Bruce Perens

Bruce Perens bigraphy, stories - Computer programmer

Bruce Perens : biography

Bruce Perens is a computer programmer and advocate in the open source community. He created the Open Source Definition and published the first formal announcement and manifesto of open source. He co-founded the Open Source Initiative (OSI) with Eric S. Raymond.

In 2005, Perens represented Open Source at the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, at the invitation of the United Nations Development Program. He has appeared before national legislatures and is often quoted in the press, advocating for open source and the reform of national and international technology policy.

Perens is also an amateur radio operator, with callsign K6BP. He is well known in the amateur radio community for his efforts towards open radio communications standards.Interview with Leo Laporte on ‘The Tech Guy’ radio show, 2011-10-16


Perens is a former Debian Project Leader, a founder of Software in the Public Interest, founder and first project leader of the Linux Standard Base project, the initial author of BusyBox, and founder of the UserLinux project. Perens also has a book series with Prentice Hall PTR called the Bruce Perens’ Open Source Series. He is an avid amateur radio enthusiast (callsign K6BP) and maintained, which he closed in late 2008 because its revenues did not cover its costs. He is also the founder of No Code International, an organization whose primary purpose was to eliminate morse code proficiency as a requirement to obtain an amateur radio license. This goal has been reached with the removal of code requirements from international law (International Telecommunications Union treaty provision S25.5), the new "code-free" rules introduced on 2007-02-23, and similar legal changes in almost all nations worldwide.

Perens left OSI a year after co-founding it, with reasons explained in an email titled "It’s Time to Talk About Free Software Again". In February 2008, for the 10th anniversary of the Open Source, Perens published a message to the community called "State of Open Source Message: A New Decade For Open Source". For the same event, the 10th anniversary of Open Source, the ezine RegDeveloper published an interview with Bruce Perens where he revives an updated view on the past and the future, and the dangers of the Open Source, especially the useless proliferation of OSI approved licenses and the strength of the GPL 3. In addition, the interview covered Linus Torvalds’ refusal to adopt the GPLv3 for the Linux kernel.

He was an employee of SourceLabs from June 2005 until December 2007. He is currently CEO of Kiloboot.

Creation of the Open Source Definition

The Open Source Definition was first created by Perens as the Debian Free Software Guidelines, itself part of the Debian Social Contract. Perens proposed a draft of the Debian Social Contract to the Debian developers on the debian-private mailing list early in June, 1997. Debian developers contributed discussion and changes for the rest of the month while Perens edited, and the completed document was then announced as Debian project policy. On February 3, 1998, a group of people met at VA Linux Systems (without Perens) to discuss the promotion of Free Software to business from pragmatic terms, rather than the moral terms preferred by Richard Stallman. Christine Petersen of the nanotechnology organization Foresight Institute was present because Foresight took an early interest in Free Software, and Petersen suggested the term "Open Source". The next day, Eric Raymond recruited Perens to work with him on the formation of Open Source. Perens modified his Debian document into the Open Source Definition by removing Debian references and replacing them with "Open Source".

The original announcement of the Open Source Definition was made on February 9, 1998 on Slashdot and elsewhere; the definition was given in Linux Gazette on February 10, 1998.

2007 activities

Perens remained active in representing open source to the world and advising several national governments and multinational corporations regarding Open Source. In 2007 some of his government advisory roles included: a meeting with the President of the Chamber of Deputies (the lower house of parliament) in Italy and testimony to the Culture Committee of the Chamber of Deputies; a keynote speech at the foundation of Norway’s Open Source Center, following Norway’s Minister of Governmental Reform (Perens is on the advisory board of the center); he provided input on the revision of the European Interoperability Framework; and he was keynote speaker at a European Commission conference on Digital Business Ecosystems at the Centre Borschette, Brussels, on November 7.