Back to the sea ; the OpenBSD services, episode I

       980 words, 5 minutes

For quite a long time now, I’ve been using the black console. My first contact with *N?X was around 1998, when my father brought me a Slackware CD from a hacking magazine that I don’t recall the name right now. At that time, I was using DOS and Windows 3. That was quite a change ; especially without any Internet access :) I quite often had to go to the bookshop to get UNIX books that were offering CD sets. That how I started fighting with Slackware and Debian distrib :)

About 2000, I got a mid-term job at the Jussieu University of Paris. That’s also when I started getting told that Linux was for kiddies and that real admins use BSD. I know that’s not really a good reason to start using an Operating System, but that’s how I came to the *BSD systems :)

Google is really nice to be used as an archiving system…
The oldest post I could find was about configuring POP3 with Balsa on Slackware Linux (Fri, 22 Sep 2000 14:28:32 +0000).

I don’t remember what happened exactly. But what I remember was that I was switching OS every two weeks to see how they were. From Slackware to Debian throught RedHat ; from FreeBSD to OpenBSD… I once choose OpenBSD and used it for a while. In fact, I choose it because I liked Puffy. A friend of mine I worked with was making fun a me because of that. He was an advanced Windows user making mIRC (I think) scripts and couldn’t get how one could choose an OS based on its mascot. From time to time, I tried and switched to FreeBSD. At this time, it had a better (hear complete) port system that made it really easy to be used as a workstation ; at least when you wanted shinning window manager&co :)

Between 2001 and 2002, I was using FreeBSD on every workstations I owned and OpenBSD on every servers.

I started NetBSD around 2002. It’s funny to find the post were I can’t update the system . Good memories. What I liked in NetBSD was their great documentation. I remember having printed the whole NetBSD Guide to configure my Internet access on a Sun Fire V100. I started looking at NetBSD because I didn’t like some of the answers I got from the OpenBSD mailing-lists. There were more and more false-gurus out there answering bull-shits and that pissed me off. I was really fed up with those and found a really nice community on the NetBSD lists. They appeared to me as grown up people.

Since then, I used NetBSD as much as possible. Some times, I really had to fight to be able to keep NetBSD on the workstations I owned. The small community makes rock-solid code but hardware sometimes makes a bit of time to be supported.

In 2009, I bought a 13" MacBook Pro and had my user-friendly UNIX for the workstation. Everything work out of the box and I have time to actually do things :p Since then, I totally stopped using (free) *BSD as a workstation.

On my way to doing things, I switched for the ancient postfix/imap configuration to something that provides calendar support, address book and phone synchronization. For a couple of years, I’ve been using Zarafa. Most of the machines are actually domUs running on a NetBSD/xen machine. I’m still regularly trying other OSes. Most of the time, it’s Ubuntu, Debian, and OpenBSD updates. From now, I always could stick to NetBSD ; and some Ubuntu domU for specific things.

But this day, I’m on my way to go back to OpenBSD…
There are two main reasons for that. First of all, I found that NetBSD was slower and slower to make changes to it’s system. More and more often, I can’t get recent hardware (hear netbooks) to work out properly. There are bugs that only appear on NetBSD that I just can’t reproduce with other systems. On the same time, OpenBSD support for the hardware is faster brought up and sometimes better. I still have issue with WPA on a Dell XPS M1330 with NetBSD that works greats on OpenBSD. BTW, it also has issue with Ubuntu…
Then, the release process of NetBSD isn’t that good ; that’s no judgment, that just an opinion. Compared to it, OpenBSD is really nice: a new major release every 6 months, with defined goals. That’s really a better business approach. Maybe that’s just a matter of number of people working on the system. Of course, I should stop crying, take my fingers out of my ass and code to get a better NetBSD. But I’m no programmer and don’t want to become one. I’m an experimented user and an average admin sys ; some might call me a leecher. And at the time of writing, OpenBSD provides pre-compiled Zarafa, SOGo, … when NetBSD don’t.

So I’m gonna try to rebuild my whole personal LAN and services with OpenBSD. Probably using that M1330 laptop that sleeps in a cupboard. It has a nice Core2Duo processor and 8 gigs of RAM. That should be a good machine to run all my services. I’m gonna do the testings and prepare the things using a VM. While doing it, I’m gonna write down how I did it.

That’ll make the “Back to the sea ; the OpenBSD services” serie alive.
Maybe it’ll be back in production. Maybe it’ll only be hobby story.

Here are the links to the full story:

  1. the OpenBSD services
  2. the OpenBSD installation
  3. the Domain Name Service (DNS)
  4. the Certificate Authority (CA)
  5. the Lightweight Directory (LDAP)
  6. the relational database management system (RDBMS)
  7. the Blog Tool and Publishing Platform (WordPress)
  8. the logging program (Syslog)
  9. the virtual private network (VPN)
  10. the mail server (SMTP, IMAP, GreyList, RBL…)
  11. the Open Source Groupware (SOGo)

To be continued…