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OpenBSD -current - Frequent asked questions

Written by Solène, on 27 March 2020.
Tags: #openbsd

Comments on Mastodon

Hello, as there are so many questions about OpenBSD -current on IRC, Mastodon or reddit I’m writing this FAQ in hope it will help people.

The official FAQ already contains answers about -current like Following -current and using snapshots and Building the system from sources.

What is OpenBSD -current?

OpenBSD -current is the development version of OpenBSD. Lot of people use it for everyday tasks.

How to install OpenBSD -current?

OpenBSD -current refers to the last version built from sources obtained with CVS, however, it’s also possible to get a pre-built system (a snapshot) usually built and pushed on mirrors every 1 or 2 days.

You can install OpenBSD -current by getting an installation media like usual, but on the path /pub/OpenBSD/snapshots/ on the mirror.

How do I upgrade from -release to -current?

There are two ways to do so:

  1. Download bsd.rd file from the snapshots directory and boot it to upgrade like for a -release to -release upgrade
  2. Run sysupgrade -s command as root, this will basically download all sets under /home/_sysupgrade and boot on bsd.rd with an autoinstall(8) config.

How do I upgrade my -current snapshot to a newer snapshot?

Exactly the same process as going from -release to -current.

Can I downgrade to a -release if I switch to -current?

No.

What issues can I expect in OpenBSD -current?

There are a few issues possibles that one can expect

Out of sync packages

If a library get updated into the base system and you want to update packages, they won’t be installable until packages are rebuilt with that new library, this usually takes 1 up to 3 days.

This only create issues in case you want to install a package you don’t have.

The other way around, you can have an old snapshot and packages are not installable because the libraries linked to by the packages are newer than what is available in your system, in this case you have to upgrade snapshot.

Snapshots sets are getting updated on the mirror

If you download the sets on the mirror to update your -current version, you may have an issue with the sha256 sum, this is because the mirror is getting updated and the sha256 file is the first to be transferred, so sets you are downloading are not the one the sha256 will compare.

Unexpected system breakage

Sometimes, very rarely (maybe 2 or 3 time in a year?), some snapshots are borked and will prevent system to boot or lead to regularly crashes. In that case, it’s important to report the issue with the sendbug utility.

You can fix this by using an older snapshot from this archives server and prevent this to happen by reading bugs@ mailing list before updating.

Broken package

Sometimes, a package update will break it or break some others packages, this is often quickly fixed on popular packages but in some niche packages you may be the only one using it on -current and the only one who can report about it.

If you find breakage on something you use, it may be a good idea to report the problem on ports@openbsd.org mailing list if nobody did before. By doing so, the issue will be fixed and next -release users will be able to install a working package.

Is -current stable enough for a server or a workstation?

It’s really up to you. Developers are all using -current and are forbidden to break it, so the system should totally be usable for everyday use.

What may be complicated on a server is keep updating it regularly and face issues requires troubleshooting (like major database upgrade which was missing a quirk).

For a workstation I think it’s pretty safe as long as you can deal with packages that can’t be installed until they are in sync.