Friday, April 16, 2010

Who are OpenBSD Users

OpenBSD is more than just a collection of bits on CD-ROM. It's also a community of users, developers, and contributors. This community can be a bit of a culture shock for anyone who doesn't know what to expect.

Many other open-source operating systems place large amounts of effort into growing their user bases and bringing new people into the UNIX fold. The OpenBSD community doesn't. Most open-source UNIX-like operating systems do a lot of pro-UNIX advocacy. Again, OpenBSD doesn't. Some of the communities that have grown up around these operating systems actively welcome new users and do their best to make newbies feel welcome. OpenBSD does not. They are not trying to be the most popular operating system, just the best at what they do. The OpenBSD developers know exactly who their target market is: themselves.

The OpenBSD community generally expects users to be advanced computer users. They have written extensive documentation about OpenBSD, and expect people to be willing to read it. They're not interested in coddling new UNIX users and will say so if pressed. They don't object to new UNIX users using OpenBSD, but do object to people asking them for basic UNIX help just because they happen to be running OpenBSD. If you're a new UNIX user, they will not hold your hand. They will not develop features just to please users. OpenBSD exists to meet the needs of the developers, and while others are welcome to ride along the needs of the passengers do not steer the project.

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