Bdale Garbee Has Close Shave at

by Ostatic Staff - Jan. 22, 2009

Shortly after lunch at the last day of LCA, Linus Torvalds took the first snip of Bdale Garbee's beard with a pair of garden shears. Garbee, acting secretary for the Debian Project and HP's Linux CTO, has given his beard to help save the Tasmanian Devil.

The Linux community is nothing if not altruistic. This year's has not only served as a vehicle to gather community and learn about Linux, but also as an opportunity to educate about the plight of Tasmanian Devils.

LCA 2009's conference mascot is Tuz, a tasmanian devil with a strap-on beak. The conference organizers decided to go with a non-traditional mascot to highlight the status of Tasmanian Devils, which are an endangered species due to a facial cancer that's spread when the devils feed.

To raise money for research and to help the poor devils, an auction was held after the Penguin Dinner Wednesday night. One thing led to another and after much raised bidding, Garbee's beard went into the pot as part of the auction:

Somewhere along the line (things were getting a little chaotic by this point), someone suggested that Bdale offer to shave his beard if the bidding went over a certain amount. Bdale seemed extremely uncomfortable with this. He told a story about how he had started the beard as part of a bet in College and that his wife of many years (the photographer) had only known him beardless for a few weeks when they'd first started dating in college.

All told, more than $36,000 (Australian) was raised to help the devils.

After lunch Friday, it was standing room only in the keynote room while Torvalds took garden shears and then clippers to Garbee's glorious grey beard. Garbee finished the job himself while hundreds of cameras clicked away and audience members posted progress updates to Twitter.

While the money raised probably won't be enough to fully address the problem, it certainly will help. Even more than the money, LCA organizers hope that the event will raise awareness of the problem and help continue to bring in funds to save the devils.

Rumor has it that Tuz won't be going away after LCA 2009. Expect to see Tuz on a future Linux release during boot time, to further support the cause.

Joe 'Zonker' Brockmeier is a longtime FOSS advocate, and currently works for Novell as the community manager for openSUSE. Prior to joining Novell, Brockmeier worked as a technology journalist covering the open source beat for a number of publications, including Linux Magazine, Linux Weekly News,,, IBM developerWorks, and many others.