There is something sick in the OpenBSD community

The amount of evident hatred that is being bred in the lines of the OpenBSD community is just incredible. Theo De Raadt may be a genius, but that says nothing about his polarity. If driven by negative emotions of the kind that he so often displays he’ll do good while calling everyone else evil.

What do I mean? I refer you to the Great Flamewar 2007.12:

Comments on LWN may ultimately suggest that this latest flame war is merely a collision of two great, but incompatible personalities. However it was not only Theo who replied with castigation and misinterpretation taken as fact – most of the posters did so. But in any case it provides an insight into just the kind of cultures and regards that exist in vicinity of these personalities.

And I would pick RMS’s uncompromising yet cool and civil attitude any day. For me Theo and his OpenBSD cult has utterly crossed the line, making OpenBSD one project I do not want to associate myself with if I were given a chance to. I would use it, sure, but I can’t support the kind of culture that runs it.

This whole flamewar is based on utter exaggeration by the OpenBSD people. A mere and fully expectable statement by RMS that OpenBSD would not be recommended by him has been blown out to be a statement of his hatred towards OpenBSD. Yet what is evident is exactly the opposite, the apparent hatred of many in the OpenBSD community towards RMS and the FSF.

Honestly I think they found the wrong authority to rebel against like spoiled teenagers, which is just incredible considering the choice of other authorities with agendas much worse and much more “totalitarian” (as Theo suggests) than one can imagine FSF ever being!

Just incredible.. No wonder the whole FOSS thing, at least to me, so often inspires nothing but frustrations. You can’t even be friends with those who you’re fighting side by side with! Is there any wonder people become apolitical and numb?!? So much for user-friendly Free Software community.

The fact that RMS kept his cool even as everyone else was bursting in flames lays down an image clearer than anything. When your debating opponents has to resort to flaming to defend his side you know who lost the debate.

Reading the thread mailing list thread, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen so much willing misinterpretation, castigating and frankly bullying against a single person by a whole bunch all in one thread! I am appalled. The saddest thing that some “moron” reader incapable of objectively weighing the sides will probably, after reading the mailing list, be very tempted to side with this OBSD crucifying crowd, simply because of not knowing Richard Stallmans well stated, but due to their precise nature subtle positions and falling into the emotional trap they set up there.

I have to utterly admire how he did not lose it there and spew an emotional comment of his own. Heck even I am angry. I have to stand in awe at the kind of stamina he shows there.

But it makes me incredibly sad, to find that people who profess to be and practically actually end up being “freedom fighters” would so much castigate a person who is actually on the same side, who dedicated a whole life to this cause. It just shows the degree of evil and unfairness that can be seen in this world, even in the supposedly most positive facets of society. I mean, if people this smart can be so utterly consumed by their misguided emotions so as for them to be so deeply ingrained into their personality, what does this say about an everyday man who believes (s)he is not smart enough and hence drowns him/herself in a matrix of social norms that turn them into cranky emotional drones.

Yeah, welcome to the 2008, f***ed up humanity! What or who are you gonna screw up next? :(

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 2nd, 2008 at 7:21 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through this RSS 2.0 feed. You're welcome to leave a response, or a trackback from your own site.

  • Taco Buitenhuis

    Most of what I have read so far in the mailing list thread looked reasonable, I guess the discussion derails later on.

    The important question is whether or not OpenBSD recommends non-free software. RMS says it does, based on hearsay about the ports system. The OpenBSD people say it doesn't. Yes, the ports system contains information about how to install non-free software, but the ports system is not included by default and OpenBSD recommends that users do not use the ports system. Logically that means OpenBSD does not recommend non-free software. It is also important to note the ports system is just a way for _users_ to tell each other how to install software.

    This post explains it quite well:

    Something to think about: if someone posted instructions about how to install, say, skype on gnewsense to a gnewsense mailinglist, and that email is not removed and the sender not banned from the list, does that mean gnewsense recommends non-free software?

    Also, it would seem adding the ubuntu restricted repostory to sources.lst in gnewsense (not recommended by gnewsense) after which proprietary software will appear mixed with free software in synaptic is easier than adding ports to OpenBSD (OpenBSD recommends NOT to do that) and using it to install proprietary software.

    So, I think RMS is being a hypocrite, but not intentionally. He just never bothered to investigate the state of software freedom in OpenBSD by himself. I don't think it's OK, but I'm not surprised he got flamed for that. If someone who is considered an authority on free software makes recommendations to (not) use distributions based on mere hearsay, that is very bad.

  • http://smokeandmirrors Taco Buitenhuis

    Hmm, the page about openbsd ports ( ) only warns about security, not about licensing. Also, it makes ports look like a normal part of OpenBSD and not just a convenience communication system for users.

  • Taco Buitenhuis

    Oops, I put a post title in the website field of the comment above. http://smokeandmirrors is NOT my website.

  • Nat

    Considering Richard's blantant lies and complete bullshit in that thread, I'd stick to de Raadt over Stallman any day, since at least Theo tells the truth, even if he is kinda abrupt.

  • admin

    Taco, in the first comment you wrote I think you bought into some of the straws by the OBSD commentators. RMS later replied to the comment you linked and clarified the issue, which is not about what user can do with the system nor how easy it is to add non-free software. It is about whether the project hosts or in any other way shows association with references to non-free software.

    The issue would be quite clear if OBSD people didn't drown it in attacks on RMS's figure, expressions of their disapproval or outright hatred, conspiracy theories about who he actually is and other such nonsense. From their point of view RMS is a self-imposed saint who they somehow have to please by purging their project for all that is unholly in some measurable fashion.

    Yet it is not about measuring the freeness nor about pleasing anyone. It is about a very specific and precise principle which comes down to such details as an URL in a ports tree which is hosted by OpenBSD. It's an issue very similar, if not the same, to the one in Debian.

    Yet I didn't see Debian people go to such lengths at slandering him the way OBSD people did.

    Nat, you apparently utterly disagree with all of this, but I'm afraid your comment adds nothing new in style nor content to what has already been said in the mailing list thread – just more outright loosely spun accusations of RMS as a liar. How can he lie about his own opinions, which is all that he tried to express in that topic?

    From what I've read I've seen nothing but misunderstandings. Unfortunately, only some of these misunderstandings were genuine. Others were based on an already preconditioned mindset that seeks to find any evidence it can find to portray RMS as someone who came attacking OBSD (and I quote Theo himself) "on a vendetta of hatred".

    Seriously, how much sense does that make? Many OBSD posters suggested that RMS is disconnected from reality, but what can be more disconnected from reality than the above statement.

    RMS was the one who actually handed an award to Theo for his accomplishments to Free Software and has also praised OBSD on many occasions. OBSD is not the only OS he does not recommend. Most are. I've never seen anyone else react so strongly to a mere non-recommendation as OBSD.

    All things considered what I see going on is this. OpenBSD community, which has developed a culture of "honesty" to a point of outright insulting people whenever that's how they feel about their views, and they already made up their mind on RMS as a totally negative figure and an enemy of OpenBSD (on what basis is beyond me). It was enough for RMS to merely open his mouth and say ANYTHING that is even slightly perceivable as "negative" for OBSD for them to launch a whole salve of attacks.

    RMS was accused of hatred. Only ones who really displayed it were OBSD posters. Blind hatred is what I call it.

    OBSD community culture lost all respect it could've had with me.

  • Nat

    Stallman gave that award because everyone else supports OpenBSD's accomplishments, not because of his personal feelings. Stallman has repeatedly gone to OpenBSD's mailing lists and insulted the efforts of OpenBSD's developers, and in an interview said that OpenBSD was not free, once more insulting their efforts.

    It's your kind of devotion to this crazed MIT latch-on that keeps him going, his bizzare antics are the cause of a great deal of problems, far fewer than de Raadt's have spawned. Just look at how much progress OpenBSD's efforts have gotten in opening up hardware, compared to those of the GNU and Linux – there are Linux developers actively working against the OpenBSD developers in their attempts to get open specifications.

    It wasn't the lack of recommendation that tweaked so many noses, it was the insulting manner it was made and the insinuations that go with it.

  • Thomas Jollans

    Nat, please provide concrete examples of these insults, and the lies you describe, or we cannot take you seriously. Be sure to note that claiming that OpenBSD recommend free software is not the same as claiming that OpenBSD be non-free.

  • admin


    > Stallman gave that award because everyone else supports OpenBSD’s accomplishments, not because of his personal feelings.

    Oh and you know what his personal feelings were or are, better than him who says that he does not feel negatively towards OpenBSD? You can't possibly admit that he does not have such a big grudge against OpenBSD because that would totally bring down your belief system which apparently includes a dogma that makes RMS the devil who can't possibly have good feelings about OpenBSD.

    Can you begin to grasp just how unrealistic and frankly blind your stance really sounds??

    > It wasn’t the lack of recommendation that tweaked so many noses, it was the insulting manner it was made and the insinuations that go with it.

    Then you have a really funny definition of "insulting manner".

    The more you speak this way the more convinced I am at just how self-indoctrinated the OpenBSD community is with this twisted interpretation of reality in which one can't even say "Hey in my opinion and according to my own principles I wouldn't recommend OpenBSD" without that being construed as a statement of hatred and an act of war against you.

    I have never seen people in the Free Software communities which are this delusional. I am truly shocked and appalled. But then again, it's too much to expect you to change your attitudes I suppose.

    Note that this is not at all about plain simple disagreement on certain issues. I am acquainted with the fact that OpenBSD has a different approach to promoting Free Software. It is about the way you deal with someone with a different opinion, unable to accept that OpenBSD way is not the only way, and that some actually find value in different approaches.

    As long as you meet even the slightest of criticism with a defacement of a persona who presents it, you will not be taken as worthy of cooperating with. I'm sure there are exceptions to the general situation even in the OBSD community, people who you can talk to without dodging their insults, but they are apparently rare – it's just the kind of culture you breed – yet you try to escape that perception by calling it The OpenBSD Cliche. In your case, the cliche is well justified, and it's more than just about "being unfriendly".

    You know, RMS too has a front on which he fights, but it is not against OpenBSD. It is against non-free software in general. And even against proprietary industry he doesn't come out as an emotional teenager full of hatred the way you affront him.

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