Contributed by jason on from the cat-submission-to-dev-null dept.
As an experienced UNIX journeyman, I know how valuable it is to learn from the experiences of your peers. With this in mind, I've been asking other OpenBSD users to write in and tell us their stories. We'd like to hear how you use OpenBSD, both at work and home, for work and play. How did you get started with OpenBSD? What have been your biggest successes (and failures) with our favorite UNIX-like operating system?
Our first contributor, "A Casual User" writes in anonymously with some of his (or her) experiences:
If you discount the Commodore 64, I sort of started with SunOS, after being hired as a gofer in a small research institute. A good boss encouraged me to experiment with other systems, too. At some point I had a couple of Sun Ultra 5s and 10s that were idle and spent some time working through the OpenBSD docs and installing OpenBSD on them. (this was in the early 2000s)
OpenBSD resurrected the Suns for roughly two or three years. It worked well for me in fun, allowing me to learn a new (to me) OS, teaching me more about Unix style, and giving me a bit of an introduction to C. (having real patches to install and compile was a lot more interesting than binary patches!) Better, it did some real service for the institute.
At some point, we needed an extra SMTP server to collect incoming email from researchers in a side project. The Suns were taking space in my office, were good hardware and seemed easy to manage with OpenBSD on them. So, that was my choice. Obviously, this wasn't difficult, but OpenBSD really made the job easy. Installing it was almost trivial, especially after the first couple of times. Adding Postfix was also trivial. Patches came out relatively seldom but in a *very* timely fashion compared with the proprietary choice. Packet Filter was pretty easy, especially for such a simple setup.
Once I went on a trip to a semi-third world country. I had no idea whether I'd find secure computers available. OpenBSD and another Sun made telnet with one-time passwords really easy. I ended up not needing it, strictly speaking, but I used it a couple of times, anyway. If I'd needed it, it would have been a life-saver. Obviously, I couldn't do everything over an unsecured connection, but just the chance to "call home" and use email or chat without worrying about compromising my network was great.
For another project, we needed to ensure good security in order to get approval from the university's review board, as we were using and distributing human subject data. We ended up using an OpenBSD web server, locked down in a few ways. (a Cisco firewall blocking lots of things, PF blocking everything but https from specified IP ranges and SSH from two local desktops (mine and my boss's) and the OpenBSD-reviewed httpd accepting nothing but https from specified IP ranges) Everything worked flawlessly for months to the end of the project.
OpenBSD also found its way onto a couple of laptops and even turned one of them into a Zope/Plone test box for a while. The other was used for light programming chores.
All in all, OpenBSD handled a variety of tasks and it made them easier than they would have been with other operating systems. The trust in its security was icing on the cake.”
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