1. 45

Does anyone here run a BSD as their desktop OS? I use Ubuntu and Windows at work. For years I ran Fedora and I’ve been using Ubuntu for about 3 years, and frankly I’d like a change. I’ve been playing with DragonflyBSD in a VM and it seems really solid.

I’d love some recommendations (for & against) if anyone has them.

  1. 19

    There are several *BSD developers on lobsters (see https://lobste.rs/hats) so don’t be surprised if you get many positive responses. I suppose most of them use a *BSD desktop, apart from a subset of FreeBSD devs famous for using MacOS X.

    1. 1

      We really don’t deserve such accolades :)

    2. 12

      I’m planning to build (and open source) a ~13” e-ink tablet, with a kickstand so I can use it as my personal computer as well (alongside my Atreus keyboard). I’d ideally like to run OpenBSD on it—currently I use macOS for work for pragmatic reasons (on a 2015 Macbook Air), but wish to more fully align with my ideals and so my plan currently is to put OpenBSD on an external SD card and see what my pain points are.

      Would love to hear about the current best options for desktop BSDs! I just like OpenBSD’s philosophy, and feel I can make a fun project out of addressing any pain points I have with it (I’m a little worried to see the current state of font rendering, for instance—but that is completely unfounded and I really just need to dive into OpenBSD this weekend.)

      As far as my e-ink display project, it’s a tool that I want to exist but doesn’t. While researching to make sure I wasn’t reinventing the wheel, I did find an eerily similar product, but it doesn’t meet all of my criteria. I’m not worried about the cost of developing such a device, as it’s a passion project. Once it’s finished, I’ll gauge interest in crowdsourcing a production run for anybody else who would find it useful. I still have research to do on the current state of e-ink refresh rates and multicolor e-ink tech, as well as a hefty amount of research to do on actually architecting the device. Once I have any sort of progress done, I’ll be sure to share. :-) I’m just grinding through my life’s backlog currently.

      1. 16

        I’m a little worried to see the current state of font rendering, for instance—but that is completely unfounded and I really just need to dive into OpenBSD this weekend.)

        I can assure you—you get used to Comic Sans being the only font on the system. It’s not so bad.

        1. 3

          I can assure you—you get used to Comic Sans being the only font on the system. It’s not so bad.

          It’s not nice to tease /u/molloy like that. OpenBSD has lots of nice fonts packaged, like Source, Fira, Roboto, Noto, Cantarell, Ubuntu, etc.

          1. 4

            I love being teased ^_^

            But I appreciate your thoughtfulness <3

        2. 5

          I’m a little worried to see the current state of font rendering, for instance

          Is your problem that fonts look blurry? OpenBSD has freetype’s autohint disabled by default, the difference is night and day. See here for the general idea of how to enable it.

          1. 1

            JPEG artifacts kinda kill the comparison.

            1. 4

              Hmm, let’s try again with an image host that hopefully doesn’t compress PNGs like imgur does.

              Bonus: newsblur is among the worst I’ve seen when autohinting is disabled.

              1. 3

                Bonus: newsblur is among the worst I’ve seen when autohinting is disabled.

                Hmm, are you saying NewsBlur makes thing blurry?

                1. 2

                  The word newsblur there is a link to an image showing what it looks like with autohint enabled vs disabled. Hyperlinking the word newsblur probably made it look like a link to the site, I should have chose that better.

                  1. 3

                    Sorry, I was trying to make a joke, and it failed badly.

          2. 5

            I still have research to do on the current state of e-ink refresh rates and multicolor e-ink tech

            Prepare for some disappointment. :-) I mean, I’ve been checking refresh rates on e-ink OEM spec sheets for the past few years and they’re improving, but not even close to usable for a general-purpose display. See for example the PC Mag review of the product you linked to. (Unless perhaps you’re really patient and can adapt to paging rather than scrolling, etc?) It comes down to the basic physics of e-ink, which involves mechanical rotation of micro-capsules: sort of intrinsically slow relative to electronics. Some devices optimize for updating only a very small part of the display at a time: the best I know of is the reMarkable, which put a lot of work into that.

            As for color e-ink tablets, I’ve never seen such a thing, but a coworker claims that some Russian schools use them, just the colors are very faded.

            If (like me) you just want a sunlight-readable display, you’d be better off with a transflective LCD… which are also hard to find. Can’t beat e-ink for low power consumption, though.

            1. 4

              OMG this sounds amazing! (I say this, typing on an atreus!)

              Please do share when you’ve done it!!

              1. 3

                Yes indeedy I would read and upvote such a post with relish :)

                1. 2

                  Will do! I’ll most likely blog about the process as well :-)

              2. 9

                I don’t have any experience with Dragonfly BSD, but I don’t see why it would be a bad OS for desktop use since OpenBSD is fine as a workstation (thanks to developers who develop on OpenBSD, thus eating their own dog food).

                I switched to OpenBSD 6.2 and from there to OpenBSD -current in October 2017 after almost twenty years of Linux use, and I have no intention of going back. I currently run OpenBSD on four machines scattered around my house for various purposes:

                • imaginos: a refurbished Lenovo ThinkPad T430s that I carry everywhere
                • thagirion: a refurbished Lenovo ThinkCentre M92p that lives in my study
                • astarte: a used G4 iMac (aka the iLamp) that I use when I want to write while keeping my wife company
                • desdinova: a Clevo W24AEU laptop that I bought from System76 back in 2012 that lives in the basement

                I’ve had nothing but good experiences because my hardware is well-supported and I took time to RTFM.

                The documentation is so much better than what you get from most Linux distributions (Debian, Slackware, Gentoo, and Arch being the best of a bad lot), and the base OpenBSD install is remarkably complete. If I wanted to set up a laptop for distraction-free writing, I think I could get away with installing only two packages (wordnet and git) because the base install comes with both classic vi and mg (a micro Emacs).

                However, I don’t bother with such an austere installation because I don’t have to. OpenBSD has lots of packages. Everything I did on Linux I can do just as easily on OpenBSD. If I wanted to run GNOME, I could install 3.26 from packages. Likewise for XFCE, MATE, or KDE Plasma.

                However, I’m content with cwm. It’s a brilliant little window mangler. The default configuration is reasonable, but you can rice it a bit if you want.

                Upgrades are easy, too.

                1. Download the latest bsd.rd (if applicable) and stick it in /.
                2. Reboot and select bsd.rd from the boot menu.
                3. Work through the prompts.
                4. Drink beer and pet kitties.
                5. Reboot and log in.
                6. Update your packages.

                If I can enjoy using OpenBSD to write crappy sci-fi, listen to prog albums, and monkey around on the web there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to use DragonflyBSD to do the same if you want to. Have fun.

                PS: I do have a Windows laptop issued by my day job, which I only use for shit related to my day job. I also do most of my gaming and streaming media consumption on my PS4.

                1. 3

                  Everything I did on Linux I can do just as easily on OpenBSD.

                  I run both (and others), and I must say that I sometimes really notice the lack of GPU support in OpenBSD. So, I’d say it depends on what you’re doing.

                  1. 3

                    I haven’t noticed because most of my gear uses Intel graphics, which are reasonably well supported. The iLamp has an ancient NVidia GeForce card, but since it also has a 800MHz PowerPC G4 CPU and 256MB of RAM I wasn’t planning to do much gaming with it anyway. :)

                    I’m given to understand that as long as you use Intel or AMD graphics, OpenBSD is fine. However, NVidia won’t provide open source drivers and Theo doesn’t want proprietary drivers in OpenBSD, so NVidia fans should stick with Linux or FreeBSD.

                2. 8

                  I run OpenBSD as my only operating system on:

                  • on my daily driver (T420 Thinkpad) that I use for work, gaming & everything else (OpenBSD -current)
                  • on the Lenovo G50-70 which is a daily driver for my wife - currently running OpenBSD 6.3 (just updated from 6.2)
                  • our server on vultr running OpenBSD 6.2 (soon to be updated to 6.3)
                  • an asus intel atom eeepc running snapshots/-current and serves as a backup machine for hacking on stuff

                  I do have a fallback work assigned laptop with Linux, that I haven’t booted even once this year. I do however use the PS4 extensively for additional gaming and streaming Netflix/HBO Go

                  1. 2

                    How has your experience been with suspending/hibernating? When I bought a ThinkPad X41, I first installed OpenBSD, but the fact that every time when I suspended the device, the screen permanently blanked until I forcefully rebooted, really prevented me from using it.

                    1. 5

                      If there is a TPM config option in the BIOS, try to disable the TPM and try again (not sure if this applies to the x41 but it applies to some of the more recent models).

                      1. 5

                        Suspend & hibernate works perfectly on both laptops I mentioned in my post. Keep in mind, a lot will depends on the hardware model and the amount of time since you tried (OpenBSD is not standing still).

                        1. 3

                          I have an ThinkPad X41 that has been running OpenBSD from new and both suspend and hibernate work on it.

                          Sometimes when it comes out of hibernation / sleep the X desktop did appear to come up blank - but if your press the brightness keys (Fn + Home button on my X41) the screen restored as normal - but I sometimes see this on my Toshiba laptop as well. I have not noticed this on my X41 recently.

                        2. 2

                          This isn’t completely related, but I also use (Free)BSD on vultr. I’m not really a sysadmin type and barely know that I’m doing, but I like it.

                        3. 7

                          FreeBSD 12-CURRENT on both laptop and desktop. (Also Free/HardenedBSD of various versions on the home server, various VPSes, tiny SBCs etc.)


                          • GPU support is good. Going to catch up to Linux 4.15 soon but ever since we got 4.9: Wayland, Vulkan, OpenCL, VA-API, all the things work with a Radeon RX 480.
                          • 10GbE works with a Mellanox ConnectX-2.
                          • I can control the tower’s RGB lighting and AIO liquid cooler. Not system fans though. I think I’ll write a cross-platform utility for Nuvoton Super I/O when I have time…
                          • On the laptop side, suspend started working when I turned off the TPM (I was using it for SSH keys… but whatever).
                          • Also, Synaptics touchpads (with ThinkPad Trackpoints) and Windows Precision compatible touchscreens have nice evdev support.
                          • I even hacked together evdev support for the Apple Magic Trackpad, just for fun :D
                          • Oh, and Wi-Fi: Intel is well supported + there’s even a Broadcom SoftMAC driver now. Yes, for that card in the MacBooks. Note: there’s no 11ac yet and not all drivers have 11n. I never needed very fast Wi-Fi though. I can plug in Ethernet if I need to transfer large files.
                          • One thing that’s not supported: Realtek SD card readers (rtsx in OpenBSD). I needed to read an SD card on my laptop maybe like once a year, so whatever.


                          • Plenty of software works natively. If you like very up-to-date sometimes-experimental desktop stuff, I maintain a ports fork :)
                          • We have 64-bit Linux ABI compatibility, it chokes on binaries from the newest (ubuntu > 16.04) distros right now, but you can run 3D stuff with modern Mesa (thanks to me :D). e.g. the Unigine Heaven benchmark works. BTW, the Wine port is getting WoW64, soon just pkg install wine would get you a 64-and-32-bit compatible Wine.
                          • And of course all the base system features are excellent. ZFS, DTrace, bhyve, jails, Capsicum, CloudABI…
                          • (Why would anyone ever willingly use a filesystem other than ZFS in 2018?!)
                          • (Seriously, I don’t even remember what fsck is, I always have snapshot recovery if I screw up the system, and all the files are nicely compressed.)
                          1. 7

                            I have been using OpenBSD at my laptop for the last year and a half. The only issue I have is that Firefox is way slower than in Void Linux or Debian. But apart from that it works perfectly fine.

                            1. 5

                              Might be faster in 6.3 which ships ff quantum.

                            2. 6

                              I run HardenedBSD 12-CURRENT on all my systems, be them laptops, desktops, servers, or appliances. I love having all the goodies of FreeBSD but with exploit mitigations and security hardening baked in.

                              1. 5

                                More than 10 years ago now, I ran FreeBSD on a little (early X series, 10” screen, Celeron 300), extremely portable, but underpowered thinkpad. The experience was wonderful, but my next machine was a PowerBook G4, and I sort of went that way for a while, before getting back on the Linux on all the things phase.

                                I stopped doing a lot of personal computing for a while because the Linux ecosystem is a…mess? And started exploring options about 2 years ago. I was running OpenBSD, and then suffered a horrifying filesystem failure due to an unclean shutdown while on a work trip, and… kind of gave up, and did the Ubuntu thing on my work laptop and did minimal personal time stuff on that, and the family iMac.

                                But recently! I tried out FreeBSD again, many many years later, and have truly found happiness in it. There’s enough binary packages that I don’t have to compile much with ports, suspend / resume works fine. My wireless (OK, I swapped it out for an atheros based adapter while I was futzing with guix, since that has great support) has been flawless so far, and with my latest experiment to try moused again, my synaptics touchpad works fine! I even plugged in, and mirrored a monitor last night with xrandr—no hassle!

                                Anyway! I think this is the year if *BSD on the desktop/laptop!

                                1. 5

                                  (last two paragraphs contain the direct answer and a hopefully helpful advice) (the rest is from memories on how I got into BSD and very subjective. I think it’s easier to get technical answers to the question, which is why I added them)

                                  Around 2005 I was trying out various BSDs. That was right after looking for simpler Linux Distributions, and while they existed at that time they had quite some stability issues.

                                  Back then all the ones I tried (FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD and the fairly new DragonFly) all worked. Just to give some background: I actually used all of them for a couple of months at least, so those weren’t just “Install it until you have a desktop” experiences. For me that meant email, web, watching videos (offline), playing small games, etc. Other than needing FreeBSD if I wanted to make use NVIDIA cards the experience on all systems was really good.

                                  At that time DragonFly despite having a way smaller team than the others was the most convenient. There were a number of things they had. For setup: They had the nicest installer. Since a lot of the devs were not using DragonFly in some big company but actually wanted to have stuff working for themselves the hardware support for consumer hardware was really good (and it still is). There also was a bug that plagued at least FreeBSD and DragonFly, and while I don’t know the details anymore it was that pulling out an USB device usually paniced/crashed the system.

                                  The responses were very different. Most of the FreeBSD people gave it low priority, because that doesn’t usually happen on a server, also not on accident, etc. In the DragonFly community they (someone. Sorry, don’t remember who) sat down and just repeated pulling it out and fixing according to panic fixing stuff. It was considered a big project, but that was a pretty cool experience.

                                  While I didn’t have many problems I remember trying out their features and one of them was resident (keeping a dynamic binary in memory). I think I did something like replacing some binary, I think as part of installworld and accessing it or some information about it crashed the system. I went on their IRC channel and mentioned it, and half an hour later that was fixed (I think including some reviews).

                                  There also were other nice things about DragonFly, that made me stay there the longest. Especially the tiny conveniences. For example there was a little Makefile in /usr/ that would allow you to easily check out the source of the OS and also pkgsrc (which was the default at that time, after there were some bad experiences with the current setup).

                                  Another thing was that at least to me it felt like the project with the lowest amount of politics, drama and hype. People seemed to be too busy enhancing the system. I am sure I didn’t see everything, and it is also funny, given how it came to be, but to me it for a while felt like DragonFly was keeping what OpenBSD was promising in terms of being hype-free.

                                  Since I played around with pkgsrc I also had NetBSD on the side, trying to make sure things compile and install there as well. I think that always was the case even though pkgsrc people fixed the nonsense I made on pkgsrc-wip.

                                  That said, I think that OpenBSD is a prime example of how to do security right, rather than complicated. OpenBSD is not inconvenient to use at all. I think the biggest hurdle right now is that you have to do a minimal amount of configuration to have up to date third party packages, but other than that things work, even as a desktop system on a laptop, which feels unnatural, because optimizing things for being simple, small and secure usually sounds like the opposite of a convenient desktop system. However, for most part it works. Eg. if you would run something like Void Linux, Arch Linux, Debian, etc. as your desktop and feel reasonably secure about it, don’t need to run Steam, etc. for your games then chances are that you really won’t miss stuff, while enjoying what you get.

                                  I haven’t used NetBSD in a while outside of a VM, so I don’t feel confident saying much about the current state.

                                  Today - right now - I am using FreeBSD, which is mostly a convenience, because I use FreeBSD for a couple of projects and sometimes it’s nice to have the same stuff running locally and that being just to know some little stuff, maybe have some muscle memory. Other than maybe NVIDIA drivers and a huge ports collection, which both are big points there is no overwhelming reason to use it, given also that right now Intel drivers might be a reason to go with OpenBSD or DragonFly (not sure about the NetBSD state).

                                  And then comparing it to Arch Linux, which also exists on one of my machines. I actually have to double check sometimes, whether I am on there. They are configured similarly enough to not be obvious. The reason for FreeBSD over Arch Linux right now is on the software side. Not just that the ports collection is huge, but with just one or two lines in a config file I can get rid of pulseaudio for example, if I don’t like it or replace OpenSSL with LibreSSL. Both of these I have done and thanks to the the people maintaining ports that works. As a side note this is also why I use it on servers as well. I am dealing a lot with Postgres and PostGIS and also with nginx. Being able to choose exact Postgres and PostGIS versions, including the latest, without having to use third party repos or only being able to use certain combinations is a huge plus. For nginx there are a lot of patches/third party modules that are just ON/OFF switches, which makes it possibly to just quickly try it out if a project might benefit from it. And most importantly thing around it don’t break. That seems to be a huge reason for people running Docker in real life, but depending on the project that might not be a viable option, and to me personally feels like a huge overkill in some situation.

                                  Having this kind of flexibility is something really nice, if you wanna stick to a desktop system for “production”, because it means that one isn’t really forced to use a certain version of software or a certain dependency. In Linux world I would have to choose a different distribution in some of these cases. There might be a benefit in that, when you actually find something that matches all your tastes, but then these things might change over time and in some cases those changes caused me quite a headache. Maybe that is my taste here, but being able to access latest software, while having a very stable system overall made the BSDs very appealing to me on the server and on the desktop.

                                  Other than that: Drivers usually lag a bit (or a bit more) behind Linux. I tend to not get the latest laptop when it comes out, and while it will usually run and there is official NVIDIA drivers for FreeBSD, if you get your hands on the very latest hardware you might sometimes be out of luck. This never really bit me. I don’t enjoy getting a new system all that often, but that’s likely a downside.

                                  As a direct answer to your question: Yes, it works. However that doesn’t mean it does work for you, so the best is to try it. And nobody will hate you if you switch. There also is a very low amount of missionary people among the BSDs, so you usually can say “X doesn’t work” and might even get responses saying that choosing a Linux distribution or even macOS or Windows might be better for you, without any negative connotations.

                                  Another fair warning: While it might feel a bit like it. BSD is NOT Linux. While I think that is clear on a theoretical level, the specifics of this might throw one off at times, especially when one wants it to be Linux. It will likely take some time to get used to it. So whether you are excited after two weeks or turned down, it might be worthwhile sticking to things a bit longer, to get a bit more into how everything really is meant. That I think might actually be harder if you used Linux for a while, because there is so much resembling it when it’s different nevertheless. Hope that helps, if you try it. :)

                                  1. 5

                                    I run OpenBSD as my daily driver and have for years. I’m a developer and a bit of a minimalist, preferring text-oriented tools, and lightweight window managers like cwm, xmonad, or rio. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be used by folks who want the “full” desktop experience if that’s what you’re looking for (Gnome, KDE, Xfce, Lumina).

                                    You’ll find approximately the same selection of open-source apps you run on Linux are available on OpenBSD (and the other BSDs). The edge cases in my experience are Linux-only ports (MS SQL Server), Linux api/kernel-dependent projects like Docker (FreeBSD has jails, a superior choice anyway), and commercial software (e.g., games, Skype, Dropbox). And strange abominations BSD users would rather avoid, like systemd.

                                    You also won’t find apps like VirtualBox, but you will find good alternatives like vmm(4) on OpenBSD, and bhyve on FreeBSD.


                                    Going on to OpenBSD-specific recommendations, a lot of legacy hardware (x86, amd64, SPARC, and PowerPC) still works on OpenBSD. And a lot of very current hardware as well (x86, amd64, arm, SPARC64, MIPS and other). x86 and amd64 are probably the best options for desktop/laptop use.

                                    Before getting to how my configuration and use, I’ll mention some gaps you might find troubling:

                                    • file systems (ffs, pick one) (ext2, dos, or fuse are available for interoperability)
                                    • GPUs (most will work, but you won’t be doing any CUDA on OpenBSD)

                                    My Laptop

                                    Currently I run OpenBSD on a Thinkpad T450s. Both wired and wireless (em(4), iwm(4)) work flawlessly.

                                    External monitors work very well with xrandr. At a previous job I had a 4k monitor. I ran it alone and together with the internal monitor without issue, though you’ll not be gaming on a 4k monitor at 60 fps with the Intel 5500 series.

                                    Suspend/resume works. I don’t use hibernate much, but it worked when I tried it.

                                    As far as I can tell all the sensors work. Battery status and charge remaining work.

                                    I have a docking station. When I dock/undock the switching is seamless. As with any OS, you have to connect/disconnect some devices during the process (e.g., USB disks … could be somewhat automated). Mice, keyboards and many peripherals connect/disconnect without issues. To manage switching between wired/wireless networking I wrote a script run by apm(8).

                                    Software (apps I use)

                                    • backups and syncing (rsync and unison)
                                    • cli (xterm, ksh, tmux)
                                    • dev (sed, awk, python, haskell, php, javascript, perl, c)
                                    • email (acme, mutt)
                                    • image viewing and manipulation (feh, ImageMagick)
                                    • media (mplayer)
                                    • office (LibreOffice)
                                    • printing (lpr)
                                    • reading (more, mupdf, Calibre for ebooks)
                                    • videos (mplayer, youtube-dl, Chrome)
                                    • web browsing (w3m, Chrome)
                                    • writing (ed, acme, pandoc)

                                    On the whole, I find OpenBSD a perfectly usable desktop OS, and it’s certainly my preference. I occasionally have to use other OSs due to work requirements, or where there’s no available software (see comments above about Skype).

                                    1. 4

                                      DragonFly would have been my choice as well back ~1 week back when wanted to move on to a BSD after decades in Windows/Ubuntu/Fedora/OpenSuSE. Alas I’m at a point right now where I neither can’t nor won’t ditch VScode, so I’m holding off the BSDs for another ~half-year+ until it lands there properly as a port (right now in the “with these patches and hacks, you can get 90% of it running” phase, far as I could tell).

                                      I educated myself on which Linux distros aim most for BSD philosophy and found Void: http://troubleshooters.com/linux/void/whyvoid.htm — took some time post-install to tweak and setup the machine-specific “goodies” (touchport etc.) but it was all worth it. Great distro if there’s some deal-breaker / show-stopper (hardware or software reason) that keeps you from moving to BSD. Might stay on there for quite a while, in fact!

                                      1. 4

                                        Really depends on your needs but for a home desktop and speaking about OpenBSD, I couldn’t use it because of Skype/Google Hangouts because of problems getting my webcam going.

                                        But if I did, I would try Firefox webrtc [1] next with the caveat that is still something that is being worked on [2].

                                        [1] https://mozilla.github.io/webrtc-landing/gum_test.html

                                        [2] https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1437670

                                        1. 3

                                          I run FreeBSD on both my desktop and laptop with out many issues. Even my AMD RX 580 is supported now ith the drm-next-kmod drivers.

                                          1. 3

                                            I’ve been using FreeBSD as my main laptop & desktop since around 2012 or 2013 I think, it was near EOL for 9.3 so I started off running 10.0-CURRENT for boot direct to zfs, and haven’t looked back since. Running current has been (a) a great learning experience and (b) a lot less scary than I expected because of boot environments - see http://www.callfortesting.org/bhyve-boot-environments/

                                            • I rebuild roughly a week, into a Boot Environment, which makes rollback in case of issues pure cake.
                                            • zfs everywhere is so damn awesome, and <3 dtrace as well. I use jails & bhyve extensively for work & testing.
                                            • pretty typical lean desktop - i3wm, firefox + iridium for browsers, git-cola for git UI stuff, fish shell, the new i915kms packages for intel on the laptop, and nvidia dual monitors for the workstation
                                            • I can screen share my desktop using https://appear.in/ and firefox, but I miss proper WebRTC with audio, or things like zoom for videoconf. Also no netflix. I don’t miss any other apps.
                                            • when I was re-purposing my old macbook, I was surprised how much faster FreeBSD was compared to linux & OSX at the time. Boot time in FreeBSD is nowhere near as good as modern ubuntu or solus linux though.
                                            • S3 hibernation has worked for > 1 year on my Dell XPS13 laptop under 12.0-CURRENT
                                            1. 3

                                              Yup. I run OpenBSD on all my computers at home (laptop + desktop) and I use it for all my VPSs (smtpd, httpd). At work I have a mac because reasons, but I much prefer my OpenBSD systems. Why?

                                              For (some of these are true of linux as well):

                                              • Upgrades are painless and infrequent (2 times a year on release)
                                              • Updates are painless and infrequent (syspatch)
                                              • Default out of box install uses minimal resources
                                              • No forced UI changes – I run a minimal desktop manager, it rarely changes
                                              • Tons of pre-built applications available via pkg_add
                                              • Performs really well on older hardware (up to a point)
                                              • Excellent documentation
                                              • So easy to install (assuming you don’t have any funky hardware or BIOS problems)
                                              • Sane defaults (example, if you install a server package (redis, mysql, postgres, influx, etc) it’s only going to listen on unless you explicitly tell it to listen on other interfaces, or it’s required for the server to function e.g. samba)
                                              • includes modern daemons for standard stuff like smtp, http, ntp, dns, dhcp, ipsec and more


                                              • People sometimes complain about performance (network if your hardware is poorly supported, NFS in a mixed environement, ie.. NFS server on linux / freebsd with client on OpenBSD or vice-versa, general performance vs linux – I don’t really notice since I only use OpenBSD, and it always seems to just get faster)
                                              • Packages aren’t always the most up to date (unless you’re running -current)
                                              • Mailing lists can be abrasive
                                              • Not as much hardware support as linux

                                              I’m sure there’s more, but those are the things I really appreciate about OpenBSD.

                                              1. 1

                                                I have a question on packages. Do you use the M:Tier ones? If so how up to date/stable are they? Eg. when something is in ports is it quickly available there? Do you know if it’s hours, days, weeks or more?

                                                1. 1

                                                  I don’t use them, no. I run -current on my primary machine, so packages are updated as soon as the updates are built and propagated to the mirrors. On my other machine, I’m ok being a bit out of date.

                                              2. 3

                                                I use FreeBSD as my desktop at work.

                                                Really it depends on your work load, I write network code and write stuff in latex. Almost everything I do can be done from a terminal, if you can give me a large enough terminal and mosh then I could probably do 90% of my work.

                                                Very occasionally (2-3 hours a month) I have to do video calls with skype/webex that requires using a macbook. Sometimes I also use the mac to make diagrams in omnigraffle, but that might be once a year.

                                                1. 3

                                                  I run TrueOS as my primary OS, which FreeBSD with some layers on top. I run it on a laptop. You have to be really careful which laptop you buy but it works for me. I end up having to use my phone for any skype/hangouts.

                                                  1. 2

                                                    I installed OpenBSD 6.2 a week ago (usually I just manage to download a new Rust stable the night before a new one ships, just my lucky timing…) and was pleasantly surprised. It’s an old (2004) 32bit Laptop and the Linux distros interesting for that project don’t support 32bit anymore (Arch & void, usually I’m a Debian user).

                                                    So I didn’t manage to get any real work done (not the OS’s fault, of course, this was just interest and killing time after all) and some applications are broken or unusable (only because of 32bit it seems, working on filing some bugs) but i3 and firefox worked perfectly so I’ll absolutely try this on a modern machine and try some coding and casual use, seems doable if you don’t happen to require something fancy that’s just not available.

                                                    I did use FreeBSD on that laptop for a while in 2005 when it was current (I think something with the wifi driver on Debian wasn’t so good, that’s when I tried it).

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                                                      I’ve been running OpenBSD as my desktop for a few months now. And a few weeks ago I also switched to -current. It’s rock solid and even -current feels more stable than linux.

                                                      I also tried dragonfly, but there was a hardware flaw and that computer is still in the shop.

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                                                        Yes! I love them

                                                        I have:

                                                        • OpenBSD on an old Lenovo W500
                                                        • FreeBSD on a Macbook Pro 2015

                                                        Both have been great, the most problematic thing has been wifi for the macbook pro as that model has a very closed card with no drivers but I just used an external dongle.

                                                        My desktop has Arch but I’m very tempted to try Void Linux. As far as I know it’s a linux with BSD philosophy, so I’m excited about that.

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                                                          My main daily driver has been an OpenBSD desktop since 2001.

                                                          Since 2012 I’ve been using awesome as my window manager as it is keyboard driven, although I usually have KDE, Gnome and XFCE installed as well on my laptop. I usually run current on laptop

                                                          From my perspective the advantage is a stable OS with a great set of packages - this is true of all the *BSD’s.

                                                          Disadvantages: None (but I’m biased 8~D)

                                                          P.S. Some desktop screenshots can be seen at deviantart.

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                                                            I had been running with an OpenBSD desktop until 2013.

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                                                              Out of curiosity:

                                                              1. Why did you stop using OpenBSD?
                                                              2. What did you switch to?
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                                                                I do not really remember why I switched. I think I was given a new desktop and either it could not install, or there were devices that were not really supported in the motherboard and it bothered me.

                                                                (This was also a similar reason for me switching pf firewalls from OpenBSD to FreeBSD to DragonFlyBSD. Whatever the hardware at hand could load, that was being used, with the above order of preference.)

                                                                I switched to Windows and kept running OpenBSD in a VM. Then I went to work for a Mac-only organisation. Then to an Ubuntu friendly shop. Then to a really big multinational with Windows. And now I am back with a Mac.

                                                                I still use OpenBSD in a VM when I write C code. But I do not want to look for how to make device X work with it or not. I want Chrome (not Chromium), Slack, Zoom, Hangouts and the like to just work. And unfortunately, the best platforms for these to work are either Windows or Mac.

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                                                                  I want Chrome (not Chromium), Slack, Zoom, Hangouts and the like to just work.

                                                                  I don’t blame you. If you need that stuff to work for your job or personal life, then you do what you gotta do. Thanks for answering.

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                                                              Ah yes, the monthly excuse to mention that you don’t run linux or OS X. I use netbsd, btw.

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                                                                For our fine BSD-flavored Lobsters…what’s the deal with GPU support? Is it good, bad, impossible?

                                                                I figure that nvidia is probably a no-go on OpenBSD because of binary blobs, but hasn’t AMD finally offered fully open-sourced drivers for their cards? What’s left?

                                                                Also, is there any attempt at getting Wayland over to OpenBSD? If there’s one project cranky enough about fixing brain damage to fix the back catalog of X11 apps, I figure it’d be them.

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                                                                  There was an update to radeon drivers committed just in time for OpenBSD 6.3.

                                                                  The main problem with the graphics stack is that we have too few people working on it, and Linux has too many. Keeping on top of a large code base with rapid upstream code churn and development is not easy if you don’t have enough people who will read all that code to screen it for potential holes, and to integrate and test it.

                                                                  That’s also why the open source nvidia driver hasn’t been ported. Nobody wants to add the necessary hours required to their voluntary work schedule.

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                                                                    Are you only interested in OpenBSD or do you mean BSDs in general?

                                                                    If you want NVIDIA binary drivers you can get them with FreeBSD. I know there have been efforts on Wayland as well. I have no clue on the status but there is a port/package you can install:


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                                                                    I am planning to run freebsd on my laptop, but can’t yet because it doesn’t support my integrated graphics card yet.

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                                                                      While it’s not generally recommended, depending on how adventurous you feel you might try your luck with FreeBSD 12, so the CURRENT/HEAD branch. It’s what TrueOS uses and while I am not a fan of it, looking at what revision they currently use might give you a reasonably stable system to play around with. While the latest revision of FreeBSD is usually pretty usable and people do use it, don’t use it for anything critical. You don’t want to find out that your RNG wasn’t actually secure or something.

                                                                      For playing around and maybe seeing if you actually would enjoy running it in future it might be enough though.

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                                                                        Oh, I’ve used freebsd in the past, I know I want to run it. When I tried trueOS, the installer didn’t install a bootloader (??) and in any case, it seems a bit bloated. Just waiting for 11.2 and drm-next-kmod.