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3 - Getting started with OpenBSD

Table of Contents

3.1 - Buying an OpenBSD CD set

Purchasing an OpenBSD CD set is generally the best way to get started. Visit the ordering page to purchase your copy.

There are many good reasons to own an OpenBSD CD set:

If you're installing a release version of OpenBSD, you should use an official CD set.

3.2 - Buying OpenBSD shirts

Yes, OpenBSD has T-shirts for your wearing enjoyment! You can view them here.

3.3 - Does OpenBSD provide an ISO image for download?

For select platforms, yes!

Most platforms that are able to boot from CD-ROM have ISO images available for download that can be used to create bootable OpenBSD install CD-ROMs. Both "full install" (all files needed for a full OpenBSD install, named installXX.iso) and "boot only" (for installing from a network file source, named cdXX.iso) ISOs are provided for these platforms.

Note, these ISO files are not the same as the official CD set. These images are for single platforms, and do not include any of the pre-compiled packages, stickers, or artwork that the official CD set does.

The OpenBSD project does not make the ISO images used to master the official CDs available for download. The reason is simply that we would like you to buy the CD sets to help fund ongoing OpenBSD development. The official OpenBSD CD-ROM layout is copyright Theo de Raadt. Theo does not permit people to redistribute images of the official OpenBSD CDs. As an incentive for people to buy the CD set, some extras are included in the package as well (artwork, stickers etc).

Note that only the CD layout is copyrighted, OpenBSD itself is free. Nothing precludes someone else from downloading OpenBSD and making their own CD.

Those that need or want a bootable USB drive instead can use the installXX.fs (bootable, plus install sets) or minirootXX.fs (just bootable, file sets are pulled down via network) files, which can be imaged onto a USB flash disk or other storage device with the dd(1) command.

3.4 - Downloading via HTTP, rsync or AFS

There are numerous international mirror sites offering HTTP access to OpenBSD releases and snapshots. Some mirrors also provide rsync and AFS access. You should always use the site nearest to you. Before you begin fetching a release or snapshot, you may wish to use ping(8) and traceroute(8) to determine which mirror site is nearest to you and whether that mirror is performing adequately. Of course, your OpenBSD release CD is always closer than any mirror. Access information is here.

3.5 - Verifying your download

In the same directory as the installation sets, each mirror includes a file named SHA256 that contains checksums of the various installation files. You can confirm that none of the downloaded files were mangled in transit using the sha256(1) command.
$ sha256 -c SHA256
Note that this only checks for accidental corruption. You can use signify(1) to cryptographically verify the downloaded files.
$ signify -Cp /etc/signify/openbsd-XX-base.pub -x SHA256.sig install*.iso
Signature Verified
installXX.iso: OK
This will verify the installXX.iso file, for example. Replace "XX" with the version of OpenBSD that you're verifying. Note that you will need the public key files for OpenBSD's base system (and the signify program!) in order to do this.

3.6 - Selecting hardware

Selecting appropriate hardware to run your OpenBSD system on is important, as it can mean the difference between success and failure of a project.

If you are shopping for a new PC, whether you are buying it piece by piece or completely pre-built, you want to make sure first that you are buying reliable parts. In the PC world, this is not easy. Bad or otherwise unreliable or mismatched parts can make OpenBSD run poorly and crash often. The best advice we can give is to be careful, and buy brands and parts that have been reviewed by an authority you trust. Sometimes a more expensive machine is a better quality machine. Other times it is not.

There are certain things that will help bring out the maximum performance of your system:

3.7 - What is an appropriate "first system" to learn OpenBSD on?

While OpenBSD will run on a smaller, older and less powerful computer than just about any other modern OS, if you are just getting started with OpenBSD, using such a machine can be frustrating. The following guidelines are ONLY guidelines; OpenBSD will run very well on much more modest equipment than is listed here, but it may be more frustrating than needed for a first-time user. Obviously, "the more, the better" to a point. While OpenBSD's requirements are very modest, some popular applications seemingly use as much processor and memory as you can throw at the system.

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