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Finally managed to write about my current setup. Will update some photos later, stay tuned :) Don’t forget to check my Patreon


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    Quite nice modern OpenBSD setup, but I find that setup with VT220 terminal more amusing :)




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      Wow, VT220 looks amazing!

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      I can’t imagine sitting on the floor in front of that setup.

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        Why not? :)

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          do you have to lean over the keyboard/lean down to see the screen? because the image I have in my mind seems pretty uncomfortable

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            I can tell you, sir, in reality it feels wonderfully comfortable. :)

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        Any particular reason for running *BSD over Linux on a dekstop ?

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          I switched from Linux to OpenBSD last October on all of my personal machines, and I don’t anticipate going back. I have a few reasons, though some might seem petty.

          1. No systemd or PulseAudio. They’re OK when they work, but when they stop working they’re a pain in the ass. OpenBSD uses classic BSD rc scripts, and sndio is a cleaner, more reliable implementation of the functionality PulseAudio provides.
          2. OpenBSD’s primary source of documentation is man pages, the way it should be, and they treat problems with documentation as severely as they do bugs in code. I find this preferable to the “documentation as an afterthought” approach prevalent on Linux.
          3. OpenBSD supports both point release and rolling release. If you’re content with point releases or running a server where downtime must be planned in advance, you update every six months or so. It’s like Debian, but with a short release cycle and no Toy Story references. If you want rolling release OpenBSD or are using it as a desktop/laptop/workstation OS, you can run -current and update weekly, whenever an important package gets updated, or when major patches are announced on the mailing list.
          4. OpenBSD might not be certified, but it’s a real Unix operating system that can trace its history back to Bell Labs via UC Berkeley. Using it makes me feel like I’m taking part in a long and venerable tradition.
          5. I don’t trust Microsoft’s newfound regard for Linux. Sure, it’s nice that .NET Core and Visual Studio Code are available on Linux for those who don’t share my prejudice, but I remember when MS was the “evil empire”.
          6. It used to be that Linux was for people who hated Windows, and BSD was for people who love Unix. These days it seems that Linux is for people who envy Microsoft (and Apple), but BSD is still for people who love Unix.
          7. I’m a fucking hipster, and Linux is too mainstream and commercialized these days.
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            For me it comes down to things like this:

            • ifconfig iwm0 nwid PrettyWiFiForAWhiteGuy wpa wpakey 'sekret': on linux it would be: ifconfig, iwconfig, ip, iw, eff it.. install NetworkManager, get super angry when you can’t actually disable ipv6 because NetworkManager knows you really secretly want it enabled!
            • Minimality.
            • us.swapctrlcaps: Set once, on install. Gives me system wide keyboard configuration. In one place.
            • Painless upgrades: pkg_add does what you expect. The enter button is super easy to hit.
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              If you like BSD more than Linux. OpenBSD in particular has a very different ethos than Linux, which many people here find attractive. We have many OpenBSD developers here on Lobsters, so we enjoy greater access to their opinions and philosophies. You should find plenty of top notch content here about BSD if you search for it.

              People prefer OpenBSD for different reasons. Security-oriented implementation, secure defaults, excellent documentation, minimalism, emphasis on networking tooling, coherent base system, developer friendliness, and so on and so forth. These apply to desktops as well as servers.

              Personally, Linux on the desktop drives me up the wall, since they keep moving fast and breaking things. And the different distros make different decisions about silly little things that keep tripping me up. For example, I write C++ professionally, which means I generate and analyze core dumps. My core dumps were being diverted to some bug-reporting tool, which was silently crashing on my multi-gig core files.

              Some smart guy decided automatic bug reporting tools were more important than developer access to core dumps. That decision wasted way more of my time than I care to admit. OpenBSD would never have wasted my time in that way.

              I prefer MacOS for desktops, since Apple actually cares about building a coherent user experience. They’ve had some quality issues recently but nothing worse than what I’ve experienced using Linux. And they don’t lose my core dumps. If not MacOS, OpenBSD would be my next choice.

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                I’m not OP but I run BSD on my desktop (though my desktop has gradually become more of a de facto server these days now that I have a powerful laptop). ZFS is a more reliable and less fiddly way to have both disk redundancy and snapshots than any of the ways of achieving those on linux. Updates are more reliable on BSD - when I ran linux it felt like every year there would be an update that changed how X was configured and I’d have to google how to edit some random XML file to get it to use the correct keyboard layout on the login screen (I touch-type on dvorak and use long passwords that I remember mostly by touch, so when my keyboard layout gets forcibly changed to qwerty I find it pretty hard to even log in), or changed how sound worked, or changed how the init scripts worked, or so on. I don’t particularly use any BSD features unless you count ZFS (e.g. I don’t use jails at all for desktop work), but it works and stays out of my way, which is really all you want from an OS.

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                  Not trying to tell you off or prove you wrong, but Xorg has been configuration-free for most systems for the past 5 years or so. The only exception I can think of is Nvidia-optimus setups where you want to switch between Nvidia and Intel graphics.

                  Not that the Linux ecosystem has not been seeing major changes in its components, you know, with the whole init-system wars and Wayland becoming a thing. It’s just that as a user, I’ve not been bitten by broken updates in quite a while. I’m not going to try and defend any of the ZFS alternatives on Linux, as I’m not pleased with any of them myself.

                  My major problem with switching to OpenBSD (or another BSD) is the lack of modern hardware support, especially graphics, and the fact that it’s often harder to find documentation or installation instructions for some new pieces of software.

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                    (or another BSD) is the lack of modern hardware support, especially graphics

                    FreeBSD 12-CURRENT has great support for AMD Polaris and earlier (and Intel of course), with Wayland, Vulkan, OpenCL, whatever you want :)

                    Granted, not everything works out of the box yet (especially Wayland: you still have to rebuild the kernel with evdev support if you want any input devices to work, but that’s going to be resolved), but the process of rebuilding stuff on FreeBSD is super easy.

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                      That’s interesting, I didn’t know AMD GPU support has progressed so far in FreeBSD. I should probably try it out again, since I’m running with mostly AMD hardware these days (because of their excellent open-source drivers on Linux.)

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                      Not trying to tell you off or prove you wrong, but Xorg has been configuration-free for most systems for the past 5 years or so.

                      Yeah, that was the problem. I had an xorg conf that worked and set my keyboard to the right layout, then one day “X went configuration-free” and I had to find some blog post about some random HAL XML file that I had to edit instead. And then a year or two after that HAL got removed and I had to set it in some different place instead.

                      My major problem with switching to OpenBSD (or another BSD) is the lack of modern hardware support, especially graphics

                      I’ve always stuck to NVidia cards and used the NVidia official/proprietary drivers (which I think only exist for FreeBSD), so it’s the exact same driver experience as on Linux.

                      and the fact that it’s often harder to find documentation or installation instructions for some new pieces of software.

                      It’s really very similar to Linux, unless you’re using software that has a kernel module or something - I’m struggling to think what you’d need specific instructions for because usually what you do on BSD is exactly the same as what you do on Linux. Anything that uses something standard like autotools or CMake will Just Work, in my experience. Occasionally someone has hardcoded /bin/bash or something (but that will break on Ubuntu too these days), but there’s a small number of breakage patterns that you learn. Admittedly when it comes the very new stuff that’s hardcoded against systemd or docker you are just screwed.

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                      To add to that, my last Linux upgrade knocked out WiFi on one of my devices. I’m thinking (once again): “how does an OS upgrade take out something as critical as WiFi?” Only on Linux…

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                      Mostly because once configured it just works.

                      Not really OpenBSD related but also root on ZFS on FreeBSD with bulletproof upgrade using ZFS Boot Environments.

                      No systemd.

                      True channel mixing in kernel using OSS4 instead of ALSA+OSS+PulseAudio setup.

                      Sound does not hang up which requires reboot (have that on Ubuntu).

                      Entire machine does not freeze without a cause (had that with Linux Mint).

                      Also because tools that have been available on UNIX for decades (ifconfig/netstat/…) are not deprecated without any reasonable reason.

                      The Ports provide really easy way to recompile single, several or all ports/packages with needed options, no Linux equivalent.

                      … to just name a few.

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                        Entire machine does not freeze without a cause (had that with Linux Mint).

                        Any idea what kernel version that was? There was an erratum on Skylake silicon that could trigger hard lock-ups in the kernel on some versions. There was a workaround for it in 4.3 and newer if I recall correctly. I understand that you don’t want it to happen at all but if this is the specific bug, it was a hardware bug on a common hardware platform that only triggered under specific loads.

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                          Sound does not hang up which requires reboot (have that on Ubuntu)

                          hm, I do have that on FreeBSD. Not often, but does happen. Maybe it’s a hardware issue? Realtek kinda sucks…

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                          Everything I need is in the base: POSIX shell, X11, vi, tmux, httpd, smptd. There are only things I need, almost nothing else.

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                          Nice little rig. I’ve been using trackballs for years to avoid RSI, and my main home rig is a refurbished Lenovo ThinkCentre with a 25” LG SuperWide display and a little Nixeus mechanical keyboard that my wife had given me as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. I’ve also got a G4 iMac (aka the iLamp) and a secondhand Thinkpad T430s.

                          They all run OpenBSD -current. :)

                          I wouldn’t mind getting some of those RUN BSD stickers myself, but I’m not on Twitter and thus can’t ask the creator. :(

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                            Matthew, thank you for reading and for your feedback. AFAIK, FiLiS is on mastodon as well https://mastodon.social/@filis

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                              Followed them. Thanks!

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                            Those little Zotac boxen are wonderful–I’ve just had no luck with the bluetooth support on Debian for them. >:(

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                              Who needs Bluetooth? Bluetooth doesn’t work on OpenBSD anyway. ;)

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                                Bluetooth doesn’t work on OpenBSD anyway. ;)


                                I happen to have a bunch of bluetooth jam box little speakers I picked up for super cheap, as well as various exercise gear that all claims to be bluetooth compatible. I have the dream of being able to get everything talking together. :(

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                                  Sometimes dreams come true, you known. Cheer up, sir. :)

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                                  It used to - I’ve used bluetooth on OpenBSD - but no one gave it any love so it was deleted…

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                                    Wireless headphones!

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                                      What’s that? ;)

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                                        Wireless headphones rule. I can never go back. I frequently stand up and walk around while working, and keeping my headphones on throughout has been heavenly.

                                        For anyone looking to get into wireless headphones, I highly recommend the Sony MDR-1000X. Top notch sound quality, noise cancelling, 20 hour battery life, compact carrying case, optional 3.5mm input for non-Bluetooth devices, and you can buy manufacturer refurbished on eBay for $200. That’s what I did, my set came indistinguishable from new. Same experience from several of my coworkers who tried mine and bought their own.

                                        That’s a great price for quality headphones. I bought my Audio-Technica ATH-M50 for $150, and for $50 more my 1000X beats the M50 in comfort and sound quality (with noise cancelling). The noise cancelling alone is worth $50, even if you never use them wirelessly. Truly phenomenal product.

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                                          I’m not a fan of wireless anything tbh (except wifi). I’ve always found the inconvenience isn’t worth it. For most peripherals (e.g. mouse, keyboard, headphones), I only ever use them within 3 ft of my desk. The occasional interference doesn’t add anything, and the batteries always seem to fail at the worst times.

                                          With wired headphones you can interchange your Amp whenever you need to, and you use a standard connector with extremely wide support (except if you’re using a newer apple device). I try to avoid bluetooth in general because of its history of security problems.

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                                            Thankfully, I don’t use any wireless (nor Bluetooth, nor WiFi) devices. Wires rule!

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                                              It’s a bit mandatory on laptops and phones :P

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                                                Oh wait, you’re right, sometimes I use a 2G phone! That counts. I don’t use laptops these days, though.

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                                          They’re something I always talk about when OpenBSD fans make disingenuous remarks about the relevance of wireless technology in general. I get it, OpenBSD devs weren’t satisfied with their implementation of Bluetooth, so they axed it out out of security and sanitary concerns. I just find the attitude of “nobody needs Bluetooth” rather annoying. It is actually preventing me from seriously considering OpenBSD as a desktop OS. Why? Because wireless headphones are goddamn amazing.

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                                            Perhaps you could use a headphone jack to Bluetooth transmitter device? They look like they’re around £15 and seem to have good reviews.

                                            Personally I listen to music ‘on’ my computer by keeping my AirPods connected to my iPhone and using Spotify on the laptop, remotely controlling Spotify on the phone. This works really well, rather surprisingly.

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                                              Antoine, please excuse my trolling. I’m sincerely sorry. Wireless headphones are amazingly convenient, that’s true. OpenBSD doesn’t support Bluetooth, that’s also true. We may not like the combination of those facts, of course.

                                              I really like all core features of OpenBSD: it’s simple, well documented, consistent, reliable, has sane defaults, etc. Obviously OS can’t do everything and stay as simple as it is. We all know that resources of the project are extremely limited.

                                              What we can do about it? Contribute patches, sponsor the project, help with testing, etc. That’s the way it works for OpenBSD. A pretty fare and straightforward way, I’d say.

                                              We always can (and should) use multiple systems for their best parts.

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                                                Out of curiosity, what exactly is involved in getting a bluetooth stack to work on OpenBSD?

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                                                  I’m not OS developer… yet. :) We better ask an active developer. For example, Bryan Steele.

                                                  For context: https://mobile.twitter.com/canadianbryan/status/984785986780585985

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                                      I have the same trackball. I had a lot of fun (not really fun though) over a few years and multiple Linux distributions to get Middle Mouse Click emulation working properly (libinput, evdev, synaptics, etc.)

                                      It made me vow to never get a mouse without a physical middle click button again.

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                                        Trackballs are awesome, but keyboards are the best.

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                                          I’ve been using a trackball for pretty much my whole life (all 18 years of it). But I only use thumb balls (your thumb is the most dexterous finger on each hand), like the Logitech Trackman. What’s it like to use your pointer finger?

                                          Edit: This is what I meant by Trackman, not what they currently call the Trackman.

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                                            Frankly, I don’t use a often. I just don’t like a mouse. All trackballs are good for my case. :)