let me give some very basic answers.
> ports system is completely separate from the OS itself, and that these
Applications have nothing to do with the operating system. In theory at
Practically it is more limited.
> can be upgraded or updated separately. From what I can see this seems
Yes, as long as the port tree still supports the OS. A strange example:
FreeBSD 1.0 is not supported anymore with the current port tree.
> to most often involve CVSup, and I have been operating under the
> assumption that one must run two cvsup operations with two separate
> supfiles to update both the core OS and the ports. Am I understanding
> this correctly?
It seems for me to be the best choice.
> Assuming I am, my main confusion concerns just how these two systems
> actually interact and relate to each other, and whether there are any
They do not interact. The operating system provides the base for the
applications. As long as base and application fit together, it all
> requirements connecting updating each of them together? For instance,
There is no requirement. Upgrading the operating system should be done
if there are bug fixes provides or if you want to switch to a newer version.
> I have downloaded the FreeBSD 6.2 install discs and have finished the
Just stick with 6.2 for the moment.
> basic installation and setup. Now at some point if I wish to update
> the ports does that mean I have to update the OS to a particular
> level? If I don't want to run stable and use "tag=RELENG_6_2" will I
> be required to keep the ports as they have installed from the disc?
> Is there any connection between how current the ports are and how
> current the OS is?
Wait, you do not install ports from the disc, you install packages from
the disc. This is a small difference. Ports are source based, packages
> One of the things which caused me to wonder about this was that some
> time back I tried FreeBSD out for a while and ran into some oddities
> concerning the ports system. When I first finished setting things up
> I could install packages using "pkg_add -r", but noticed that after
> updating the ports I could no longer do that. That struck me as odd,
Updating the ports tree means actually switching to ports but you still
can use packages via "portupgrade".
> and because of it I always had a suspicion that I had broken the
> system with my out of whack updates (I did not move up to stable at
> that time) but I just never could really find out if that were so.
Never forget, the ports tree is a live object. It can happen that you
upgrade now and find a ruined system, then upgrade a minute later and
the system is fine again.
> One last newb question is concerning cvsup itself. In reference to
> ports is there a difference, in the end, between this and portsnap?
There should be no difference at the final end.