Created: 2022-07-27 Updated: 2022-12-31 (New blog entry!)

Ever wonder what the legendary OpenBSD is for? Me too!

picture of the 2nd edition of the book Absolute OpenBSD next to a Compaq laptop running OpenBSD

32-bit style!

Dave’s OpenBSD Blog

End of 2022 Update: my book-lead tour of OpenBSD has concluded! TL;DR: I’d like to switch to OpenBSD for my Web server and possibly a little box to serve the home network someday. Linux will remain on my desktops for the forseeable future.

I’m going to dedicate about 25 minutes per day to exploring OpenBSD and documenting my experiences.

I’ve got a paper copy of Absolute OpenBSD, 2nd Edition (, which will give me some structure.

I’d like to use nothing but the book and whatever documentation is installed on the system itself to test the claims about OpenBSD’s superior documentation.

My Story

I currently run Slackware Linux on 90% of my computers and Alpine Linux on the rest. Oh, and I guess a couple copies of Raspberry Pi OS. :-)

Anyway, I like the "BSD-like" Linux distros.

So why not embrace the real deal? Well, the first trick is to figure out which of the BSDs to try:

  • FreeBSD - I’ve run this on my own computers. Arguably the most "general purpose" of the BSDs, probably the easiest to use as a desktop OS.

  • NetBSD - I’ve run this on my own computers. Purports to run on the most platforms, seems to focus on being clean and lightweight. I first encountered NetBSD as a user of SDF, the public-access UNIX system!

  • DragonFly BSD - I have not run this on my own computers. My understanding is that it focuses on technological experiments and performance enhancements.

And finally, there’s OpenBSD.

Note: Like Linux, there are tons of other BSD forks (like MidnightBSD), but I know nothing about them.

I’ve had a long-running fascination with OpenBSD.

You hear things like:

  • Best documentation

  • Most self-contained

  • Most secure

  • Origin of OpenSSH

  • Origin of PF (Packet Filter)

  • Sometimes has a song to accompany releases!

  • Creator Theo de Raadt is a legendary monstrous entity!

This is the stuff of myth.

And I aim to find out how easy or hard OpenBSD really is.

(If I like it enough, maybe I’ll switch from Slackware?! I better not say that out loud.)

My Setup

I’m testing it as a headless "server" and as a physical install for daily driver "desktop" use.

Server: I have an OpenBSD 7.1 VM live on the Web here:

Desktop I also have OpenBSD 7.1 installed on an old 32-bit x86 (aka "i386") laptop for the full installation experience and "desktop" use (as opposed to the headless.