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Why use OpenBSD?

OpenBSD is an open-source BSD-derived operating system famous for its focus on security and correctness. It boasts several impressive properties: for example, it has never had a security-relevant bug since 1995 (that’s 17 years). It’s purpose-built for security, safety and stability.

Since my first encounter with computers and the Internet in the early 1990s, I’ve been a passionate open source software (OSS) user. I was part of the first wave of Linux adopters in the 1990s, and have always loved OSS for its (in hindsight) obvious advantages over proprietary software.

Nobody is forced to use OSS, just as nobody is forced to use open-source programs and services. If you don’t like something, you can always switch to something else, or even contribute to the existing software that you do like. There’s no single point of failure – no vendor – no one who has a monopoly on what you can or cannot do. That’s kind of a revolutionary idea that has only come true during the past 20 years of computing history. Why did it take so long?

The simple answer is that the Internet didn’t exist until the mid 1990s.

Why use OpenBSD?

OpenBSD has a proven track record as a secure, reliable, and stable operating system. It is also developed with security as the foremost concern and by default includes dozens of security features that are not enabled on other operating systems.

The OpenBSD project began in 1993 by Theo de Raadt who wanted to eliminate the ongoing issues with proprietary software (at the time NetBSD and FreeBSD were both derived directly from the BSD releases) and to produce an operating system that focused primarily on security and quality.

OpenBSD is not for everyone. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure that the majority of server administrators would not even hear of it. OpenBSD does not support the enterprise features that many administrators need, such as support for network booting, non-free binary blobs for various hardware components and other things that are needed for an enterprise deployment.

OpenBSD might not be the solution for your enterprise deployment, but it is an excellent choice for your home or small office server.

How does OpenBSD compare to Linux?

The OpenBSD team produces regular security updates, and the software has a reputation for being more secure than Linux and Windows.
It’s not that OpenBSD is more secure by default, it’s that they take their time to make sure it stays that way.
OpenBSD has a similar design philosophy to Linux: you can run as root or not, you can use GNOME or LXDE, you can use BASH or Zsh.

Linux, FreeBSD and OpenBSD share a common heritage.