Auto update check, checks for updates to base system + packages and sends email alerts

  • Here's an "automatic update checker" for pfSense. The script will check for major updates to the base pfSense system, as well as updates to any builtin or installed packages. If any updates are found, an email summary will be sent out with the details.

    I wanted to put this out there now, get feedback, comments etc. My goal is to make this into an actual pfSense package to make it simpler to install, but I'm still learning how to create packages. This should still be useful as-is. (Any pointers anyone has on getting this cobbled together into a real package would be greatly appreciated!)

    To install:

    • Save the script below as pkg_check.php in your /root directory
    • Set it up to run on whatever schedule you like using the Cron package. A sample screenshot* of how to configure the script is below.
    • Make sure you have valid SMTP settings defined on your firewall so you can get the alerts!

    *if you want to copy/paste the Cron command, use: /usr/local/bin/php -q /root/pkg_check.php

    pkg_check.php: (I also have a gist up at github if you find that easier to read/copy)

      $msg = null;
      $pmsg = null;
      $p = 0;
      log_error("Starting update check");
      // pfSense base system check
      $system_version = get_system_pkg_version(false, false);
      if ($system_version === false) {
        printf("%s\n", 'Unable to check for updates');
        log_error("Unable to check for updates, exiting");
      if (!is_array($system_version) ||
        !isset($system_version['version']) ||
        !isset($system_version['installed_version'])) {
        printf("%s\n", 'Error in version information');
        log_error("Error in version information, exiting");
      switch ($system_version['pkg_version_compare']) {
        case '<':
          //printf("%s%s%s\n", "pfSense version ", $system_version['version'], " is available");
          $msg = "An update to pfSense version " . $system_version['version'] . " is available\n\n";
        case '=':
          //printf("%s%s%s\n", "pfSense version ", $system_version['version'], " (installed) is current");
        case '>':
          printf("%s%s%s\n", "pfSense version ", $system_version['installed_version'], " is NEWER than the latest available version ", $system_version['version']);
          $msg = "pfSense version " . $system_version['version'] . " is available (downgrade)\n\n";
          printf("%s\n", 'Error comparing installed with latest version available');
          log_error("Error comparing installed with latest version available");
      // package check
      $package_list = get_pkg_info('all', true, true);
      $installed_packages = array_filter($package_list, function($v) {
        return (isset($v['installed']) && isset($v['name']));
      if (empty($installed_packages)) {
        printf("%s\n", 'No packages installed');
        log_error("No packages installed, exiting");
      foreach ($installed_packages as $pkg) {
        if (isset($pkg['installed_version']) && isset($pkg['version'])) {
          //printf("%s%s%s\n", $pkg['shortname'], ': ', $pkg['installed_version']);
          $version_compare = pkg_version_compare($pkg['installed_version'], $pkg['version']);
          if ($version_compare != '=') {
            $pmsg .= "\n".$pkg['shortname'].': '.$pkg['installed_version'].' ==> '.$pkg['version'];
            if ($version_compare == '>') {
              $pmsg .= ' (downgrade)';
            printf("%s%s%s%s%s\n", $pkg['shortname'], ': ', $pkg['installed_version'], ' ==> ', $pkg['version']);
      if ($p > 0) {
        $msg = $msg . "The following updates are available and can be installed using System > Package Manager:\n" . $pmsg;
      // check for updates to builtin packages
      exec("/usr/sbin/pkg upgrade -n | /usr/bin/sed -ne '/UPGRADED/,/^$/p'", $output, $retval);
      if (($retval == 0) && (count($output))) {
        $msg .= "\n\n" . "Some packages are part of the base system and will not show up in Package Manager. If any such updates are listed below, run `pkg upgrade` from the shell to install them:\n\n";
        $msg .= implode("\n", array_map('ltrim', $output));
      if (!empty($msg)) {
        log_error("Updates were found - sending email");
      log_error("Update check complete");
  • Netgate Administrator

    Needs more blinkenlight action! 😉


  • Pkg update notification has been at the top of my wish list for a while. I’ll difinately give this a try.

  • This works great btw. Only problem I had getting it setup was a typo due to the fact that I missed a space in your cron screenshot.

  • Glad to hear you got it working! I added a little text block below the screenshot to make it copy/pasteable.

  • Rebel Alliance

    Nice job, like the way you set out the easy copy & paste also

  • @luckman212 Thanks for this it works great!

    I notice the email notification mentioned updating packages that are not in the package manager via pkg update. There were a few packages not in the package manager which had new versions. I did the update and all went well. However, I was reading that the pkg update (FreeBSD method?) is not a supported pfSense update method.
    In there it mentions the only methods supported are the GUI update and option 13 from console/SSH. This particular thread did not mention the GUI method for updating packages but that must be supported as well.
    My guess is as long as updates to the actual pfSense version and installed packages are done via the GUI and/or option 13, then updating the remaining packages via pkg update should not be an issue?


  • Banned

    @raffi_ said in Auto update check, checks for updates to base system + packages and sends email alerts:

    I notice the email notification mentioned updating packages that are not in the package manager via pkg update.

    Probably those: you better update them.

  • @Grimson Thanks for the link. Yes, those were the exact updates which came up. I went ahead and updated them when I got the email notification thanks to the script. I'm on 2.4.4-p2. Wow they were major security updates I wouldn't have known about with this script. You learn something new everyday.

    Thanks for the help and education guys.

  • @raffi_ The post you linked to was pretty old. Updating via console should be safe as long as you have not messed with the repos. It's basically the same process that occurs when you update via the GUI, as pkg is always used anyway.

  • @luckman212 Awesome, thanks for the explanation. You're being too modest :)
    I learned your script is not the same as the GUI update, it's actually better! The GUI didn't tell me about those vulnerabilities in the packages which required updating, but your script did.


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