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How To Install OpenBSD

Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel, once said of OpenBSD, “Security people are often the black-and-white kind of people that I can’t stand, in that they make such a big deal about concentrating on security to the point where they pretty much admit that nothing else matters to them.” Ironically, Torvalds suggestion that they should concentrate more on the average everyday software bug before big security protocol’s is exactly what they say themselves. Marc Espie said, “He was saying the same things we say. Hell, reading him in that discussion without the From: lines could make me think I’m reading someone @openbsd.org.”

With that in mind, maybe Linus was wrong. So, if you’re a Unix/Linux user, now is the time to try out OpenBSD.

I installed OpenBSD in a virtual machine using RedHat’s GUI ‘virt-manager’ on Ubuntu. You can install it with ‘sudo aptitude install virt-manager’ or for a more comprehensive package with dependencies use ‘sudo aptitude install ubuntu-virt-mgmt’. The Virtual Machine Manager interface is available on RedHat based systems as well, just type ‘yum install virt-manager’ to install. You could also try OpenBSD in VirtualBox, VMware, or on real hardware if you like. The reason I chose ‘virt-manager’ is because it provides a ridiculously simple way of setting up and configuring virtual machines and creates locally accessible network interfaces for each virtual machine on the fly. One word of advice about ‘virt-manager’, if your’re looking for the system settings and where to modify them(it took me a while to find it), you’ll find them only when you have a virtual machine window open, shut it down first if you plan on modifying anything and then go to the menu bar and find ‘View &! gt; Details’. This will display a list of machine settings you can modify, similar to other virtual machine management software.

Once you’ve established the platform you’ll try OpenBSD on, grab the install cd from the OpenBSD FTP server.

Unless the server is very busy, the file should download quickly as it is less than 300 megs. There are other methods of install using minimal a minimal ISO and even a boot floppy disk. If you wish to use one of these methods please see this document.

Boot the system with a copy of the OpenBSD boot CD in a real CD-ROM drive or as an ISO in your chosen virtual machine. The system will display a ‘boot:’ prompt. Just wait a few seconds or hit enter to boot the system. Then it will ask for a keyboard layout. Enter your keyboard layout, I entered ‘us’ for a US keyboard layout. After this the install can begin. Enter ‘i’ when it prompts with, “(I)nstall, (U)pgrade or (S)hell?” For the rest of the install you will mostly just hit ‘Enter’ to accept the default except for in the following instances; entering a hostname, entering a root password, entering ‘y’ to start ntpd by default if you want to have your system time automatically updated, and entering ‘y’ to start the xdm at boot if you would like to have X load automatically.

After pressing enter several more times, and waiting patiently while it formats the drive and installs the system, eventually you’ll see a “CONGRATULATIONS! Your OpenBSD install has been successfully completed!” Just type ‘halt’ at the root prompt and remove the CD-ROM (virt-manager does this automatically, just force the system off after typing ‘halt’ and restart it, the ISO will be removed). Then, press any key to reboot.

Have fun trying OpenBSD and remember to use ‘man afterboot’ to read about how to configure your new OpenBSD system.

About the Author:
Alex Trent is a staff writer for WebProNews