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Re: OpenBSD tested on students learning Unix



> Do you think that OpenBSD did things in a way that seemed more obvious
> to your students, or was it just better/accurate documentation?

I would say it's a bit of both.

On Linux, the best you can do sometimes is HOWTOs on tldp.org, and
those generally don't cover the various cases outside the scope of the
specific thing the HOWTO addresses. The docs on OpenBSD are easy to
find because there's only a few places to look, and good enough that
you can figure things out without consulting anything else most of the
time. It actually works, and that encourages you to consult the docs
early and often.

Also, the critical mass of stuff you need to learn to run the system
is a lot smaller. On Linux, you generally need to know how to compile
a kernel and several other things that are fairly complicated. With
OpenBSD, the core set of things you need to know to run the system are
very well documented so you can be mostly self-sufficient very
quickly. When you want to do something new, you learn it from a base
of things you actually understand already.

I tried to get into Linux a number of times, but I couldn't get fluent
enough with it to actually do anything useful, so I always ended up
abandoning it because I had a perfectly good Windows box (for small
values of "perfectly") and because I couldn't maintian a Linux machine
properly.

OpenBSD was completely different. It only took a few days to learn the
basics of how to maintain the system, and setting up new stuff was
trivial. Because setting things up was so easy, I quickly came to rely
on the box for a number of services. Once I actually had a reason to
stick with it, it was a done deal. Also, learning Linux wasn't so hard
once I knew the general UNIX philosophy, and Linux ultimately did
displace Windows on my desktop, but it's basically a client machine.
I'm SSHed to the OpenBSD box for everything important or complicated.

Linux has since improved significantly, but they haven't actually
fixed the stuff that sucks. They've mostly just painted over it. It's
still really annoying if you have to get into the details. And that's
on Debian, where they actually test things.