Ports or Packages?
This article talks about ports versus packages and which might be right for you.
What’s a port?
A port is the source code and the associated makefile for a program. The port
also contains any patches necessary to make the original source code run on FreeBSD.
The program is compiled and installed by the port.
Installing a port can be as
easy as saying make install.
What’s a package?
A package is the collection of binary files created from a port. After a port is
made, the binaries are collected together into a package, which you can install directly
onto your machine with minimal fuss and time.
For most ports, a precompiled package also
exists. This means it’s faster since you don’t have to compile anything.
Which one should I use?
Well, that’s a personal decision. But the consensus seems to be that ports are
better than packages. I think that’s because the port installation process actually
compiles the program on your machine. This minimizes the chance of any problems
arising from differences between your environment and the one in which the package was
I use ports because I’ve had better success with them. I’ve had trouble
with getting some packages running whereas most of the ports I’ve installed have been
relatively trouble free.