6. Choosing a RELEASE to install
Introduction to FreeBSD

FreeBSD is a work in progress, continually developing and improving. A release is a stable snapshot of the development process. It is given a version number followed by -RELEASE. There are several releases to choose from, each providing unique opportunities for stability and innovation.

Currently there are three different lines of development.

  • 2.1.X-STABLE

    The development on this branch has all but stopped. Only security and bug fixes make it in to this branch. The last verstion of this branch was FreeBSD- There will be no more versions of this branch.

  • 2.2.X-STABLE

    This branch of development contains all of the stable, production ready applications and improvements. This is not the newest technology, however it is rock-solid. The last version of this branch was FreeBSD-2.2.6-RELEASE and it is available on CD-ROM. The next version will come from this branch.

  • 3.0.X-CURRENT

    This branch is where all the development takes place. As things are developed, tested and proven to be stable, they are added to 2.2.X-STABLE. There has not be a stable version of 3.0-CURRENT released yet, however daily snapshots are available from current.freebsd.org

The three branches can be found in either ``binary''(pre-compiled, ready to run) distributions, or as ``source'' distributions.


    • -RELEASE

      Considered the most stable. This is the Official Release. The 2.2.X-STABLE branch is compiled, given a -RELEASE number and shipped out on CDROM. However this may not be the most current, depending on the release date. Currently, the latest version is FreeBSD-2.2.6-RELEASE.

    • -SNAP

      This is a binary release or "snapshot" of the -CURRENT or -STABLE version. It is not always stable. SNAPs are also available on CD-ROM, and are only for those who wish to easily track the state of FreeBSD's development, and are open to experimentation. -SNAP versions are available on a daily basis for all three branches of development.


    • -STABLE

      This is the most current and stable release. It is the version that will become -RELEASE when it totally solidifies and has all the projected upgrades completed to it. It may however be incomplete in some areas depending on when you access it. -STABLE is also used to supply users who require absolute stability with minor bug fixes to a particular -RELEASE. For example, if you have installed FreeBSD 2.2.5-RELEASE, all of the bug fixes that have happened since the release date will be held in 2.2-STABLE (RELENG_2_2).

    • -CURRENT

      This is the most up to date version out there. It may or may not be stable depending on which day you down load it. The parts of -CURRENT that are deemed stable get moved to -STABLE. This is where the bleeding edge developments takes place, and for that reason may not even be bootable depending on when you download it. Again, only recommended for people with an insatiable curiosity and FreeBSD developers. If you run -CURRENT you should be subcribed to the freebsd-current mailing list.


Source Releases require that you already have FreeBSD installed and running. The Source Releases are provided for upgrade, testing, and experimentation purposes. If this is your first install, you will want to use the -RELEASE distribution.

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