OpenBSD Webzine


Recent -current changes

7.0-stable updates (since last webzine issue)


For this issue, thfr@ agreed to a short interview for the webzine, giving us an opportunity to learn more about him and his work on OpenBSD.

Could you introduce yourself briefly?

I'm in my late 30's as of the time of this interview. I'm a German expat living in the United States with my wife and 2 wonderful cats called Starbuck and Moxie. My second favorite hobby is probably snowboarding. I like to think that I'm probably the first and only OpenBSD developer who works as a physician in their dayjob...

How and when did you join the project?

I encountered and installed OpenBSD first in 2013-2014 and, once I re-evaluated my priorities with personal computers, it served me well for all my essential day-to-day computing needs. I noticed that I kept booting into a secondary OS (Linux, Windows) just to get the occasional break and play a video game. I got annoyed by that and as OpenBSD's philosophy and features were more important to me than the games, I decided to explore what can be done with games on OpenBSD rather than the other way around.

At the time, awolk@ was quite active on OpenBSD and helped me get my first ports committed. Fueled by the success, especially with running a large library of games via FNA/fnaify that hadn't been known to be compatible with small adjustments to the Linux builds, I kept at it and despite not having much "formal" training in coding,

I have been officially among the OpenBSD developers since 2018.

You work a lot at bringing games to OpenBSD, why? Isn't it easier to use Linux or Windows to play video games?

Of course it is. This is probably best explained by the fact that, contrary to popular opinion, I am far from a frequent or "hardcore" gamer. I enjoy them occasionally and in moderation, especially many of the more creative "indie games" of the recent decade. Frequently, I find the work of porting them way more enjoyable than the actual game.

Working on games on OpenBSD has a very "pioneering" feel to it because it seems so outlandish at first sight. The advantage for me is that there is lots of (relatively) low-hanging fruit and little risk of breaking something that's critical to many users and developers.

There is a certain purist take on using OpenBSD that I disagree with. Like that certain applications are frivolous and not worthy of developer attention - games, watching videos, social media... or even a graphical user interface. Instead, I hope to increase the scope of use without sacrificing the core ideas driving the project.

The one concern that I do agree with is not opening up new potential for security issues or exploits. That's why I'm overall happy that our USB devices are more locked down than many other systems. Additions like bentley@'s use of pledge(2)/unveil(2) to emulators are particularly interesting for me and I would like to explore those areas a bit more in the future.

There has traditionally been such a dearth of games on OpenBSD that every new one that works feels like a genuine enrichment of the possible experiences on this operating system.

In your opinion what is your greatest contribution to the project?

I hope that my work on OpenBSD has helped veteran users expand their use of the operating system and proved assumptions wrong that OpenBSD is "only for servers and routers".

I maintain a (stylistically unambitious) gemini capsule and web page at intended to help people who want to play games on OpenBSD find something that they would enjoy.

how do you use OpenBSD outside of the development scope?

Pretty much all-round daily driver - listen to music, browse the web, watch videos...

I even used OpenBSD for work via Citrix (there is a Chromium app called "Citrix Workspace") until my employer updated their server without whitelisting this client. I need to follow up with them about this...

Thank you very much for answering all the questions!

Shell tips

With default ksh settings, you can type and validate "r" to repeat the last command. This is actually an alias to "fc -s" as you can observe by typing "type r" in your shell.

OpenBSD hardware support stories

Artworks of the moment

The picture shows an old fashion computer with a CRT screen on top of the tower which has a floppy drive.  The screen is showing a treasure on the seadbed with data labelled on it, there is a huge chain around it that is bound to a big angry puffer fish, like a dog guard.

Artwork done by PΓ©hΓ€.


Solène Rapenne, thfr@, prx, pamela@ and eventual people who contributed outside of git that I may have forgotten. Many thanks to everyone involved and supportive to the idea!