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3 Release Building

FreeBSD ``releases'' can be built by anyone with a fast machine and access to a source repository. (That should be everyone, since we offer anonymous CVS! See The Handbook for details.) The only special requirement is that the vn(4) device must be available. (On -CURRENT, this device has been replaced by the new md(4) memory disk driver.) If the device is not loaded into your kernel, then the kernel module should be automatically loaded when vnconfig(8) is executed during the boot media creation phase. All of the tools necessary to build a release are available from the CVS repository in src/release. These tools aim to provide a consistent way to build FreeBSD releases. A complete release can actually be built with only a single command, including the creation of ISO images suitable for burning to CDROM, installation floppies, and an FTP install directory. This command is aptly named make release.

3.1 make release

To successfully build a release, you must first populate /usr/obj by running make world or simply make buildworld. The release target requires several variables be set properly to build a release:

If you do not already have access to a local CVS repository, then you may mirror one with CVSup. The supplied supfile, /usr/share/examples/cvsup/cvs-supfile, is a useful starting point for mirroring the CVS repository.

If RELEASETAG is omitted, then the release will be built from the HEAD (a.k.a. -CURRENT) branch. Releases built from this branch are normally referred to as ``-CURRENT snapshots''.

There are many other variables available to customize the release build. Most of these variables are documented at the top of src/release/Makefile. The exact command used to build the official FreeBSD 4.4 (x86) release was:

    make release CHROOTDIR=/local3/release \
       CVSROOT=/host/cvs/usr/home/ncvs \

The release Makefile can be broken down into several distinct steps.

For more information about the release build infrastructure, please see release(7).

3.2 Building XFree86

XFree86 is an important component for many desktop users. Prior to FreeBSD 4.6-RELEASE, releases used XFree86 3.X by default. The easiest way to build these versions is to use the src/release/scripts/X11/ script. This script requires that XFree86 and Tcl/Tk already be installed on the build host. After compiling the necessary X servers, the script will package all of the files into tarballs that sysinstall(8) expects to find in the XF86336 directory of the installation media.

Beginning with FreeBSD 4.6-RELEASE, sysinstall(8) installs XFree86 4.X by default, as a set of ``normal'' packages. These can either be the packages generated by the package-building cluster or packages built from an appropriately tagged ports tree.

Note: It is important to remove any site-specific settings from /etc/make.conf. For example, it would be unwise to distribute binaries that were built on a system with CPUTYPE set to a specific processor.

3.3 Contributed Software (``ports'')

The FreeBSD Ports collection is a collection of over 7,600 third-party software packages available for FreeBSD. The Ports Management Team is responsible for maintaining a consistent ports tree that can be used to create the binary packages that accompany official FreeBSD releases.

The release engineering activities for our collection of third-party packages is beyond the scope of this document. A separate article, The Release Engineering of Third Party Packages, covers this topic in depth.

3.4 Release ISOs

Starting with FreeBSD 4.4, the FreeBSD Project decided to release all four ISO images that were previously sold on the BSDi/Wind River Systems/FreeBSD Mall ``official'' CDROM distributions. Each of the four discs must contain a README.TXT file that explains the contents of the disc, a CDROM.INF file that provides meta-data for the disc so that sysinstall(8) can validate and use the contents, and a filename.txt file that provides a manifest for the disc. This manifest can be created with a simple command:

    /stage/cdrom# find . -type f | sed -e 's/^\.\///' | sort > filename.txt

The specific requirements of each CD are outlined below.

3.4.1 Disc 1

The first disc is almost completely created by make release. The only changes that should be made to the disc1 directory are the addition of a tools directory, XFree86, and as many popular third party software packages as will fit on the disc. The tools directory contains software that allow users to create installation floppies from other operating systems. This disc should be made bootable so that users of modern PCs do not need to create installation floppy disks.

If an alternate version of XFree86 is to be provided, then sysinstall(8) must be updated to reflect the new location and installation instructions. The relevant code is contained in src/release/sysinstall on -STABLE or src/usr.sbin/sysinstall on -CURRENT. Specifically, the files dist.c, menus.c, and config.c will need to be updated.

3.4.2 Disc 2

The second disc is also largely created by make release. This disc contains a ``live filesystem'' that can be used from sysinstall(8) to troubleshoot a FreeBSD installation. This disc should be bootable and should also contain a compressed copy of the CVS repository in the CVSROOT directory and commercial software demos in the commerce directory.

3.4.3 Discs 3 and 4

The remaining two discs contain additional software packages for FreeBSD. The packages should be clustered so that a package and all of its dependencies are included on the same disc. More information about the creation of these discs is provided in the The Release Engineering of Third Party Packages article.

This, and other documents, can be downloaded from

For questions about FreeBSD, read the documentation before contacting <>.
For questions about this documentation, e-mail <>.

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