February 27, 2001, 5:07 PM — Bruce Perens is ubiquitous. At least, it's sometimes seemed that way; he's known to computing specialists as the primary author of the open source definition, the former project leader for Debian, a senior programmer with Pixar, the creator of Electric Fence, and a prolific advocate of GNU/Linux and related open source matters. At the end of 2000, Hewlett-Packard hired him as a "strategic advisor." Last month, we interviewed him in ITworld.com's Interviews forum, where you can read the complete text of this interview. Here are the highlights.
LinuxWorld.com: Sounds nice, Bruce: "strategic advisor." Does that mean we're free to think dark thoughts about you personally the next time HP releases hardware with Windows drivers, but none for Linux?
Bruce Perens: About HP hardware: it's going to take more than a month on the job to change the policies for design-in decisions over a company of 81,000 people. I'm currently dealing with printers (with some success on existing lines and good hope for future models) and have yet to have a chat with the notebook folks about Winmodems. Management has bought into operating system independence.
While you are thinking I'm ubiquitous, don't forget that I'm also founder of No-Code International, the organization that has lobbied to remove the Morse code examination for ham radio licensing.
LinuxWorld.com: Funny you should mention No-Code International; although you don't know it, that is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think about you. I'm always a bit tentative about straying away from narrowly technical subjects in these interviews, because I assume folks want to manage their own privacy. While we're roaming around, what happened to Technocrat.net? And how is Stanley doing? [See Resources for links to both.] Is it in your plans to crank computing down to less than a full-time part of your life?
Bruce Perens: Stanley is 8 months old now, and is a very happy and healthy little kid. I really should put up more photos of him -- it's another thing I've not had time to do. Being a parent of a child this young is really a full-time job for two people (and Valerie gets too much of the load).
I finally shut Technocrat down this morning, actually. It just wasn't getting the traffic, and I didn't have time to do it justice.
LinuxWorld.com: You're working with printers now ("with some success") and aim to move on to notebooks in the future. What's that mean at a technical or daily-life level? What do you do that helps get source code for drivers out to the public, and why wasn't the job getting done before you arrived?