19.4 Using make world

Once you have synchronized your local source tree against a particular version of FreeBSD (FreeBSD-STABLE, FreeBSD-CURRENT, and so on) you can then use the source tree to rebuild the system.

Take a Backup: It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to take a backup of your system before you do this. While rebuilding the world is (as long as you follow these instructions) an easy task to do, there will inevitably be times when you make mistakes, or when mistakes made by others in the source tree render your system unbootable.

Make sure you have taken a backup. And have a fix-it floppy to hand. You will probably never have to use it, but it is better to be safe than sorry!

Subscribe to the Right Mailing List: The FreeBSD-STABLE and FreeBSD-CURRENT branches are, by their nature, in development. People that contribute to FreeBSD are human, and mistakes occasionally happen.

Sometimes these mistakes can be quite harmless, just causing your system to print a new diagnostic warning. Or the change may be catastrophic, and render your system unbootable or destroy your filesystems (or worse).

If problems like these occur, a ``heads up'' is posted to the appropriate mailing list, explaining the nature of the problem and which systems it affects. And an ``all clear'' announcement is posted when the problem has been solved.

If you try to track FreeBSD-STABLE or FreeBSD-CURRENT and do not read the FreeBSD-stable mailing list or the FreeBSD-current mailing list respectively, then you are asking for trouble.

19.4.1 Read /usr/src/UPDATING

Before you do anything else, read /usr/src/UPDATING (or the equivalent file wherever you have a copy of the source code). This file should contain important information about problems you might encounter, or specify the order in which you might have to run certain commands. If UPDATING contradicts something you read here, UPDATING takes precedence.

Important: Reading UPDATING is not an acceptable substitute for subscribing to the correct mailing list, as described previously. The two requirements are complementary, not exclusive.

19.4.2 Check /etc/make.conf

Examine the files /etc/defaults/make.conf and /etc/make.conf. The first contains some default defines - most of which are commented out. To make use of them when you rebuild your system from source, add them to /etc/make.conf. Keep in mind that anything you add to /etc/make.conf is also used every time you run make, so it is a good idea to set them to something sensible for your system.

A typical user will probably want to copy the CFLAGS and NOPROFILE lines found in /etc/defaults/make.conf to /etc/make.conf and uncomment them.

Examine the other definitions (COPTFLAGS, NOPORTDOCS and so on) and decide if they are relevant to you.

19.4.3 Update /etc/group

The /etc directory contains a large part of your system's configuration information, as well as scripts that are run at system startup. Some of these scripts change from version to version of FreeBSD.

Some of the configuration files are also used in the day to day running of the system. In particular, /etc/group.

There have been occasions when the installation part of ``make world'' has expected certain usernames or groups to exist. When performing an upgrade it is likely that these groups did not exist. This caused problems when upgrading.

The most recent example of this is when the ``ppp'' group (later renamed ``network'') was added. Users had the installation process fail for them when parts of the ppp subsystem were installed using a non-existent (for them) group name.

The solution is to examine /usr/src/etc/group and compare its list of groups with your own. If there are any groups in the new file that are not in your file then copy them over. Similarly, you should rename any groups in /etc/group which have the same GID but a different name to those in /usr/src/etc/group.

Tip: If you are feeling particularly paranoid, you can check your system to see which files are owned by the group you are renaming or deleting.

    # find / -group GID -print

will show all files owned by group GID (which can be either a group name or a numeric group ID).

19.4.4 Drop to Single User Mode

You may want to compile the system in single user mode. Apart from the obvious benefit of making things go slightly faster, reinstalling the system will touch a lot of important system files, all the standard system binaries, libraries, include files and so on. Changing these on a running system (particularly if you have active users on the system at the time) is asking for trouble.

Another method is to compile the system in multi-user mode, and then drop into single user mode for the installation. If you would like to do it this way, simply hold off on the following steps until the build has completed.

As the superuser, you can execute

    # shutdown now

from a running system, which will drop it to single user mode.

Alternatively, reboot the system, and at the boot prompt, enter the -s flag. The system will then boot single user. At the shell prompt you should then run:

    # fsck -p
    # mount -u /
    # mount -a -t ufs
    # swapon -a

This checks the filesystems, remounts / read/write, mounts all the other UFS filesystems referenced in /etc/fstab and then turns swapping on.

19.4.5 Remove /usr/obj

As parts of the system are rebuilt they are placed in directories which (by default) go under /usr/obj. The directories shadow those under /usr/src.

You can speed up the ``make world'' process, and possibly save yourself some dependency headaches by removing this directory as well.

Some files below /usr/obj may have the immutable flag set (see chflags(1) for more information) which must be removed first.

    # cd /usr/obj
    # chflags -R noschg *
    # rm -rf *

19.4.6 Recompile the Source Saving the Output

It is a good idea to save the output you get from running make(1) to another file. If something goes wrong you will have a copy of the error message. While this might not help you in diagnosing what has gone wrong, it can help others if you post your problem to one of the FreeBSD mailing lists.

The easiest way to do this is to use the script(1) command, with a parameter that specifies the name of the file to save all output to. You would do this immediately before rebuilding the world, and then type exit when the process has finished.

    # script /var/tmp/mw.out
    Script started, output file is /var/tmp/mw.out   
    # make TARGET
    ... compile, compile, compile ...     
    # exit
    Script done, ...

If you do this, do not save the output in /tmp. This directory may be cleared next time you reboot. A better place to store it is in /var/tmp (as in the previous example) or in root's home directory. Compile and Install the Base System

You must be in the /usr/src directory...

    # cd /usr/src

(unless, of course, your source code is elsewhere, in which case change to that directory instead).

To rebuild the world you use the make(1) command. This command reads instructions from the Makefile, which describes how the programs that comprise FreeBSD should be rebuilt, the order in which they should be built, and so on.

The general format of the command line you will type is as follows:

    # make -x -DVARIABLE target

In this example, -x is an option that you would pass to make(1). See the make(1) manual page for an example of the options you can pass.

-DVARIABLE passes a variable to the Makefile. The behavior of the Makefile is controlled by these variables. These are the same variables as are set in /etc/make.conf, and this provides another way of setting them.

    # make -DNOPROFILE=true target

is another way of specifying that profiled libraries should not be built, and corresponds with the

    NOPROFILE=    true
    #    Avoid compiling profiled libraries

lines in /etc/make.conf.

target tells make(1) what you want to do. Each Makefile defines a number of different ``targets'', and your choice of target determines what happens.

Some targets are listed in the Makefile, but are not meant for you to run. Instead, they are used by the build process to break out the steps necessary to rebuild the system into a number of sub-steps.

Most of the time you will not need to pass any parameters to make(1), and so your command like will look like this:

    # make target

Beginning with version 2.2.5 of FreeBSD (actually, it was first created on the FreeBSD-CURRENT branch, and then retrofitted to FreeBSD-STABLE midway between 2.2.2 and 2.2.5) the world target has been split in two. buildworld and installworld.

As the names imply, buildworld builds a complete new tree under /usr/obj, and installworld installs this tree on the current machine.

This is very useful for 2 reasons. First, it allows you to do the build safe in the knowledge that no components of your running system will be affected. The build is ``self hosted''. Because of this, you can safely run buildworld on a machine running in multi-user mode with no fear of ill-effects. It is still recommended that you run the installworld part in single user mode, though.

Secondly, it allows you to use NFS mounts to upgrade multiple machines on your network. If you have three machines, A, B and C that you want to upgrade, run make buildworld and make installworld on A. B and C should then NFS mount /usr/src and /usr/obj from A, and you can then run make installworld to install the results of the build on B and C.

Although the world target still exists, you are strongly encouraged not to use it.


    # make buildworld

It is now possible to specify a -j option to make which will cause it to spawn several simultaneous processes. This is most useful on multi-CPU machines. However, since much of the compiling process is IO bound rather than CPU bound it is also useful on single CPU machines.

On a typical single-CPU machine you would run:

    # make -j4 buildworld

make(1) will then have up to 4 processes running at any one time. Empirical evidence posted to the mailing lists shows this generally gives the best performance benefit.

If you have a multi-CPU machine and you are using an SMP configured kernel try values between 6 and 10 and see how they speed things up.

Be aware that this is still somewhat experimental, and commits to the source tree may occasionally break this feature. If the world fails to compile using this parameter try again without it before you report any problems. Timings

Many factors influence the build time, but currently a 500 MHz Pentium 3 with 128 MB of RAM takes about 2 hours to build the FreeBSD-STABLE tree, with no tricks or shortcuts used during the process. A FreeBSD-CURRENT tree will take somewhat longer.

19.4.7 Compile and Install a New Kernel

To take full advantage of your new system you should recompile the kernel. This is practically a necessity, as certain memory structures may have changed, and programs like ps(1) and top(1) will fail to work until the kernel and source code versions are the same.

The simplest, safest way to do this is to build and install a kernel based on GENERIC. While GENERIC may not have all the necessary devices for your system, it should contain everything necessary to boot your system back to single user mode. This is a good test that the new system works properly. After booting from GENERIC and verifying that your system works you can then build a new kernel based on your normal kernel configuration file.

If you are upgrading to FreeBSD 4.0 or above then the standard kernel build procedure (as described in Chapter 9) is deprecated. Instead, you should run these commands.

    # cd /usr/src
    # make buildkernel
    # make installkernel

If you are upgrading to a version of FreeBSD below 4.0 you should use the standard kernel build procedure. However, it is recommended that you use the new version of config(8), using a command line like this.

    # /usr/obj/usr/src/usr.sbin/config/config KERNELNAME

19.4.8 Reboot into Single User Mode

You should reboot in to single user mode to test the new kernel works. Do this by following the instructions in Section 19.4.4.

19.4.9 Install the New System Binaries

If you were building a version of FreeBSD recent enough to have used make buildworld then you should now use the installworld to install the new system binaries.


    # make installworld

Note: If you specified variables on the make buildworld command line, you must specify the same variables in the make installworld command line. This does not necessarily hold true for other options; for example, -j must never be used with installworld.

For example, if you ran:

    # make -DNOPROFILE=true buildworld

you must install the results with:

    # make -DNOPROFILE=true installworld

otherwise it would try and install profiled libraries that had not been built during the make buildworld phase.

19.4.10 Update Files Not Updated by make world

Remaking the world will not update certain directories (in particular, /etc, /var and /usr) with new or changed configuration files.

The simplest way to update these files is to use mergemaster(8), though it is possible to do it manually if you would prefer to do that. We strongly recommend you use mergemaster(8), however, and if you do then you can skip forward to the next section, since mergemaster(8) is very simple to use. You should read the manual page first, and make a backup of /etc in case anything goes wrong.

If you wish to do the update manually, you cannot just copy over the files from /usr/src/etc to /etc and have it work. Some of these files must be ``installed'' first. This is because the /usr/src/etc directory is not a copy of what your /etc directory should look like. In addition, there are files that should be in /etc that are not in /usr/src/etc.

The simplest way to do this by hand is to install the files into a new directory, and then work through them looking for differences.

Backup Your Existing /etc: Although, in theory, nothing is going to touch this directory automatically, it is always better to be sure. So copy your existing /etc directory somewhere safe. Something like:

    # cp -Rp /etc /etc.old

-R does a recursive copy, -p preserves times, ownerships on files and suchlike.

You need to build a dummy set of directories to install the new /etc and other files into. /var/tmp/root is a reasonable choice, and there are a number of subdirectories required under this as well.

    # mkdir /var/tmp/root
    # cd /usr/src/etc
    # make DESTDIR=/var/tmp/root distrib-dirs distribution

This will build the necessary directory structure and install the files. A lot of the subdirectories that have been created under /var/tmp/root are empty and should be deleted. The simplest way to do this is to:

    # cd /var/tmp/root
    # find -d . -type d | xargs rmdir 2>/dev/null

This will remove all empty directories. (Standard error is redirected to /dev/null to prevent the warnings about the directories that are not empty.)

/var/tmp/root now contains all the files that should be placed in appropriate locations below /. You now have to go through each of these files, determining how they differ with your existing files.

Note that some of the files that will have been installed in /var/tmp/root have a leading ``.''. At the time of writing the only files like this are shell startup files in /var/tmp/root/ and /var/tmp/root/root/, although there may be others (depending on when you are reading this. Make sure you use ls -a to catch them.

The simplest way to do this is to use diff(1) to compare the two files.

    # diff /etc/shells /var/tmp/root/etc/shells

This will show you the differences between your /etc/shells file and the new /etc/shells file. Use these to decide whether to merge in changes that you have made or whether to copy over your old file.

Name the New Root Directory (/var/tmp/root) with a Time Stamp, So You Can Easily Compare Differences Between Versions: Frequently rebuilding the world means that you have to update /etc frequently as well, which can be a bit of a chore.

You can speed this process up by keeping a copy of the last set of changed files that you merged into /etc. The following procedure gives one idea of how to do this.

  1. Make the world as normal. When you want to update /etc and the other directories, give the target directory a name based on the current date. If you were doing this on the 14th of February 1998 you could do the following.

        # mkdir /var/tmp/root-19980214
        # cd /usr/src/etc
        # make DESTDIR=/var/tmp/root-19980214 \
        distrib-dirs distribution
  2. Merge in the changes from this directory as outlined above.

    Do not remove the /var/tmp/root-19980214 directory when you have finished.

  3. When you have downloaded the latest version of the source and remade it, follow step 1. This will give you a new directory, which might be called /var/tmp/root-19980221 (if you wait a week between doing updates).

  4. You can now see the differences that have been made in the intervening week using diff(1) to create a recursive diff between the two directories.

        # cd /var/tmp
        # diff -r root-19980214 root-19980221

    Typically, this will be a much smaller set of differences than those between /var/tmp/root-19980221/etc and /etc. Because the set of differences is smaller, it is easier to migrate those changes across into your /etc directory.

  5. You can now remove the older of the two /var/tmp/root-* directories.

        # rm -rf /var/tmp/root-19980214
  6. Repeat this process every time you need to merge in changes to /etc.

You can use date(1) to automate the generation of the directory names.

    # mkdir /var/tmp/root-`date "+%Y%m%d"`

19.4.11 Update /dev

DEVFS: If you are using DEVFS this is unnecessary.

In most cases, the mergemaster(8) tool will realize when it is necessary to update the devices, and offer to complete it automatically. These instructions tell how to update the devices manually.

For safety's sake, this is a multi-step process.

  1. Copy /var/tmp/root/dev/MAKEDEV to /dev.

        # cp /var/tmp/root/dev/MAKEDEV /dev

    If you used mergemaster(8) to update /etc, then your MAKEDEV script should have been updated already, though it cannot hurt to check (with diff(1)) and copy it manually if necessary.

  2. Now, take a snapshot of your current /dev. This snapshot needs to contain the permissions, ownerships, major and minor numbers of each filename, but it should not contain the time stamps. The easiest way to do this is to use awk(1) to strip out some of the information.

        # cd /dev
        # ls -l | awk '{print $1, $2, $3, $4, $5, $6, $NF}' > /var/tmp/dev.out
  3. Remake all the devices.

        # sh MAKEDEV all
  4. Write another snapshot of the directory, this time to /var/tmp/dev2.out. Now look through these two files for any devices that you missed creating. There should not be any, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

        # diff /var/tmp/dev.out /var/tmp/dev2.out

    You are most likely to notice disk slice discrepancies which will involve commands such as

        # sh MAKEDEV sd0s1
    to recreate the slice entries. Your precise circumstances may vary.

19.4.12 Update /stand

Note: This step is included only for completeness. It can safely be omitted.

For the sake of completeness, you may want to update the files in /stand as well. These files consist of hard links to the /stand/sysinstall binary. This binary should be statically linked, so that it can work when no other filesystems (and in particular /usr) have been mounted.

    # cd /usr/src/release/sysinstall
    # make all install

19.4.13 Rebooting

You are now done. After you have verified that everything appears to be in the right place you can reboot the system. A simple fastboot(8) should do it.

    # fastboot

19.4.14 Finished

You should now have successfully upgraded your FreeBSD system. Congratulations.

If things went slightly wrong, it is easy to rebuild a particular piece of the system. For example, if you accidently deleted /etc/magic as part of the upgrade or merge of /etc, the file(1) command will stop working. In this case, the fix would be to run:

    # cd /usr/src/usr.bin/file
    # make all install

19.4.15 Questions Do I need to re-make the world for every change? My compile failed with lots of signal 11 (or other signal number) errors. What has happened? Can I remove /usr/obj when I have finished? Can interrupted builds be resumed? Can I use one machine as a master to upgrade lots of machines (NFS)? How can I speed up making the world? Do I need to re-make the world for every change?

There is no easy answer to this one, as it depends on the nature of the change. For example, if you just ran CVSup, and it has shown the following files as being updated,


it probably is not worth rebuilding the entire world. You could just go to the appropriate sub-directories and make all install, and that's about it. But if something major changed, for example src/lib/libc/stdlib then you should either re-make the world, or at least those parts of it that are statically linked (as well as anything else you might have added that is statically linked).

At the end of the day, it is your call. You might be happy re-making the world every fortnight say, and let changes accumulate over that fortnight. Or you might want to re-make just those things that have changed, and are confident you can spot all the dependencies.

And, of course, this all depends on how often you want to upgrade, and whether you are tracking FreeBSD-STABLE or FreeBSD-CURRENT. My compile failed with lots of signal 11 (or other signal number) errors. What has happened?

This is normally indicative of hardware problems. (Re)making the world is an effective way to stress test your hardware, and will frequently throw up memory problems. These normally manifest themselves as the compiler mysteriously dying on receipt of strange signals.

A sure indicator of this is if you can restart the make and it dies at a different point in the process.

In this instance there is little you can do except start swapping around the components in your machine to determine which one is failing. Can I remove /usr/obj when I have finished?

The short answer is yes.

/usr/obj contains all the object files that were produced during the compilation phase. Normally, one of the first steps in the ``make world'' process is to remove this directory and start afresh. In this case, keeping /usr/obj around after you have finished makes little sense, and will free up a large chunk of disk space (currently about 340MB).

However, if you know what you are doing you can have ``make world'' skip this step. This will make subsequent builds run much faster, since most of sources will not need to be recompiled. The flip side of this is that subtle dependency problems can creep in, causing your build to fail in odd ways. This frequently generates noise on the FreeBSD mailing lists, when one person complains that their build has failed, not realising that it is because they have tried to cut corners.

If you want to live dangerously then make the world, passing the NOCLEAN definition to make, like this:

    # make -DNOCLEAN world Can interrupted builds be resumed?

This depends on how far through the process you got before you found a problem.

In general (and this is not a hard and fast rule) the ``make world'' process builds new copies of essential tools (such as gcc(1), and make(1)) and the system libraries. These tools and libraries are then installed. The new tools and libraries are then used to rebuild themselves, and are installed again. The entire system (now including regular user programs, such as ls(1) or grep(1)) is then rebuilt with the new system files.

If you are at the last stage, and you know it (because you have looked through the output that you were storing) then you can (fairly safely) do

    ... fix the problem ...
    # cd /usr/src
    # make -DNOCLEAN all

This will not undo the work of the previous ``make world''.

If you see the message

    Building everything..
in the ``make world'' output then it is probably fairly safe to do so.

If you do not see that message, or you are not sure, then it is always better to be safe than sorry, and restart the build from scratch. Can I use one machine as a master to upgrade lots of machines (NFS)?

This is a fairly easy task, and can save hours of compile time for many machines. Simply run the buildworld on a central machine, and then NFS mount /usr/src and /usr/obj on the remote machine and installworld there. How can I speed up making the world?

  • Run in single user mode.

  • Put the /usr/src and /usr/obj directories on separate filesystems held on separate disks. If possible, put these disks on separate disk controllers.

  • Better still, put these filesystems across multiple disks using the ccd(4) (concatenated disk driver) device.

  • Turn off profiling (set ``NOPROFILE=true'' in /etc/make.conf). You almost certainly do not need it.

  • Also in /etc/make.conf, set CFLAGS to something like ``-O -pipe''. The optimization ``-O2'' is much slower, and the optimization difference between ``-O'' and ``-O2'' is normally negligible. ``-pipe'' lets the compiler use pipes rather than temporary files for communication, which saves disk access (at the expense of memory).

  • Pass the -j<n> option to make to run multiple processes in parallel. This usually helps regardless of whether you have a single or a multi processor machine.

  • The filesystem holding /usr/src can be mounted (or remounted) with the noatime option. This prevents the filesystem from recording the file access time. You probably do not need this information anyway.

        # mount -u -o noatime /usr/src

    Warning: The example assumes /usr/src is on its own filesystem. If it is not (if it is a part of /usr for example) then you will need to use that filesystem mount point, and not /usr/src.

  • The filesystem holding /usr/obj can be mounted (or remounted) with the ``async'' option. This causes disk writes to happen asynchronously. In other words, the write completes immediately, and the data is written to the disk a few seconds later. This allows writes to be clustered together, and can be a dramatic performance boost.

    Warning: Keep in mind that this option makes your filesystem more fragile. With this option there is an increased chance that, should power fail, the filesystem will be in an unrecoverable state when the machine restarts.

    If /usr/obj is the only thing on this filesystem then it is not a problem. If you have other, valuable data on the same filesystem then ensure your backups are fresh before you enable this option.

        # mount -u -o async /usr/obj

    Warning: As above, if /usr/obj is not on its own filesystem, replace it in the example with the name of the appropriate mount point.

This, and other documents, can be downloaded from ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/.

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