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Re: Why OpenBSD?

Here's my list:
1) Security.  While encryption is nice, what I like the most is the
fact that OpenBSD is  the closest thing to a set-and-forget
Internet-ready OS I know of.  Unlike a lot of people here, I work with
very small clients (one to 100 employees, typically) -- companies that
can't afford a full-time IT staff to babysit their computer systems
and internet connectivity and services.  I've spent the last eight or
so years on my own supporting Novell Netware -- which I rather like
due to the fact that I can set a server in place and hear from the
client sometimes once a year or less, only when their needs change (or
something breaks).  I avoided Internet connectivity for a long time,
as I just saw no good way to keep up my reputation for solid and
stable solutions.  I am not into routine updates for my clients -- if
there are features they need, well, fine, update, but I really don't
like the philosophy of "Here's a new version, you have to update (and
pay me), uh, Just Because".  While there have been some grumblings
here about the dropping of support of older versions of OpenBSD, in
roughly a year that I've been installing OpenBSD, I have had no reason
to upgrade a client from the installed, CD version that was out at the
time of the install. If a client changes needs, well, I might well
slip an upgrade in (besides, I've learned a lot -- thanks, Misc@!),
but the 2.5 and 2.6 were good platforms, no need to upgrade Just

(and yes, from an economic standpoint, I would make a heck of a lot
more money if I installed NT..on the other hand, I rather enjoy the
militantly loyal clients).

Plus, having had a personal Linux system cracked and turned into a
cracking shop got me VERY interested in choices where security was
planned BEFORE the product shipped, not "we'll fix it when they find
it".  Doesn't matter how fast they write patches, if this means you
have to be hovering over the security patches sites, it is bad.  

2) Stability (operationally).  OpenBSD just runs.  I'll happily trade
features I don't need for stability for server-like applications. 
O.k., OpenBSD doesn't support every bit of hardware out there.  Fine,
just have to design my systems instead of taking-as-markted, which is
fine with me.  I'd rather have one well-written driver than twenty (or
two hundred) poorly written drivers.

3) Stability (of design).  Being a BSD derivative, the basic plan has
been laid down years ago, it is not being re-written every release. 
Pick up a book on Unix administration, it works with OpenBSD...you
don't have to check the copyright date, or what version of what
dialect it supports.  I had looked at Linux as a platform to offer my
clients, but despaired at the thought of supporting numerous versions,
numerous distros, etc.  If I were to constantly be updating my clients
systems, or if I was the full-time administrator of a small number of
systems, well, perhaps it would work out, but as I might end up
supporting fifty or more very dissimilar systems, I don't think there
is anyway I could keep up with Linux for my client base.  

4) Support: While mail-list support may seem horribly unprofessional,
I've found the quality of guidance offered on Misc@ is so far beyond
what I could ever hope to get from a "single-point-of-contact"
provider -- and faster.  Look how many responses you have probably
received to your post in the time that you would have sat on hold with
most companies (granted, you asked a sales-oriented question, so you
probably wouldn't have had to wait on hold very long).  Instead of
talking to one person, who for reasons of ego, will answer your
question regardless of quality of response, people who know hardware
can answer your hardware problems, people who know software can answer
your software problems, experienced administrators can guide you on
administrative strategy, etc., and for every reply, you get hundreds
(thousands?) of people looking it over, and ready to pounce if they
see anything wrong with it.

5) Documentation: Show me another modern OS (free or commercial) which
keeps its documentation as up-to-date as OpenBSD.  We all know
documentation isn't nearly as fun to write as tossing new features in,
but these people do it.  Praise be to the OpenBSD documentation
team!!  Also, as indicated above, while the QUANTITY of books that
cover OpenBSD is very small compared to say, Linux, the *BSD/Unix
lineage means that any well-written book on Unix is applicable and
useful.  Sure, you may not get a key-stroke-by-key-stroke guide, but I
don't find that style of book useful.  You also get books written by
someone who has something to say, not just books written by authors
who feel that writing a book on the latest popular app or OS is a good
way to put food on the table.

6) Design: Even though OpenBSD is definitely a team project, there is
a clear Leader, which means decisions about issues don't end up being
discussed endlessly by a number of people claiming to be equals.  Even
if I don't agree with every decision (that's a hypothetical -- I'm
sure one of these days, a decision will be made I feel qualified to
comment on 8-), I would rather say that I'd rather have a decision by
a competent person than an endless series of discussion.

Welcome to OpenBSD, I'm sure you will be coming up with your own list
soon. 8-)


Richard Ray wrote:
> I've prepared myself to be flamed good and proper, but here it goes
> anyhow. I'm familiar with several *NIX's. Our workhorses here are HPUX
> and SunOS. I've fooled around with Slackware since the early 90's. Now
> I've installed my first *BSD, OBSD 2.7. I'd like to hear why your loyal
> to OBSD and pros and cons of the system. Maybe some things that will
> ease my transition.
> --
> Richard Ray
> Mississippi State Tax Commission
> rray@mstc.state.ms.us