Short bio: Computer Scientist, FOSS supporter (read more)
Tux Machines (TM)-specific
The binary patches are quite a mysterious issue in FreeBSD, no matter freebsd-update( 8 ) is around since about 2005, and since FreeBSD 6.3-RELEASE it reached a new level of power. As I have had quarrels with FreeBSD aficionados on the issue of binary patches in FreeBSD, I thought I should clear a bit the mess.
Not only proprietary or closed-source operating systems come with binary security updates, but each and every Linux distribution which is supported by the issuer is provided with patched binaries when a security issue is identified and a solution is found. Unless you're running a source distribution (LFS, Gentoo, etc.), why would you prefer to build yourself from sources a patched binary, when an officially patched package can be made available? This one, the new package is only build once, not millions of times!
All the BSD flavors favor the source patches. When a security advisory is issued, you're supposed to apply the source patch and to rebuild the corresponding binary. Most people never considered this process as a bothersome one, as in real life, there is another issue taking even more time: rebuilding the vulnerable ports (when updated packages are not available).