Monday, March 27, 2006

Support OpenBSD/OpenSSH

OpenBSD 3.9Right now you should take a minute to support the OpenBSD Project.

Chances are, if you're viewing my website (geek!), you've used their work. They've developed OpenSSH. This software is included with operating systems from Apple Mac OS X to Redhat Enterprise Linux to Sun Solaris (pretty much all of them but Windows) as well as HP, Cisco and other hardware vendors' devices. These operating system and hardware companies have been including OpenSSH with their products for years, which saved them the time to develop it on their own.

And that's just OpenSSH. I'm not even going to get into why OpenBSD deserves your support... that should be self evident through the rest of the content on my site.

Free software is a double edged sword...

Maybe you use it because it's free. Maybe you use it because you can personally audit the source code and verify its integrity. Maybe you use it because it's cool. But this freedom doesn't necessarily mean that you don't have to pay for it. Especially with OpenBSD, it means that you're free to use it in anyway you see fit. You can resell it for $1000! But at some point you will pay for it.

Suppose down the line that the full-time developers for OpenBSD/OpenSSH decide that the donations and CD sales just aren't providing enough funding and they have to get other jobs. Instead of 2 releases a year, we'd likely see less than that. Or maybe the developers can't afford to buy a specific server architecture that you have depended on... That won't be included in the next version.

If you're like me, you've probably benefitted financially from OpenBSD. I've been able to use OpenBSD and OpenSSH in my workplace for several years now. Experience and knowledge gained from the availability of such great, flexible software has enabled me to get jobs and, in some cases, enabled a previous company to make money. I personally buy each release. I used to, as it says at the bottom of the OpenBSD Donations page, "buy one for a friend." But instead started to just donate the amount of that extra CD. I really don't need two anyway. I just buy the CD for the nostalgia and end up ftp'ing the software anyway.

So, buy a CD. Buy two if you want. Buy a t-shirt (the wireframe ones are really cool and they make good packing material for the CDs). Better yet, make a dontation. But help the project out. OpenBSD (and OpenSSH) are very solid, well done pieces of software. You won't regret it.

If you REALLY want to make an impact, convince your company to buy CDs, donate funds and equipment. If you're in the position to make the OS & hardware vendors pay attention, have THEM invest into the technology they have been reselling for years.