OpenBSD Journal

Marc Espie interviewed at OnLamp

Contributed by jose on from the neat-views-into-the-project dept.

O'Reilly's OnLamp has posted an interview with Marc Espie . Hot on the heels of the 3.5 release cycle, this is a neat look into a lot of different facets of the project and what some other people have been up to. The interview talks about the ports tree and package tools, GCC's ProPolice and bounds checking extensions, threading, an W^X, among other things. Neat stuff, Marc really points out a lot of interesting developments in OpenBSD, driven by a number of people.

(Comments are closed)

  1. By gwyllion () on

    1. By Stelios Sfakianakis () on

      Very nice article, indeed!

      I would like though some more details about the threading in OpenBSD. Do you have any links about the difference between lib_c and libpthread (except the name, of course!)?

      1. By Brad () brad at comstyle dot com on mailto:brad at comstyle dot com

        At the moment the library name is the only real difference.

    2. By kris () on

      great article

  2. By Chas () on

    I want binary updates, but I've become resigned that they would never exist. This really shocked me:

    FB: Is there any plan to provide binary updates, maybe using the ports system?

    ME: We're thinking about it. It's not going to happen yet.

    There used to be an OpenBSD binary patch site at, but it appears to have gone dark.

    I liked their system. It would be a shame to duplicate effort.

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

    2. By deadrat () on

      Try this:

  3. By Alex Farber () on

    I run OpenBSD (both -stable and -current) and FreeBSD (4-stable) for fun at home and what I enjoy at OpenBSD's ports is:

    • that they are never broken,
    • they never touch /etc/
    • and that I can update and build them as non-root user (and then install them by having SUDO=sudo in /etc/mk.conf)

    Many FreeBSD ports don't build as non-root (or do I do something wrong?) and are sometimes broken.

    Also great interview, thanks

    1. By Alex Farber () on

      The one thing I still don't understand though is FLAVOR vs. SUBPACKAGES. Why don't FLAVOR's suffice and how to build SUBPACKAGES (one example - the many sub-directories in /usr/ports/x11/kde)
      Maybe I need to reread the docs again though....

      1. By tedu () on

        flavors produce a different kind of package. you'd only have one flavor installed at a time. like vim compiled with or without gtk support. you can't just had a file to add x11 support, it needs to be linked with X libraries.

        subpackages are pieces of a larger whole. like plugins for xmms. you don't need all the plugins for xmms to work. the mp3 player can be added later without relinking or compiling.

  4. By Anonymous Coward () on

    Great interview. I love reading interviews with OpenBSD developers. I think it lets us see a little of what goes on behind the scenes and a little bit about the people that write the software we use.

    Just a quick bitch: Damnit losing developers like Provos and Dug Song really sucks.

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

      Dug Song is no longer involved with OpenBSD??? If so, why? What happened??? Where've I been. Where am I? Ummm, ugh oh... There's some people walking towards me with hand cuffs and a straight jacket, I don't think this is a good thing... Gotta run...

    2. By gwyllion () on

      There was a disagreement between Niels Provos and Theo De Raadt. That's why Niels is no longer an OpenBSD developer.

      I don't think there is any problem between Dub Song and other OpenBSD developers. So I don't think he's lost as a developer.

  5. By j0rd () on

    Enjoyed this article a lot. Great break from doing "actuall" work at the job ^_^.

  6. By Peter Werner () on

    im glad someone pointed out Dreppers interesting ideas about c programming to the wider community of lunix people.

    the str* functions are for c strings, memcpy can be used on strings, sure, but it shares the same problem with strncpy that was one of the things fixed with strlcpy in that memcpy will copy null bytes to the end of the buffer. oh, but thats not a problem, cause each buffer used to hold every string is exactly the right size in dreppers world. perhaps if drepper used functions with sane and easily understood semantics the existing security problems in gnu libc would be more evident from his high horse.

    1. By djm () on

      Well, most Linux distributions would probably have half a dozen strl* implementations in various libs and binaries due to Drepper's recalcitrance.

      Portable OpenSSH drags half of OpenBSD's libc around with it to make up for shortcomings and bugs in various OS' libc, glib (friend to libgtk) implements the strl* functions, but gives them funny names. I haven't looked, but sudo probably uses copies of OpenBSD strl* too.

      So Linux users have the worst of all possible worlds in this area: the bloat of multiple implementations, the risk that someone is going to roll their own broken version and the lack of general availability of a superior set of functions.

      Oh, and:

      1561228 /lib/ (glibc)
      657196 /usr/lib/ (OpenBSD libc)

      (This isn't a completely fair comparison, but it will be interesting to watch this as Citrus, et al land)

      1. By veins () on

        besides, the guy focuses on the loss of data while strl*'s return value is used to detect truncations, which makes his argument pointless.
        obviously, he's not been reading man pages :-)

        following the thread i read something like "...sure they are of great use to quickly plug an overflow while searching for the bug...". i just don't get it, if the application is bugged anyways, is it preferable to realize there's a bug because an application is being passed truncated strings, or because you're no longer the only root on your system ?
        using strl* functions won't hide the fact that there is a problem as he says, the problem will most likely still show up but with a potentially less dramatical consequence.

        Fortunately, *BSD are not inspired by RedHat :)

  7. By bob () obsdj FOOOSPAM 2fm FOOOSPAM de on mailto:obsdj FOOOSPAM 2fm FOOOSPAM de

    hi folk,
    know one if the cgd is going in 3.5 or 3.6?

    i found
    and the patch for the kernel und user land

    is wher a "normal" way to speed up the intigration?
    (with mony or testing time...)

    best bob

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on

      hmmm don't you recognize the tedu name from somewhere?

      1. By bob () on

        mmm sorry i'dont remenber the nick tedu,
        is also a posibilty it is bevor my obsd time.
        (using obsd just since 3.2/3.3)

        best bob

        1. By Anonymous Coward () on

          tedu is currently one of the very active developers - you can rest assured that this will make it into the tree when he's happy that it's of in-tree quality.

          1. By bob () on

            tnx for the info!

            best bob

  8. By Goatmaster () on

    Or does this Espie dude sound like a bit of a smug prick?

    Don't get me wrong, I love OpenBSD, but some of the developers could really use some lessons on diplomacy. Or at least lessons on not being pricks. OpenBSD has benefitted from the energy infused by the rapid growth of Linux... not the other way around. It behooves one to develop good and useful relationships with people from other camps methinks.

    Oh well, it's not like the developers care. That's why Linux will probably always be bigger.

    1. By Anonymous Coward () on


      That is the best crap I heard all day.

      Go back to leenoox troll.

      1. By Anonymous Coward () on

        I am not trolling; this is my opinion and it is as valid as yours. I'm not a linux or a BSD bigot. I love both.

        Just 'cos someone disagrees with you does not make them a troll. I may have been insensitive and provocative, but no more than the interviewee I referred to.

        You have merely proven that you are a person of small mind. Enjoy it.

    2. By Anil () avsm@ on mailto:avsm@

      They key point is "useful". It's easy to say 'collaborate' from the outside, but for the developer doing the grunt work, it can be frustrating to spend ages wading through mail and endless pointless discussions when the answer is obvious. And yes, this does happen a lot in other projects, and happens very little in OpenBSD. But this is another pointless discussion, so I shouldn't really be posting this :-)

    3. By Marc Espie () on

      You obviously don't know Drepper, or don't care. He *is* a smug prick. I'm very humble by comparison.

      And you have absolutely no clue as to what relationship I enjoy with people from various development groups.

      1. By Anonymous Coward () on

        You certainly sounded like a bit of a prick in your interview. That does not by any stretch mean I am casting doubt on your skills.

        And yes, I have heard that about Drepper, and sometimes in a much harsher tone.

        As far as your relationship, dude... you're right, I don't know, but if you always come off as you do in the interview, I would be surprised if the balance of these relationships is in the positive.


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