The open source community was stunned this week to learn that Ian Murdock, the "ian" in Linux distribution Debian, has died at the age of 42.
Murdock, a self-described "Linux old timer" on his LinkedIn profile, created Debian in 1993 as a Purdue University student and released it three years later (read his Debian manifesto here). Since then, he has worked as CTO for the Linux Foundation, in various roles at increasingly open source friendly Sun Microsystems from 2007-2010, as a VP at Salesforce.com via an acquisition, and for the past couple of months, as a member of the technical staff at Linux container company Docker.
Docker CEO Ben Golub recognized Murdock in a blog post on Wednesday in which he noted the German-born software developer and executive's passing on Monday.
Golub wrote in part:
Debian was one of the first Linux distros to be forged, and it is widely regarded as a one of the most successful open-source projects ever launched. Ian helped pioneer the notion of a truly open project and community, embracing open design and open contribution; in fact the formative document of the open source movement itself (the Open Source Definition) was originally a Debian position statement. It is a testament to Ian’s commitment to openness and community that there are now more than 1,000 people currently involved in Debian development.
The Debian community has also posted a remembrance of Murdock in which it echoes Golub's sentiments about Murdock's open source passion:
Ian's sharp focus was on creating a Distribution and community culture that did the right thing, be it ethically, or technically. Releases went out when they were ready, and the project's staunch stance on Software Freedom are the gold standards in the Free and Open Source world.
Disturbing tweets from Murdock's own Twitter account, which has since been deleted (and that some have speculated might have been hacked), warned that the Debian founder planned to kill himself and railed against the police. San Francisco police have not issued any sort of statement regarding Murdock's death, though Ars Technica reports that public records show Murdock was arrested on Dec. 27 and later released on bail.