FreeBSD Update

As you might be comming from Linux background, like I am, you might not be familiar with the FreeBSD update procedure. The main difference is that FreeBSD has base system as one big component which is updated as a whole, plus it has packages like any other Unix.

TL;DR

env PAGER=/bin/cat freebsd-update fetch
freebsd-version -ku
bectl create 12.0.3
freebsd-update install
reboot
pkg upgrade

freebsd-update utility will tell you if there is anything to be fetched. If there isn't, just ignore the rest of the commands, but if there is, you probably want to know what is the current version using freebsd-version. The -k and -u options stand for kernel and userland, respectively. Those version can be different (only the patch level), so pick the higher one. In the example above, that's 12.0-p3. If you're running on ZFS, you can use bectl to create new boot environment out of the current one, so if update goes wrong, you can still boot system with the previous version. The boot environment is ZFS-only feature which allows for multiple root datasets which loader(8) knows how to boot into. In a sense, it's like installing update and all the packages to new root partition, every time. If you're not running your FreeBSD on ZFS, just skip this step. Finally, we install the actual update and reboot, so the new kernel and base system are loaded. As the final part, packages are updated.

If you have a machine you can not reboot for any reason and have access through VNC, serial console or other non-network channels, you can run this:

env PAGER=/bin/cat freebsd-update fetch
freebsd-version -ku
bectl create 12.0.3
shutdown now
freebsd-update install
exit
pkg upgrade

The shutdown command will not power your machine off. It will bring it into single user mode. In this mode, most processes are not running, only those to enable basic terminal functionallity (and a bit more, but let's say nothing is running). It will ask for root password and once the actuall update is finished, exit will start the services like on fresh boot. The drawback is that kernel updates are not activated, but you still profit from the updates to the userland. As FreeBSD tries relly hard to maintain ABI compatibility on the patch level, this is safe enough to do, but it is advisable to reboot once after the update to load the new kernel.