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This question is about using pkg on systems where the normal FreeBSD repos have been disabled, but may occasionally be needed. To make it concrete, I'm thinking about platforms like pfSense where the repos pointed to are pfSense's own, and the developers and forum are happy to show how one can install a package from the wider FreeBSD repo if needed (with suitable warnings/caveats).

The workaround and recommended solution from pfSense devs is to install a package cautiously and only if necessary, using

pkg add http(s)://pkg.freebsd.org/freebsd:10:x86:64/release_3/All/PACKAGE.txz

I'm thinking of doing some dev work that will use this. Using the guidance on the pfSense website, I can easily install and remove a non-standard package and it works fine. I've also checked and found that vulnerability/update audit warnings can be done without configuring the repo either, using pkg audit -F, when they wouldn't otherwise have a way to be identified as needing an update.

What I'm missing and need is some way to get a list of packages, the metadata/details about a package, and the dependencies for a package. So I need 3 commands (or methods) to get answers to questions like these:

  • What packages/package filenames are available from the standard FreeBSD repo for 10.3 x64 latest?
  • What is the description and other metadata for nntp-1.5.12.2_7.txz?
  • What are the dependencies for porttools-1.06.txz?

If I could update and query the repo catalog on-board as usual, I would, but I don't think I can. I don't want to do anything that changes pfSense's own repo management, such as enabling+disabling FreeBSD repos. So I can either use a limited subset of pkg commands and "known URLs" as above, or use CURL to download some relevant data file and unpack it myself like pkg does internally.

What commands would still work in this limited context, to get me this data?

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