OpenBSD Journal

What ports do you find most usefull?

Contributed by marco on from the dept.

colorls 6.4% (66 votes)

vim 40.6% (420 votes)

gcc-4.0 9.3% (96 votes)

bash 17.9% (185 votes)

mutt 18.0% (186 votes)

what are ports? 7.8% (81 votes)

Total votes: 1034 OpenBSD's ports and packages are not the largest collection of software around. But if someone starts going through them aimlessly, the tree seems to get rather large.

I was infact doing some aimless looking the other day, and I realized I have no idea what even a quarter of these applications do! Sure, a "make search key=blah" is a good way to find an application to do a task. But, doing things that way I'm sure I'm missing some of the more fun ports. So, I ask: What more obscure ports to you find usefull or amusing?

(Comments are closed)

  1. By phessler ( on

    colorls: worthless
    vim: punishment for writing bad code
    gcc-4.0: how can we screw up your code today?
    bash: we do everything that ksh does, only worse
    mutt: worthwhile mail client


    1. By vext01 ( on

      Vim! Punishment?!?!? I couldnt live without it! Ive seen worse editors in my time.

    2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      Now, now, that's not fair! GCC 4.x supports stronger type checking, and better C99 compliance. C99 can make code cleaner and more succinct.

      Everything else is... a fair assessment ;)

      1. By Brad ( brad at comstyle dot com on

        Also a good way of breaking A LOT of programs and having a shitty *really slow* compiler.

        1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

          Who cares what it breaks? Given that integer arithmetic overflows are a rising security concern/attack vector, and that the GCC 4.x series shouts loudly about these, what's the problem? The malloc(3) changes broke programs, buggy programs.

          Granted, the char signedness warnings are annoying, but I'm willing to take my medicine if it means better code.

          1. By djm@ ( on

            It miscompiles OpenSSL on non-x86,Linux too

            1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

              4.0.0, but 4.0.1?

    3. By thomasw.xhrl ( on

      i enjoyed and appreciated the remark about bash.

      1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        You mean pdksh?

    4. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      vim: The in-tree vi is pretty good. Actually, the only feature from vim that I really miss in vi is the syntax highlighting.

      1. By Ray ( on

        I wish vi had a history of :commands. Messing up a regexp and having to rewrite it from memory sucks.

        1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

          You can turn it on using `cedit=<key>' option.

          1. By Ray ( on

            You rock.

      2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        same here, syntax highlighting is the only thing i miss, otherwise who needs vim?

        1. By vext01 ( on

          I think I might miss :Exp and :split. Also gvim runs well on windows boxen, otherwise you are confined to the size of the windows cmd window, which cannot be resized horizontally.

          1. By sthen ( on

            Of course the windows command window can be resized. It's just hidden away in 'properties'. Or install cygwin's OpenSSH port and use PuTTY as your windows console.

      3. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        Same here, the in-tree vi does everything I need it to do, though syntax highlighting for say /etc/pf.conf would be nice

    5. By Chas ( on

      What regularly bites me is the lack of a print statement.

  2. By Jim ( on

    I was torn on this vote. Vim or Mutt. While I use Mutt every day for email, I use Vim as the text editor under Mutt. And since I use Vim for all my other editing needs, I have to give the nod to Vim.

    BTW, my whole family uses Mutt too. So, both of these software packages are integral to our digital life.

    And now for the conspiracy theory: is someone considering importing these into OpenBSD's base install?.?. :-)

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      no and no

  3. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    Well...If it's Wim Vandeputte! :D

  4. By Marco Peereboom ( on

    Well, the intention was to get ideas what kinds of ports people use. The poll was just silly really. I forgot who submitted this (was going to edit that after publishing but screwed up).

    So let us know what kinds of crazy things you do.

    1. By Jim ( on

      How about collecting the ftp logs from the mirrors and rolling up counts on the packages downloaded. That may yield a more thorough approximation. I stress approximation.

      1. By Matt Van Mater ( on

        Good idea, I agree.

      2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        The only problem I see is that not all ports are available as packages

    2. By augie ( on

      since nobody else mentioned these: dosbox and gaim for playing old dos games and staying in touch with people

  5. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    vim: syntax highlighting (can`t vi do this?)
    gnupg: you know any serious replacement? :-/
    python: because it has a BSD-License (compared to Perl wich is in the
    mod_security: Yeah..

    That`s the most stuff I use very offen.

    Because some peoples mentioned mutt: Mutt or pine... both are crap. But it`s like with gnupg.

    1. By Jim ( on

      While mutt may be crap, it's all relative. I get a kick out of explaining to my wife that the "garbage" in an email is actually a script targetting LookOut vulnerabilities. "See hun, here is where it would open your address book, and this is a loop that would then send this infected email to everyone in your address book." Or even better, "while it says it's from PayPal, see how the url ends in .ru, that's Russia... While Mutt may have limitations, I think it's an enormous advantage.

  6. By marco ( on


    can't function without it

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on


    2. By bob ( on

      screen yes i usid also all the time.

    3. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      yes ! screen is indispensable ... too bad that it is unmaintained and in need of bug fixes ...

    4. By jared spiegel ( on

      top 11; in order i thought of them:
      - screen
      - nut
      - w3m
      - calc
      - cidr
      - lftp
      - nethack
      - vpnc
      - pftop
      - squid
      - samba

  7. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    Stuff I can't live without:

    screen, ratpoison, unclutter, gnuls
    mutt, gnupg, abook, fetchmail, maildrop
    slrn, mc, bitchx, mp3blaster, feh
    surfraw, urlview, links, firefox
    stow, autoconf, automake, gmake
    postgresql, mod_fastcgi
    xpdf, teTeX*, apsfilter
    rsync, unrar, unzip, bzip2
    tidy, perltidy, and a whole ton of perl modules...

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      Personally, I can "live without" autoconf/automake/gmake. It's other developers who disagree with me, and make me need it. ;-)

  8. By Anonymous Coward ( on


  9. By vext01 ( on

    Heres what drives my computing degree at university: vim / gvim tetex xfig xpdf fvwm2 firefox koffice Thanks to all for porting.

  10. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    I'm not as hardcore as you vi/mutt users. Although I did try to get Grandma to run OpenBSD, openbox, firefox for her workstation once couldn't run TurboTAX so Pappy bought her a Dell... I cut-off the free tech support after that.

    tried gnome recently with the 20050205? snapshot and it's just not effective yet at least on my dog-slow hardware
    had openoffice running for a bit with 3.7, but decided I didn't really need it

    have use for php, mysql, gqview, nedit, xpdf, nmap, and ImageMagic, cdrtools of course, jpilot once in a while, would be nice to see an updated qcad, use tightvnc[-viewer] on occasion, have used rox-filer, have used snort, trying to get nagios running, like unison alot

    I'd like to thank the OpenBSD core and ports developers/maintainers for all their hard work.

    I generally use OpenBSD as a guide. If I need a wireless NIC; What does OpenBSD support? If I need a VNC client/server; What's in ports? Chances are, it'll work with M$ as a last resort, and is probably the best tool for the job.

    OpenBSD, the shining light in a sea of incompetance.

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      "my dog-slow hardware".....simple! buy a new PC :)

  11. By Joachim Schipper ( on

    Since one of the selling points of mutt, to me, is the ability to use vim, I'll go with vim here.

    Other ports which I quite like are nmap (invaluable for troubleshooting all kinds of networking troubles, such as when - last week - someone decided to utterly change the internet connection we'd been enjoying without telling us, for instance, the IP address of the new DNS server...), ratpoison ('screen for X'), screen and w3m.

    On a more server-ish note, amanda-client, postfix+amavisd+clamav+dovecot and sec (for log processing) are quite neat. Though the latter is not yet fully functional, and could do with a little more documentation.

    Also, it seems the Editor Wars have finally subsided, with vim being the clear winner, as it currently has 40% of the votes and nobody has even mentioned emacs yet... ;-)


    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      Do note that emacs is not part of the poll :-)

      vim rules!

  12. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    Just went through "pkg_info | less" and concluded that my favorites are:


    1. By sng ( on

      The ports I can't live without. screen # Like everybody else it seems. less # Less is more. :) irssi # I'm an IRC addict what can I say. wget # I know Lynx can do most of what it does. But it's just easier. mutt # Sucks much less than every other mail client.

      1. By Miod Vallat ( miod@ on

        less is in the base system, really...

        1. By sng ( on

          Wasn't in 3.8. If it is now I'm a happy boy.

          1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

            You're a mildly retarded boy. Less has been in base for years.

      2. By Nate ( on

        just use ftp, it does all you need wget for.

        1. By sng ( on

          And just how does one use ftp to grab a file from a HTTP server?

          1. By Alex Holst ( on

            Er, ftp(1) has supported http for years.


        2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

          lftp is better

        3. By Anonymous Coward ( on

          Yeah right

          1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

            it is!

  13. By Nate ( on

    mutt, nmap, ttcp, mtr, mplayer, cups

  14. By chill ( on

    On all systems: multitail, lsof, screen
    On servers: ntop, mrtg, rrdtool

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      What's the deal with the bizzare lsof obsession some people have? Why install crappy 3rd party software to do what the base system can already do?

  15. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    aterm (terminal), BitchX (irc), dillo/firefox/w3m (WWW), lftp (ftp, http, ssh etc...), ratpoison (window manager), vim (editor), and vlc (audio/video).

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      I also use qiv (image viewer) favorite program for viewing OpenBSD artwork :)

  16. By Bob Beck ( on

    making vi not vi is just a crutch for people who can't learn
    emacs because their brain is addled from too much exposure
    to that hot sun in texas :)

    (Hi Marco :)

    emacs is still about the most useful thing there, although getting
    less and less so since kjell has been fixing mg


  17. By Benjamin Collins ( on

    colorls: emacs does everything this does
    vim: emacs does everything this does
    gcc-4.0: since when does this even build? been marked broken from day 1...
    bash: can run inside emacs
    mutt: can use emacs as the editor, plus emacs can do rmail

    the only thing I ever use that comes close to the usefulness of emacs is screen.


    1. By Nate ( on

      Emacs sucks.

    2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      Why use OpenBSD, just use EMACS?

    3. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      GCC 3.4, 4.0 and 4.1 are marked broken, only the version of 3.3 ( 3.3.6 ) in ports isn't, but none of them will build on arm unfortunatly.

      Doesn't matter really, there is a SSP'd 3.3.5 in the default zaurus install ( at least thats the version in the latest snap I installed. )

  18. By Noryungi ( on

    It's the "emacs vs vi" flamewar all over again! ;-)

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      We should make all EMACS VI/M users use NANO!

      1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        No no, let's make Emacs/vi users use ed(1), make ed users use TECO, and make TECO users get a life. Then everyone's unhappy!

    2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      vi is better than emacs!!!

  19. By Richard Toohey ( on

    perl + modules
    php5 + modules
    zip & unzip

  20. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    nano ee samba xfce4 firefox

  21. By Ray ( on

    I hear that moo (Marco’s Object Oriented c calculator) is useful. Now if only the author made a port of it.

    1. By Marco Peereboom ( on

      Moo r0xx0rs and is totally 1337!

  22. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    xchat xmms

    For a desktop oriented solution.

    The main one is firefox and kde, no nice GUI and web browser and you've got no desktop.

    P.S. It's interesting how most OpenBSD users known html compared to say Windows users.

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      While this is not a port i'd add that pf is the single greatest component of OpenBSD, that and all its security features like W^X, ProPolice, the code auditing, privilege separation, strl{cpy,cat}(), now if only someone capable felt like implementing a disk encryption system that accomplishes the same as then the entire hard disk could be encrypted including the kernel and root filesystem (AFAIK small bits like the MBR remain unencrypted).

      1. By Anonymous Coward ( on


  23. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    EMACS goes against everything OpenBSD is about!

  24. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    ZSH, always might first port of call

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      what does ZSH do better than OpenBSD's version of pdksh?

      1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        Thats a good question, and I cannot give you a good answer at the moment as I don't have my OpenBSD box handy, but I always notice that it isn't there when I do an install, so there is obviously ( to me ) a little niggle that isn't satisfied by OpenBSD's pdksh.

        It is probably habit more than anything, next time I do an install I'll try and put my finger on what it is, and then I'll try and add it to pdksh.

      2. By Paddy Newman ( on

        Zsh does a number of things that OpenBSD's ksh does not do. Amongst other things Zsh comes with a completion system that allows for example; completing file and directory names, Makefile targets, configure options, hostnames for a number of commands like ssh, filenames on remote machines when running commands like scp, user and groupnames for commands like chown, listing arguments for common commands when you type command <TAB>.

        It also comes with all the normal stuff like emacs and vi command editing and history etc. It's very good and it's sometimes described as being for shell what emacs is for editing.

        1. By Anonymous Pedro ( on

          zsh is for shell what emacs is to editing?

          thanks for making me want to stop using it :-)

        2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

          I'm sure ksh has completion for files and directories, but nowhere near the number of features of ZSH

  25. By Thoren ( on

    it's ugly, but i just made this up one day and have yet gotten around to cleaning it up (i tried making it a for i in ... loop, but i think this is easier to manage (just with copy/paste)). everytime i have a new system i just copy this over, maybe make a few changes, run it and come back later. also useful if you ever want to do a pkg_delete /var/db/pkg/*

    cd /usr/ports || exit

    cd /usr/ports/net/nmap && env FLAVOR="no_x11" make install
    cd /usr/ports/www/mozilla-firefox && make install
    cd /usr/ports/shells/bash && make install
    cd /usr/ports/misc/screen && make install
    cd /usr/ports/net/rsync && make install
    cd /usr/ports/x11/fvwm2 && make install
    cd /usr/ports/graphics/glut && make install
    cd /usr/ports/games/cowsay && make install
    cd /usr/ports/net/wget && make install
    cd /usr/ports/x11/mplayer && make install
    cd /usr/ports/audio/grip && make install
    cd /usr/ports/net/irssi && make install
    cd /usr/ports/www/dillo && make install
    cd /usr/ports/net/curl && make install
    cd /usr/ports/misc/figlet && make install
    cd /usr/ports/x11/xlockmore && make install

    cd /usr/ports/print/gv && make install
    cd /usr/ports/print/ghostscript && make install
    cd /usr/ports/print/ghostview && make install
    cd /usr/ports/textproc/xpdf && make install

    cd /usr/ports/audio/mpg321 && make install
    cd /usr/ports/graphics/gimp/stable && make install
    cd /usr/ports/math/gnuplot && make install

    cd /usr/ports/graphics/gqview && make install
    cd /usr/ports/graphics/xv && make install
    cd /usr/ports/graphics/feh && make install

    cd /usr/ports/x11/ogle && env FLAVOR="altivec" make install

    cd /usr/ports/devel/lam && make install
    cd /usr/ports/games/xpilot && make install
    cd /usr/ports/audio/sox && make install
    cd /usr/ports/misc/magicpoint && make install

    which nmap firefox bash screen rsync fvwm2 cowsay wget mplayer \
    grip irssi dillo curl figlet xlock gv gs ghostview xpdf \
    mpg321 gimp gnuplot gqview xv feh ogle lam xpilot sox mgp

    (i use fvwm2 instead of fvwm when im playing around with Xorg X trees, since doesn't build in fvwm :)

    1. By Joachim Schipper ( on

      Why don't you use packages? Even if, for some reason, you cannot use the official packages, setting up your own FTP server and adding it to the front of pkg_path isn't *that* difficult... Joachim

      1. By thoren ( on

        this way all the code/builds winds up in my ports tree so i can go play with it later if i feel like, even if i don't have a network connection.

        i should probably point out that i really only use this for laptops and desktops. i rarely wind up installing much of anything on server-ish systems, maybe screen and MAYBE rsync depending. otherwise everything in base is just fine, especially now with the revamped ksh.

  26. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    bitlbee because my friends use all sorts of crazy IM networks,
    bzip2 for compressing big stuff,
    curl for fetching files conveniently,
    nail for IMAP/SMTP because I tried mutt, and it annoyed the hell out of me,
    w3m because it just kicks ass. Try it, you'll never go back to Lynx.


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