Status Update and Future Plans
2013 will be an exciting year for PC-BSD, Kris gives a sneak peek into his plans:
If you’ve been following the trac commit list with any regularity, you’ve seen a lot of commits go by in the past months, all having to do with pkgng, and a lot of internal churn to how we do our updates and such. I’ve written an article for the upcoming BSD Magazine detailing some of the reasons for this, and the “new direction” we are taking with regard to PC-BSD releases, but I also want to post here to give everybody a heads up.
First of all, I want to let you know, that I’ve personally not been satisfied with the frequency of PC-BSD releases and updates. With us tracking the upstream FreeBSD releases, it has really tied our hands getting new releases out to the public. The past couple of releases had a delay of almost a year between them, which is WAY too long in my opinion. To further compound the problem, our build system wasn’t designed to do frequent updates of packages and our utilities, which made getting updates out to the community a long and tedious process. This is all going to change. What we are looking at going to now is more of a “Rolling-Release” model, first for our utilities & system packages, and eventually for the FreeBSD base itself.
So what benefits will this change bring? Well, for starters, we will now be able to quickly get new features and bugfixes in our core utilities out to PC-BSD & TrueOS users. Instead of having to wait for the next point release, or some specific targeted bugfix, we can get you running new features in a timely manner. In addition to the PC-BSD utilities, we will also be able to keep your system packages (I.E. any FreeBSD binary package) updated and in sync with the ports tree. This means when the next KDE release hits, or NVIDIA driver, apache, etc, we can now make it available to you within a matter of a few days.
To facilitate all this new rolling-release-goodness, I’ve been neck-deep in converting our build framework into heavily using pkgng. Even all of our PC-BSD utilities and system-modifications will now be distributed as a pkgng package. What this means is not only do you get access to quick updates, but it’ll be possible for the first time to take a vanilla FreeBSD system, switch to our pkgng repo, and turn your system into a PC-BSD or TrueOS box. And this will not be some partial repository, the plan is to offer a *complete* binary package repository, so if you now want to install package X,Y, or Z you can do so without ever having to touch the ports tree or compile by hand. PBI’s will not be affected, so you can run either depending upon personal preference. Plus this keeps us independent from whats happening upstream with FreeBSD packages.
As for the base system, I am also looking to set us up running our own “freebsd-update” server. This will allow us to create and run two additional “branches” of PC-BSD, based upon FreeBSD -STABLE and -CURRENT. This is a bit farther out, but I’m already moving bits and pieces around to make this happen. This means when you go to the PC-BSD website, you will now be able to download from three sets of images, -RELEASE, -STABLE, -CURRENT, and these ISO’s will be frequently updated with new installer features and packages.
So what if you want to run the same set of packages for a long period of time? Well, the good news is that we aren’t going to force this on you. So if you want to grab an ISO, and run a particular desktop environment version forever, then you can do so. The PBI system will still operate independently, so you can keep running those releases without touching your base system packages.
With all this said, what’s the timeframe? I’m hoping to get the first testing ISO out in the next several weeks, so we can begin beating up the new updating system. I’ll also make available an online update for existing 9.1 users to switch to pkgng and jump on the new repository.
Thanks for reading, and looking forward to an exciting 2013 for PC-BSD!
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