Ian Murdock

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Ian Murdock
Ian Murdock interview at Holiday Club hotel 2008 (2).jpg
Murdock, in interview, April 2008
Ian Ashley Murdock

(1973-04-28)April 28, 1973
DiedDecember 28, 2015(2015-12-28) (aged 42)
Cause of death Asphyxiation due to suicide by hanging
Alma mater Purdue University
Known for Debian
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Debra Lynn
(div. 2008)
  • Lawrence L. Murdock Ph.D. (father)

Ian Ashley Murdock (28 April 1973  28 December 2015) was an American software engineer, known for being the founder of the Debian project and Progeny Linux Systems, a commercial Linux company.

Software engineer Practitioner of software engineering

A software engineer is a person who applies the principles of software engineering to the design, development, maintenance, testing, and evaluation of computer software.

Debian Free Unix-like operating system

Debian is a Unix-like operating system consisting entirely of free software. Ian Murdock founded the Debian Project on August 16, 1993. Debian 0.01 was released on September 15, 1993, and the first stable version, 1.1, was released on June 17, 1996. The Debian Stable branch is the most popular edition for personal computers and network servers, and is used as the basis for many other Linux distributions.

Progeny Linux Systems was a company which provided Linux platform technology. Their Platform Services technology supported both Debian and RPM-based distributions for Linux platforms. Progeny Linux Systems was based in Indianapolis. Ian Murdock, the founder of Debian, was the founder and Chairman of the Board. Its CTO was John H. Hartman, and Bruce Byfield was marketing and communications director.


Life and career

Although Murdock's parents were both from Southern Indiana, [1] he was born in Konstanz, West Germany, on 28 April 1973, where his father was pursuing postdoctoral research. The family returned to the United States in 1975, and Murdock grew up in Lafayette, Indiana, beginning in 1977 when his father became a professor of entomology at Purdue University. Murdock graduated from Harrison High School in 1991, [2] and then earned his bachelor's degree in computer science from Purdue in 1996.

Southern Indiana

Southern Indiana is a region consisting of the southern third of the state of Indiana.

Konstanz Place in Baden-Württemberg, Germany

Konstanz is a university city with approximately 83,000 inhabitants located at the western end of Lake Constance in the south of Germany, bordering Switzerland. The city houses the University of Konstanz and was for more than 1200 years residence of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Konstanz.

West Germany Federal Republic of Germany in the years 1949–1990

West Germany was the informal name for what was officially the Federal Republic of Germany, a country in Central Europe, in the period between its formation on 23 May 1949 and German reunification on 3 October 1990. During this Cold War period, the western portion of Germany was part of the Western bloc. The Federal Republic was created during the Allied occupation of Germany after World War II, established from eleven states formed in the three Allied zones of occupation held by the United States, the United Kingdom and France. Its (provisional) capital was the city of Bonn.

While a college student, Murdock founded the Debian project in August 1993, and wrote the Debian Manifesto in January 1994. Murdock conceived Debian as a Linux distribution that embraced open design, contributions, and support from the free software community. He named Debian after his then-girlfriend (later wife) Debra Lynn, and himself (Deb and Ian). [3] They later married, had three children, and divorced in January 2008. [4]

Free software software licensed to preserve user freedoms

Free software or libre software is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty, not price: users—individually or in cooperation with computer programmers—are free to do what they want with their copies of a free software regardless of how much is paid to obtain the program. Computer programs are deemed free insofar as they give users ultimate control over the first, thereby allowing them to control what their devices are programmed to do.

In January 2006, Murdock was appointed Chief Technology Officer of the Free Standards Group and elected chair of the Linux Standard Base workgroup. [5] He continued as CTO of the Linux Foundation when the group was formed from the merger of the Free Standards Group and Open Source Development Labs.

The Free Standards Group was an industry non-profit consortium chartered to primarily specify and drive the adoption of open source standards. It was founded in 1998.

Linux Standard Base

The Linux Standard Base (LSB) is a joint project by several Linux distributions under the organizational structure of the Linux Foundation to standardize the software system structure, including the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard used in the Linux kernel. The LSB is based on the POSIX specification, the Single UNIX Specification (SUS), and several other open standards, but extends them in certain areas.

Linux Foundation A non-profit technology consortium to develop the Linux operating system

The Linux Foundation (LF) is a non-profit technology consortium founded in 2000 as a merger between Open Source Development Labs and the Free Standards Group to standardize Linux, support its growth, and promote its commercial adoption. It also hosts and promotes the collaborative development of open source software projects.

Murdock left the Linux Foundation to join Sun Microsystems in March 2007 [6] to lead Project Indiana, which he described as "taking the lesson that Linux has brought to the operating system and providing that for Solaris", making a full OpenSolaris distribution with GNOME and userland tools from GNU plus a network-based package management system. [7] From March 2007 to February 2010, he was Vice President of Emerging Platforms at Sun, [8] until the company merged with Oracle and he resigned his position with the company. [9]

Sun Microsystems defunct American computer hardware and software company

Sun Microsystems, Inc. was an American company that sold computers, computer components, software, and information technology services and created the Java programming language, the Solaris operating system, ZFS, the Network File System (NFS), and SPARC. Sun contributed significantly to the evolution of several key computing technologies, among them Unix, RISC processors, thin client computing, and virtualized computing. Sun was founded on February 24, 1982. At its height, the Sun headquarters were in Santa Clara, California, on the former west campus of the Agnews Developmental Center.

Solaris (operating system) Unix operating system originally developed by Sun Microsystems

Solaris is a Unix operating system originally developed by Sun Microsystems. It superseded their earlier SunOS in 1993. In 2010, after the Sun acquisition by Oracle, it was renamed Oracle Solaris.

OpenSolaris Open source operating system from Sun Microsystems based on Solaris

OpenSolaris is a discontinued, open source computer operating system based on Solaris created by Sun Microsystems. It was also the name of the project initiated by Sun to build a developer and user community around the software. After the acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010, Oracle decided to discontinue open development of the core software, and replaced the OpenSolaris distribution model with the proprietary Solaris Express.

From 2011 until 2015 Murdock was Vice President of Platform and Developer Community at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, based in Indianapolis. [9] [10]

Salesforce Marketing Cloud organization

Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a provider of digital marketing automation and analytics software and services. It was founded in 2000 under the name ExactTarget. The company filed for an IPO in 2007, but withdrew its filing two years later and raised $145 million in funding. It acquired CoTweet, Pardot, iGoDigital and Keymail Marketing. In 2012, it raised $161.5 million in an initial public offering, before being acquired by Salesforce for $2.5 billion in 2013. ExactTarget was renamed to Salesforce Marketing Cloud in 2014 after the acquisition by Salesforce.

Indianapolis State capital and Consolidated city-county in the United States

Indianapolis, often shortened to Indy, is the state capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Indiana and the seat of Marion County. According to 2017 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, the consolidated population of Indianapolis and Marion County was 872,680. The "balance" population, which excludes semi-autonomous municipalities in Marion County, was 863,002. It is the 16th most populous city in the U.S. The Indianapolis metropolitan area is the 34th most populous metropolitan statistical area in the U.S., with 2,028,614 residents. Its combined statistical area ranks 27th, with a population of 2,411,086. Indianapolis covers 368 square miles (950 km2), making it the 16th largest city by land area in the U.S.

From November 2015 until his death Murdock was working for Docker, Inc. [9]


Murdock died on 28 December 2015 in San Francisco. [11] [12] [13] Though initially no cause of death was released, [14] [15] in July 2016 it was announced his death had been ruled a suicide. [16] [17] The police confirmed that the cause of death was due to asphyxiation caused by hanging himself with a vacuum cleaner electrical cord. [18]

The last tweets from Murdock's Twitter account first announced that he would commit suicide, then said he would not. He reported having been accused of assault on a police officer after having been himself assaulted by the police, then declared an intent to devote his life to opposing police abuse. His Twitter account was taken down shortly afterwards. [19] [20]

The San Francisco police confirmed he was detained, saying he matched the description in a reported attempted break-in and that he appeared to be drunk. [21] [22] The police stated that he became violent and was ultimately taken to jail on suspicion of four misdemeanor counts. They added that he did not appear to be suicidal and was medically examined prior to release. Later, police returned on reports of a possible suicide. The city medical examiner's office confirmed Murdock was found dead. [23] [24]

See also

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Bruce Perens American computer scientist

Bruce Perens is an American computer programmer and advocate in the free software movement. He created The Open Source Definition and published the first formal announcement and manifesto of open source. He co-founded the Open Source Initiative (OSI) with Eric S. Raymond.

GNU Unix-like operating system

GNU is an operating system and an extensive collection of computer software. GNU is composed wholly of free software, most of which is licensed under the GNU Project's own General Public License (GPL).

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Ian Jackson is a long time free software author and Debian developer. Jackson wrote dpkg, SAUCE, userv and debbugs. He used to maintain the Linux FAQ. He runs chiark.greenend.org.uk, a Linux system which is home to PuTTY among other things.

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  1. Campbell, Tom (Spring 2004). "One by air, one by sea, one by land". Purdue Agriculture Connections. 13 (2).
  2. The Prophet. William Henry Harrison High School Yearbook. 1991.
  3. Nixon, Robin (2010). Ubuntu: Up and Running. O'Reilly Media. p. 3. ISBN   978-0-596-80484-8.
  4. "Fort Wayne News-Sentinel". 6 February 2008. Archived from the original on 1 November 2014.
  5. "Debian Founder Ian Murdock Appointed Chief Technology Officer Of The Free Standards Group And Linux Standard Base Workgroup Chair". Free Standards Group. 31 January 2006. Archived from the original on 24 September 2006. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  6. Murdock, Ian. "Joining Sun". ianmurdock.com. Archived from the original on 29 December 2015. Retrieved 31 December 2015.
  7. "Q and A: Sun's Top Operating System Brass Talk OS Strategy", The Unix Guardian, IT Jungle, archived from the original on 4 March 2013
  8. "Executive Bio". Sun Microsystems. Archived from the original on 30 April 2008.
  9. 1 2 3 Gallagher, Sean (30 December 2015). "Ian Murdock, father of Debian, dead at 42". Ars Technica . Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  10. About me « Ian Murdock’s Weblog, 22 July 2014, archived from the original on 9 October 2014
  11. Golub, Ben (30 December 2015). "In Memoriam: Ian Murdock". Docker Blog. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  12. Guerrero Lopez, Ana; Norwood, Donald; Tagliamonte, Paul (30 December 2015). "Debian mourns the passing of Ian Murdock". Bits from Debian. Retrieved 30 December 2015.
  13. Williams, Chris (30 December 2015). "Debian Linux founder Ian Murdock dead at 42". The Register.
  14. Biggs, John (30 December 2015). "Debian Creator Ian Murdock Dead At 42". Tech Crunch.
  15. "Tweets with replies by Ian Murdock (@imurdock) | Twitter". 29 December 2015. Archived from the original on 29 December 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  16. Pagliery, Jose (6 July 2016). "Mysterious death of software pioneer Ian Murdock ruled suicide". CNN. Retrieved 6 July 2016.
  17. "Debian founder Ian Murdock killed himself – SF medical examiner", theregister.co.uk, 7 July 2016
  18. "Medical Examination of Ian Murdock" (PDF).
  19. Aditya Saky. "[UPDATED] Debian Founder Ian Murdock's Tweets Are Raising Eyebrows". Techaeris.
  20. "screenshot of @imurdock" (PDF). 29 December 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 December 2015.
  21. "Prominent Programmer Dies In Apparent Suicide After Violent Encounter With San Francisco Police". CBS. 31 December 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  22. Alex Hernandez. "Ian Murdock Did Have An Altercation With Police Before His Death". Techaeris.
  23. Morris, Scott (31 December 2015). "Police confirm Ian Murdock arrest before threatened suicide". SFBay.ca.
  24. Hamill, Jasper (1 January 2016). "Millionaire tech guru dies in mysterious circumstances after tweeting series of astonishing police brutality allegations". Mirror.
New creation
Founding of Debian Project
Debian Project Leader
August 1993 – March 1996
Succeeded by
Bruce Perens