Home Business IT Open Source OpenBSD marks 20 years with a little help from the Beatles

OpenBSD marks 20 years with a little help from the Beatles

The OpenBSD project has marked two decades since commits were first made to the source tree with the release of version 5.8 - and four songs to mark the release, three inspired by the Beatles.

And in keeping with this, the logo for the release (below, left) has a vague resemblance to the famous cover of the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band LP.

It is normal for one song, an adaptation of a popular theme, to accompany every release.

The project was founded by Canada-based South African developer Theo de Raadt, as a fork from the NetBSD project. These two BSDs, along with the well-known FreeBSD, are all based on the original BSD developed by Bill Joy.

The four songs which accompany version 5.8 are based on Twenty years ago today, So much better, and A year in the life, while the fourth, named Fanza has no lyrics and is an original composition.

OpenBSd 5.8 logo

In a message to the openbsd.announce mailing list, de Raadt wrote: "OpenBSD's source tree just turned 20 years old. I recall the import taking about 3 hours on an EISA-bus 486 with two ESDI drives.  There was an import attempt a few days earlier, but it failed due to insufficient space.  It took some time to repartition the machine.

"It wasn't terribly long before David Miller, Chuck Cranor and Niklas Hallqvist were committing... then more people showed up.

"The first developments were improvements to 32-bit sparc.

"Chuck and I also worked on setting up the first 'anoncvs' to make sure no-one was ever cut out from 'the language of diffs' again.  I guess that was the precursor for the github concept these days :-).  People forget, but even FSF was a walled garden at the time, throwing tar files with vague logs over the wall every couple months.

"I was lucky to have one of the few 64Kbit ISDN links in town, otherwise this would not have happened. My desktop was a Sparcstation 10; the third machine I had was a very slow 386.

"The project is now at approximately 322,000 commits, 44 commits/day average and approximately 356 hackers through the years."

OpenBSD is a UNIX-like operating system that has a very good reputation for security; it runs some of the websites with the longest uptimes. The project also produces a version of SSH which is used very widely, on all operating systems.


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.