Portscout is a tool which looks for new versions of software in the FreeBSD ports tree, and potentially other software repositories.

Various factors make this task a bit more difficult than it might initially seem. In particular, the array of weird and wonderful versioning schemes software vendors manage to come up with.

Portscout spawns several child processes and does its version checking in parallel, while attempting to best-guess strange-looking version numbers, navigate around unhelpful sites and web servers, and contend with the CPU-heavy rapidly-expanding FreeBSD ports system.

In addition to all this, it is possible to generate nice HTML reports and send reminder mails to interested parties.

The FreeBSD Results

For a while after developing Portscout, I ran daily scans of the FreeBSD ports tree and published the results for the community; however, I wasn't able to keep up the commitment, and eventually after a period without new results, Martin Wilke took over. He registered a domain and someone created a spiffy Daemonesque CSS theme.

Portscout continues to run on Martin's server, but I am now the de facto babysitter of the installation, having been given access to the machine.

The results can be found here.


Details of the PORTSCOUT variable
Blocking Portscout scans


Version 0.8.1: portscout-0.8.1.tar.gz (signature)