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2 - Getting to know OpenBSD

Table of Contents

2.1 - Web Pages of Interest

The official website for the OpenBSD project is located at: http://www.OpenBSD.org.

A lot of valuable information can be found here regarding all aspects of the OpenBSD project.

The OpenBSD Journal is an OpenBSD-focused news and opinion site.

OpenBSDsupport.org is a site collecting "user maintained" documentation of varying quality, but often covering topics not in this FAQ or other official documentation.

Many users have set up sites and pages with OpenBSD specific information. As with everything on the Internet, a good search engine is going to make your life easier, as will a healthy dose of skepticism. As always, do not blindly enter commands you do not understand into your computer.

2.2 - Mailing Lists

The OpenBSD project maintains several popular mailing lists which users should subscribe to and follow. To subscribe to a mailing list, send an e-mail message to majordomo@openbsd.org. That address is an automated subscription service. In the body of your message, on a single line, you should include a subscribe command for the list you wish to join. For example:

subscribe announce

The list processor will reply to you, asking for confirmation of your intent to join the list, so that others can not subscribe you to a flood of unwanted e-mail. The message will include instructions for several different ways to confirm, including a list server web page link, responding to the confirmation message or responding to majordomo@openbsd.org. Use whatever method is convenient to you. You will note that all three techniques involve a unique and time limited identifying number, such as A56D-70D4-52C3, again to make sure you are really the person who requested this mail list subscription (this is real "opt-in").

Once you have confirmed your intent to join, you will be immediately added to the list, and the list processor will notify you that you were successfully added.

To unsubscribe from a list, you will again send an e-mail message to majordomo@openbsd.org. It might look like this:

unsubscribe announce

If you have any difficulties with the mailing list system, please first read the help file which can be obtained by sending an e-mail message to majordomo@openbsd.org with a message body of "help".

Your subscription to the OpenBSD mail lists can also be maintained through the web interface at http://lists.openbsd.org

Some of the more popular OpenBSD mailing lists are:

Before posting a question on misc or any other mailing list, please check the archives, for most common questions have been asked repeatedly. While it might be the first time you have encountered the problem or question, others on the mailing lists may have seen the same question several times in the last week, and may not appreciate seeing it again. If asking a question possibly related to hardware, always include a dmesg(8)!

You can find several archives, other mailing list guidelines and more information on the mailing lists page.

An unofficial mailing list that may be of interest to new users of OpenBSD and Unix is the OpenBSD Newbies list.

2.3 - Manual Pages

OpenBSD comes with extensive documentation in the form of manual pages, as well as longer documents relating to specific applications. Considerable effort is made to make sure the man pages are up-to-date and accurate. In all cases, the man pages are considered the authoritative source of information for OpenBSD.

To access the manual pages and other documentation, be sure that you installed the man48.tgz and misc48.tgz file sets.

Here is a list of some of the most useful manual pages for new users:

Getting Started

For more advanced users

You can find all the OpenBSD man pages on the web at http://www.openbsd.org/cgi-bin/man.cgi as well as on your computer if you install the man48.tgz file set.

In general, if you know the name of a command or a manual page, you can read it by executing "man command". For example: "man vi" to read about the vi editor. If you don't know the name of the command, or if "man command" doesn't find the manual page, you can search the manual page database by executing "apropos something" or "man -k something", where "something" is a likely word that might appear in the title of the manual page you're looking for. For example:

# apropos "time zone"
tzfile (5) - time zone information
zdump (8) - time zone dumper
zic (8) - time zone compiler

The parenthetical numbers indicate the section of the manual in which that page can be found. In some cases, you may find manual pages with identical names living in separate sections of the manual. For example, assume that you want to know the format of the configuration files for the cron daemon. Once you know the section of the manual for the page you want, you would execute "man n command", where n is the manual section number.

# man -k cron
cron (8) - clock daemon
crontab (1) - maintain crontab files for individual users
crontab (5) - tables for driving cron
# man 5 crontab

In addition to the UNIX manual pages, there is a typesettable document set (included in the misc48.tgz file set). It lives in the /usr/share/doc directory. You can format each document set with a "make" in the appropriate subdirectory. The psd subdirectory is the Programmer's Supplementary Documents distribution. The smm subdirectory is the System Manager's Manual. The usd subdirectory is the UNIX User's Supplementary Documents distribution. You can perform your "make" in the three distribution subdirectories, or you can select a specific section of a distribution and do a `make' in its subdirectory.

Some of the subdirectories are empty. By default, formatting the documents will result in PostScript output, suitable for printing. The PostScript output can be quite large -- you should assume a 250-300% increase in volume. If you do not have access to a PostScript printer or display, you may also format the documents for reading on a terminal display. Each document subdirectory has a target for building ASCII copies of these papers (called `paper.txt') which can be generated with make(1). For example:

# cd /usr/share/doc/usd/06.bc
# make paper.txt
# more paper.txt

Note that superuser privileges may be required to build documents in these directories, and that issuing make clean will remove any papers generated by a previous make. See /usr/share/doc/README for more details about the documents in /usr/share/doc/.

The UNIX manual pages are generally more current and trustworthy than the typesettable documents. The typesettable documents sometimes explain complicated applications in more detail than the manual pages do.

For many, having a hardcopy of the man page can be useful. Here are the guidelines to making a printable copy of a man page.

How do I display a man page source file (i.e. one whose filename ends in a number, like tcpdump.8)?

These are found throughout the src tree. The man pages are found in the tree unformatted, and many times, through the use of CVS, they will be updated. To view these pages, simply:

# nroff -Tascii -mandoc <file> | more

How do I get a plain man page with no formatting or control characters?

This is helpful to get the man page straight, with no non-printable characters.

# man <command> | col -b

How can I get a PostScript copy of a man page that's print-ready?

Note that <file> must be the man page source file (probably a file that ends in a number e.g. tcpdump.8). The PostScript versions of the man pages look very nice. They can be printed or viewed on-screen with a program like gv (GhostView). GhostView can be found in our packages collection. Use the following nroff(1) command options for getting a PostScript version from an OpenBSD system man page:

# nroff -Tps -mandoc <file> > outfile.ps

How do I generate compressed copies of the man pages?

For people who build their system from source, there are a number of options relating to the way in which man pages are built. These options can be placed in /etc/mk.conf (it may be necessary to create this file) and are included during system builds. One especially useful option is to generate compressed man pages in order to save disk space. These can be viewed in the normal way, using the man command. In order to set this, add the following to /etc/mk.conf:

Another useful option is to have the system build generate man pages in PostScript format, as well as ASCII text. This is done by setting the option MANPS=yes in /etc/mk.conf. See mk.conf(5) for further details.

What are info files?

Some of the documentation for OpenBSD comes in the form of info files, typically contained in /usr/share/info. This is an alternative form of documentation provided by GNU. Many of these files are more up to date than the manual pages provided by GNU, and can be accessed with the info(1) command. For example, to view information about the GNU compiler, gcc(1), type:

# info gcc
After using info, you will really appreciate our man pages!

How do I get color man pages on XTerm?

The default configuration file for xterm(1) does not display color man pages. In order to get color output, copy the file /etc/X11/app-defaults/XTerm-color to your home directory, and rename it ".Xdefaults". Be careful not to overwrite any current settings in ".Xdefaults". This file contains all the settings you need to enable color in XTerm. However, three lines need to be uncommented before this can work:

!*VT100*colorULMode: on
!*VT100*underLine: off
!*VT100*colorBDMode: on
The rest of this file allows you to choose colors for various settings. The relevant ones to the man pages are:
*VT100*colorUL: yellow
*VT100*colorBD: white
That produces rather hellish looking man pages, so customize as necessary: may we suggest red for "colorUL" and magenta for "colorBD"? There is also a man page viewer for X11 available, xman(1), which provides an alternative (graphical) interface to the manual pages. See the manual pages for xterm and xman for more information.

How do I write my own manual page?

If you wish to write your own man page for an application you have written, a tutorial is provided in mdoc.samples(7). There is also a handy reference guide provided in mdoc(7).

2.4 - Reporting Bugs

Before crying "Bug!", please make sure that is really what you are dealing with. If instead, you are not understanding how something is done in OpenBSD or how it works, and can't find out how to resolve the problem using the manual pages or the OpenBSD website, use the mail lists (usually misc@openbsd.org) to request help. If this is your first OpenBSD experience, be realistic: you probably did not discover an unknown bug. Also note that faulty hardware can mimic a software bug, please verify the current condition of your hardware before deciding you have found a "bug".

Finally, before submitting any bug report, please read http://www.openbsd.org/report.html.

Proper bug reporting is one of the most important responsibilities of end users. Very detailed information is required to diagnose most serious bugs. Developers frequently get bugs reports via e-mail such as this:

From: joeuser@example.com
To: bugs@openbsd.org
Subject: HELP!!!

I have a PC and it won't boot!!!!! It's a 486!!!!!

Hopefully most people understand why such reports get summarily deleted. All bug reports should contain detailed information. If Joe User had really expected someone to help find this bug, he or she would have supplied more information... something like this:

From: smartuser@example.com
To: bugs@openbsd.org
Subject: 3.3-beta panics on a SPARCStation2 

OpenBSD 3.2 installed from an official CD-ROM installed and ran fine
on this machine.

After doing a clean install of 3.3-beta from an FTP mirror, I find the
system randomly panics after a period of use, and predictably and
quickly when starting X.

This is the dmesg output:
OpenBSD 3.3-beta (GENERIC) #9: Mon Mar 17 12:37:18 MST 2003
real mem = 67002368
avail mem = 59125760
using 200 buffers containing 3346432 bytes of memory
bootpath: /sbus@1,f8000000/esp@0,800000/sd@1,0
mainbus0 (root): SUNW,Sun 4/75
cpu0 at mainbus0: CY7C601 @ 40 MHz, TMS390C602A FPU; cache chip bug
- trap page uncached
cpu0: 64K byte write-through, 32 bytes/line, hw flush cache enabled
memreg0 at mainbus0 ioaddr 0xf4000000
clock0 at mainbus0 ioaddr 0xf2000000: mk48t02 (eeprom)
timer0 at mainbus0 ioaddr 0xf3000000 delay constant 17
auxreg0 at mainbus0 ioaddr 0xf7400003
zs0 at mainbus0 ioaddr 0xf1000000 pri 12, softpri 6
zstty0 at zs0 channel 0 (console i/o)
zstty1 at zs0 channel 1
zs1 at mainbus0 ioaddr 0xf0000000 pri 12, softpri 6
zskbd0 at zs1 channel 0: reset timeout
zskbd0: no keyboard
zstty2 at zs1 channel 1: mouse
audioamd0 at mainbus0 ioaddr 0xf7201000 pri 13, softpri 4
audio0 at audioamd0
sbus0 at mainbus0 ioaddr 0xf8000000: clock = 20 MHz
dma0 at sbus0 slot 0 offset 0x400000: rev 1+
esp0 at sbus0 slot 0 offset 0x800000 pri 3: ESP100A, 25MHz, SCSI ID 7
scsibus0 at esp0: 8 targets
sd0 at scsibus0 targ 1 lun 0: <SEAGATE, ST1480 SUN0424, 8628> SCSI2 0/direct fixed
sd0: 411MB, 1476 cyl, 9 head, 63 sec, 512 bytes/sec, 843284 sec total
sd1 at scsibus0 targ 3 lun 0: <COMPAQPC, DCAS-32160, S65A> SCSI2 0/direct fixed
sd1: 2006MB, 8188 cyl, 3 head, 167 sec, 512 bytes/sec, 4110000 sec total
le0 at sbus0 slot 0 offset 0xc00000 pri 5: address 08:00:20:13:10:b9
le0: 16 receive buffers, 4 transmit buffers
cgsix0 at sbus0 slot 1 offset 0x0: SUNW,501-2325, 1152x900, rev 11
wsdisplay0 at cgsix0
wsdisplay0: screen 0 added (std, sun emulation)
fdc0 at mainbus0 ioaddr 0xf7200000 pri 11, softpri 4: chip 82072
fd0 at fdc0 drive 0: 1.44MB 80 cyl, 2 head, 18 sec
root on sd0a
rootdev=0x700 rrootdev=0x1100 rawdev=0x1102

This is the panic I got when attempting to start X:

panic: pool_get(mclpl): free list modified: magic=78746572; page 0xfaa93000;
 item addr 0xfaa93000
Stopped at      Debugger+0x4:   jmpl            [%o7 + 0x8], %g0
ddb> trace
pool_get(0xfaa93000, 0x22, 0x0, 0x1000, 0x102, 0x0) at pool_get+0x2c0
sosend(0x16, 0xf828d800, 0x0, 0xf83b0900, 0x0, 0x0) at sosend+0x608
soo_write(0xfac0bf50, 0xfac0bf70, 0xfac9be28, 0xfab93190, 0xf8078f24, 0x0)
at soo_write+0x18
dofilewritev(0x0, 0xc, 0xfac0bf50, 0xf7fff198, 0x1, 0xfac0bf70) at
sys_writev(0xfac87508, 0xfac9bf28, 0xfac9bf20, 0xf80765c8, 0x1000, 0xfac0bf70)
at sys_writev+0x50
syscall(0x79, 0xfac9bfb0, 0x0, 0x154, 0xfcffffff, 0xf829dea0) at syscall+0x220
slowtrap(0xc, 0xf7fff198, 0x1, 0x154, 0x1, 0xfac87508) at slowtrap+0x1d8
ddb> ps
   PID   PPID   PGRP    UID  S       FLAGS  WAIT       COMMAND
 27765   8819  29550      0  3        0x86  netio      xconsole
  1668  29550  29550      0  3      0x4086  poll       fvwm
 15447  29550  29550      0  3     0x44186  poll       xterm
  8819  29550  29550     35  3      0x4186  poll       xconsole
  1238  29550  29550      0  3      0x4086  poll       xclock
 29550  25616  29550      0  3      0x4086  pause      sh
  1024  25523  25523      0  3     0x40184  netio      XFree86
*25523  25616  25523     35  2     0x44104             XFree86
 25616  30876  30876      0  3      0x4086  wait       xinit
 30876  16977  30876      0  3      0x4086  pause      sh
 16977      1  16977      0  3      0x4086  ttyin      csh
  5360      1   5360      0  3        0x84  select     cron
 14701      1  14701      0  3     0x40184  select     sendmail
 12617      1  12617      0  3        0x84  select     sshd
 27515      1  27515      0  3       0x184  select     inetd
  1904      1   1904      0  2        0x84             syslogd
  9125      1   9125      0  3        0x84  poll       dhclient
     7      0      0      0  3    0x100204  crypto_wa  crypto
     6      0      0      0  3    0x100204  aiodoned   aiodoned
     5      0      0      0  3    0x100204  syncer     update
     4      0      0      0  3    0x100204  cleaner    cleaner
     3      0      0      0  3    0x100204  reaper     reaper
     2      0      0      0  3    0x100204  pgdaemon   pagedaemon
     1      0      1      0  3      0x4084  wait       init
     0     -1      0      0  3     0x80204  scheduler  swapper

Thank you!

See report.html for more information on creating and submitting bug reports. Detailed information about your hardware is necessary if you think the bug could be in any way related to your hardware or hardware configuration. Usually, dmesg(8) output is sufficient in this respect. A detailed description of your problem is necessary. You will note that the dmesg described the hardware, the text explained why Smart User thought the system was not broken (ran 3.2 properly), how this crash was caused (starting X), and the output of the debugger's "ps" and "trace" commands. In this case, Smart User provided output captured on a serial console; if you can not do that, you will have to use paper and pencil to record the crash. (This was a real problem, and the information in the above report helped lead to a repair of this issue which impacted Sun4c systems.)

If Smart User had a working OpenBSD system from which he wanted to submit a bug report, he would have used the sendbug(1) utility to submit his bug report to the GNATS problem tracking system. Obviously you can't use sendbug(1) when your system won't boot, but you should use it whenever possible. You will still need to include detailed information about what happened, the exact configuration of your system, and how to reproduce the problem. The sendbug(1) command requires that your system be able to send electronic mail successfully on the Internet. Note that the mail server uses spamd(8) based greylisting, so it may take half an hour or so before the mail server accepts your bug report, so please be patient.

After submitting a bug report via sendbug(1), you will be notified by e-mail about the status of the report. You may be contacted by developers for additional information or with patches that need testing. You can also monitor the archives of the bugs@openbsd.org mailing list, details on the mailing list page, or query the bug report database status at the on-line Bug Tracking System.

More on getting useful info for developers

Here are a few additional tips:

Lost the "Panic message"?
Under some circumstances, you may lose the very first message of a panic, stating the reason for the panic. This is a very important message, so you want to report it, as well. You can get this back by using the "show panic" command in ddb> like this:

ddb> show panic
0:      kernel: page fault trap, code=0

In this case, the panic string was "Kernel: page fault trap, code=0"

Special note for SMP systems:
You should get a "trace" from each processor as part of your report:

ddb{0}> trace   
pool_get(d05e7c20,0,dab19ef8,d0169414,80) at pool_get+0x226
fxp_add_rfabuf(d0a62000,d3c12b00,dab19f10,dab19f10) at fxp_add_rfabuf+0xa5
fxp_intr(d0a62000) at fxp_intr+0x1e7
Xintr_ioapic0() at Xintr_ioapic0+0x6d
--- interrupt ---
ddb{0}> machine ddbcpu 1
Stopped at      Debugger+0x4:   leave
ddb{1}> trace
Debugger(d0319e28,d05ff5a0,dab1bee8,d031cc6e,d0a61800) at Debugger+0x4
i386_ipi_db(d0a61800,d05ff5a0,dab1bef8,d01eb997) at i386_ipi_db+0xb
i386_ipi_handler(b0,d05f0058,dab10010,d01d0010,dab10010) at i386_ipi_handler+0x
Xintripi() at Xintripi+0x47
--- interrupt ---
i386_softintlock(0,58,dab10010,dab10010,d01e0010) at i386_softintlock+0x37
Xintrltimer() at Xintrltimer+0x47
--- interrupt ---

Repeat the "machine ddbcpu x" followed by "trace" for each processor in your machine.

How to gather further information from a kernel crash.

A typical kernel crash on OpenBSD might look like this: (things to watch for are marked with bold font)

kernel: page fault trap, code=0
Stopped at    _pf_route+0x263:        mov     0x40(%edi),%edx

The first command to run from the ddb> prompt is "trace" (see ddb(4) for details):

ddb> trace
_pf_route(e28cb7e4,e28bc978,2,1fad,d0b8b120) at _pf_route+0x263
_pf_test(2,1f4ad,e28cb7e4,b4c1) at _pf_test+0x706
_pf_route(e28cbb00,e28bc978,2,d0a65440,d0b8b120) at _pf_route+0x207
_pf_test(2,d0a65440,e28cbb00,d023c282) at _pf_test+0x706
_ip_output(d0b6a200,0,0,0,0) at _ip_output+0xb67
_icmp_send(d0b6a200,0,1,a012) at _icmp_send+0x57
_icmp_reflect(d0b6a200,0,1,0,3) at _icmp_reflect+0x26b
_icmp_input(d0b6a200,14,0,0,d0b6a200) at _icmp_input+0x42c
_ipv4_input(d0b6a200,e289f140,d0a489e0,e289f140) at _ipv4_input+0x6eb
_ipintr(10,10,e289f140,e289f140,e28cbd38) at _ipintr+0x8d
Bad frame pointer: 0xe28cbcac

This tells us what function calls lead to the crash.

To find out the particular line of C code that caused the crash, you can do the following:
Find the source file where the crashing function is defined in. In this example, that would be pf_route() in sys/net/pf.c. Recompile that source file with debug information:

# cd /usr/src/sys/arch/$(uname -m)/compile/GENERIC/
# rm pf.o
# DEBUG=-g make pf.o

Then use objdump(1) to get the disassembly:

# objdump --line --disassemble --reloc pf.o >pf.dis

In the output, grep for the function name (pf_route in our example):

# grep "<_pf_route>:" pf.dis
00007d88 <_pf_route>:

Take this first hex number and add the offset from the 'Stopped at' line: 0x7d88 + 0x263 == 0x7feb.
Scroll down to that line (the assembler instruction should match the one quoted in the 'Stopped at' line), then up to the nearest C line number:

# more pf.dis
    7fe7:       0f b7 43 02             movzwl 0x2(%ebx),%eax
    7feb:       8b 57 40                mov    0x40(%edi),%edx
    7fee:       39 d0                   cmp    %edx,%eax
    7ff0:       0f 87 92 00 00 00       ja     8088 <_pf_route+0x300>

So, it's precisely line 3872 of pf.c that crashes:

# cat -n pf.c | head -n 3872 | tail -n 1
3872          if ((u_int16_t)ip->ip_len <= ifp->if_mtu) {

Note that the kernel that produced the crash output and the object file for objdump must be compiled from the exact same source file, otherwise the offsets won't match.

If you provide both the ddb> trace output and the relevant objdump section, that's very helpful.

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