10.5. Poudriere

For a ports contributor, Poudriere is one of the most important and helpful testing and build tools. Its main features include:

Because Poudriere performs its building in a clean jail(8) environment and uses zfs(8) features, it has several advantages over traditional testing on the host system:

It is also quite straightforward to set up and use, has no dependencies, and will run on any supported FreeBSD release. This section shows how to install, configure, and run Poudriere as part of the normal workflow of a ports contributor.

The examples in this section show a default file layout, as standard in FreeBSD. Substitute any local changes accordingly. The ports tree, represented by ${PORTSDIR}, is located in /usr/ports. Both ${LOCALBASE} and ${PREFIX} are /usr/local by default.

10.5.1. Installing Poudriere

Poudriere is available in the ports tree in ports-mgmt/poudriere. It can be installed using pkg(8) or from ports:

# pkg install poudriere


# make -C /usr/ports/ports-mgmt/poudriere install clean

There is also a work-in-progress version of Poudriere which will eventually become the next release. It is available in ports-mgmt/poudriere-devel. This development version is used for the official FreeBSD package builds, so it is well tested. It often has newer interesting features. A ports committer will want to use the development version because it is what is used in production, and has all the new features that will make sure everything is exactly right. A contributor will not necessarily need those as the most important fixes are backported to released version. The main reason for the use of the development version to build the official package is because it is faster, in a way that will shorten a full build from 18 hours to 17 hours when using a high end 32 CPU server with 128GB of RAM. Those optimizations will not matter a lot when building ports on a desktop machine.

10.5.2. Setting Up Poudriere

The port installs a default configuration file, /usr/local/etc/poudriere.conf. Each parameter is documented in the configuration file and in poudriere(8). Here is a minimal example config file:


The name of the ZFS storage pool which Poudriere shall use. Must be listed in the output of zpool status.


The root of Poudriere-managed file systems. This entry will cause Poudriere to create zfs(8) file systems under tank/poudriere.


The root mount point for Poudriere file systems. This entry will cause Poudriere to mount tank/poudriere to /poudriere.


Defines where distfiles are stored. In this example, Poudriere and the host share the distfiles storage directory. This avoids downloading tarballs which are already present on the system. Please create this directory if it does not already exist so that Poudriere can find it.


Use the host /etc/resolv.conf inside jails for DNS. This is needed so jails can resolve the URLs of distfiles when downloading. It is not needed when using a proxy. Refer to the default configuration file for proxy configuration.


The FTP/HTTP server to use when the jails are installed from FreeBSD releases and updated with freebsd-update(8). Choose a server location which is close, for example if the machine is located in Australia, use ftp.au.freebsd.org.


The server from where jails are installed and updated when using Subversion. Also used for ports tree when not using portsnap(8). Again, choose a nearby location. A list of official Subversion mirrors can be found in the FreeBSD Handbook Subversion section.

10.5.3. Creating Poudriere Jails

Create the base jails which Poudriere will use for building:

# poudriere jail -c -j 113Ramd64 -v 11.3-RELEASE -a amd64

Fetch a 11.3-RELEASE for amd64 from the FTP server given by FREEBSD_HOST in poudriere.conf, create the zfs file system tank/poudriere/jails/113Ramd64, mount it on /poudriere/jails/113Ramd64 and extract the 11.3-RELEASE tarballs into this file system.

# poudriere jail -c -j 11i386 -v stable/11 -a i386 -m svn+https

Create tank/poudriere/jails/11i386, mount it on /poudriere/jails/11i386, then check out the tip of the Subversion branch of FreeBSD-11-STABLE from SVN_HOST in poudriere.conf into /poudriere/jails/11i386/usr/src, then complete a buildworld and install it into /poudriere/jails/11i386.


If a specific Subversion revision is needed, append it to the version string. For example:

# poudriere jail -c -j 11i386 -v stable/11@123456 -a i386 -m svn+https


While it is possible to build a newer version of FreeBSD on an older version, most of the time it will not run. For example, if a stable/11 jail is needed, the host will have to run stable/11 too. Running 11.3-RELEASE is not enough.


To create a Poudriere jail for 13.0-CURRENT:

# poudriere jail -c -j 13amd64 -v head -a amd64 -m svn+https

In order to run a 13.0-CURRENT Poudriere jail you must be running 13.0-CURRENT. In general, newer kernels can build and run older jails. For instance, a 13.0-CURRENT kernel can build and run a 11.3-STABLE Poudriere jail if the COMPAT_FREEBSD11 kernel option was compiled in (on by default in 13.0-CURRENT GENERIC kernel config).


The default svn protocol works but is not very secure. Using svn+https along with verifying the remote server's SSL fingerprint is advised. It will ensure that the files used for building the jail are from a trusted source.

A list of jails currently known to Poudriere can be shown with poudriere jail -l:

# poudriere jail -l
JAILNAME             VERSION              ARCH    METHOD
113Ramd64            11.3-RELEASE         amd64   ftp
11i386               11.3-STABLE          i386    svn+https

10.5.4. Keeping Poudriere Jails Updated

Managing updates is very straightforward. The command:

# poudriere jail -u -j JAILNAME

updates the specified jail to the latest version available. For FreeBSD releases, update to the latest patchlevel with freebsd-update(8). For FreeBSD versions built from source, update to the latest Subversion revision in the branch.


For jails employing a svn+* method, it is helpful to add -J NumberOfParallelBuildJobs to speed up the build by increasing the number of parallel compile jobs used. For example, if the building machine has 6 CPUs, use:

# poudriere jail -u -J 6 -j JAILNAME

10.5.5. Setting Up Ports Trees for Use with Poudriere

There are multiple ways to use ports trees in Poudriere. The most straightforward way is to have Poudriere create a default ports tree for itself, using either portsnap(8) (if running FreeBSD 12.1 or 11.4) or Subversion (if running FreeBSD-CURRENT):

# poudriere ports -c -m portsnap


# poudriere ports -c -m svn+https

These commands create tank/poudriere/ports/default, mount it on /poudriere/ports/default, and populate it using either portsnap(8) or Subversion. Afterward it is included in the list of known ports trees:

# poudriere ports -l
default   svn+https 2020-07-20 04:23:56 /poudriere/ports/default


Note that the default ports tree is special. Each of the build commands explained later will implicitly use this ports tree unless specifically specified otherwise. To use another tree, add -p treename to the commands.

While useful for regular bulk builds, having this default ports tree with the portsnap(8) method may not be the best way to deal with local modifications for a ports contributor. As with the creation of jails, it is possible to use a different method for creating the ports tree. To add an additional ports tree for testing local modifications and ports development, checking out the tree via Subversion (as described above) is preferable.


The http and https methods need devel/subversion built with the SERF option enabled. It is enabled by default.


The svn method allows extra qualifiers to tell Subversion exactly how to fetch data. This is explained in poudriere(8). For instance, poudriere ports -c -m svn+ssh -p subversive uses SSH for the checkout.

10.5.6. Using Manually Managed Ports Trees with Poudriere

Depending on the workflow, it can be extremely helpful to use ports trees which are maintained manually. For instance, if there is a local copy of the ports tree in /work/ports, point Poudriere to the location:

  • For Poudriere older than version 3.1.20:

    # poudriere ports -c -F -f none -M /work/ports -p development
  • For Poudriere version 3.1.20 and later:

    # poudriere ports -c -m null -M /work/ports -p development

This will be listed in the table of known trees:

# poudriere ports -l
development null      2020-07-20 05:06:33 /work/ports


The dash or null in the METHOD column means that Poudriere will not update or change this ports tree, ever. It is completely up to the user to maintain this tree, including all local modifications that may be used for testing new ports and submitting patches.

10.5.7. Keeping Poudriere Ports Trees Updated

As straightforward as with jails described earlier:

# poudriere ports -u -p PORTSTREE

Will update the given PORTSTREE, one tree given by the output of poudriere -l, to the latest revision available on the official servers.


Ports trees without a method, see Section 10.5.6, “Using Manually Managed Ports Trees with Poudriere”, cannot be updated like this. They must be updated manually by the porter.

10.5.8. Testing Ports

After jails and ports trees have been set up, the result of a contributor's modifications to the ports tree can be tested.

For example, local modifications to the www/firefox port located in /work/ports/www/firefox can be tested in the previously created 11.3-RELEASE jail:

# poudriere testport -j 113Ramd64 -p development -o www/firefox

This will build all dependencies of Firefox. If a dependency has been built previously and is still up-to-date, the pre-built package is installed. If a dependency has no up-to-date package, one will be built with default options in a jail. Then Firefox itself is built.

The complete build of every port is logged to /poudriere/data/logs/bulk/113Ri386-development/build-time/logs.

The directory name 113Ri386-development is derived from the arguments to -j and -p, respectively. For convenience, a symbolic link /poudriere/data/logs/bulk/113Ri386-development/latest is also maintained. The link points to the latest build-time directory. Also in this directory is an index.html for observing the build process with a web browser.

By default, Poudriere cleans up the jails and leaves log files in the directories mentioned above. To ease investigation, jails can be kept running after the build by adding -i to testport:

# poudriere testport -j 113Ramd64 -p development -i -o www/firefox

After the build completes, and regardless of whether it was successful, a shell is provided within the jail. The shell is used to investigate further. Poudriere can be told to leave the jail running after the build finishes with -I. Poudriere will show the command to run when the jail is no longer needed. It is then possible to jexec(8) into it:

# poudriere testport -j 113Ramd64 -p development -I -o www/firefox
====>> Installing local Pkg repository to /usr/local/etc/pkg/repos
====>> Leaving jail 113Ramd64-development-n running, mounted at /poudriere/data/.m/113Ramd64-development/ref for interactive run testing
====>> To enter jail: jexec 113Ramd64-development-n env -i TERM=$TERM /usr/bin/login -fp root
====>> To stop jail: poudriere jail -k -j 113Ramd64 -p development
# jexec 113Ramd64-development-n env -i TERM=$TERM /usr/bin/login -fp root
# [do some stuff in the jail]
# exit
# poudriere jail -k -j 113Ramd64 -p development
====>> Umounting file systems

An integral part of the FreeBSD ports build infrastructure is the ability to tweak ports to personal preferences with options. These can be tested with Poudriere as well. Adding the -c:

# poudriere testport -c -o www/firefox

Presents the port configuration dialog before the port is built. The ports given after -o in the format category/portname will use the specified options, all dependencies will use the default options. Testing dependent ports with non-default options can be accomplished using sets, see Section 10.5.9, “Using Sets”.


When testing ports where pkg-plist is altered during build depending on the selected options, it is recommended to perform a test run with all options selected and one with all options deselected.

10.5.9. Using Sets

For all actions involving builds, a so-called set can be specified using -z setname. A set refers to a fully independent build. This allows, for instance, usage of testport with non-standard options for the dependent ports.

To use sets, Poudriere expects an existing directory structure similar to PORT_DBDIR, defaults to /var/db/ports in its configuration directory. This directory is then nullfs(5)-mounted into the jails where the ports and their dependencies are built. Usually a suitable starting point can be obtained by recursively copying the existing PORT_DBDIR to /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/jailname-portname-setname-options. This is described in detail in poudriere(8). For instance, testing www/firefox in a specific set named devset, add the -z devset parameter to the testport command:

# poudriere testport -j 113Ramd64 -p development -z devset -o www/firefox

This will look for the existence of these directories in this order:

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/113Ramd64-development-devset-options

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/113Ramd64-devset-options

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/113Ramd64-development-options

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/devset-options

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/development-options

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/113Ramd64-options

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/options

From this list, Poudriere nullfs(5)-mounts the first existing directory tree into the /var/db/ports directory of the build jails. Hence, all custom options are used for all the ports during this run of testport.

After the directory structure for a set is provided, the options for a particular port can be altered. For example:

# poudriere options -c www/firefox -z devset

The configuration dialog for www/firefox is shown, and options can be edited. The selected options are saved to the devset set.


Poudriere is very flexible in the option configuration. They can be set for particular jails, ports trees, and for multiple ports by one command. Refer to poudriere(8) for details.

10.5.10. Providing a Custom make.conf File

Similar to using sets, Poudriere will also use a custom make.conf if it is provided. No special command line argument is necessary. Instead, Poudriere looks for existing files matching a name scheme derived from the command line. For instance:

# poudriere testport -j 113Ramd64 -p development -z devset -o www/firefox

causes Poudriere to check for the existence of these files in this order:

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/make.conf

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/devset-make.conf

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/development-make.conf

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/113Ramd64-make.conf

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/113Ramd64-development-make.conf

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/113Ramd64-devset-make.conf

  • /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/113Ramd64-development-devset-make.conf

Unlike with sets, all of the found files will be appended, in that order, into one make.conf inside the build jails. It is hence possible to have general make variables, intended to affect all builds in /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/make.conf. Special variables, intended to affect only certain jails or sets can be set in specialised make.conf files, such as /usr/local/etc/poudriere.d/113Ramd64-development-devset-make.conf.

Example 10.1. Using make.conf to Change Default Perl

To build a set with a non default Perl version, for example, 5.20, using a set named perl5-20, create a perl5-20-make.conf with this line:



Note the use of += so that if the variable is already set in the default make.conf its content will not be overwritten.

10.5.11. Pruning no Longer Needed Distfiles

Poudriere comes with a built-in mechanism to remove outdated distfiles that are no longer used by any port of a given tree. The command

# poudriere distclean -p portstree

will scan the distfiles folder, DISTFILES_CACHE in poudriere.conf, versus the ports tree given by the -p portstree argument and prompt for removal of those distfiles. To skip the prompt and remove all unused files unconditionally, the -y argument can be added:

# poudriere distclean -p portstree -y

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