OpenBSD Journal

OpenBSD replaces Slackware on low end PC.

Contributed by Dengue on from the All-of-my-pc's-are-low-end-pc's dept.

Roger Walker writes :
"There is a series of articles on of how a *nix newbie grapples unsuccessfully for 3 week with Slackware and achieves functionality after 30 minutes with OpenBSD 3.1 here: "
I should start a site called "Low end Everything ". That would pretty well cover my computing environment. My fastest PC is 200Mhz. My fastest computer is an Sun Ultra 5 270. I think it helps me in my quest to achieve the peacefulness of Buddha, and the patience of a saint. <g>

(Comments are closed)

  1. By Cabal () on

    Apparently the writer was attracted to OpenBSD because of the mascot and admits to being too stupid to using Slackware, which is why he went with OpenBSD? Looks like he's portraying it as a child's toy, no offense, but I'm not sure that's the best publicity to go with.

    1. By RC () on

      admits to being too stupid to using Slackware, which is why he went with OpenBSD

      I can only speak for myself, but I think OpenBSD is far simpler than any Linux distribution, in every respect besides partitioning. I don't see the harm in someone saying that OpenBSD is simple to setup and us.

      1. By Anonymous Coward () on

        I agree with you, I find OpenBSD nicer/easier to manage and work with!

        1. By Anonymous Coward () on

          openBSD is so simple compared to linux distros. You don't have 400+ unknown rpms sitting in your system when you do a base install.


          1. By Ray () on

            That, and the fact that hardware support is excellent. It's so great to not have to recompile the kernel in order to use all the hardware I own (of course, I'm sure some people need to recompile the kernel to get support for their hardware).
            And even when I DO recompile the kernel, errors are mostly caught before the actual compiling (such as removing USB support but adding a USB device). In my experience, recompiling a linux kernel is pure hell. I've never ONCE been able to compile a linux kernel without having to go back and retinker with some stuff a few times before I got a working kernel.

            Sorry, I recently had the pleasure of trying to get some webcam to work on a mac at work, which ran Yellow Dog Linux, after being "spoiled" by OpenBSD.

    2. By Dirk Pilat () on

      Well, I wrote this little piece, and I can tell you that the installation process was a revelation, and achieving functionality was even for a newbie like me pretty easy.

      Please don't forget that I have been stressing to be an absolut *nix newbie. The installation of slackware was easy enough, it was the lack of functionality for the newbie that was the tough part due to the endless Kernelpatching.

      I don't know whether it's such a bad thing that I found it easier to use, or does that mean OpenBSD loses streetcred? I would have thought that this community would be happy about a vocal supporter of their OS.

      cheers, Dirk

      1. By Ray () on

        There are those of us who think that they are much "cooler" because they use something that is difficult for others to understand and use. To reveal that OpenBSD is actually easy to use is a blow to their ego. In short, you looked at their penis and said that it was small.
        I, for one, think that it is good encouragement for those who make OpenBSD possible, to keep at it, and to keep up the great work.

        1. By Garett Spencley () on

          Yeah you get that in the Linux world too.

          It's funny I've been using *nix for a long time and I've never favoured one system over another. However, it seems as if a lot of windows kiddies find Linux or BSD and then they have to bash everyone else with their 31337ness.

          What's even funnier is that alot of these kids get sick of being 1337ed out in the Linux world and so they switch to BSD and do the same thing there. "Linux sucks! Everyone thinks their so 1337 with their distro wars! Use FreeBSD! or OpenBSD! It's soo k3w1! I'm so 1337!"

          Those people really piss me off.


          1. By Chris () on

            8U7 J00 R T3H 1337 ;)

            seriously though I know what you mean. Don't forget that in 10 years time, they will be us!

      2. By Anonymous Coward () on

        I thought it was a nice write up and I was on the same boat as you, so I couldn't agree with you more!

        Good work Dirk.

      3. By Ben Goren () on

        Hear, hear!

        OpenBSD's installer isn't pretty, but it's about as close to brain-dead easy as you'll find.

        Many people overlook the second word of the motto, ``Free, Functional, and Secure.'' Do a basic install of OpenBSD and you're ready to go for most of the situations that most people use OpenBSD. In the worst case scenario, all you need is ``pkg_add'' followed by a dozen words and you've got the same software set as your typical Linux workstation install--without all the clutter.

        As best I can tell, there are only two common situations in which another branch off the Unix tree might be a better choice than OpenBSD: you actually need SMP; or you need to run software that doesn't run on OpenBSD. As to the latter, with the notable exceptions of Mozilla and OpenOffice, there's darn little missing.

        OpenBSD is very easy to administer: just change a word or two in a text file (and all those text files are in /etc so you don't have to go on a hunting expidition) and either type a one-liner or reboot and your changes are done. And the defaults are such that you probably won't have a lot of administering to do.

        So, no, OpenBSD is not just for the 1337. It's a damn good system and therefore is a great choice for anybody who wants to run a damn good system.

        Oh--did I mention the documentation that rocks? Things that only OpenBSD has, like pf (which rules)? And don't forget the....


        P.S. Welcome abaord, Dirk! b&

      4. By Anonymous Coward () on

        I'm looking forward to your article on pf and nat, Dirk. I'd be very interested to hear how you get on with it. I got into OpenBSD when I decided I was fed up with my Windows proxy/firewall machine crashing every few hours (no heckling in the back there, please). All I wanted was a stable, secure routing firewall so I ordered the 2.9 CD's and haven't looked back. Installed like a dream on my old P166 and has since been kept upto date with 3.0 and 3.1 -stable.

        Glad you like OpenBSD and ignore the streetcred bullshit, just use the tools that work for you :)

  2. By Jude () on

    I used linux for three years before switching to OpenBSD for the last two years. I went to build a linux box the other day and I couldn't do it.

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

      LOL! Same here; well, to a degree of course..

      1. By Linux Emigrant () on

        Hello guys!
        Finally I got the time to install OBSD 2.9. I will move on 3.1 later.
        The thing that stumps me: while being root hitting the tab key after lets say /usr doesn't show the rest available dirs.
        I am using the plainest shell (/bin/sh) I think.
        I searched around the offial faq & part of obsd-misc.
        What should I do to change this?

        1. By Anonymous Coward () on

          root's shell is csh by default in OpenBSD. Don't do stuff as root, use sudo (man sudo) or vipw to change root's shell to /bin/sh (not recommended).

        2. By Anonymous Coward () on

          ESC key

  3. By GnuVince () on

    A couple of months ago, I switched my family's firewall/gateway from Debian GNU/Linux to OpenBSD. Though I really like Debian on my desktop, I was not too fond of it on my gateway, so I decided to install OpenBSD 3.0. I had already read about OpenBSD when I did the installation and my nat.conf and pf.conf files were ready so that the interruption was as short as possible. Once I had backups of my webserver documents, I proceeded to the installation. I had already used and installed OpenBSD, so I knew how the installer worked; about 15 minutes after I had put the boot diskette into the floppy drive, I had OpenBSD installed (I had 2 friends home who were really impressed). Then I proceeded to scp the nat.conf and pf.conf file to test them. After some syntax corrections in both files, NAT was working and tests revealed that my firewall rules were working flawlessly (I always had had trouble with iptables). What I really liked was the fact that I only had had to uncomment a line in /etc/sysctl.conf in order to get ip forwarding working: on Linux, I needed to recompile the kernel which took an hour on that box. After some configurations in /etc/rc.conf, I rebooted the machine: everything was still working when I was back up. This was 30 minutes after I started the installation. On Linux, setting a gateway/firewall took 2 hours on that particular box. Then I needed Apache, so I went in /etc/rc.conf and changed the line httpd_flags. apachectl start and my webserver was backup, so I then proceeded to transfer my data. In 35 minutes I did what took 2h30 on Linux. Now, when people ask me if I can install them a firewall, I bring my OpenBSD 3.1 disk and 30 minutes later, they are all happy.

    Isn't OpenBSD a must?

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

      As for the /etc/sysctl.conf change, sysctl -w net.inet.ip.forwarding=1 so no need to reboot. ;-)

      I generally don't need to reboot, thing from rc.conf can also be started manually or sh /etc/netstart.

      I couldn't agree with you more about how you compared Linux... Nice write up.


      1. By GnuVince () on

        Oh yes, I know about starting them without rebooting, but I wanted to see if everything would go back to normal in the event of an accidental power down (power outtage, mother kicks the plug, etc.)

        And I must say that now that I have OpenBSD, I feel more secure: for example, I now have a log file /var/log/console.log which is a replicate of what's logged on /dev/console, so even with SSH I know what's happening: I never had that in Linux.

        1. By subie () on

          Man, what if you do "tail -f /var/log/whateverlogfileyouwanttosee" ?

      2. By Anonymous Coward () on

        net.inet.ip.sourceroute=0 # from man sysctl
        net.inet.ip.directed-broadcast=0 # from man sysctl
        I don't know if I need to add the last two lines
        but they look good.
        Also I use a speedy?? machine to compile kernels
        for my slower machines. Saves bunches of time. GENERIC
        works for all of my machines. Maybe a 486 would need
        a different kernel??
        I have to keep SuSE around but I too have moved as
        much as I possible could to OpenBSD. Once you get
        the logic of the install and basic system admin down,
        the systems are really nice to work with.
        Go OpenBSD. Looking forward to the arrival of my
        3.1 CDs.

    2. By Anonymous Coward () on

      What I really liked was the fact that I only had had to uncomment a line in /etc/sysctl.conf in order to get ip forwarding working: on Linux, I needed to recompile the kernel which took an hour on that box.

      You don't need to recompile on a Linux box to enable IP forwarding. I don't remember the exact location of the file, but it's something like this:
         echo 1 < /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forwarding

      1. By Anonymous Coward () on

        It's > of course, not <

        1. By GnuVince () on

          iptables is not in a default kernel.

          1. By Fawad Halim () on

            Of course it's not in the kernel. iptables is the userland tool for netfilters, which _is_ in the kernel (unless you want to remove it, of course).

    3. By Cristian C. () on

      I'm a Linux user for about 3 years and I want to corect you. You don't need to recompile the kernel for ip forwarding, at least when you use Red Hat (the Debian it's not so user friendly). OpenBSD is a cool operating system, but let's not throw with mud in Linux. As for Apache, under Linux all you have to do is /etc/rc.d/init.d/httpd start to have your web server running.

  4. By Rudy () on

    Slackware Linux newer was and probably never will be THE easy beginners version of Linux. I guess RedHat or SuSe Linux is much better for a beginner. SlackWare is using a ".tgz" based package system that is simmilar to the "original UNIX" package system and not to far away from the *BSD packages.
    OpenBSD (and NetBSD) are MUCH easier to install than ANY other OS! And NO, i don't like the "flavor of the day/week kernel" in Linux, or the big differences between the distros (filesystem layout). *BSD are much closer related to each other than any Linux distro. Makes life much easyer as sysadmin.
    But if you come from the Windows part of the world it is quit possible that you NEVER heard of OpenBSD, but Linux is not unknown, so you will try the first thing that falls in your hands.
    Myself recomend OpenBSD in most cases. (FreeBSD or NetBSD in all other cases, Linux for the stuborn ones)
    There is also the big question where to get patches for your system: on OpenBSD go to the website, on Linux some patches are from the distro some others are somewhere!

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on


      Being bored with windows, I started with Linux some years ago, since I never heard of the BSD's back then. And well, it didn't take me long to trash all the distro's I tried... It also took me way to long to find what can be found where etc.

      Then I discovered OpenBSD, and first I thought, well, this is something for pro's, I won't even be able to install it. But I tried anyway (it was 2.8 at the time). After figuring out what the hell disklabel was, installation was a breeze, far easier than any linux distro I tried. I was also amazed how they could get such a complete system in so little space... I had the same programs on a 800mb install as I had with my 2gig debian install... funny, not?

      What I most like about OpenBSD is that it doesn't install cr*p you don't need, that the config files are all in one place, and well documented so that I can find what I need very fast, and the easy installation of ports/packages. I managed to trash all linux packaging systems I worked with (accidentially make them look for non-existing dependencies etc., rendering them totally useless), but not the OpenBSD packaging system. That one just works like it should :-)

  5. By Anonymous Coward () on

    I had a somewhat similar experience, but mine involved a Red Had 4.x linux that I was getting familar with. Using it more than the Windows 3.1 system on my desk to manage the routers and switches at work, I found it was more stable.

    Then one day, I got an email on that machine saying my machine was involved in hacking a university. I hooked up a sniffer, and soon found that my linux box had been rooted, and I was had.

    I turned it off, the company soon got a firewall and the consultant said "try OpenBSD". I started with 2.3 and found that the install is simple, simple. I love the way you can boot a floppy and discover nearly everything about the hardware.

    I almost always run the GENERIC kernel, and don't mind running whatever snapshot happens to be on the ftp site, since it just works.

    Welcome aboard.

  6. By OpenBSD Baby () on

    Sure - let OpenBSD be the distro "for dummies"!

    Think it through for a minute...

    The Linux and FreeBSD people tell you that their distro can be "just as secure" if you know how to do the work to harden it.

    BUT - OpenBSD is already hardened "for dummies" that don't know how to harden Linux and FreeBSD.

    I'm NOT a Unix expert. I didn't go to college. I'm just and end-user who needs to run webservers, mailservers, fileservers, firewalls.

    I like trusting that the OpenBSD creators are paranoid enough that it takes some (not all) of the pressure off of me, the dummy.

    I think it'd be a GREAT thing for OpenBSD to be presented to the dummies who want security...

    ... as long as it's followed-up by some great tutorials like

    1. By negative () on

      Just don't force yourself to hard to understand why we need OpenBSD. :-)

      I'm a _newbie_ (don't know until when?) who think OpenBSD is the right OS to have fun with myown time.



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