I'm going to be getting into BSD at some point very soon. I'm not that experienced on *nix - enough to figure out basic use on FreeBSD and to look forward to teaching myself more.

I started a few years ago with dabbling into FreeBSD. My choice of OS was basically from expedience - pfSense and FreeNAS which I use, both run on it, and I wanted to manage them more fully and perhaps contribute back.

So far that's been my limit. But recently I've decided I want to go further and immerse myself into a homelab BSD environment and learn it more fully in future. I've always liked the OpenBSD philosophy which matches my own, and just today realised that I've assumed I would learn on FreeBSD where in fact I could easily switch to OpenBSD as an OS install to learn with.

So my question is, what are the main differences I'll notice between learning on these?

Obviously I can guess some: there will be slightly different params for some commands. Some files will be in different places. Some defaults will be different. Behind the scenes quite a lot has subtle changes. But most of this will be minor, or only impact if I get into serious development, my impression is that most will be very similar or often nearly identical.

What would be helpful is a clear sense, as a comparative *nix newcomer, of the kinds of things I will come across that are different between them when I'm exploring and putting a toe in the water with them, so I can mentally mark out what's common between them and the main areas I'm likely to find, that won't be.

  • Please note, I'm not asking for better/worse, or advice choosing between them. I'm happy to use both, and I'd like to learn on OpenBSD primarily, but so far I've only used FreeBSD and that's been dabbling at most.

    So I'm pretty much after a heads-up, a list of the kinds of differences/things I'll probably come across and find useful to mentally mark as different between them as I explore. (Not least, so that I'll know what I need to relearn if I take my OpenBSD learnings and do stuff on FreeBSD with it in future!)
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    While off-topic, I recommend the book "Absolute OpenBSD" – Rui F Ribeiro Jul 4 '17 at 20:46

I simply recommend going into it as if you know nothing—there are too many differences for one to spell them all out. The OpenBSD man pages are very good and you can reviewing them judiciously before jumping into an area you think you know. As another poster mentioned, you could always pick up a book and read it through before proceeding.

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