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DEVELOPMENT(7) FreeBSD Miscellaneous Information Manual DEVELOPMENT(7)

introduction to FreeBSD development process

FreeBSD development is split into three major suprojects: doc, ports, and src. Doc is the documentation, such as the FreeBSD Handbook. To read more, see:

Ports, described further in ports(7), are the way to build, package, and install third party software. To read more, see:

The last one, src, revolves around the source code for the base system, consisting of the kernel, and the libraries and utilities commonly called the world.

The Committer's Guide, describing topics relevant to all committers, can be found at:

FreeBSD src development takes place in the project-hosted Git repository, located at:

The push URL is:


There is also a list of public, read-only Git mirrors at:

The ‘main’ Git branch represents CURRENT; all changes are first committed to CURRENT and then usually cherry-picked back to STABLE, which refers to Git branches such as ‘stable/13’. Every few years a new STABLE is branched from CURRENT, with an incremented major version number. Releases are then branched off STABLE and numbered with consecutive minor numbers.

Layout of the source tree is described in hier(7). Build instructions can be found in build(7) and release(7). Kernel programming interfaces (KPIs) are documented in section 9 manual pages; use ‘apropos -s 9 .’ for a list. Regression test suite is described in tests(7). For coding conventions, see style(9).

To ask questions regarding development, use the mailing lists, such as freebsd-arch@ and freebsd-hackers@:

To get your patches integrated into the main FreeBSD repository use Phabricator; it is a code review tool that allows other developers to review the changes, suggest improvements, and, eventually, allows them to pick up the change and commit it:

To check the latest FreeBSD build and test status of CURRENT and STABLE branches, the continuous integration system is at:

Check out the CURRENT branch, build it, and install, overwriting the current system:
git clone src
cd src
make -sj8 buildworld buildkernel installkernel
shutdown -r now

After reboot:

cd src
make -j8 installworld

Rebuild and reinstall a single piece of userspace, in this case ls(1):

cd src/bin/ls
make clean all install

Quickly rebuild and reinstall the kernel, only recompiling the files changed since last build; note that this will only work if the full kernel build has been completed in the past, not on a fresh source tree:

cd src
make -sj8 kernel KERNFAST=1

To rebuild parts of FreeBSD for another CPU architecture, first prepare your source tree by building the cross-toolchain:

cd src
make -sj8 toolchain TARGET_ARCH=aarch64

Afterwards, to build and install a single piece of userspace, use:

cd src/bin/ls
make buildenv TARGET_ARCH=aarch64
make clean all install DESTDIR=/clients/arm

Likewise, to quickly rebuild and reinstall the kernel, use:

cd src
make buildenv TARGET_ARCH=aarch64
make -sj8 kernel KERNFAST=1 DESTDIR=/clients/arm

git(1), witness(4), build(7), hier(7), ports(7), release(7), tests(7), locking(9), style(9)

The development manual page was originally written by Matthew Dillon <> and first appeared in FreeBSD 5.0, December 2002. It was since extensively modified by Eitan Adler <> to reflect the repository conversion from cvs(1) to svn(1). It was rewritten from scratch by Edward Tomasz Napierala <> for FreeBSD 12.0.
November 1, 2021 FreeBSD 13.1-RELEASE

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