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FreeBSD Snapshot Releases

What Are Snapshots?

As part of an ongoing effort to improve the overall release process before a release actually slips out the door with problems, we are now periodically producing interim test releases called snapshots. These snapshots will be very similar to full releases, except that they might not include all the bits included in a full release (such as packages and updated documentation).

Getting Snapshots

The latest snapshots made available are the following:

If a snapshot for your architecture or the version of FreeBSD that you require is not available from the directories above, older snapshots are usually available from ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/snapshots. It is worth checking there to see if a snapshot that meets your need is present.

Currently the snapshots of 7-CURRENT and 6-STABLE are released monthly in directories whose URLs have the format ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/snapshots/<year><month>/ where <year> is the four-digit year and <month> is the two-digit month in which the snapshot was released. For each supported platform, the snapshot includes ISO images of the bootonly, disc1, and disc2 disks (plus the separate livefs disk on platforms where this is applicable). Each snapshot directory might contain a RELNOTES.TXT file which outlines the changes for the particular snapshot.

Things You Might Want to Know

In particular, before getting and installing a snapshot release, be aware of following:

  • The snapshots are primarily for testing purposes and not fully tested compared to the releases. They may include experimental or degraded features that can corrupt your existing system.
  • The major release number will not be changed in the main distribution for each snapshot. It will only be changed on the boot floppies so that you know when the snapshot was made. These are not releases, these are snapshots, and it is important that this distinction be preserved. Although people can and will, of course, refer to snapshots by date in mail or netnews, do not confuse them.
  • Snapshots might not include package sets, but will generally include a ports tree.
  • Finally, we will not necessarily update the documentation. For example, README may still refer to a previous release. This is because that is much less important than getting the real bug fixes and new features out for testing. Please do not send a bug report about the documentation.

Your feedback on these snapshots is, of course, greatly welcome. They are not just for our benefit - those who are coming to rely on FreeBSD for mission critical applications should welcome a chance to get at more updated bits in a structured fashion. You can also use these snapshots as tangible evidence that your feedback is getting incorporated and that you (hopefully) will not have any unpleasant surprises in the next release. On the other hand, if you do send us hate mail next release and it turns out that you never even tried the snapshots, well, it cuts both ways!

Other Resources

Here are some related resources. Note that they are managed by people other than the FreeBSD Release Engineering Team. These sites provide FreeBSD snapshots in a form of "live filesystem" and bootable ISO images on a daily basis. For details, visit the following links and contact them directly if you have any questions.