There is clearly great sadness felt in the open source community today after learning of the passing of Ian Murdock who founded the Debian Linux Distribution and was the first Debian Project Leader. Ian is the “ian” in Debian and Deb, his then-girlfriend (Debra Lynn) for those not familiar with the history of the naming of the project.
I was fortunate to meet Ian Murdock some years ago at an early Linux Conference (LinuxWorld) and it was very inspiring to hear him talk about open source and open culture. I feel still today that he was one of the many people who helped shape my own direction and contributions in open source. Ian was very passionate about open source and helped create the bricks (philosophy, vision, governance, practice) that power many open source projects today.
If it were not for Ian, we would not have many of the great Debian forks we have today including the very popular Ubuntu. There is no doubt that the work he did and his contributions to the early days of open source have had an impact across many projects and losing Ian at such a young age is a tragedy.
That said, I think the circumstances around Ian’s death are quite concerning as we have seen the tweets he made. I do hope that if Ian suffered excessive force at the hands of the San Francisco Police Department that justice will eventually be served.
I hope that we can all reflect on the values that Ian championed and the important work that he did and celebrate his contributions, which have had a very large and positive impact on computing.
Thank you Ian!