Saturday, February 11, 2006

PortRequest is Live

If you listened to my recent BSDTalk podcast, you heard me mention PortRequest. Well, it's live! PortRequest is part of the NYCBUG site; Michael Welsh coded it, receiving nothing in compensation. If you visit www.portrequest.org you will be redirected to the actual NYCBUG Portrequest page.

The idea behind PortRequest is simple: I am lazy. Whenever I find a new program, I first look to see if it is in the FreeBSD ports tree by searching Dan Langille's FreshPorts site. What do I do if the program is not in the ports tree? Next I query the Problem Reports database to see if a new port is pending. For example, this query shows Sguil-related ports that are being developed. What do I do if there is no PR? Do I just bookmark the tool and move on?

I hate bookmarks. Rather than simply bookmark the page for a new program, I now have an alternative. I can try the program (verify that it compiles, see how it works, etc.), and then post information about that program to PortRequest. Others can see the post in PortRequest and add comments. A potential port writer can browse the database looking for interesting ports to create. The idea is to connect people who find new tools with people who have the skill to create new ports.

Here's an example: mwcollect. It's a program similar to Nepenthes, which is already in the ports tree. It would be great to see mwcollect in the tree too. So, I download the program, and I see if I can compile it. Using gmake, I have no errors. Perhaps creating a port would be easy, since mwcollect is now supporting FreeBSD?

This morning I submitted a PortRequest for mwcollect. The program looks like a good candidate for the ports tree. Hopefully an aspiring port developer will visit PortRequest, browse the queue, see that mwcollect looks interesting, and then create a port. We welcome your comments.

Update: I noticed a great thread that discusses contributing to the ports tree, along with this Handbook article.

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