4.3.Finding Software

FreeBSD's list of available applications is growing all the time. There are a number of ways to find software to install:

  • The FreeBSD web site maintains an up-to-date searchable list of all the available applications, at http://www.FreeBSD.org/ports/. The ports can be searched by application name or by software category.

  • Dan Langille maintains FreshPorts.org which provides a comprehensive search utility and also tracks changes to the applications in the Ports Collection. Registered users can create a customized watch list in order to receive an automated email when their watched ports are updated.

  • If finding a particular application becomes challenging, try searching a site like SourceForge.net or GitHub.com then check back at the FreeBSD site to see if the application has been ported.

  • To search the binary package repository for an application:

    # pkg search subversion

    Package names include the version number and, in the case of ports based on python, the version number of the version of python the package was built with. Some ports also have multiple versions available. In the case of Subversion, there are different versions available, as well as different compile options. In this case, the statically linked version of Subversion. When indicating which package to install, it is best to specify the application by the port origin, which is the path in the ports tree. Repeat the pkg search with -o to list the origin of each package:

    # pkg search -o subversion

    Searching by shell globs, regular expressions, exact match, by description, or any other field in the repository database is also supported by pkg search. After installing ports-mgmt/pkg or ports-mgmt/pkg-devel, see pkg-search(8) for more details.

  • If the Ports Collection is already installed, there are several methods to query the local version of the ports tree. To find out which category a port is in, type whereis file, where file is the program to be installed:

    # whereis lsof
    lsof: /usr/ports/sysutils/lsof

    Alternately, an echo(1) statement can be used:

    # echo /usr/ports/*/*lsof*

    Note that this will also return any matched files downloaded into the /usr/ports/distfiles directory.

  • Another way to find software is by using the Ports Collection's built-in search mechanism. To use the search feature, cd to /usr/ports then run make search name=program-name where program-name is the name of the software. For example, to search for lsof:

    # cd /usr/ports
    # make search name=lsof
    Port:   lsof-4.88.d,8
    Path:   /usr/ports/sysutils/lsof
    Info:   Lists information about open files (similar to fstat(1))
    Maint:  ler@lerctr.org
    Index:  sysutils


    The built-in search mechanism uses a file of index information. If a message indicates that the INDEX is required, run make fetchindex to download the current index file. With the INDEX present, make search will be able to perform the requested search.

    The Path: line indicates where to find the port.

    To receive less information, use the quicksearch feature:

    # cd /usr/ports
    # make quicksearch name=lsof
    Port:   lsof-4.88.d,8
    Path:   /usr/ports/sysutils/lsof
    Info:   Lists information about open files (similar to fstat(1))

    For more in-depth searching, use make search key=string or make quicksearch key=string, where string is some text to search for. The text can be in comments, descriptions, or dependencies in order to find ports which relate to a particular subject when the name of the program is unknown.

    When using search or quicksearch, the search string is case-insensitive. Searching for LSOF will yield the same results as searching for lsof.