Theo de Raadt

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Theo de Raadt in 2013

Theo de Raadt (May 19 1968) is a Canadian computer security expert, programmer, a founder of NetBSD and the founder of OpenBSD.


  • The world doesn't live off jam and fancy perfumes - it lives off bread and meat and potatoes. Nothing changes. All the big fancy stuff is sloppy stuff that crashes. I don't need dancing baloney - I need stuff that works. That's not as pretty, and just as hard.
  • I actually am fairly uncomfortable about it, even if our firm stipulation was that they cannot tell us what to do. We are simply doing what we do anyways — securing software — and they have no say in the matter. I try to convince myself that our grant means a half of a cruise missile doesn't get built.
  • Low code quality keeps haunting our entire industry. That, and sloppy programmers who don't understand the frameworks they work within. They're like plumbers high on glue.
  • Hardware donations do not come from vendors who use OpenSSH on parts of their stuff. They come from individuals. The hardware vendors who use OpenSSH on all of their products have given us a total of one laptop since we developed OpenSSH five years ago. And asking them for that laptop took a year. That was IBM.
  • So the HP guy comes up to me (at the Melbourne conference) and he says, 'If you say nasty things like that to vendors you're not going to get anything'. I said 'no, in eight years of saying nothing, we've got nothing, and I'm going to start saying nasty things, in the hope that some of these vendors will start giving me money so I'll shut up'.
  • It's terrible, everyone is using it, and they don't realize how bad it is. And the Linux people will just stick with it and add to it rather than stepping back and saying, 'This is garbage and we should fix it.'
    • Quoted in Lyons, Daniel (2005-06-16). "Is Linux For Losers?". Forbes. Retrieved on 2007-01-10. 
    • on the quality of the code of the Linux kernel
  • Linux people do what they do because they hate Microsoft. We do what we do because we love Unix.
  • I think it is astounding that people could argue for "you just must trust someone else to fix it" instead of "you could fix it yourself, or hire someone to fix it." There is a contractor base out there that can solve these problems as well as or better than the major vendors could. But I think the major vendors are still having more luck at getting the ear of the press.
  • Well, we do not do this so that other players can make profit. We've actually been doing this for a long time and I do not know of anyone who specifically makes money off OpenBSD. They may, at best, save some money by not having to re-engineer the same software that we have already written. It is not exactly that we are letting them make a profit, but that we are doing a proper job and saving someone else from having to do the same job in a corporate setting. In our eyes, that is perhaps a waste of planet-wide engineer talents, rewriting the same thing over and over. Why can’t we just get it right once?
  • What's so exciting is to be able to just take something and polish it so much that hopefully in the future people will start borrowing things from it.
  • The only way to make it clear to him that he should not come here to our lists in the future, is to teach him a hard lesson, and that is done by continually re-adding cc's back to him -- because the mails talk about him -- even when his friends come our mailing lists and delete the his address from the cc list. Like this message, which adds him back in. Richard, you are a lying cheating hypocrite.
  • [...] beer results in ideas, which results in new code.
  • It's the little things that make Freedom become Not Freedom.
  • You are absolutely deluded, if not stupid, if you think that a worldwide collection of software engineers who can't write operating systems or applications without security holes, can then turn around and suddenly write virtualization layers without security holes.
  • Our solutions provide something that is 100% right, all the time. That is the idea. The cobbled together gunk never does [...] It's unfortunate the application-level people are all caught up in cobble, cobble, cobble and just never learn how to evolve.
  • But software which OpenBSD uses and redistributes must be free to all (be they people or companies), for any purpose they wish to use it, including modification, use, peeing on, or even integration into baby mulching machines or atomic bombs to be dropped on Australia.
    • Discussing a license change in ipf and how it required its removal and replacement with another firewall in OpenBSD's base distribution
    • "CVS: src". openbsd-cvs (Mailing list). 2001-05-30. Retrieved on 2023-10-03. 



As an easter egg, a now deleted fortune cookie feature of the mg editor that is included in OpenBSD contained a list of attributed quotes, some of which are possibly apocryphal (added in jest).

Some selected examples:

  • Quite frankly, SSE's alignment requirement is the most utterly retarded idea since eating your own shit.
  • You'd be safer using Windows than the code which was just deleted.
  • Those who don't understand Unix are condemned to reinvent Multics in a browser. (paraphrasing Herny Spencer's famous quote)
  • Don't tell anybody I said that.
    • Regarding previous quotation.
  • NFS loves everyone.
  • Buttons are for idiots.
  • The kernel is a harsh mistress.
  • 35 commits an hour? That's pathetic!
  • c++ is a pile of crap

Quotes from others about Theo de Raadt

  • On December 20 [1994], Theo de Raadt was asked to resign from the NetBSD Project by the remaining members of 'core'. This was a very difficult decision to make, and resulted from Theo's long history of rudeness towards and abuse of users and developers of NetBSD.
    • Adam Glass, NetBSD mailing list, December 23, 1994 [1].
  • Difficult.
    • Linus Torvalds, Forbes, June 16, 2005.
  • It's widely claimed that I'm "the one" who ejected Theo from the NetBSD community. That is false. At that time in NetBSD's history, Chris G. Demetriou was playing the role of alpha male, and I wasn't even given a choice. I was certain it was going to bite us in the ass. I think the question for historians is not whether it did bite us in the ass, but how many times and how hard.
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