About me

Ian Murdock

I’m vice president of emerging platforms at Sun, where I’m a member of the senior leadership team of Sun’s cloud computing group working at the intersection of open source and cloud computing. Also at Sun, I’ve held the posts of Vice President of Developer and Community, where I was responsible for Sun’s developer strategy, marketing, and programs; and Chief OS Platform Strategist, where I launched Project Indiana, the effort designed to lower barriers to adoption for the Solaris platform that led to the OpenSolaris distribution.

Prior to joining Sun, I was CTO of the Linux Foundation (formed through the merger of OSDL and the Free Standards Group, where I was CTO) and chair of the Linux Standard Base (LSB), the Linux platform interoperability standard.

Prior to joining the Free Standards Group, I was cofounder, chairman, and chief strategist of Progeny, a Linux distribution vendor that built custom Linux platforms for companies building server appliances and other Linux powered products.

I founded Debian in 1993 and led the project from its inception to 1996. (The name “Debian” is a concatenation of “Deb” and “Ian”.) Debian was one of the first Linux distributions and arguably the first open source project that explicity set out to be developed in a decentralized fashion by a group of volunteers. Today, over 1,000 volunteers are involved in Debian’s development, and there are millions of Debian users worldwide.

It’s easy to forget how radical many of the ideas behind Debian were at the time, but this article, published in the October 1994 issue of Linux Journal, serves as an excellent glimpse into Linux past. (Note that Red Hat and SuSE are not listed as “major distributions”, as they didn’t exist or barely existed at the time.)

As described in this article, we were among the first to see that the development model, more than the technology, was what made Linux special; that this distributed approach to building software had many positive qualities when compared to more traditional, centralized approaches; that careful software engineering and modularity were key to success in a distributed software development effort; that standards were important to guarantee interoperability between different Linux distributions; that packages were an elegant way to approach the problems of software installation and maintenance; and that one of the most useful properties of a modular system design was its impact on system upgradability.

My Debian retrospective, published on the 10th anniversary of Debian’s founding, is available here.

I’ve been a Linux user and developer since the early days, and I’ve been involved in numerous Linux and open source organizations and projects. Among other things, I was a founding director of Linux International (1993-1995) and the Open Source Initiative (1998-2001).

I received my B.S. in Computer Science from Purdue University in 1996.

From 1997 to 2000, I was at the University of Arizona, where I was a staff programmer and occasional graduate student in the Department of Computer Science. The view from my office looked something like this (sigh). I left the U of A to start Progeny with John Hartman.

I live in Indianapolis. Yes, contrary to popular belief (at least in the tech industry), there is a world between the coasts, and people do actually choose to live here. I have three wonderful children (Regan, Keely, and Nolan).

Sun bio here.

Contact Me

Email: imurdock imurdock com, ian.murdock sun com