Server Fault is a question and answer site for system and network administrators. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I think this is a very basic question but I need some understanding.

What does a port mean in freebsd?

share|improve this question
up vote 3 down vote accepted

In regards to software, When using "port" as a noun in regards to FreeBSD, it is a piece of software that has been modified so it will easily compile, install and run. FreeBSD comes with a set of directories that contain thousands of such pieces of software located in /usr/ports by default.

Precompiled versions of the software are usually available as "packages". Once a port is installed, the package management system allows you to maintain the software semi-efficiently.

Ports are usually not written by the FreeBSD Foundation or released with the operating system itself. You can browse the list online on their website.

A port could also be referencing a TCP or UDP port number; or Serial and Parallel ports.

share|improve this answer
Actually is probably a better approach to browse the ports collection. – juwi Jan 18 '12 at 22:58
The word port originally comes from portable and the concept of software portability. This term refers to the usability of software in different environments. For example, the same source code for GNU tar compiles on FreeBSD, Ubuntu, Solaris, and HPUX even though they are all quite different operating systems. – Utkonos Jun 5 '12 at 21:59
The source that the port uses is not written by FreeBSD committers (I would nitpick that the FreeBSD Foundation does not write FreeBSD, the FreeBSD Project does; the Foundation just pays some of the bills). However, the FreeBSD project does write all the port code in the ports hierarchy. That is the code that allows the source code from an upstream project such as GNU tar to be compiled into a package for installation on FreeBSD. This code is in fact released with the operating system. You can see all of that particular code here: link – Utkonos Jun 5 '12 at 22:07

Please check the following section of the FreeBSD handbook:

Chapter 4 Installing Applications: Packages and Ports

(Yes, a bit RTFM, but the Handbook is really, really good)

share|improve this answer

The Ports Collection is a set of Makefiles, patches, and description files stored in /usr/ports. This set of files is used to compile and install applications on FreeBSD. From FreeBSD Handbook: 5.5. Using the Ports Collection

Ports are one of the most powerful features of FreeBSD. You can search and browse the ports collection easily at FreshPorts.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.