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OpenBSD Project in Financial Danger 610

DieNadel writes "In an entry to the OpenBSD Journal, Marco, from the OpenBSD project, warns about the somewhat disturbing financial situation in which they are now. The OpenBSD team is the one that also develops the OpenSSH suite, used nowadays almost everywhere. From the entry: 'What I want to point out what a lot of people don't seem to realize is that OpenSSH development is paid from the same pool of money as OpenBSD. OpenSSH is in use by millions around the world however the revenue stream just simply isn't there. This is where other projects could help. Without naming entities or projects by name there are others out there that are sitting on some cash. It would be wonderful if these entities could share some of the wealth to keep us going.'"
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OpenBSD Project in Financial Danger

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  • Do what you can. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Inoshiro ( 71693 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @01:19PM (#14965042) Homepage
    As Maddog put it []:
    "I believe it was at a conference in Australia (also in the 1996-1998 time frame) that I ran into a rather despondent Theo de Raadt, who told me that for lack of $300. his ISP was going to turn off the project's servers. I took out my checkbook and immediately wrote him a personal check for $300., to keep the OpenBSD servers alive. My comment to Theo was that "your project is too valuable to let die over a measly $300.""

    If you're really poor, just donate 5$.
  • How to get the money (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rice_burners_suck ( 243660 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @01:20PM (#14965055)
    Somebody needs to set up a site where we can donate money to the OpenBSD project through PayPal or some other convenient method. This is an important project, and I think that a lot of people in the community realize that, but take for granted that development happens "for free."

    I also think that the OpenBSD project needs to start operating a bit more like a business. Services need to be offered that bring in a healthy revenue stream. Two areas where the OpenBSD development team excel are cryptography and code auditing. Both are related to security, which is a good industry these days. The OpenBSD site could offer paid services, such as code auditing for other projects to enhance security, etc. The OpenBSD developers should also set up a consulting business that performs setup and maintainance of OpenBSD installations, perhaps primarily for small businesses that aren't in the IT business, such as clinics, legal offices, automotive repair facilities, family operated stores, etc. These are relatively simple setups for those familiar with OpenBSD and projects from the larger open source community, and the effort would be minimal. These small businesses would be willing to pay a reasonable price for the service, since they would save greatly on software licensing.

    All of those methods could be used to bring in a healthy revenue stream for the OpenBSD project. But in the meantime, please get a PayPal account set up!

  • Re:Sad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MikeFM ( 12491 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @01:23PM (#14965077) Homepage Journal
    Do they have a page with info on how to donate? I don't use OpenBSD but I do use some of their other work so I'd be willing to toss in a few bucks here and there.
  • by stlhawkeye ( 868951 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @01:43PM (#14965253) Homepage Journal
    After my Linux box got hacked for the 3rd time, I switched to OpenBSD. Here's about how it went. (1) Go to web site, pay for CDs (2) Wait 2 weeks (3) Wait 3 more weeks (4) Contact webmaster, ask what's going on, receive no response (5) Wait another month (6) Try again to contact somebody at OpenBSD, receive no response (7) Wait two more months, give up on trying to contact anybody, write off OpenBSD as a bust (8) CDs arrive in mail almost 4 months after I ordered them in cracked, broken jewel cases with one CD scratched beyond the ability of my drive to read it. Luckily it was the source CD and I didn't need it. (9) Write to OpenBSD people to say I got my CDs but the quality was god-awful, the delay was ridiculous, and one of them was busted. Receive no response. Regardless, my OpenBSD box is going on 3 years hack-free with minimal effort on my part to keep it that way. Regardless, I'm unlikely to go through OpenBSD again. When I order a product, waiting over a quarter of the year is unreasonable, and it could at least arrive NOT broken and all screwed up. And they could at least acknowledge that they receive my email, even if only to tell me to piss off.
  • by Ossifer ( 703813 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @01:54PM (#14965345)
    It's funny how arrogance and bitterness go so frequently hand-in-hand.

    Theo goes around (as seen in these pages) lambasting Linux for basically being popular and successful, and then laments how his "far superior" OS is not as highly regarded. (Compare this to the utterly humble Linus Torvalds.) Now there is the implied threat that if others (read: Linux companies) don't cough up the dough, he's going to yank OpenSSH away from us. He seems like quite a bitter man...
  • by joe545 ( 871599 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @01:55PM (#14965358)
    So you think that because an open source project has received some US government funding that the high profile members of such projects should voluntarily gag themselves in order to please their sugardaddy?

    If de Raadt's anti-war comments were indeed the reason that the funding was pulled, shouldn't you look to blame DARPA for being amateurish/childish and not de Raadt for simple speaking his mind?
  • by fak3r ( 917687 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @01:58PM (#14965377) Homepage
    Really, think about what a resourse site is, if they had those tacky Google ads it would recieve a ton of pageviews, and clickthroughs likely since it'll tailor it's ads to BSD/Open Source stuff. Might go against the whole philosophy of the project, which I completely respect, but if it saves said project, it may be a required trade off. With the proliferation of broadband expect to see things like CD sales to continue to dwindle.
  • by lotzmana ( 775963 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @02:03PM (#14965422)
    Locating its center of gravity in Canada is something of which OpenBSD takes great pride. This is not unreasanoble in light of the adverse legal envyronment and export limitations that security research faces in US.

    Speaking of money, charitable donations, US is probably the best place to try to sell your cause. I believe that part of the work on OpenBSD could be supported by a non-profit organization registered in the US. Foundations permit donors to deduct the amount of the grant from their taxes, a benefit which, presently, OpenBSD denies to its benefactors.
  • by codepunk ( 167897 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @02:07PM (#14965448)
    Oh you mean like how we developed a crap load of software with kylix only to be left standing with our dick's in our hand right now because they decided to end of life it? ... go spout your drivel elsewhere.. BSD could go tit's up tomorrow and will it make a difference? nope the software and the code still exist.
  • by peacefinder ( 469349 ) * <> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @02:18PM (#14965546) Journal
    I tried it too. Here's what happened for me:
    1) I went to the OpenBSD website and read the install FAQ
    2) I downloaded a floppy disk image and the tools to write it in Windows from
    3) I booted from the floppy installer on a computer attached to the internet
    4) The installer FTP'd the entire OS from a mirror site
    5) I said "This totally rocks!", ordered some CDs, and donated to the project.

    I think my way was easier.
  • Re:Sad (Score:3, Interesting)

    by emag ( 4640 ) <> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @02:21PM (#14965570) Homepage
    Bingo. It gets even worse when the "company" is "the government". I'm aware of at least one situation where a group in a government agency is using OpenBSD for their firewalls. They can't legally make a donation, but have absolutely no problems spending $500+ on software, even "free" software. They have bought CD sets, but really would like to do more (and had approval to spend more than $50), but AFAIK the OpenBSD project makes it *extremely* difficult for companies and organizations to do this. "Donation" just doesn't parse financially for a lot of groups, while a $500 or $1k "enterprise", "professional", or "corporate" product, even without any material difference to the downloadable or $50 version, is a lot easier for companies to justify, account for, and get approval and funds for.

    So, I can't say I'm really surprised that they're having difficulties, as their stance on accepting money is the same as the perceived stance on everything else, namely "our way or the highway", even when it causes them more potential harm than good.

    (Yes, I'm aware that some third parties do offer a "more expensive" option of obtaining the CDs, and throw in some consulting, donating the monies above the material CD cost back to OpenBSD, and applaud them for that)
  • by alexhmit01 ( 104757 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @02:45PM (#14965852)
    Ya know what would be nice? Making it easy for businesses AND individuals to contribute. If they don't want to be a business, fine, get the 501(c)3 status in the US and let people make tax deductable donations. Writing a check to Theo's personal account doesn't get considered as part of my charitable giving. I also by a few CDs with each release or two, whenever I'm ready to do another OpenBSD project...

    And guess what, the project makes me feel like a sucker... because usually whoever is shipping CDs is out of town, and they don't go out for 2-3 weeks, meanwhile, people have been downloading for free and I'm waitting for my CDs...

    You want businesses to pay more that use it? How about selling a business "OpenBSD license" that provides us X copies for some price on a per-server (or per-CPU license) under the BSD. Is it a joke, sure, because given 1 personal copy, I have a license to use it however I want. But if you sell me 5 $299 licenses, I can write it off as $1500 in software purchases. Alternatively, I could donate $1500, but then I can't write it off... This is rough on me as a small business owner, for no reason. A receipt for the purchase would help...

    However, asking for non-tax deductable donations is a non-starter. If I was an IT grunt in the field, knowing that I could buy a CD for the $20 or $30 and use it without effort (or download), but if I want to contribute, I could generate an online invoice and bring it to A/P.

    In that case, the geeks LOVE that they start the project immediately, and maybe the "invoice" gets paid, and maybe it doesn't. There is no loser in this scenario, but it would require the OpenBSD project to understand the people that they want money from and find a way to make it easy on us to give it to them.

  • by hansoloaf ( 668609 ) <hansoloaf@yahoo. c o m> on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @03:23PM (#14966234)
    why don't the gov't of Canada support it with monies and in return get good software for their computer systems throughout the government network? What about the universities such as the university in Calgary? Perhaps set up some sort of network security program and use openBSD as the model and provide some support? Just throwing out some ideas.
  • by GalacticCmdr ( 944723 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @03:33PM (#14966343)
    Free Speech does not mean free from any consquences of that speech. If you are going around complaining how your employer "sickens" you - then expect that your employer will more than likely get rid of you. After all, he had no problems taking the money (even with his lame cruise missle excuse).

    Nobody tried to gag him, certain projects just no longer want to be associated with him.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @10:44PM (#14969180)
    So OpenBSD heads, what's the result of a day on Slashdot's front page?
    Is it all hot air around here, or did the communtiy respond?
    FreeBSD got 800 donations in Dec 04, will you tell us how it went?

    PS answer this and I'll put in $50.

If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a camel's behind. -- Edgar R. Fiedler