It's unfortunate that the INDEXFILE defaults haven't been changed with the
removal (it's also unfortunate that portsdb -U breaks if INDEXFILE is
overriden in make.conf, but that's a portupgrade bug). It might take a while
until the necessary additional changes have been reviewed - perhaps using
sysutils/portsnap to update your portstree will do as a workaround for the
time being (you get matching indices for each ports update).
It's unfortunate that major changes are made without public consultation
and then only halfway.
"make fetchindex" runs on the order of a minute for my machine (1 Mbit/s
link), but I'm definitely not using "make index" on my K6-2/300.
It's about time for a _fast_ index generator, or a cache so that only
changed records are replaced. INDEX has been an annoyance ever since but
no-one has a decent solution how ports can do without.