Jun 11, 2010

Why I Almost Gave OpenBSD $100,000—But Didn't

It is never a happy occasion to realize that a not-for-profit group, no matter how destitute or successful, is undeserving of charitable donations. And just last week I had such an unhappy realization. I wanted to donate a sizable sum of money to the OpenBSD Foundation for development of the OpeBSD operating system and other related projects.

My great-uncle, an old Unix graybeard from the Seventies, devoted his retirement and considerable savings to teaching inner-city youth about computers and programming. He recently passed away and left instructions in his will that I donate money, in the amount of US $100,000, to “the most meritorious Free, Unix-like operating system” as according to my own research into the matter.

I immediately looked at OpenBSD and began to review its technical merits, of which there are many. Despite lacking serious symmetric multi-processing support and drivers for recent graphics hardware, OpenBSD security and code-auditing are second to none. One only has to take a look at the bevy of routers that ship with OpenBSD to know how many people successfully depend on it everyday.

The OpenBSD Foundation is also behind several software packages widely adopted in other operating systems, such as OpenBGPD, OpenCVS, OpenNTPD, and OpenSSH. OpenSSH, for instance, is what allows clueless Mac users to remotely log into their systems safely, blissfully unaware of hackers.

After looking at the technical merits of OpenBSD and related projects, I owed it to the memory of my great-uncle to check out the history of the people behind it all. But that's when I ran into some interesting decisions regarding OpenBSD advocacy and funding made my OpenBSD's lead developer, Theo de Raadt.

In 2003, Mr. de Raadt trash-talked the United States military and its various aid projects for the Iraqi people. But at the time, OpenBSD was receiving a multi-million dollar grant from the United States Department of Defense. After the interview was published the DOD cancelled funding, which left several OpenBSD projects in limbo for quite some time thereafter.

This is just one of the more public instances of Mr. de Raadt sharing unpopular personal opinions while acting as OpenBSD's public advocate and costing the project considerable time and money. And, unfortunately, there are others.

Another time, Mr. de Raadt visited his native South Africa to receive a donation from a wealthy politician but unexpectedly refused it at the podium, instead making a speech in which he equated the use of non-Free graphics drivers with Apartheid. Mr. de Raadt left without the check but later claimed to have won “an important moral victory.”

Mr. de Raadt himself is at the root of the problem, but here I can't really separate the man from the project; Theo de Raadt is OpenBSD. So donating toward OpenBSD's goals means handing over money to this crackpot activist, if he would even accept it. That's too bad because OpenBSD would be further ahead without these sorts of megalomaniacal antics.

Digging even further back in time, it's clear that this pattern of behavior is nothing new. Theo de Raadt was one of the incipient developers of NetBSD, but “harass[ed] and abuse[d] both users and developers of NetBSD.” His colleagues subsequently locked him out of the project, de Raadt forked OpenBSD, and the rest is history.

After reviewing these facts, it is clear that I will fail to honor my great-uncle's memory and all of the hard work he did in life by donating to OpenBSD. If I wanted to dishonor him, maybe. And I find it highly likely that Theo de Raadt would be up for dishonoring my great-uncle's memory.

Instead, my donation of US $100,000 will go to NetBSD. Sorry, but NetBSD just doesn't have the barbed, confrontational history that OpenBSD does. The NetBSD Foundation seems willing to write code instead of stirring up political debates. More importantly, they also seem willing to work well with others to reach their goals instead of against their own community because of pet peeves and ideological bullshit.

UPDATE: I ended up changing my mind and anonymously donating the money to a superior operating system during its fund drive near the end of the year.

Too bad, OpenBSD. Your leader is holding you back.


  1. why did you not donate to linux or freebsd?

  2. iraqi aid projects?

    are you insane?

    its as if i walk into your home at 2am and cut the throats of your wife and children -- and then, as i'm walking out the door, leave $5 on the table for you...

  3. Umm, who exactly is doing this? And why are you conflating it with US military aid projects in Iraq?

    Please be more explicit if you're going to make accusations of murder. Otherwise it just sounds like trolling.

    > iraqi aid projects?
    > are you insane?
    > its as if i walk into your home at 2am and cut the throats of your wife
    > and children -- and then, as i'm walking out the door, leave $5 on the
    > table for you..

  4. I like how you suddenly discovered all of this about Theo de Raadt, even though you've been writing about it for years.

  5. Your lack of consistency astounds me. Quoting your post (http://www.trollaxor.com/2009/12/netbsd-bankrupt-software-distribution.html) only 6 months ago, "In the end, the only sensible choice is to not donate to the NetBSD foundation. Supporting this moribund operating system is not worth the money—save yourself the trouble and avoid the sinking ship that is NetBSD."

    And now, six months on, "Instead, my donation of US $100,000 will go to NetBSD."

    Consistency "you don't haz it".

  6. Trollaxor, you sir, are a moron. And money from a moron like yourself means nothing to some people, such as Theo.

  7. You are an idiot.

    You may have a disclaimer at the side stating that this site contains works of fiction, but that does not change the fact that you are an idiot.

    I think the big steenky turd I did this morning had more intelligence than you display.

  8. Theo de Raadt is a fairy.

  9. NetBSD does a massive development from the donated money, not some trips to conferences for a nice-talking. Check the stuff done from $ during NetBSD 5.0 release cycle:


  10. Dear Sir,

    The atrocity that is the war and subsequent occupation of Iraq is not only illegal but have also resulted in the deaths of countless Iraqis. We will never know how many since the government you support "don't do bodycounts". The Lancet estimates over 600 000 dead. You would have to be very naive to think the attack has nothing to do with securing oil for US interests. I am sure you know all about how the US funded Saddam Hussein, so I will not bore you with the details of that. I will not drag up how they lied about the WMD's either. I will simply say this: To call the US attack on Iraq an "aid project" is in extremely poor taste.

    Furthermore, Sir, while Theo's opinions on this issue might not coincide with your own, they are not "unpopular". The word "popular" comes from the Latin word "populus" which quite literally means the people. Note how this does not equate neither to you nor the US army. The _people_ regularly answer to questions such as these in polls. This means fortunate people like you and me can GTW and find out what the people think. Here is the first hit on Google for "war in iraq polls":


    So, dear Sir, you are mistaken. You have rooted for the oppressive US military, against the people of Iraq. Against democracy and in favor of dictatorship.

  11. Clearly Trollaxor you changed your mind about NetBSD as someone else pointed out; however, it was only because you discovered that OpenBSD was worse because it had become corrupted with politics like everything else in the world.

    Organized Religion was great until politics corrupted it. Science was great until politics corrupted it. Business was great until politics corrupted it. Capitalism was great until politics corrupted it. 85% of the USA, EU, and Canadian citizens were great until the news, media, Internet, video games, movies, books, and other crap that got forced on them to use spychobabble to brainwash them into sheeple and thus politics corrupted them too because they had weak wills and would believe anything they were told, but not you or I sir, for we have strong wills and are human lie detectors and we call people and organizations on their own corruption and politics.

    But if you think just OpenBSD is corrupt you need to look and see what Microsoft and Apple are doing with politics, things like raising the quotes on work visas to bring in more foreign IT and engineering employees to give US citizens the shaft and force them to work low paying jobs. Microsoft and Apple also contribute to the same sort of political stuff OpenBSD supports.

    In all seriousness most Linux distrobutions have nothing like that not does HaikuOS, OSFree, AROS, ReactOS, FreeDOS, OpenDOS, OPenGEM/FreeGEM, or even eComStation which was the modern OEM version of IBM's OS/2 that was killed by Microsoft when it decided to bundle MS-DOS with Windows and made a contract stating if no MS-DOS or Windows was installed on any PC by any OEM of Microsoft they would still have to pay for the cost of MS-DOS and Windows anyway, so Microsoft OEMs dropped OS/2 like a hot potato and told their customers not to use it and make stuff up and then Microsoft politics killed the Amiga, Atari ST, almost killed the Macintosh but kept Apple alive enough to feed on it like a vampire for new ideas and innovations in software.

    Anyway Trollaxor I do enjoy your work it is so clever and well thought out that while people confuse it for a troll, and even if troll is part of Trollaxor even if this is a troll, it is well played sir, well played. Well played enough to get voted to the front page of K5 I see.

    Keep up the good work and I find your views and opinions interesting and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

  12. I had a go-around with Theo years ago on Slashdot. (Or at least someone claiming to be him, and I think it was.)

    He couldn't understand why it was necessary for donations to OpenBSD be tax deductible, and that "send your money to Theo" wasn't going to be acceptable to many donors.

    Actually, I think he understood, he was just too arrogant to care - it should truly be an honor to give Theo money.

  13. Theo objected to illegally invading Iraq and stealing US and Iraqi money to give to corrupt corporations. That's not an aid project. Even the previous poster's offer of $5 after killing your family is more of an aid project than what Bush planned for Iraq.

  14. My donations have wanned since the public Wim vs. Theo thing. I don't know who's right, or what happened, but it certainly gave me a lot of doubts about how money is managed as a whole.

    Though, considering your most recent post, I would sooner believe this is a farcical story meant to guilt the people who pointed out that you're basically upset with openbsd for not supporting the new computers you bought, and overall making it sound as though Theo himself owes you an apology. It sounds very pathetic.

    Suddenly you have all this free money to give to something just like OpenBSD, but now you won't! Did you ever even mention this uncle of yours before? Whats his name, where can we see his work? Surely your local paper has his obituary online that backs up your claims of a career unix user or any article at all should exist for assistance to inner-city youth as you claim, local papers gobble that shit up all the time.

    10 years of blog posts and you never once mentioned this uncle -- the word 'uncle' only occurs once in a homoerotic fictional post about RMS? Seriously, keep your money, your posts not only come off as pathetic, but creepy.

  15. You could stand to learn a lot from the Linux Hater's blog. He's clearly a very skilled programmer and all of his arguments are well grounded, reasonable, and logical. It is for these very reasons that the trolling he does has so many LOL's.

    You're doing the opposite, appearing unreasonable, illogical, emotional, and ill-informed. Unlike LHB where the posts are interesting and informitive and the comments are the lolz, your posts are the lolz and the comments setting you straight are informational.

  16. Thanks, can you please tell me more?

  17. you talk too much.. if you wanna give donation, just give it away.

  18. theo is proud to be an undeserving asshole


  20. I'm glad to see all the comments pointing out the author is an ass. Unfortunately there are a lot of stupid people like the author that can't figure out on their own. They just follow the popular sentiments big corporations push. Then come off as if they are morally superior. It's people like him, who don't think for themselves, that keep the World back.

  21. the author did not donate to netbsd.

  22. It is an indication of Mr. de Raadt's integrity that he spoke on behalf of the Iraqi people, not an indication that he's a "crackpot." Good on you for upholding the principle that money is above everything. Well done. But OpenBSD, Linux and other projects were not founded on this principle - rather the opposite. I only hope that Mr. de Raad will always refuse money from people like your self.

  23. Theo de Raadt confirmed on many occasions he's an ass, but what he said about the US military regarding the Iraq invasion is completely true.

  24. OMGomg, he may have $100,000! someone start sucking his cock immediately! It would be highly irresponsible and childish not to suck, given the situation.

  25. You are such a great troll, that I will have sex with you. If you get laid because of your internet trolling you will be crowned king of the trolls.

    Please respond with a comment.

  26. On


    you'll find a perfectly acceptable explanation why the OpenBSD Foundation is not registered as a charity and why it can't issue tax deductible receipts.

  27. The dream can be realized. I am interested in bringing you, the donor, and OpenBSD, the company, in on a new project. I understand the differences here. However, there is more at stake. We can make a serious difference if we find some common-ground. Contact me at rossrosado@crawler.com

  28. How I almost gave away 100 000 to openBSD, but then found an excuse to pocket it instead.

  29. There is nothing wrong in blowing people's brains out.

  30. You just showed how wrong was your father's move to give YOU a decision of what you do with money.

    This article changed my opinions about Theo De Raadt. He is having almost unknown today attribute.

    He have his own opinions, and say them, not what he is paid for.

    Rare case.

  31. I think Theo can very well do without your 100,000 dollars. Thank you.