When he warned me in July of his willingness to leave, in order to have more time for his family, his own FLOSS projects (FreedomBox, Debian, …), I really was shocked and had a very bad night. It’s difficult for me to imagine Open Source at HP without him to represent it.
Bdale was IMHO our best Ambassador in the FLOSS community. He has a large ring of relationships in a large set of projects, and knows personality lots of key FLOSS personalities, some of them being even friends. He was giving a lot of credibility to HP around our FLOSS activities, and was listen internaly from both our internal community members, as well as our management, allowing our community to pass supportive FLOSS messages to it.
I had my first interaction with Bdale at HP in 2001. At that time Bruce Perens was the HP FLOSS representative (even he also was a big FLOSS personality, I preferred when Bdale took over the role), and as he couldn’t make the NordU 2002 Keynote, he was proposing that either Bdale or me did it !! As Bdale wasn’t available, I was the one replacing both him and Bruce !! Believe me, speaking of Open Source, Linux and freedom in Finland during a keynote session after a couple of months at HP was a bit stressing ! I still remember it. But that was great. Side note, if any event is willing to host me as a keynote speaker, I think I could do a much better job today ;-)
In 2002, Bdale was elected Debian Project Leader. He was the first HP employee leading this project. I then had the pleasure to meet with him face to face (well with my size, I can not really look at Bdale easily !) and I really was looking forward each time for this type of non-virtual meeting, as it was for me an opportunity to learn more on Open Source at HP and at large. Which was the case during various Fosdem, LinuxCon or our own internal TES. As I’ve always been impressed by his profound knowledge of this ecosystem, and the deep thoughts he’s able to have on various areas making this IT sector.
That’s why I built his application form so he could become Lutèce d’Or (personality of the year) during the event Paris, Capitale du Libre. That was my contribution back to his incredible work for FLOSS. But not the only one, as he told me once that MondoRescue saved once a critical Debian server he was hosting. Hopefully, you’ll continue to use
Bdale is one of the people I admire in the IT industry with Linus Torvalds and Larry Wall (In the music, I also have my heroes such as Gustav Leonhardt, Jordi Savall and her wife Montserrat Figueras, Jean Belliard or Frans Brüggen). I’m sure our paths will cross again very soon, and I hope our frienship will be reinforced by regular chats, mails and face to face meetings during FLOSS events. And in the mean time, I wish to him all the best for his new activities, that will benefit to all of us, and for his new life 2.0 !
Hopefully HP will find other FLOSS representatives. Corporations always say that anybody is replaceable. I disagree. Everybody brings a unique touch. And here, for sure, it will never be the same. You’ll be missed.
All the best Bdale for your future, and hope rockets flied this week-end ;-)