Yesterday I replaced my Fedora Core 4 on my intranet server with OpenBSD 4.1 . So far it runs very well. Only weird thing I found was that the CD ISOs did not contain all the necessary files, which I then burned to another CD. Also telling the server to fetch only the gateway through DHCP did not. But maybe thats mire a problem of a router.
The only task of this box is to share data via Samba. So I am quite happy that OpenBSD is rather a minimalistic distribution. Also its an old server that is happy if he is not bothered with too much tasks. Fedora worked ok, but the problem is that you dont get any security updates for version 4 any more. So after I could not install rPath (because their kernel requires a newer CPU) my choices where Debian or one of the BSDs (maybe there are more choices but I did not think about them so much). Why did I choose OpenBSD. Firstly because of its superb security history and also because I never tried BSDs really. I had a Mac MachTen many years ago but I could not really get warm with it. And I know I could run this exact version for ages. With Fedora your really cant do it – and the same is true for many other OSes – I also would include Debian – just because there are so many packages and my personal experience was that Debian package quality rather sucked (Exim, Courier & PHP at least). Why not FreeBSD? Because its much more than I wanted its also a BSD but not as secure as OpenBSD. I could imagine using a FreeBSD for some purposes, but thats not on my current agenda.
I had to smile on some findings I did make on OpenBSD – like they put the defaultroute in a file called /etc/mygate . Many things are very simple and easy to understand while also many things are very powerful like the PF firewall or OpenSSH which also comes from OpenBSD. What I really dont understand is why all those router manufacturers often choose Linux and then have problems with the GPL licenses, while with OpenBSD they could have a much smaller OS that is much more made for being embeded itno a router – and they could even sell it commercially without any big obligations. Well I really like the GPL – but I think its better to use a legal OpenBSD as a Linux while you are violating this GPL.
So to summarize: So far I like OpenBSD because its small and does its job.