Install OpenBSD on an HP thin client

Rob V

An article on how to install OpenBSD on a cheap second hand HP t5745 thin client.

This is my first blog post, I’d appreciate some comments.

I recently purchased a second hand HP thin client off Ebay as a cheap i386 computer to experiment with. I also purchased a dual Intel NC360T NIC with plans to install this to the thin client and test the box as a router/firewall/gateway.

The operating system I plan to use for this is BSD. BSD has a very robust networking stack and has a number of firewall “distributions” ready built and configured for this purpose. And of course it gives me an excuse to play with study an operating system that I am unfamiliar with.

Another reason is that I am becoming a little disillusioned with Linux (or GNU/Linux) and the adoption of systemd. systemd has caused me a few problems, only minor problems, but major enough to warrant looking for an alternative. More thoughts on that in a separate blog post.

First, lets install OpenBSD.

OpenBSD

There are a number of BSD flavours, some of the most popular according to distrowatch are FreeBSD, OpenBSD and NetBSD. I decided on OpenBSD for a few reasons:

  • OpenBSD is built with security being the priority.
  • The OpenBSD team are responsible for a number of side projects including OpenSSH, LibreSSL, pf, OpenNTPD and httpd.
  • No systemd to complicate matters. This is not unique to OpenBSD but mentioned because of BSD’s simpler init systems.
  • I first tried FreeBSD, release 11.0, but this did not work on when installing on Hyper-V, the network device drivers did not work properly. Installing the latest STABLE release fixed the problem but it took me a while to figure this out.

Hardware

Software

I downloaded the latest OpenBSD release ( version 6.0 at the time of writing ) from the OpenBSD downloads web page. Choose a local mirror.

Be sure to check the SHA hashes for the downloaded file.

As I was installing from a USB flash drive I downloaded the file for this purpose named install60.fs. If you are installing from CD, download and burn the file named install60.iso.

I use Ubuntu Linux on my laptop so after inserting the flash drive I ran the following command to write the image to the flash drive:

# dd if=~/install60.fs of=/dev/sdb1 bs=1M

Edit the above command to point to your downloaded file system image and your flash drive device location.

Once complete ( only took a few seconds on my computer) remove the flash drive and insert it into our thin client. Plug in a keyboard, monitor and network cable and boot her up.

You may have to change the boot order in the BIOS to boot from the USB flash drive.

After the machine boots we are greeted with the OpenBSD installer. I chose to do a normal install [i], there is an autoinstall option [a] which I did not use.

Follow the on screen instructions to install. I mostly chose the default options only changing the keyboard layout and time zone to my locale.

I elected to add a user during the install because I will be logging into the machine over SSH from now on. The root user is not allowed to login over SSH for security reasons, I do not recommend changing this.

When complete, reboot.

More detailed installation information can be found in the OpenBSD Install FAQ.

Post Install

After installation I recommend $ man afterboot to familiarise ourselves with the system and get some hints about any post install tweaks.

We now have an OpenBSD system running on our hardware.

In my next article I am going to set up a web server, OpenBSD’s httpd. Read about it here

Thanks for reading, please feel free to comment below.


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