BrownNet Logo.
BrownNet Logo.

Alastair F. Brown

(Al Brown)

"Web users ultimately want to get at data quickly and easily. They don't care as much about attractive sites and pretty design." Tim Berners-Lee




As Head of Computing for the MRC Human Genetics Unit until 2013, I was responsible for everything to do with computers and networks from fibre cabling through routers/switches to servers/SANs and desktops, so my knowledge is fairly extensive (see my C.V.). I now use my knowledge to run my own network BrownNet.


I use the OpenBSD operating system exclusively for BrownNet servers because:

  • It is robust and stable
  • It is secure by default (though users can break that in many ways!)
  • It is written "properly" - no shortcuts taken to give users the "gee whiz" feeling that other operating systems do
  • It has a high quality integrated firewall (PF)
  • ...a zillion other reasons

OpenBSD is not intended as a desktop operating system, though I do use it on a laptop for development and testing, and many people use it as a desktop OS. I use OpenBSD for DNS, DHCP, NTP, SMB/CIFS, Web Sites, Wikis, e-Mail MTA/MDA, SSH gateway, Authpf gateway, Network Monitoring, Firewalls, NAT, and Backup.

At MRC HGU it was used for all of the above plus Bridging Firewalls, Routing Firewalls, WiFi gateway (open guest and secure staff WiFi), pptp VPN, OpenVPN gateway, IPSec gateway, and SMS text alerts.

Utility Software

It is my intention to put some of the utilities which I have written for BrownNet into the public domain, but as usual writing good documentation for the utilities takes time and often has low priority. Watch this space.