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)28 April 1973
Died28 December 2015(2015-12-28) (aged 42)
Cause of deathAsphyxiation due to suicide by hanging
Alma materPurdue University
Known forDebian
Height1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)
Debra Lynn (div. 2008)
  • Lawrence L. Murdock PhD (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.

Life and career[edit]

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.

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]

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.

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]

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

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[edit]


  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. ^ a b c 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. Archived from the original on 4 January 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2016.
  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.

External links[edit]

New creation
Founding of Debian Project
Debian Project Leader
August 1993 – March 1996
Succeeded by
Bruce Perens