Debian Founder Ian Murdock Dead at 42

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 31, 2015

The community is in shock and heartache tonight as news of Ian Murdock's Monday evening death is released. Murdock's employer, Docker, as well as representatives from Debian informed the community this afternoon. No details were given but could Ian Murdock's same day suicide threats be a coincidence? Stephen J. Vaughan-Nichols had the most information on the time line leading up to the death.

As reported last night, Murdock had threatened suicide on his twitter account Monday evening, citing altercations with and abuse from law enforcement in San Francisco. Today we learn he mysteriously died that very evening and San Francisco police have reportedly said they don't see anything suspicious. There's nothing to see here, move along.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols had the best report today quoting sources "close to the police department." Apparently, Murdock had still been celebrating the Christmas season when he resisted arrest for trying to break into a house. He makes $1.4 million a year, but he still needs to break into someone's home? He claimed on twitter he was knocking. A scuffle ensued at the scene and Murdock was treated for abrasions and taken to a nearby hospital. Apparently, accordingly to police sources, he was arrested again the following evening for knocking on a neighbor's door but it wasn't clear if it was the same door. Again, Murdock had to be treated for injuries following that police encounter. He made bail at some point and returned home.

The next day began his disturbing tweets in which he said he was going to commit suicide that night. His posts were frantic and almost incoherent, he was obviously disturbed and very upset. Murdock said a female police officer had stripped searched him and actually ripped off his lower undergarment during his ordeal. He said if the situation had been reversed they'd call it rape, but in his case he claimed the police told him they could do anything they wanted to him. Apparently what they wanted left a highly educated, well respected, professional, upper middle class husband and father sounding despondent and threatening (and apparently committing) suicide.

Well, that's all we're allowed to know at this time. It's just coincidental that his twitter account (PDF archive) was deleted probably right after his death. The family has asked for privacy and no statements were released by the police department.

The community is in mourning. Just about every blog and website I monitor carried the news or wrote condolences and memories. Ian Murdock was respected by the best of our little community and the wider tech sector as well. What would the Linux landscape look like today without Debian?  He will be missed.