Death of open-source pioneer Ian Murdock deemed suicide

When open-source software pioneer Ian Murdock died in December, he left behind a host of unanswered questions.

Murdock, a former Sun and Salesforce employee known for founding the Debian Linux operating system, went on a disturbing Twitter rant shortly before his death, claiming he was a victim of police brutality and threatening to kill himself. When his most recent employer, San Francisco-based startup Docker, announced his death two days later, the company didn’t say what happened. The police also kept quiet.

But an autopsy report obtained by CNN finally provides some answers — the San Francisco medical examiner’s office ruled Murdock’s death a suicide. He hanged himself with a vacuum cleaner cord, according to the report.

Several of Murdock’s friends, concerned about his tweets, had called the San Francisco Police Department and asked officers to check on him. When an officer responded to Murdock’s home, the software engineer was already dead.

Murdock’s body was covered in bruises at the time of his death, according to the autopsy report.

The report notes there was no evidence of illegal or prescription drug use, but there were several empty wine bottle scattered throughout the house. A neighbor told investigators that Murdock had been going through a difficult time — he recently broke up with his girlfriend and was facing eviction from his home at the end of the month.

Murdock was a leading force behind the open-source movement, according to the Docker blog post from December, which received hundreds of comments.

“We consider ourselves lucky to have known Ian and worked with him,” Docker CEO Ben Golub wrote. “He amazed everyone whom he worked with for the depth of his thinking, passion and experience. He was truly brilliant and an inspiration to many of us; his death is a loss to all whom he has known and touched.”

Photo: Screen shot from December Docker blog post announcing Ian Murdock’s death. (Docker)

 

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