updated, any local changes or additions will be removed.


  • If your clock is set to local time, adding the line

    0 3 * * * root /usr/sbin/portsnap cron

    to /etc/crontab is a good way to make sure you always have an up-to-date snapshot of the ports tree available which can quickly be extracted into /usr/ports. If your clock is set to UTC, please pick a random time other than 3AM, to avoid overly imposing an uneven load on the server(s) hosting the snapshots.

  • Running portsnap update from cron(8) is a bad idea -- if you’re ever installing or updating a port at the time the cron job runs, you’ll probably end up in a mess when portsnap updates or removes files which are being used by the port build. However, running portsnap -I update is probably safe, and can be used together with portversion(1) to identify installed software which is out of date.
  • If you wish to use portsnap to keep a large number of machines up to date, you may wish to set up a caching HTTP proxy. Since portsnap uses fetch(1) to download updates, setting the HTTP_PROXY environment variable will direct it to fetch updates from the given proxy. This is much more efficient than mirroring the files on the portsnap server, since the vast majority of files are not needed by any particular client.


/etc/portsnap.conf Default location of the portsnap configuration file.
/var/db/portsnap Default location where compressed snapshots are stored.
/usr/ports Default location where the ports tree is extracted.


fetch(1) fetch(3) portsnap.conf(5) sha256(8)


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