Every six months for more than five years now, I've been buying
the new release of OpenBSD
. Yet I haven't actually installed one of those new releases in almost four years, and haven't actually used OpenBSD in over two years.
So why do I keep buying it? Mostly to support three major aspects. (Non-geeks may want to skip to the last one.)
- OpenBSD's approach to security is one that deserves attention and support. And since their security solutions often find their way out to the world beyond OpenBSD (OpenSSH
being the most prominent example), supporting OpenBSD supports security on Linux and other systems.
2. Free Software Activism
- With the popularization of binary-only Linux drivers and software, and the concurrent marginalization of the GNU Project
, OpenBSD has become the foremost twister-of-arms in the struggle to get not only useful software under completely-free licenses but also the information necessary to run that software on today's hardware. This work on the part of the OpenBSD people benefits Linux people too. (See also #3 below.)
- How many operating systems include an original song with each release? Thanks to Ty Semaka, OpenBSD has been doing it for eight releases now, and each one has a different style - techno, industrial, lounge (Bond theme-ish), anthemic hard rock, folk balladry with two types of hip-hop mixed in, Pythonic, Johnny Cash-ish, and now Floydian. They started out as theme songs of a sort, but starting with OpenBSD 3.3's "Puff The Barbarian"
they became allegorical commentaries on the political issues the project had been facing, usually related to their efforts related to #2 above. The latest song, for the upcoming OpenBSD 3.7 release, is "Wizard of OS"
, a Pink Floyd style commentary on closed-specification hardware with a chorus of "Ding dong the lawyer's dead / You're off to see the Wizard kid". (The comments alongside those lyrics help explain my #2 above too.) Presumably the Dark Side of the Moon
sound is a nod to the idea of that album being used as a soundtrack
to The Wizard of Oz
But my favorite OpenBSD song remains the second one, OpenBSD 3.1's "Systemagic"
, with its vampire-slayer motif, goth-industrial sound, and verses like:
Cybersluts vit undead guts
Transyl-viral coffin muck
Penguin lurking under bed
Puffy hoompa on your head
Oh yeah, and if I ever need to set up a secure web server quickly, I always have the install CDs on hand, though for long-term maintainability I still prefer Debian