Essentially, I am looking for a fully silent, non-interactive version of

freebsd-update fetch
freebsd-update install


portsnap fetch update

5 Answers 5


On FreeBSD-10.2 there's a new option to allow this:

freebsd-update fetch --not-running-from-cron

From the manpage:

        Force freebsd-update fetch to proceed when there is no
        controlling tty.  This is for use by automated scripts and
        orchestration tools.  Please do not run freebsd-update
        fetch from crontab or similar using this flag, see:
        freebsd-update cron
  • Ah, still giving the crazy MORE button.
    – hyperknot
    Dec 11, 2015 at 3:41
  • 1
    This should be the accepted answer.
    – dentarg
    May 31, 2016 at 8:49
  • @dentarg Except it doesn't work. As zsero says, the fetch operation will still require some interaction to complete. May 11, 2017 at 11:41
  • @KenWayneVanderLinde I see what you mean, but it is working as intended. As stated above, freebsd-update(8) says: "Force freebsd-update fetch to proceed when there is no controlling tty. This is for use by automated scripts and orchestration tools". Works great for me, when using Ansible, for example.
    – dentarg
    May 12, 2017 at 12:29
  • 1
    @dentarg It also helped me as well, it just doesn't fully answer the question as stated. Jun 9, 2017 at 18:18

On FreeBSD 10.0R and later, set PAGER environment variable on freebsd-update

env PAGER=cat freebsd-update fetch
freebsd-update install

For portsnap(8) on FreeBSD 10.0R and later, default behaviour, namely without --interactive option, is non-interactive.

portsnap fetch update

For FreeBSD < 10, the following works:

Allow freebsd-update to run fetch without stdin attached to a terminal:

sed 's/\[ ! -t 0 \]/false/' /usr/sbin/freebsd-update > /tmp/freebsd-update
chmod +x /tmp/freebsd-update

Allow portsnap to run fetch without stdin attached to a terminal:

sed 's/\[ ! -t 0 \]/false/' /usr/sbin/portsnap > /tmp/portsnap
chmod +x /tmp/portsnap

Credits: veewee

For FreeBSD 10+, the solution in the answer below by @uchida should be preferred!

  • Outstanding! I was looking for this to automate an installation! Apr 23, 2014 at 2:33

Blindly installing updates (even freebsd-update updates) can be a Bad Thing: One option in rc.conf changes, and suddenly your machine has no SSH daemon anymore.

Similarly you probably don't want to blindly install all available port updates via portsnap / portupgrade -a -- you might take a major version number bump and break the universe, or you might just have a port with new configuration options that need to be changed (you can make ports just accept whatever their defaults are, but sometimes that's not what you want).

The best way to do this is to use a configuration management tool like Puppet or radmind to deploy your changes.
Make a machine template based on a box you've successfully upgraded and tested, then deploy that to the rest of your environment. This ensures that you're pushing out a working system configuration, and that you only have to do the manual steps once (on the machine you're templating from).

  • Does freebsd-update overwrite configuration data like rc.conf? But even if so: we want to automatically (nightly) create VM images (OVA, AMI, ..) from scratch. Hence, there is no problem of configs overwritten, since after base install, the system is first updated, and then configured. So how do I run freebsd-update and portsnap unattended? On RH Linux, I just fire yum -y update and voila. How do I do that with FreeBSD?
    – oberstet
    May 16, 2013 at 18:22
  • freebsd-update generally doesn't overwrite configuration files, but it will replace stock rc scripts in /etc/rc.d when they're updated. (I believe it checks rc.conf and friends for obvious problems, but I could be wrong. I still build my systems the old fashioned way with make world & mergemaster).
    – voretaq7
    May 16, 2013 at 18:26
  • the short answer to your question though is "You don't blindly install updates." -- it's irresponsible to do so (I can tell you horror stories of production environments destroyed by yum -y update). If the tool asks you a question it's because it really needs you to stop, think, and respond. You can always pipe yes to freebsd-upgrade and run portupgrade --batch if you want to, but IMHO that's a pretty big foot-gun.
    – voretaq7
    May 16, 2013 at 18:28
  • 1
    @oberstet that's only for fetch (and it tells you what to do about it in the error message). Also to be blunt I don't think you know the requirements of freebsd-upgrade better than the dude who wrote it (he's been doing this longer than I have, and he's pretty good at this whole "write stuff that doesn't destroy the universe" thing), but if you really think you know better it's just a shell script -- You can copy it and hack to your heart's content to make it behave how you want...
    – voretaq7
    May 16, 2013 at 19:02
  • 3
    No it won't destroy a newly installed system. He's worrying you'll blow up your systems and obviously didn't read any of the bits about nightly images. Apr 26, 2014 at 21:13

For FreeBSD version > 11

freebsd-update is a script and there is "Function for asking the user if everything is ok". The function is:

continuep ()

It is enough to comment all in this function but the line with

return 0

After that this function returns positive answer to "y/n" question.

Important! Remember, this is NOT recommended and do that only on your OWN risk!

# /tmp/freebsd-update -r 11.1-RELEASE upgrade ; while [ $? -eq 1 ] ; do sleep 3; /tmp/freebsd-update -r 11.1-RELEASE upgrade ; done

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