OpenBSD Journal

OpenBSD in Canada

Contributed by Katie McMillan on from the Puffy and the moose dept.

We all know the OpenBSD is lead from Canada, but what is the status in that country by and large?

Bringing up the subject, Katie McMillan wrote in, saying

I am looking for Canadian OpenBSD contributors for a Q&A, and they haven't been easy to find. You would think that they would be, considering that the person who started the project is from Canada, but it hasn't been. Does this mean that OpenBSD is dead in Canada?

(more after the fold)

According to Theo de Raadt, we only have 4 active OpenBSD developers in Canada. Theo de Raadt and Bob Beck, both Canadian citizens and long-time OpenBSD developers, make a case that Canada isn't special with regards to OpenBSD. But that just isn't true, historically or currently.

Like all open source software projects, OpenBSD is inherently an international collaboration. Yet, a nation can still stand out in an international project, and can certainly have its history and contributions highlighted, without comparing these to the history and contributions of another country. Comparisons are not obligatory, and there's no hierarchy being created here. But a special history and contributions can nonetheless be recognized and highlighted.

It's surprising that the person who "gave birth" to OpenBSD, who is himself a Canadian citizen and has given back and benefited from Alberta's tech scene (even acquiring a degree in CS from the University of Alberta) doesn't feel that Canada is special with regards to OpenBSD. Even with holding one of the most popular international annual BSD conferences (BSDCan), according to Theo de Raadt, Canada doesn't stand out. Considering this perspective, it's not all that surprising that the project appears to have taken a nose dive in Canada over the years, according to some.

The person who runs BSDCan, Dan Langille, is himself from Canada, and the OpenBSD Foundation is based in Canada. In fact, I met Ken Westerback (member of the Board of Directors for the OpenBSD Foundation) at the last EuroBSDCon in 2022 when I introduced his presentation there. He formerly worked for St. Michael's hospital in Toronto, and was an advocate of open source technologies then.

Currently, I am a graduate researcher using OpenBSD for my thesis work at the University of Ottawa, collaborating with a national organization that is itself an open source software advocate and research facilitator, the Digital Research Alliance of Canada.

The person that created the research images is also Canadian. He's really nice, and is a specialist with cloud-init, which is helpful for my Proof of Concept. He has made some wonderful *BSD images available to researchers in Canada.

In fact, there are many more people working on the OpenBSD project in Canada than Theo de Raadt thinks, and those people may have not made themselves known to him or Bob Beck. This is a shame from multiple angles, but no blame here.

All I ask, as a Canadian, is to please not bulldoze the many important contributions Canada has made, and is still making, to the OpenBSD project. No comparisons needed.

The editors would like to add, to the initial question ('is OpenBSD in Canada dead?'), we are almost certain the answer is a resounding NO.

We would very much like to encourage Canadians and others to look into OpenBSD and get involved.

If you're Canadian and either are or would like to be involved in OpenBSD things, please leave a comment or get in touch by other means!

(Comments are closed)

  1. By grey (grey) on

    I am not a Canadian, but I seem to recall meeting a number of other OpenBSD developers and users at CanSecWest (Vancouver) and REcon (Montreal) back when I used to venture north more frequently.

    I am presently in Berkeley. I even interviewed for a sysadmin position at UC Berkeley several years ago. Ironically, I find far fewer BSD users (even within UC Berkeley's EECS/IT faculty) who were here. San Francisco, San Jose, even Monterey and San Diego, sure. But Berkeley? Seems as if it has lost some of its CSRG and BSD roots as far as people present or users groups that I can cite in 2023.

    BUUG has not had in person meetings since the pandemic began in 2020 and doesn't focus on BSDs exclusively, and if you glance at their resources for related groups they're either: not in Berkeley, or Linux, not BSD.

    One might think it should be otherwise?

  2. By Peter J. Philipp (pjp) on

    I'm not a Canadian, but resided in Canada once. I was introduced to Linux and BSD's in Toronto. Had I not been there my life would probably have been a lot different, so I'm grateful to Canada in this regard. OpenBSD and Canada are a fantastic combination!

  3. By John McCue (jmcunx) on

    > Canada doesn't stand out

    One thing that Canada gives is sane encryption laws. In the US and UK, they are trying to in effect outlaw encryption.

    Note as noted on

  4. By brynet (Brynet) on

    *cough* Hello! I'm Bryan, and Canadian! Some might even know me as.. @canadianbryan. :-o)

  5. By George Nielsen (hitest) on

    I'm a Canadian OpenBSD user; I've used OpenBSD since 5.0. I'm very grateful for the efforts of Theo and all OpenBSD developers for giving us such an outstanding operating system!

  6. By John Lloyd (bitminer) on

    I've been using OpenBSD since 3.x and have made occasional contributions, bug fixes, and even some complaints, even sometimes valid ones :).

    Mostly used it for desktop use and experimenting with various languages, diskless booting, and higher-performance computing with multithreading, OpenMPI, etc.

    I'm based in Vancouver; this was great in the early days for higher bandwidth to the U of A distribution site.

    1. By James Cook (falsifian) on

      Torontonian OpenBSD user here! I've made some small contributions, e.g. helping to get git-annex in ports.

      1. By James Cook (falsifian) on

        Oops, I meant that to be a top-level comment. First Undeadly post.


Copyright © - Daniel Hartmeier. All rights reserved. Articles and comments are copyright their respective authors, submission implies license to publish on this web site. Contents of the archive prior to as well as images and HTML templates were copied from the fabulous original with Jose's and Jim's kind permission. This journal runs as CGI with httpd(8) on OpenBSD, the source code is BSD licensed. undeadly \Un*dead"ly\, a. Not subject to death; immortal. [Obs.]