Read the instructions carefully.

This one was rather obvious and therefore difficult to troubleshoot.

Problem

I did a binary upgrade of FreeBSD via freebsd-update, rebooted and then tried portmaster -a. This resulted in: The value of DISTDIR cannot be empty.

Resolution

What I should have done was run freebsd-update install again after the reboot. The instructions clearly stated that. There is an argument to be made for having something resembling an attention span.

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