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Vincent's Blog

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work (Aristote)

How I've started with OpenBSD

Posted on 2016-07-09 12:43:00 from Vincent in Open Bsd

I'm using open source systems since 1998; mainly Linux at the beginning, but since several years I'm using more and more openBSD. I'll explain why and how in later posts on this blog. Initially, it was to manage my alarm system based on velleman's k8000 kit. Today all machines around me are running OpenBSD (even this blog), and few Linux.

In fact this blog could be my contribution to several open source tools. If it will trigger more people to try them, I will be very glad. I'll not talk about a tool I'm developing, but mainly about OpenBSD, because I'm using it since years now and I'm really happy with it.

As said, I'm a Linux user since 1998 because of the K8000 from Velleman to monitor my house. Indeed, the vendor of this velleman kit encourage me to run it with Linux instead of windows. This was not easy to install it because internet was not as it is today and Linux my machine had not CDROM, just 1.44MB floppies. Any how it was running well 24x7 and the system send me notifications on a "beeper" (gsm and SMS were not yet usual).  

But in 2009 I've migrated to OpenBSD mainly because of troubles I had with the disks: 3 major disk failures in +- 10 years. I don't know if this come from the filesystem, or from the driver, ... but the disks where not resisting to this 24x7 usage. After having compiled, tests, ... OpenBSD. I've finally installed OpenBSD 4.8 on my alarm's system. Today it's still the same machine, with the same OS and with the same disks :-). It's thus 7 years now that the machine is running 24x7 without any major troubles. The only issue I had was coming from the power supply. This is the 3rd unit since 2009. But the Velleman kits are still the same since 1998.

Gradually I've migrated my different desktop machines from Linux to OpenBSD. And since 4 years all machines in my house are running OpenBSD, even my 2 kids have OpenBSD on their desktops.

So, my goal is to share with the "community" what I've done and how I did it regarding those setup. Except the alarm system I've already explained, I also have a firewall, a NAS with an encrypted filesystem, a Jukebox machine for my Hifi system and several desktop environments; for sure all with OpenBSD. Since the firewall is running also 24x7, I've tuned OpenBSD to run in memory and boot from read-only USB disks (I should do this for the Alarm too, but it's not yet done). For the desktop, I've run different system like Xfce, gnome, Flubox, Lumina, Openbox, ...

In future post, I'll provide details on each of those setups. Most of the adaptations I've made can be qualified as "simple" and are not revolutionary, but all together, it's become a nice setup. Moreover, thanks to OpenBSD, it's relatively easy to maintain.

My goal with those topics will be to explain, show and maybe convinced other people that OpenBSD is not difficult and can be used for much more than a firewall.

Except donation I usually do, you could see this initiative as my personal contribution to give back what OpenBSD has given to me. And if few persons reading those topics will migrate to OpenBSD, I'll be very happy.

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1. From kelm on Wed Nov 2 21:10:05 2016

Hello Vincent, my name is Clement (born in 1981 ;) its a pleasure for me to read your blog (thx specialy for your NFS advices and read-only OS setup description). like you i using openbsd in my home as router/server/nas i really happy with this OS and try sometimes to use it as desktop, but it seems very hard to use it as a classic desktop, with nice fonts, icons, antialiasing, and 2 screens i like i3wm and simple soft as thunar, urxvt, etc but concerning the gtk-engine integration its hard to find help so, if you want we can share our mutual informations to build a nice tutorial. have a nice day Clement

2. From Vincent on Tue Nov 22 11:03:27 2016

Clement, first, thants for your positives remarks. I'm using OpenBSD on desktop/laptop machines since several years too. Even my kids are using it :-). I'll post a "post" in the next weeks on how to do it easily. The only issue I have with desktop applications is the support of my old Epson printer (driver is not opensource).

3. From clement on Thu Dec 1 10:30:23 2016

Thank you Vincent

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