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Re: Concerns about OpenBSD
- To: misc_(_at_)_openbsd_(_dot_)_org
- Subject: Re: Concerns about OpenBSD
- From: "STeve Andre'" <andres_(_at_)_msu_(_dot_)_edu>
- Date: Sat, 08 Jul 2000 01:21:13 -0400
You ask a question which essentially cannot be answered. For anything that
folks in the OpenBSD camp could say about the superior abilities "our" OS,
there would be an equal and opposite statement from someone else, giving
you their side of what they think is best. There will be specific things
can do on one OS that another might not do as well, which makes it harder to
figure out which one is ultimately best for you. It isn't simple, but then
freedom never is. Choice implies thought--which the MS world would rather
have you not ponder... The best choice for you is what system is the best
"fit", in terms of items like the hardware you have, and what you want to do.
At the risk of sticking my head out a little I'm going to offer some
about the four choices (Linux, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD). These are my
opinions based on observations for a while now, which others may wildly
disagree with, and lop my head off. We'll see what others say--
- Linux offers you the largest "world" of users and likely the widest
things like pre-compiled software; there are enough Linux users, books and
sources of help out now that I think a non-technical person could pick up a
distribution and get it running, and not have to compile anything they didn't
want to--they would simply install things, like in the Windows world. There
are a bewildering number of choices in the distribution of Linux too, which is
probably a good thing in the long run, though I find it confusing, trying
out which one of them I should look at the most, for my own education. There
are LOTS of Linux folks to talk with when you have questions.
- FreeBSD: Of the three *BSD "cousins", FreeBSD seems to be more PC
oriented, though it runs on other platforms as well. I think it is the
used of the *BSD variants.
- OpenBSD, if you look at listings of security problems, has the least
items on its list if you look at its history. The statements that you were
questioning refer to the ability of an "exploit" program or procedure to
the system remotely, or while logged on to the machine. This means its been a
while since anyone has been able to breech the security of an OpenBSD system
in its default state. Obviously if you mess something up you could create
for a vandal to crawl through, but as shipped, it's "secure out of the
box". I don't
believe any other commonly used operating system out there today can make this
claim. The folks who have conducted OpenBSD's security audit went through
every line of code, looking for problems. This was (and still is, since
it's still going
on) a MASSIVE project, but it pays dividends in that programming flaws have
found and corrected, which has lead to fixes for security problems before
knew they were there! This is really important--OpenBSD, because of people
proactive in looking for problems (any kind of problem) have made for a
base from which to work with. The proof of this is the smaller number of
problems with OpenBSD overall, and the fact that there are no known "root
in OpenBSD today. Perhaps I've overtalked the security issue and should
thatit's a good OS in other ways, too. ;-)
- NetBSD: I've played with NetBSD only a little, but it runs on an
of platforms, from older "big" stuff, to some form of hand-helds (or soon
will). If you
needed an os which already runs on a lot of different platforms, NetBSD
Obviously I'm more biased towards OpenBSD. For me personally, the concept of
security, knowing that if I put a box on the net it isn't likely to get
vandals is a big thing. I will point out that there are a lot of other
components such as documentation that really rocks, ever growing hardware
for various things in the i386 world, wonderful stability, and a growing
number of pre-
compiled packages that make life easier if you don't want to compile things
Really, you need to read up on the sites and see what kinds of
is, and look at things like mailing list archives if you are interested in
specific. Whichever of the four you choose I can say that you'll be on a
platform (he says, using his work ThinkPad which is infected with
more you read about them the better off you are. Playing with all of them
is a good
idea too, especially if you have some older hardware (486's make great test
As for your specific questions, I can only help out with a few of them. I
of any way to run Internet Explorer on a non-Windows machine. There is a Win
emulator called Wine, but it is a work in progress and I don't think it can
do IE yet.
I think the Linux Star Office works under OpenBSD's emulation. Given the right
twiddling I can't see why the Epson printer wouldn't work, and the linksys
listed as being supported. See www.openbsd.org/i386.html for a list of all the
hardware that OpenBSD currently supports. Wander the entire website to get a
better idea of OpenBSD overall.
As for why your installs didn't work, I don't think anyone can comment
give more information. Boot managers are tricky however, and so my ThinkPad
which has both Win and obsd needs manual intervention to change the active
partition. Ugly, but it helps keep me off Windows. ;-)
Lastly, I think that I should mention that in purchasing a CD you are
project out, assisting in the continued expenses that such an endeavor creates.
You have ready access to the 2.7 code already, since OpenBSD (and all the other
open source projects) are freely available. You don't "get" anything extra
for it, save
for the wonderful convenience of not having to do a slow FTP, and (in my
the feeling that you're a part of the team as opposed to merely an onlooker.
OpenBSD is not a rich project, and every purchase a CD or T shirt helps.
I know you wanted more specific answers but in the end you'll be better
things and asking questions. Sorry for the length of this.
At 08:44 PM 7/7/00 -0700, Ryan Fields wrote:
I have been examining the possibility of using another OS besides Bill
Gates Windows or Mac. So far I have been working with Linux. I have also
looked into FreeBSD very briefly. My concern is this: what advantages does
OpenBSD give me that Linux or FreeBSD do not? I have considered purchasing
the 2-CD set of OpenBSD 2.7 from you. But then I ask myself, why buy this
instead of Linux or FreeBSD? The first thing that comes to mind is what
was mentioned on your web page about Binary Emulation. I want to know if I
am able to, with OpenBSD 2.7, run Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 for
Solaris and/or HP-UX; run VMware for Linux; run the K Desktop Environment;
will the wheel functionality of my Logitech First Mouse+ work; will Star
Office 5.2 for Linux and/or Solaris work; will my Epson Stylus Color 600
work; will my Linksys LNE100TX Ethernet card work; these are just a few of
my major issues concerning OpenBSD. I will be running OpenBSD on a 400Mhz
AMD-K6-3 with at least 64MB of RAM. !
If you convince me that these issues are not a problem, or you convince
me that OpenBSD is a better choice the Linux or FreeBSD, then I will most
likely purchase a copy of the latest release of OpenBSD.
I have downloaded OpenBSD 2.7 from your FTP site already. I believe I have
followed the instructions correctly for downloading what is necessary for
installation. After I install OpenBSD I cannot boot it with either of the
two boot managers you recommended on your web site for dual booting with
Win98. On your web site it was said that those two boot manages would
recognize OpenBSD partitions, or at least that is the way I understood it.
For some reason or another when I installed them neither recognized the
OpenBSD partition. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Just so you
are aware, I installed OpenBSD on its own OpenBSD partition and then broke
that partition down into root and swap. If I were to purchase OpenBSD 2.7
would it include a boot manager config and installation?
Finally, also sited at the top of the home page of your web site, "Three
years without a remote hole in the default install! Two years without a
localhost hole in the default install!" What does this mean, what is "...
a remote hole in the default install" and what is "... a localhost hole in
the default install"?
Thank you for your time.
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