4 Jan 2016

The Strange Case Of Debian Founder Ian Murdock's Suicide

UPDATE JULY 6 2016.
CNN has published Ian Murdock's death certificate.
The police found evidence of alcohol abuse in Murdock's home. The police would respond to alcohol-related incidents every day of the week yet, they appear not to intervene in the interests of the these people's mental health. So where is the failure? As first responders on the coal face of mental health issues caused by alcohol and other drug issues do the police need more training on how to deal with people like Ian Murdock? Inside Tasmania believes society is simply giving these people the run around, often with fatal consequences. 

For those who don't know who Ian Murdock was, he was the founder of Debian Linux, the free operating system used on everything from elevators to the International Space Station. Murdock was the 'Ian' in 'Debian'. Murdock committed suicide on December 28 2015 after a number of violent altercations with the San Francisco Police Department.
Brian Sumner at Copblock seems to have blamed the SFPD for what transpired.  He has published Murdock's last tweets.


The Linux community is having a global discussion about what actually happened to Murdock. Mental health issues are definitely in the picture as is potential police brutality. Like many highly intelligent people, Murdock may have suffered with Asperger's. He was a millionaire and didn't need to live in the US. Nobody knows the full story yet. It seems unlikely there was any sort of high level plot to destroy Murdock as it appears his own actions led to the involvement of the SFPD. How they dealt with his case remains unknown.
Sadly this is not the first time tragic events have overtaken a member of the Linux development community. In 2006 Hans Reiser, creator of the 'Reiser file system' was charged with murdering his wife. He is currently in Salinas Valley State Prison.
Debian Linux was announced in 1993 by Murdock. It has become the basis of Ubuntu, Mint and many other 'distros'. To see the impact Debian has had on Open Source software click 'Read more'.




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