Harald Welte bigraphy, stories - German Linux kernal hacker

Harald Welte : biography

1979 -

Harald Welte (born 1979) is a programmer resident in Berlin, Germany. Within the free software community, Welte is well known as a hacker of the Linux kernel and for his activities in enforcing the GNU General Public License (GPL), the license that governs the use of much of free software.

Welte is also involved in a number of free software projects, such as Openmoko, (a version of Linux for completely open, low-cost, high-volume phones) and the netfilter/iptables project (the core firewall mechanism in Linux-based firewall computers and routing devices). He is an active member of the Chaos Computer Club.


On 2008-07-25, VIA Technologies appointed Harald Welte as its open source liaison. According to VIA, in his role as open source liaison Welte will be responsible for helping refine VIA’s open source strategy and optimise its support for Linux.

Welte will also “assist VIA to develop drivers that are in line with the standards and best practices of Linux kernel development, enhance the quality and public availability of VIA documentation, and improve interaction with the open source development community”.


Welte was Lead System Architect for Openmoko, a project to create a smartphone platform using free software. It uses the Linux kernel, together with a graphical user environment built using X.Org Server, and the Matchbox window manager. The OpenEmbedded build framework and ipkg package management system are used to create and maintain software packages.

However in 2007, Welte announced his withdrawal from Openmoko, citing internal friction and demotivation. He continues to contribute as a volunteer to the project.

Awards in 2008

On 2008-03-19, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced that it had awarded the Award for the Advancement of Free Software for 2007 to Welte, stating that "The awards committee honored both Welte's technical contributions to projects like the Linux kernel and the OpenMoko mobile platform project, and his community leadership in safeguarding the freedom of free software users by successfully enforcing the GNU General Public License in over one hundred cases since the gpl-violations.org project began in 2004."

On 2008-07-22, Welte received the Defender of Rights Open Source Award, presented to him by Chris DiBona, who indicated the award was primarily for Welte's work on gpl-violations.org.

GPL enforcement

Welte has become prominent for his work with gpl-violations.org, an organisation he set up in 2004 to track down and prosecute violators of the GPL, which had been untested in court until then.


Linux kernel development

Until 2007, Welte was the chairman of the core team responsible for the netfilter/iptables project. He is also credited with writing the UUCP over SSL how-to, and contributions to User-mode Linux and international encryption kernel projects, among others.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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