Hans Solo runs OpenBSD

“Secure, stable, clean and correct. That's what makes OpenBSD my choice of operating system. I'm currently not a system administrator, developer or contributor to the codebase of any project. Instead my interest in OpenBSD lies in making my computer a nice tool that doesn't distract from what's important to me.

I feel that life should be just a little uncomfortable and for the computer it should demand some effort on my part to learn how to master the system :)

It didn’t start out this way. I used to be a mainstream computer user and programmer for many years on Windows. But as the years have gone by, my life has moved towards simplicity, even minimalim, in many areas. This search for simplicity has kept me looking for better solutions in just about everything. I am a little restless maybe, but with some zen to it, finding stillness in more places as my journey continues.

On the digital side of things I used to be drawn to the Apple seamless “it just works” ideal, and used and liked Macs, iPods and iPhones. My first generation iPod with the mechanical scroll wheel fulfilled those ideals for me, I still miss using it :) But in the end I felt confined and somewhat tricked into focusing on the shiny surfaces. The simplicity felt superficial.

I got into Linux at one point when I was trying to find a low power, low EMF computer and got myself a fitPC3 LP and a nice Eizo monitor. I tried different Linux distributions with that setup, first a lot of distros that wanted to look good and feel like Mac or Windows but finally I settled on Arch Linux with a tiling window manager. Simple and clean and ran just fine for a few years.

The trouble I had with Arch Linux was that it was a rolling release and since we’re all drawn to novelty I couldn’t stop myself from frequently running “pacman -Syu”, which often worked like a charm, but sometimes caused dependency errors in some AUR-package I was using and had me searching the net for solutions.

Eventually I got tired of this and felt that I hadn’t come to the end in my search for the right way. Privacy and security was on my mind as well, and I didn’t feel I could get that easily with GNU/Linux. I began looking for recommendations on the most simple and secure OS which also had a good project philosophy. Arch Linux talks about simplicity, but since it is GNU/Linux it’s a big mess anyways :)

As a sidenote, but I think influential to my searching, I had become interested in functional programming and felt that I had stumbled upon another key to peace and happiness. I listened to Erlang inventor Joe Armstrong talk about the mess we’re in and felt more strongly than ever that we’re heading in many wrong directions in our computerized society. Functional programming led me further in my thinking about correctness and security in computing.

When I began reading about OpenBSD I felt immediately intrigued. Reading more and hearing presentations on the thinking behind the project made me even more convinced that this might be it. The effort put on code correctness, security and the informative man-pages are very impressive.

Next step was to download the installer for OpenBSD 6.2 and try it on my ThinkPad. Easiest and nicest installer I had ever seen! I installed a few packages and got a running system in no time. I transferred my dotfiles over and made the changes necessary. Everything worked without surprises and made me feel in control and at peace :)

Since I started using OpenBSD I have kept on building my system to fit my needs. I’m slowly adding more textbased workflows built around simple composable tools to just do the work and don’t get in the way. In a way I’m looking for solutions that make me want to use the computer less. It should just be there and do what I want when I need it to.

What I haven’t done yet is tried OpenBSD on the server side. I use a VPS that doesn’t support OpenBSD and on my home server I use an accounting software that only runs on Linux.

I feel very strongly about making our computers basic but powerful tools again and I see OpenBSD as a stable base for this.

My current setup is the ThinkPad X201 I started with about a year ago, OpenBSD 6.3, i3wm, mutt with offlineimap, qutebrowser, Firefox or Chromium, mpv, ranger, vim, vimwiki and more.

Thank’s for the word :)

Hope to be able to share more on this topic in different ways! I’m @pikkabird on Twitter.”

9 Oct 2018

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