Converting PC-BSD Isotope to a Rolling Release

Lately I have grown curious about the differences between Linux and Unix. Some friends suggested that I consider something from the BSD family, and I decided to take a closer look at PC-BSD.

Currently I run the testing branch of Debian on my primary workstation, and I have grown accustomed to operating on a rolling release. After learning that PC-BSD recently introduced the rolling release feature [1], I naturally wanted to convert the PC-BSD installation to use it!

Starting Point

Here are some notes about the status of the system before the conversion:

Config File Updates

The first one was not really for the conversion and was instead for a recent system update. Following the advice from this post [4], I made this modification:

cd /etc
sudo cp freebsd-update.conf freebsd-update.conf.orig
sudo vim freebsd-update.conf

# Update IgnorePaths to include /boot/kernel/linker.hints
IgnorePaths /boot/kernel/linker.hints

The second one got the ball rolling for the conversion. Following the main update guide [1] I made this change to the Update Manager config:

cd /usr/local/share/pcbsd/pc-updatemanager/conf
sudo cp sysupdate.conf sysupdate.conf.orig
sudo vim sysupdate.conf

# Change the PATCHSET value to psbsdtest
PATCHSET: pcbsdtest

Preliminary Conversion

Running the Update Manager provided two updates that attempted to convert the system to a rolling release. However, one of them failed due to an invalid hostname in a configuration file that it generated. I updated the file to use a valid mirror:

cd /usr/local/etc
sudo cp pkg.conf pkg.conf.orig
sudo vim pkg.conf

# Change the package site to a working mirror

With a valid host, I was able to proceed with the update:

sudo PERMISSIVE=yes pkg2ng

The final prep work was done using the pkg command. It started by updating the local catalog:

sudo pkg update

Thinking that I was starting the conversion, I ran the next command only to upgrade pkg itself:

sudo pkg upgrade

I ran into trouble after this. The problems that I had are described in this post [2] and this post [3]. The workaround was to remove these packages:

sudo pkg delete -f \
a2ps-a4-4.13b_4 \
linux-f10-libGLU-7.2 \

Finishing the Conversion

It’s the Final Countdown! This step forced all packages to be reinstalled or upgraded and downloaded a high number of files:

sudo pkg upgrade -f

The upgrade did not seem to reinstall any NVIDIA driver, so the last thing that I did was install the newest one:

sudo pkg install nvidia-driver-310.44_1


First Impressions

It took a few tries to get the system fully upgraded and usable. However, keep in mind that the rolling release is still in its infancy, so trouble comes with the territory.

So far, I am enjoying my PC-BSD experience and I am eager to learn more about BSD!


  1. PC-BSD Rolling Release Upgrade Available
  2. Forum: Update failed
  3. Forum: PC-BSD rolling release – nvidia-driver
  4. Forum: Latest FREEBSD security update will not install
Converting PC-BSD Isotope to a Rolling Release