Until late last night OpenBSD was facing shut down through not having the funding to pay its electricity bills. It appears to have been saved from this fate by a Romanian Bitcoin billionaire.
OpenBSD, which is currently on release 5.4, is a Unix-like OS descended from the Berkeley Software Distribution Unix derivative. It was forked from NetBSD by Theo de Raadt in 1995. Its dire financial situation was spelled out in an email towards the end of last year from Theo de Raadt;
The OpenBSD project uses a lot of electricity for running development and build machines. A number of logistical reasons prevents us from moving the machines to another location which might offer space/power for free, so <snip> we are looking for a Canadian company who will take on our electrical expenses -- on their books, rather than on our books.
Last week Bob Beck, of the OpenBSD Foundation reiterated the message, saying:
But the fact is right now, OpenBSD will shut down if we do not have the funding to keep the lights on.
and mentioning the sum of $20,000. This plea for funds appeared on Slashdot and today Slashdot carries that news of sponsorship for OpenBSD from Mircea Popescu, a Romanian billionaire.
More details are on BingoBoingo's Bitcoin Blog. He explains that a link to Theo de Raadt's appeal appeared on IRC Channel #bitcoin-assets together with the information that the OpenBSD foundation accepts Bitcoin donations using Bitpay.
The discussion in the Bitcoin chat room goes on to mention that OpenBSD tests builds on "a bunch of old hardware" with a picture to prove it:
Meanwhile Popescu has logged on to the #openbsc IRC channel to ask:
"soo, who has the authority to make a deal so I can cover the 20k shortfall"
and is advised how to contact Theo de Raadt.
Less than 4 hours later, back in #bitcoin-assets he states:
and it pleases me to announce openbsd got itself sponsored.
BingoBoingo points to the fact this good news broke first on IRC saying:
This episode just goes to show that IRC even in the 2010's continues to be one of the most expressive, influential, and effective communications mediums on the Internet.
He concludes his post:
I for one am happy that for at least another year the Vaxen will have an OS to run.
VAX is one of the 20 hardware platforms that OpenBSD supports. This support of older hardware is one reason for wanting it to continue and the other is that it acts as an incubator for other projects including OpenSSH and OpenSMTPD. Just how widely it is currently used isn't know but figures from 2005 show that it was less popular than FreeBSD, which supports fewer hardware platforms, but more popular than NetBSD which has the most extensive hardware support.
So rather than a Canadian Company has been saved by a Romanian individual entrepreneur using a new-fangled Bitcoin donation negotiated courtesy of old-fashioned IRC communication.