Money and a Free OS
Developing OpenBSD costs money. As well as the core OS project, there are several other sub-projects. The most well-known of these is OpenSSH, the most popular SSH implementation, which is used by most UNIX and UNIX-like systems, including most Linux distributions.
The OpenBSD packet filter, pf, is now used by the rest of the BSD family. It is very flexible and easy to configure, and supports load balancing and Quality of Service with a simple to understand syntax. Several ISPs use OpenBSD boxes for routing due to this framework. Next to pf are OpenBGPD and OpenOSPFD, which allow easy cross-network routing.
Recently, work has begun on a BSD-licensed CVS implementation that incorporates the same degree of security as the rest of OpenBSD.
The OpenBSD project costs about $100,000 a year to run. Because the project receives little or no corporate sponsorship, its revenue comes almost exclusively from CD sales and donations. The project does not release full CD downloads onto the Internet, just a basic boot CD that allows network installs, the idea being to encourage users to purchase the official CDs. Unfortunately for the project, it is now very easy to perform network installs, and the vast majority of users do this instead of purchasing the CDs.
Marco Peereboom has been active in drawing public attention to the OpenBSD funding situation recently. He writes:
"Costs are involved with these operations that need to be covered. There are direct costs just to keep the operation going like heating/cooling, power bill, hardware replacements, T1 networking, etc. And there are indirect costs mostly incurred during hackathons. These hackathons are multi-day events where developers from all over the world come together and focus on specific areas of the code. The reason why this is so productive is two-fold:
- People with day-jobs are not "wasting" time and energy at work and get to focus on whatever it is that needs to be done.
- People with widely different skill sets and areas of expertise are readily available to ask questions. Email and ICB (an IRC look-alike) are effective communication mechanisms, but nothing beats good old face-to-face communication when it comes to complex scenarios.
The hackathons are usually where the true innovation comes from and are therefore deemed critical for OpenBSD’s and OpenSSH’s future."