OpenBSD Journal

OpenBSD, for users, or developers?

Contributed by Dengue on from the good-for-a-flame dept.

I've been following the "newbie fdisk hell" thread on misc@ and thought it was worth asking on a wider level. "Is OpenBSD for users, or developers?" "Is a graphical disk partitioning utility necessary?" "Should graphical, or menu based utilities be part of the base OS?"

Personally, I would have to say no. I am perfectly content with fdisk/disklabel. You do have to read the install docs, but I think it's pretty straightforward from there. I don't want to see gui or menu based configuration utilities as part of the base either, since they don't always display correctly on different TERM types.

What do you think?

(Comments are closed)

  1. By Jeff Duffy () on

    I use OpenBSD when I have heavy security requirements; firewall components, bastion / victim hosts, etc. While I wish that every machine in my shop could run it, we just have some hardware and software requirements OpenBSD doesn't yet support - then we go to Free.

    My point is, having GUIs is all fine and well for a desktop user, but if you don't know how to do a simple install from a CLI, you sure as heck don't know how to lock down your box efficiently and you probably shouldn't be messing with a secure host configuration anyway.

  2. By pixel fairy () my first name in a company called slimey. on mailto:my first name in a company called slimey.

    maybe i should read this thread. fdisk/disklabel are both really simple which helps the security we value.

    the documentation seem sufficient, but i could be wrong. if anything needs to be changed for newbies, that would be it. though openbsd has good docs. it has the best man pages (all of them have examples)

    so i dont see the problem.

  3. By Ian () on

    I do think OpenBSD is for people who are used to
    computers and have an idea what they are doing.

    First, I'm going to say that I have *really* come to value the openbsd install. I just plain love it. It's so simple, it's beautiful... many of th e graphical installs (and I've recently battled with freebsd and redhat), are just plain painful in comparison.

    That being said however, I do think the openbsd fdisk could use some work. CLI is fine, but I can see room for improvements in its interface and utility.

  4. By Jan Johansson () on

    As the subject says. OpenBSD install rocks socks..

    It is not hard to learn. It takes a few retries but after a 5-10 installations it is the fastest I have seen. And if you screw up, reboot and go at it again.. I usually restart 3 times on an install.. (Cause I am clumsy with adding IPs and such).

    Yesterday I reinstalled a box in under an hour. Including FTP fetch. In Windows install I find myself jumping with "TAB" and can never find the right time to hit space.

    Which leads me to say "All install GUIs are crap."

  5. By bengt kleberg () on

    Actually I am off topic. Mainly since fdisk is used once in a computers lifetime (and then only if it is a x86 machine), but my pet peeve disklabel is used on all architectures. And everytime I install.

    So, I can live with fdisk, once, but I really think disklabel should provide defaults for partitions. And adjust the other partitions, if I change one. None of thisautomagically, but if I ask.

  6. By Noryungi () on

    Yep, it's flame war time again! =) No, seriously, I do understand the philosophy behind OpenBSD, which is to provide (a) a clean OS and (b) a secure OS. And I do approve of these goals. But installing OpenBSD 2.6/i386 has been an exercise in frustration for me. While I don't want (or need) a graphical installation procedure, I do think disklabel and fdisk could be improved and made easier to use. FreeBSD (which I have installed many times) is a lot easier to install -- and most Linux distributions install in 20 minutes flat. Windows 98 installs in +/- 30 minutes. That does not mean the underlying OS is "good" -- simply that they are easier to install. FreeBSD, in particular is near-perfect: disk partitioning and package installation is simple and easy to understand. And, contrary to most Linux distros, it does not fill you HD with crappy utilities nobody needs or uses. For instance, I hate KDE or Gnome (too slow and resource-hungry) and these are installed by default in most Linux distros. Let's not even mention Windows bloatware. On the other hand, I do understand that the OpenBSD team is smaller and a lot busier than the FreeBSD team -- offering a secure OS on several platforms is certainly a lot harder than focusing on x86 exclusively. They are doing a great job, which is why I am going to try installing again and again, until I get it right. =) To sum it all up: yes, it's a great OS. Yes, it's for people who know their stuff. Yes, installation can be improved.

  7. By Stephen Gregory () on

    I screwed up my first install because I didn't understand the purpose of C. It is the only thing I really had to read the install guide for. The rest of the install was self explanatory.

  8. By sekure () on

    I believe that OpenBSD has a lot of purposes. It's obviously most used as a firewall/secure box, but I've found you can use it as a workstation with no problem. I usually run Afterstep or Blackbox on my OpenBSD box. I would suggest OpenBSD to anyone who wants to learn more/get more out of their computer.

  9. By LiNT () on

    As a newbie to obsd and Unix in general, I'll share my experiences. For new users I think the standard fdisk program works great if your using the entire harddisk for OpenBSD. I loved it the first time I tried it. Of course I screwed up a couple of times but I read the doc's and the install walkthrough and when I was done I was wondering what I did wrong because it went so quick. The entire install process is great, it's quick, explanatory, and easy, and by far my favorite of the few OS's I've installed.

    However, the other day for the hell of it I thought I'd try to do a dual boot on my laptop. End result I hosed my partitions and lost some data that I should have backed up. I did read through all the doc's that I could find but I either couldn't find the right information or understand what I found. I'm sure I could figure it out after a few more tries but I was pretty pissed at that point. I think a good walkthrough on different configurations for fdisk or a detailed section in the FAQ would solve everything without the need for a new partition program.

    It's become pretty apparent to me that OpenBSD is designed by the developers for the developers. While there are some who are willing to help out the new users and make the OS more friendly, I think the majority aren't interested in the newbie crowd. That's fine, on one hand I can see how the developers don't want to bastardize thier OS to make it more user friendly, on the other hand it sucks for me because the documentation is thin and there are just enough differences between obsd and linux that the linux documentation doesn't help much.

    In the end OpenBSD has my vote. It's the greatest OS I've used. The simplicity makes it so much nicer to work with and I won't give that up. I'll just continue to ask moronic questions and bug everyone on the mailing list.


  10. By Fisherman () on

    I've found OBSD to have one of the most straightforward installs around. The system/install philosophy forces you to understand at least a little bit about what's going on, which helps you later on when you're confronted with a REAL problem.
    I was also pleased when I first installed 2.5 and found that the installer hadn't snuck a bunch of binaries all over the system - I got a basic, functional system that I could setup the way I wanted. I didn't have to go through and uninstall things that I didn't want or didn't fully understand the purpose of.


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