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back to article Crippling server 'leccy bill risks sinking OpenBSD Foundation

The project behind OpenBSD risks going dark after receiving a crippling server electricity bill which it needs help to pay off. The OpenBSD Foundation has revealed it needs to stump up $20,000 in the second appeal for help it has issued since December. It seems the first appeal didn't net it enough to settle the bill in full. …

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I don't (knowingly) use OpenBSD myself but I'm definitely sending them a few quid.

It's good to know they are around, just in case I need something like that. I suggest others do the same.

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Re: I don't (knowingly) use OpenBSD myself but I'm definitely sending them a few quid.

Yeah, a few quid helps when you need 20000

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Windows

Re: I don't (knowingly) use OpenBSD myself but I'm definitely sending them a few quid.

"It's good to know they are around, just in case I need something like that. I suggest others do the same."

Never tried a BSD so just bought a CD-ROM set. Not sure if UK reseller has pre-paid for stock (so no immediate benefit). Uses jwm as default environment, which is notable in itself...

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Re: I don't (knowingly) use OpenBSD myself but I'm definitely sending them a few quid.

LInux Weekly news nearly shut down, because they didn't think that lots of readers around the world would pay them a few tenners per annum. Luckily they gave it a try, and the money rolled in.

I'd suggest that OpenBSD sets up a contributions site. It's probably easier to get 400 people to pledge and pay $50, than one to pay $20,000.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't (knowingly) use OpenBSD myself but I'm definitely sending them a few quid.

Perhaps they can consolidate onto Hyper-V?

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Re: I don't (knowingly) use OpenBSD myself but I'm definitely sending them a few quid.

The more mark downs, the more right your comment is

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"OpenBSD is included in a number of popular third-party packages that include SQL Lite, BIND, Sendmail and the Lynx web browser."

You forgot to mention OS X.

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Indeed. Maybe a certain cash rich company might consider making a donation.

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Apple and BSD

That would be because OS X uses various FreeBSD components along with the Mach "microkernel" and the Apple I/O Kit API in Darwin. It doesn't use OpenBSD, except for components that OpenBSD shares with FreeBSD and NetBSD. And there are several.

Bear with me here, BSD's history is fairly confusing thanks a number of factors (like its licensing) plus the famous lawsuit, but i'll try to flesh it out, as best I know it anyway. All of the BSDs do share components and code, but the code Apple used in OS X was mostly from FreeBSD (Windows wound up using some of the same code in their networking stack, as did Linux developers but they relicensed the code into GPL 2 since BSD's license is extremely permissive).

OpenBSD forked from NetBSD, which was forked from 386BSD. FreeBSD was formed from a 386BSD patchkit and 4.3BSD-Lite. They're very similar, but they did and do have different developers and different philosophies.

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Re: Apple and BSD

While BSDs may look similar to the user and offer similar APIs, they are not that similar on code level. Ever tried to port a driver from NetBSD to FreeBSD?

In any case each and every linux distribution uses the following bits of code from OpenBSD foundation: openssh, a number of foundation internet services - telnet, tftp, etc, the internet services control subsystem - inetd. 20k is pocket change for RedHat or Ubuntu. As they use this code extensively, they probably should shell out a few quid.

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OpenBSD is included in ... third-party packages ...

"OpenBSD is included in a number of popular third party packages that include SQL Lite, BIND, Sendmail and the Lynx web browser."

Err, you mean the other way around? OpenBSD includes those packages (by default), they do not include OpenBSD.

Not that those packages are specific to OpenBSD. It's a bit like saying "Windows is included in Skype" when what you mean to say is "Windows includes Skype".

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Re: OpenBSD is included in ... third-party packages ...

Code patches developed by OpenBSD is included in those packages, it should also be noted that OpenSSH is also affected by all this since they are part of the same project/foundation.

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Joke

Re: OpenBSD is included in ... third-party packages ...

"It's a bit like saying "Windows is included in Skype" when what you mean to say is "Windows includes Skype"."

Knowing Microsoft's tortured inter-dependencies, Windows probably *is* included in Skype.

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Re: OpenBSD is included in ... third-party packages ...

"Code patches developed by OpenBSD is included in those packages"

Yes, and that may be what the author meant, but it's not what he wrote.

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Childcatcher

It's too bad

It's too bad there isn't some company out there that benefits extensively from OpenBSD and is currently sitting on a massive pile of cash.

Surely such a company could easily donate $20,000, would benefit by ensuring the stability of the architecture underlying their systems, and may even be able to write most of it off as a charitable deduction.

Ah well, no such beast exists, obviously.

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Anonymous Coward

OpenBSD develops OpenSSH

More of a reason to donate as it's in many distros.

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Anonymous Coward

"Significant short fall"

If they don't cough up the cash, they might *cough* fall down the stairs.

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interesting to see the contrast

Between the seemingly struggling OpenBSD foundation and the seemingly flourishing FreeBSD foundation whom seem to have gotten four donations of $50,000 or more in 2013. NetApp alone has donated $100k+ the past three years in a row to FreeBSD.

I hope OpenBSD makes it, though my usage of it is limited to firewalls (not fond of BSD user space, much like BSD folks hate linux user space). I think pf is awesome (after having gone through ipfwadm, ipchains, iptables, ipf, and I think one more firewalling tool on FreeBSD 12-14 years ago). I know pf has been ported to FreeBSD, though haven't needed to move from OpenBSD for this purpose.

I had to re-install my home Soekris firewall recently as the CF card died, and tried to install Debian k/FreeBSD to get pf, but after 30 mins of fighting it I could not get it to PXE boot, so went back to OpenBSD again. I did manage to get a beta of Debian k/FreeBSD installed to Sokeris a few years ago, don't remember what I did to get it to work though, it was really slow at the time so I stuck to OpenBSD.

Linux for the rest of my systems though. Linux has infiltrated pretty much all of the enterprise gear I have at work short of my Citrix Netscalers which are FreeBSD (F5 uses Linux though, I like F5 too). I was sort of surprised not to see Citrix on the FreeBSD donations page given their usage of the platform.

FreeBSD atlanta-netscaler 6.3-NETSCALER-9.3 FreeBSD 6.3-NETSCALER-9.3 #0: Wed Jul 3 14:58:06 PDT 2013

Not exactly a recent release of FBSD (2008).

Oh and side note I believe we have OpenBSD to thank for OpenSSH which of course is used very widely, there are a couple other major products they re-wrote from scratch due to licensing, the names escape me at the moment though (maybe pf could be considered one? a re-write of ipf? I seem to recall licensing issues with ipf back in the day)

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Joke

How many picoseconds?

How much of the Fruity Firm's profits is €20,000 pa.?

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Re: How many picoseconds?

I think 15.5s a year of Apple Profits is $20K a year.

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Anonymous Coward

Think about this...

What would an OpenBSD charm offensive (fundraising drive) look like when headed by TDR?

Undoubtedly "good with computers", but what would you score him out of 10 for PR and potential donor friendliness? Who is OpenBSD's chief fundraising officer?

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Re: Think about this...

Like Linus is much better at talking to the public...

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Re: Think about this...

Actually, Linus is. He's one of only two people I can think of who I would be willing to use Linus as a spokesperson over.

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No...

... this is what happens if your replies to people in forums are "RTFM....", or I can't duplicate this on my home dev server with 64GB of ram - "changing status to won't fix"

they use OSs that actually offer friendly help.

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Re: No...

Only reason Linux users don't say RTFM is because Linux manpages are so bloody dire.

BSD users might say it more because their manpages are actually useful.

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Re: No...

They say RTFM a lot because you have a bunch of idiots that install OpenBSD then ask why apt-get doesn't work (Happened this week) or people that ask questions that would have been solved by just running man afterboot or man <command>. The OPenBSD developers are extremely anal about the accuracy of the man pages and docs and people just ignoring them is really annoying.

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PJI
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Re: No...

"man afterboot"? I've worked on various UNIXes since the 1980s and never heard of "afterboot". How is even an experienced UNIX bod supposed to know there is an "afterboot" man page or what it would cover?

I suppose one could strike lucky with "man -k boot" or "apropos boot" or something. Even then, would I chance upon the right keyword or recognise that "afterboot" is the wanted item?

This silly reply highlights exactly the poor user interface (at all levels of user) design skills of most software designers, whether Linux, *BSD or Windows.

I do agree that, once found, the BSD documentation is without equal, as was the original BSD hard copy documentation in those enormous A4 binders. But have mercy on users who will not know your special quirks and may even, Heaven forfend, have ventured into your territory from a non-UNIX or Linux background.

It's no good pleading for support from those you clearly do not understand or worse. Without users, your work is pointless and, though some frustration can be understood, if you just read through some Linux or OS X user websites, it quickly becomes apparent that a very large number do not know the man command nor a shell interface nor even a terminal session. One may lament this; but if you want your system to succeed and flourish, then you must face it and work out a constructive and helpful way to live with it.

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Re: No...

Its referred to in the introductory message pre-loaded into every new user's mailbox and if you read the prompt at the end of installation, it will tell you to run 'mail' once you login. The message in your mailbox is a simple letter from Theo and the Developers about some system basics, ending with the suggestion to read 'man afterboot' to learn more (this mail will also appear for all users created on the machine).

The afterboot page is a basic primer on using OpenBSD and other UNIX-like Operating systems and will point the user to other man pages and tools that would be useful to know (in fact I print this page up for all my users for them to hang up in their cubes) Nearly all of them went from having no UNIX experience to being able to solve 99% of their own issues (Including fixing networking issues, diagnosing hardware problems to being able to install and configure their own Desktop environments and even tweak X)

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Try ibiblio.org ..

Have you tried asking ibiblio.org to host OpenBSD?

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Re: Try ibiblio.org ..

I think part of the "can't move outside Canada" thing is really "won't move to the USA". OpenBSD works hard to be seen as a "safe haven" OS, I don't think Theo de Raadt wants suspicion of NSA-mandated backdoors to ruin that reputation.

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Re: Try ibiblio.org ..

Simpler than that:

The US doesn't allow you to export crypto software, but Canada does.

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Hm

Bluehost could use some cheap goodwill. Backblaze too. Can think of a few others.

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Re: Hm

Both USA-based AFAIK. See up.

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Meet the Green Challenge

"The OpenBSD Foundation is based in Canada, and, according to de Raadt, 'a number of logistical reasons prevent us moving the machines to another location which might offer space/power for free.'"

This is a run on effect where in the mad dash to renewable energy generation, public utilities are paying private renewable generation firms a guaranteed percentage of their stated capacity even if they don't produce a milliwatt of power. If a solar farm has a stated output of 10Mw at full capacity, the producers are guaranteed $CAN 445.00 a day producing little or no electricity. My advice is for OpenBSD to look for charitable donations from these suppliers. It's my tax money that they will be paid with, no the producers.

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Re: Meet the Green Challenge

So you're saying that OpenBSD can't move because Canadian utilities buy solar power ?

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Merge with FreeBSD ..

a number of logistical reasons prevent us moving the machines to another location which might offer space/power for free

Why not merge with FreeBSD ..

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Re: Meet the Green Challenge

Thank you for this eye opening analysis. OpenBSD cannot move for whatever reason to an environment that allows them to control their costs. In the interim, they are faced with increasing energy costs based on fiascos described above.

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WTF?

"prevent us moving the machines"

And just what would those logistical reasons be? Care to share them with folks that might donate money? I'd like a little more information than "we need some money! gimmie!" which is about all that this boils down to.

For $20K I'd put them in the back of my car (if I had one) and drive them somewhere willing to host them for free/cheaper.

If I was donating, I'd want to know they'd explored all the avenues and weren't wasting the money. This fails to convince me that they've done so.

How do Debian and other folk pay their light bills? I haven't heard them begging for money recently. What are they doing differently?

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Re: "prevent us moving the machines"

"For $20K I'd put them in the back of my car (if I had one) and drive them somewhere willing to host them for free/cheaper."

From reading around t'web I suspect you might need a somewhat larger vehicle to move the servers to another location. I also gather that the legacy machines in use to test builds on obscure architectures might not fit in the usual racks found in many data centres. I also gather it is the build servers that sit in Mr Van Raadt's basement rather than the servers that distribute isos. Producing a release every 6 months with a base/core that has audited code must mean a lot of building.

I take your other point though: this project looks like it needs some transparency and a bit of volunteer time from people who know about communications with end users/community members.

EDIT: In the UK the local police would be visiting to check Mr Van Raadt's basement for possible cannabis production because of the very high electricity use for a domestic address. I'd love a video of the subsequent events....

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Coat

Van or De?

De Raadt, not Van Raadt. The former means "the", the latter "of"/"from" (in Dutch which I presume is the origin of his name).

I know all those pesky Germanic words must sound the same to you half-Norman French speaking natives but some of us poor foreigners, do care <sniff>

I'll just get my coat now, thanks...

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Re: Van or De?

>Norman French speaking natives but some of us poor foreigners, do care <sniff>

That would be French, German, Anglo-Saxon, Latin n Greek (plus quite a few other inputs). Why we call it English is a bit of a puzzle. Anyway, English is formally a Germanic language.

If we are going to get anal, feel free to explain why you misused a comma (before "do care") and viciously abused an innocent hyphen. I think you meant: half Norman/French - which is a fair description of those folk that popped over in 1066 and gave the "natives" a kicking, rather than the modern locals.

Mind you, I'd love to be able to be pretty fluent in another language rather than simply get by in three and embarrass myself in many others, so perhaps I'll hold your coat.

Cheers

Jon

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Re: Van or De?

You have your former and latter reversed too.

Former is Van, latter is De. Well, at least you got the meanings of Van and De right. I hope you picked up your own coat and not someone else's.

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Re: "prevent us moving the machines"

> In the UK the local police would be visiting to check Mr Van Raadt's basement for

> possible cannabis production because of the very high electricity use for a domestic

> address.

That happens In the U.S. too. I'm never sure how tolerant the Canucks are of cannabis.

Anyway, I might suspect they're running the servers as a cover for growing pot, But then if they were growing pot – and selling it – they probably wouldn't have trouble paying their bill.

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Windows

Re: Van or De?

Aggghhhh apologies

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why its called english

English derives from anglish which is what the Angles spoke. Although a minority compared with the Saxons Jutes Welsh Cumbrian's etc they occupied a central position and provided crucial trade links with the rest of the Germanic tribes in Europe. So their German/Danish dialect formed became the common language.

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Re: Van or De?

The Normans were a small minority, albeit as the source of power, more influential on the language than most.

Of the top 100 English words today, I believe something like 70% are from the Angles and Saxons and the rest mainly Norse (though recent research suggests Norse is more significant, particularly grammatically).

American is rather different as it is highly coloured by East European languages, more modern German and Yiddish as well as big dollops of Spanish and some archaic, pseudo-religious forms of English that were somewhat concocted or archaic in England even in the 1700s.

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Maybe he's bitcoin mining

In 2014, you can do most of your development in VMs, distribute your code from the cloud or BitTorrent, and have people all over the internet help you test on old or oddball architectures. What year is OpenBSD living in? Sounds like they need to go green! Or require a little more help from people that want their room warmers supported.

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Re: Maybe he's bitcoin mining

You *are* aware of the fact that if you host stuff 'in the cloud' — in this instance, and particularly, VM servers — they *charge* you for that? Over a period of time, that mounts up. In fact, if you're running a full-time server infrastructure that is fairly stable and doesn't need to flex up/down in size and it's life expectancy is more than a year or two, then long-term use of the cloud for VM server hosting is typically more expensive than running your own kit. Seriously. Google it.

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Re: Maybe he's bitcoin mining

"...VMs..."

While fine for application stacks, operating systems really need to be certified against actual hardware (unless the goal is to have an OS which ONLY runs in some set of Virtualization environments).

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