1.0 - Introduction to OpenBSD
1.1 - What is OpenBSD?
The OpenBSD project produces a freely
available, multi-platform 4.4BSD-based UNIX-like operating system. Our efforts
place emphasis on portability, standardization, correctness, and security.
OpenBSD supports binary emulation of most
binaries from SVR4 (Solaris), FreeBSD, Linux, BSDI, SunOS, and HPUX.
1.2 - On what systems does OpenBSD run?
OpenBSD 2.8 runs on the following platforms:
bootable means that OpenBSD will boot directly from the CD.
The CD set will boot on several hardware platforms.
See section 3.0 of this FAQ for details of obtaining OpenBSD on CD.
Previous releases of OpenBSD also had a port for:
- arc - This port was removed from the 2.4 release. Code can be found in OpenBSD 2.3.
- alpha - It is likely this port will re-appear in the near future.
Multiprocessor support? See 8.12 for more info.
1.3 - Is OpenBSD really free?
OpenBSD is all free. The binaries are free. The source is free. All parts of
OpenBSD have reasonable copyright terms permitting free redistribution.
This includes the ability to REUSE most parts of the OpenBSD source tree,
either for personal or commercial purposes. OpenBSD includes NO further
restrictions other than those implied by the original BSD license.
Software which is written under stricter licenses cannot be included
in the regular distribution of OpenBSD. This is intended to
safeguard the free use of OpenBSD. For example, OpenBSD can be
freely used for personal use, for academic use, by government
institutions, by non-profit making organizations and by commercial
For further reading on other popular licenses read:
The maintainers of OpenBSD support the project largely from their own pockets.
This includes the time spent programming for the project, equipment used to
support the many ports, the network resources used to distribute OpenBSD to you,
and the time spent answering questions and investigating users' bug reports.
The OpenBSD developers are not independently wealthy and even small
contributions of time, equipment, and resources make a big difference.
1.4 - Why might I want to use OpenBSD?
New users frequently want to know whether OpenBSD is superior to some other
free UNIX-like operating system. That question is largely un-answerable and is
the subject of countless (and useless) religious debates. Do not, under any
circumstances, ask such a question on an OpenBSD mailing list.
Below are some reasons why we think OpenBSD is a useful operating system.
Whether OpenBSD is right for you is a question that only you can answer.
- OpenBSD runs on many different hardware platforms.
- OpenBSD is thought of by many security professionals to be the most
secure UNIX-like operating system as the result of a 10-member 1.5-year
long comprehensive source code security audit.
- OpenBSD is a full-featured UNIX-like operating system available in
source form at no charge.
- OpenBSD integrates cutting-edge security technology suitable for
building firewalls and private network services in a distributed
- OpenBSD benefits from strong on-going development in many areas,
offering opportunities to work with emerging technologies with an
international community of programmers and end-users.
- OpenBSD offers opportunities for ordinary people to participate in the
development and testing of the product.
1.5 - How can I help support OpenBSD?
We are greatly indebted to the people and organizations that have contributed
to the OpenBSD project. They are acknowledged by name here:
OpenBSD has a constant need for several types of support from the user
community. If you find OpenBSD useful, you are strongly encouraged to find a
way to contribute. If none of the suggestions below are right for you, feel
free to propose an alternative by sending e-mail to
- Buy an OpenBSD CD. It includes the current full release of OpenBSD,
and is bootable on many platforms. It also generates revenue to support
the OpenBSD project, and reduces the strain on network resources used
to deliver the distribution via the Internet. This inexpensive two-CD
set includes full source. Remember, your friends need their own
- Donate money. The project has a constant need for cash to pay for
equipment, network connectivity, and expenses relating to CD publishing.
Manufacturing CDs requires an up-front out-of-pocket investment for the
OpenBSD developers, without guaranteed return. Send e-mail to
to find out how to contribute. Even small donations make a profound
- Donate equipment and parts. The project has a constant need for general
and specific hardware. Items such as IDE and SCSI disks, and various
types of RAM are always welcome. For other types of hardware such as
computer systems and motherboards, you should inquire as to current
need. Write to
to arrange for shipment.
- Donate your time and skills. Programmers who enjoy writing operating
systems are naturally always welcome, but there are literally dozens of
other ways that people can be useful. Follow mailing lists and help
answer new-user questions.
- Help maintain documentation by submitting new FAQ material (to
firstname.lastname@example.org). Form a local
user group and get your friends hooked on OpenBSD. Make a case to your
employer for using OpenBSD at work. If you're a student, talk
to your professors about using OpenBSD as a learning tool for Computer
Science or Engineering courses. It's also worth mentioning one of the
most important ways you should not try to "help" The OpenBSD project:
do not waste your time engaging in operating system flame wars on
Usenet newsgroups. It does not help the project to find new users and
can cause substantial harm to important relationships that developers
have with other developers.
1.6 - Who maintains OpenBSD?
OpenBSD is maintained by a development team spread across many different
countries. The project is coordinated by Theo de Raadt, located in Canada.
[To Section 2.0 - Other OpenBSD information resources]
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