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Theo de Raadt:

This mail archive is the complete (as far as I know) communication between myself and the NetBSD core between December 15 (when they removed all my NetBSD access) and the day OpenBSD was formed. It actually goes a little further beyond that time, and includes mail from a few other people involved in the negotiations.

This archive makes it clear that I tried everything I could to avoid having to form a seperate project, but that the NetBSD core holds the complete responsibility for the need and creation of OpenBSD, another splinter group.


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    OpenBSD is fighting the good fight and so is Theo. I’ve had the pleasure to discuss with him and one may think of him what they like, but after all the sanity of Theo’s decisions wrt OpenBSD has benefitted the project a lot.

    From all BSDs I think OpenBSD is by far the best of them and it’s remarkable how they take security seriously.

    At suckless.org we are always striving to make our software work for both BSDs and Linux, but our main aim is OpenBSD. I can only imagine how much the OpenBSD foundation would achieve if it received as much money as the Linux kernel development.

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      I have been using suckless software in Linux desktops for some years and I always loved it. After some problems with xmls, systemd and other suckmore software in Linux I started using OpenBSD in some servers(*) and I fall in love. I think it is not by chance that a suckless developer likes OpenBSD. I am an outsider of the projects, however I think from what I have read in the mailing lists and code that you have similar ways of managing projects and developing.

      (*) The lovely cassandra and the jvm don’t run well on FreeBSD or OpenBSD so I have to keep using Linux for a few things

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        Yes there is a very common spirit. The reason why OpenBSD is so great and secure is because the developers are not scared to throw things out or break “legacy” code. This spirit is also present in the suckless community and we strive to keep our software as simple as possible.

        Given the little manpower we have we cannot risk working on big monoliths, so it somehow is a natural process of working with the available ressources.

        As 2nd chair of suckless.org e.V. I’m very glad to hear you like our software; please never feel shy to ask a question or make a suggestion on our mailing list. :)

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      “It’s widely claimed that I’m "the one” who ejected Theo from the NetBSD community. That is false. At that time in NetBSD’s history, Chris G. Demetriou was playing the role of alpha male, and I wasn’t even given a choice. I was certain it was going to bite us in the ass. I think the question for historians is not whether it did bite us in the ass, but how many times and how hard.“Charles Hannum

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        There’s also an outsider point of view text in Free For All (2002) by Peter Wayner:

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          Thanks for the link, but it is now found in the web archive: Forks

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          FWIW, the NetBSD mailing list archives are publicly accessible and are available all the way back to the period in question. When I first read “coremail” many years ago I browsed through the archives to get a feel for just how abrasive Theo may have been and, to be honest, I struggled to find any cases where he was rude to users.

          In the grander scheme of things, it’s hard to overestimate the impact a relatively small project like OpenBSD has had on the free software “movement”. Not only the software released, but also the unwavering principles of the project.