Nearly every user of OS X knows that UNIX is lurking under Aquais candy shell, and many OS X user know that Apple based that UNIX (Apple calls the underlying OS iDarwini) on a version of BSD called FreeBSD 4.4. What some Mac users may not know is that the are several versions of BSD available, each with its peculiar plusses and minuses. One other thing that many Mac users may not know, especially those of us who may have an older Mac sitting in a closet or out in the garage, is that many of the available versions of BSD will run on those older Macs.
One of the best versions of BSD is OpenBSD, which recently announced that in its seven years of existence, only one security hole has ever been found. Many believe that OpenBSD is the most secure UNIX in the world. Whatis more, OpenBSD is binary compatible with other versions of BSD, Linux, SUN OS, and HPUX, meaning that applications that will run in any of the other OSes will also run unchanged in OpenBSD. That should set some wheels inside the heads of many owners of older Macs.
NOTE: Unfortunately, OpenBSD will not run on PowerPC 601 based Macs. Please check the OpenBSD FAQ for more details.
Most Mac owners wouldnit bother with OpenBSD, as OS X serves all of their needs. There are, however, a few who may find benefit in using OpenBSD, like Mac heads with old Rev. A iMacs who want a secure Web server, or someone needing a solid, but extremely affordable UNIX workstation. Yes, you could put Darwin or FreeBSD on the old Mac but you may not reap any of the OpenBSD benefits such as binary compatibility with other UNIXes and OpenBSDis rock solid security features.
Tell Me More. Now!
OK. Donit get so pushy.
You can read up on OpenBSD at the OpenBSD Web site, of course. Thereis an excellent article in eWeek, titled "OpenBSD Gets Harder to Crack," that gives you an idea of how the industry views OpenBSD, and thereis several great articles about OpenBSD in the BSD section of SlashDot. So, go read already.
There two ways to get OpenBSD; download it or send off for a CD.
Downloaded OpenBSD is free. Period. Anybody can grab it and pretty much use it for anything theyid like. OpenBSD is not restricted by even the lax Open Source license. You can pretty much do with it whatever you want.
For those of you who feel better having something solid to hold, you can order the latest release of OpenBSD on CD for US$40 (3 CDs).
Vern Seward keeps a look out for those Unix apps making their way to the Mac so you donit have to.