Kelly runs OpenBSD

I am probably not a typical BSD user—I have no tech credentials (yet) and have never had a job that required me to do anything more complicated than running Microsoft Office. But I’ve always enjoyed tinkering with electronics. At some point back when netbooks were the thing, I got one without an operating system already installed and learned how to use Linux.

Fast forward a few years…I got married and my husband started talking about this great OS called OpenBSD. I tried it and immediately hated it because I couldn’t figure out how to turn my computer off. Everyone said “read the man pages” but at the time I couldn’t find anything under poweroff or power. There was an entry for shutdown but it wasn’t for actually shutting down your computer. I felt like I was in elementary school again—when you ask the teacher how to spell something and they say, “Look it up in the dictionary!” But how can you look it up in the dictionary if you don’t know how to spell it?

I went back to Linux but was never 100% satisfied with it. It always felt a little sloppy, like it was held together with spit and chewing gum. I tried OpenBSD a few more times. I learned a lot—that my EXT4 external drives won’t work with it, that there was some command to switch between command line and X11 but I could never remember what it was so I just boot into command line. I learned how to find things in the man pages, the difference between doas and sudo, and most importantly, halt -p.

Eventually, I grew to love OpenBSD and it is now my preferred operating system. I use it on my laptop and my server. There are a handful of things I cannot do in OpenBSD—sync Calibre with my ereader, Android development—but I use it for everything else. OpenBSD appeals to the minimalist in me. I am not necessarily trying to get my computer to do more or have it run all the latest fancy apps. I want something that will do what I need it to do with a minimum of moving parts and extra dependencies.

OpenBSD feels both elegant and strong, like a well-oiled machine. I still have a lot to learn, but I am glad I found it and persisted past the first few hiccups.

You can find me on Mastodon.

7 Aug 2018

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