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OpenBSD Looking At Funding Shortfall In 2014 277

Freshly Exhumed writes "Today the OpenBSD mailing list carried a plea from Theo de Raadt for much needed financial aid for the OpenBSD foundation: 'I am resending this request for funding our electricity bills because it is not yet resolved. We really need even more funding beyond that, because otherwise all of this is simply unsustainable. This request is the smallest we can make.' Bob Beck, of the OpenBSD Foundation, added: 'the fact is right now, OpenBSD will shut down if we do not have the funding to keep the lights on.'" The electricity bill in question is $20,000 a year for build servers located in Canada.
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OpenBSD Looking At Funding Shortfall In 2014

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  • Too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:15PM (#45967509)

    You know, it's really too bad. I was an avid OpenBSD fan until I interacted with Theo and he was extremely belligerent regarding pretty routine matters that required no hostility. Then his followers jumped on me as well, as if it was necessary to back up their fearless leader in what was perceived to be life or death combat.

    In the past I had donated regularly to the project, but after that incident I began to give to the FreeBSD community instead. Who by and large seem to be a much more friendly bunch and certainly don't seem to be sweating massive power bills.

    Seems to me that Theo's inability to conjure up the slightest bit of charisma in the face of utter defeat is symptomatic of why OpenBSD is dying. They needlessly humiliate and scorn their own followers over minor perceived philosophical or technical differences, thus the only path they can end up on is one with less and less support.

    They will probably fail in the long run as a result of this behavior and their inflexibility to re-locate or distribute their build servers. Theo has ranted about how they must be in what amounts to his garage, but I don't buy it. I'm pretty sure they could easily be re-located -- but don't mention that in his presence or he'll surely burn you, too.

  • Re:Too bad (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:30PM (#45967739)
    He seems reasonable to me provided the person he is talking to is well-informed. I hear this story a lot, but I've never seen a link to or a log of the conversation posted. I imagine if it was, we'd see that it was likely another case of someone thinking they were more well-informed than they actually were.
  • by borcharc ( 56372 ) * on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:31PM (#45967759)

    Their demand to keep the servers in house when free space/power has been offered is stupid. If you think the NSA or any other determined adversary can not break into some bsd dev's basement, then I cant help you. This is dumb oss don't pee in my pool management.

  • Re:Too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:34PM (#45967811) Journal

    Basic politeness shouldn't depend on whether the person you're conversing with is well-informed or not.

  • Re:Too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @02:55PM (#45968069) Journal

    He's the leader of the project. This carries with it the duties of a "community relations representative", among other things.

    Anyway, developers don't get an excuse for being dicks unnecessarily. No-one does.

  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @03:21PM (#45968347) Journal

    Yes, Linus is guilty of a similar thing. But Theo's attitude problem is an order of magnitude more than that of Linus.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @03:35PM (#45968531)

    This is simply nonsense. A single state laws can't make something legal in other countries.

    Wrong, US law trumps everyone else's laws. Just ask the US government.

    This is true because other countries go along with it. Just look at all the other countries that went along with the US when they were doing "extraordinary renditions".

    The US laws cannot stop the Canadian government from prosecuting the NSA agents performing acts illegal there.

    You mean like other countries prosecuted NSA agents for spying on their offices (outside the US)? Oh wait, they didn't, they just made complaints and nothing was done.

    US law isn't superior to other countries laws, sspecially in other countries land.

    Yes, it is. When other countries just go along with the US, and don't take any action when the US does something "illegal" in their countries, then effectively, US law is superior to other countries' laws.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @03:58PM (#45968763)

    Problems with donating to OpenBSD

    (1) The donations are being requested after the end of the tax year

    Most charitable donations occur in October/November/December for tax reasons. This is true of both deductible and non-deductible donations.

    (2) Donations are not tax deductible

    This isn't a huge problem, if the OpenBSD Foundation were willing to invoice the company for the amount; then it could still be deducted as a business expense, but then the OpenBSD Foundation would have to claim it as income and pay tax on it. This isn't terrifically onerous for them in any case, as they are not a charity, and thus have to pay tax anyway, unless they can just get someone to pay their power bill directly instead (something they've requested).

    Another option would be to have a U.S. OpenBSD non-profit that could then support work by OpenBSD under contract, even if that work were something like "provide nightly builds of OpenBSD binaries in exchange for grant funds". They don't seem interested in/able to utilize, this approach.

    (3) Invoicing would not exactly require some measure of editorial control, but...

    There would be at least an implied expectation of quid-pro-quo, even if none exactly existed, since an audit of the company that was invoiced could require at least a paper justification for the value obtained in exchange for the invoiced amount. It doesn't have to be a great deal for the company, and it could actually be a completely lopsided deal, but there would need to be a token exchange of goods and/or services for the invoiced amount.

    (4) If someone is willing to pay their power, they demand they be a Canadian company

    I can understand the ramifications for this coming from a non-Canadian company; OpenBSD needs to understand the ramifications of "any port in a storm". There really aren't that many Canadian technology companies in this sector, compared to the U.S.; the highest percentage of OpenBSD-based products are in fact German.

    (5) There are not a large number products based directly on OpenBSD

    The companies that do have products based on it are generally not hugely profitable, and the small number that there are are listed here: [] which gives you some indication of their market penetration.

    (6) The OpenBSD folks don't have the most stellar relationship with the rest of the Open Source community

    Without assigning specific blame, this should probably be addressed sooner, rather than later.


    All in all, it's rather difficult to set up a legal fiction that would let it be advantageous to a business to donate.

    It's not that they do not provide valuable software, it's just that most of the value they provide is not in the OpenBSD OS itself, it's in the ancillary projects that are associated with the same people.

  • Re:Too bad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Goaway ( 82658 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @04:17PM (#45968931) Homepage

    He's a developer, not a community relations representative.

    Then why is asking for donations? That seems like the job of a community relations representative, I am fairly sure...

  • Re:Too bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Wednesday January 15, 2014 @04:18PM (#45968939)

    Heinlein had it nailed:

    "Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naive, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as âoeempty,â âoemeaningless,â or âoedishonest,â and scorn to use them. No matter how âoepureâ their motives, they thereby throw sand into machinery that does not work too well at best. "

Building translators is good clean fun. -- T. Cheatham