OpenBSD Journal

[c2k10] Interview with Antoine Jacoutot (ajacoutot@) Part 10

Contributed by mtu on from the land-of-the-ports-and-stinky-cheese dept.

p1040686s With over 6,000 ports and climbing, you wonder who is behind the scenes making all these ports available to the community. If you are like me, you are using OpenBSD at home and at work. We often take it for granted that we can rely on Marc Espie (espie@) and his ports team to keep all those ports and packages updated and available for all to use. Actually, if you have a look at these presentations (1), (2), you'll have a greater understanding and respect for the work that he has done and why the ports framework is so different and dare I say more refined than that of the other BSD systems.

Read on to find out more about one of our ports maintainers and more:

[c2k10] Article Series: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (more to follow)

Antoine Jacoutot (ajacoutot@) has been using OpenBSD since 2004. He was first attracted by OpenBSD's security reputation but then began to appreciate its simplicity. He's been a developer since p2k6 and loves the project and the people. Besides being a fun project to work on, he also appreciates being able to use OpenBSD for pretty much anything. It is not a stretch to say that he uses it a lot for work and for play. He's the maintainer of cyrus-imap and alpine. In fact, he's the maintainer of over 280 ports, two-thirds of which are GNOME related. If you use GNOME, then you have ajacoutot@ and Jasper Lievisse Adriaanse (jasper@) to thank.

p1040220s Ports is not the only place that ajacoutot@ spends his time. If you've ever upgraded your system since 4.4 and used sysmerge(8), then you'll know how much easier upgrades have become and once again all thanks ajacoutot@.

If you are curious to know what people used to do before working on OpenBSD besides what brought them to OpenBSD, you may be surprised to know that ajacoutot@ used to be an actor. In fact, he's also married to a French actress. These days, he's a hard core techie and travelling a lot for work. If you're lucky, you'll catch him on one of his many frequent flights somewhere to the Middle East, having to put up with third World Internet. Well, to be fair, I consider most countries without 100 Mbps to the home to be old world Internet.

Here's what ajacoutot@ had to say about c2k10:


I updated several GNOME related ports so that we are fully updated to GNOME 2.30.2.

Let me digress and take the opportunity to say that GNOME now runs very nicely on OpenBSD and has since a couple of years now. We are very cautious at making sure everything works and what doesn't (Linux specific functionalities), we either fix it or remove it from the users' interface so that we don't end up with inactive functions. I despise people arguing that those who want to run GNOME should just run Linux. OpenBSD can behave very nicely with Joe users, we have hundreds of them around the world coming from Windows background and now running OpenBSD+GNOME without knowing the first thing about computers. I believe not only in secure workstations but also in secure Desktops ;-)


Back to c2k10... I worked on porting polkit and consolekit. Polkit required PAM, but the Slackware people came up with a shadow backend which I used as a base to port to bsd_auth(3). I ran into a bug with ConsoleKit when running VT_WAITACTIVE within a thread (works with rthreads, not with pthreads) which Miod Vallat (miod@) is currently looking at but we didn't lose major functionality by disabling console activation for now.

Anyway, these 2 programs combined allow to grant some higher privileges to users/groups in a somehow similar way that sudo(8) does. But while with sudo(8) you can grant access to running this or that as a different user, polkit grants access to 'tasks' integrated within the Desktop. For example, one can allow Joe user to change the timezone on his laptop directly within the GNOME panel, useful for travelling users who don't even know what a terminal is.

I also updated zarafa (MS Exchange replacement) to its latest major stable release. Thanks to Theo who implemented SO_PEERCRED, some DBus related issues were fixed. The rest was mostly updating and polishing some parts of the ports tree.


On the sysmerge(8) side, I added a very often requested feature which is to automatically add missing users and groups. Merging master.passwd or group has always been error-prone in the past but now it's smooth ;-) I just updated a 3 months old box yesterday, run sysmerge(8) and was left with 20 files automatically updated, 2 users and 2 groups added and no manual merging left to do whatsoever. While we cannot automatically merge everything each time (for example, sysmerge(8) warned me that /etc/phones was probably obsolete, but I don't want to automatically make it delete files), I think we came a long way since sysmerge(8) was first added and for large installations, running in batch mode (-b) now makes real sense.

I'm probably forgetting other things but they must not be important ;-) Thank you.


I've had the pleasure of knowing ajacoutot@ since c2k8. In fact, together we hiked the Miette mountain to the famous hot springs that year. What can I say about ajacoutot@? He's cool, laid back, smart, funny and one of the nicest guys that you'll ever meet. Isn't it reassuring to know that the project has attracted talented developers like him (and there are many) who keep our ports and packages available and growing for every release? Thank you Antoine!

Mark T. Uemura

(Comments are closed)

  1. By Paul Irofti (bulibuta) on gopher://

    Just wanted to say that Antoine rocks my world!

    1. By Antoine Jacoutot (ajacoutot) on

      > Just wanted to say that Antoine rocks my world!

      Just come seat on my knees, you'll feel my rock.

      1. By Paul Irofti (bulibuta) on gopher://

        It's you... it's really you... you... you answered my post! Thank you!

      2. By Alfredo Ortega (aortega) on

        > > Just wanted to say that Antoine rocks my world!
        > Just come seat on my knees, you'll feel my rock.

        Hehe, Thanks man.

        I have used OpenBSD+Gnome since 4.4, worked great. At first I tried XFCE but I liked gnome more.

        Funny thing is, nobody realizes I'm running OpenBSD until I show them the output of uname.

  2. By Peter J. Philipp (pjp) on

    I'm just building ports on my new 4.8 install. Thank you! Is the /usr/ports/pobj/ directory hierarchy new for 4.8? I didn't notice it in 4.7....hmmm.

    1. By Lawrence Teo (lteo) on

      > I'm just building ports on my new 4.8 install. Thank you! Is the /usr/ports/pobj/ directory hierarchy new for 4.8? I didn't notice it in 4.7....hmmm.

      It's there in 4.7 too.

      1. By brynet (Brynet) on

        > It's there in 4.7 too.

        Yeah, it's great.. it was a pain cleaning things up before this was introduced.


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