Software developer Hans Reiser was found guilty today of first degree murder in the death of his wife in late 2006, a conviction that carries up to 25 years in prison and a possible death sentence for the Reiser4 file system. [Techmeme] The verdict, delivered Monday afternoon by an Alameda County, Calif. jury, concludes a five-month-long trial. Reiser was separated from wife Nina Reiser (and engaged in a custody battle for their two children) at the time of her disappearance, which occurred in the fall of 2006. Her body has never been found.
ReiserFS (File System) is incorporated in the Linux kernel and is used in many top Linux distributions, although EXT3 has succeeded it a the leading file system. The Reiser4 open source project, the successor to ReiserFS also conceived by Hans Reiser, continues to be developed and supported by a group of open source programmers. In an e-mail interview over the weekend, Edward Shishkin, a top developer of Reiser4, said work continues on the file system but the fate of the open source project long term is uncertain.
Open source developers say Reiser, now 44, is a brilliant software programmer who dropped out of school at 14 and fast tracked to UC Berkeley where he focused on file system development for Linux. His genius notwithstanding, Reiser was said to have interpersonal problems and exhibited anti-social behavior that aliented some members of the Linux kernel project and the judge in the murder case against him.
Ted Ts'o, a top linux kernel develop and fellow at the Linux Foundation, heads up the ext3 file system and ext4 open source project that competes with Reiser's file system. Ts'o contends that Reiser is a talented programmer whose work was overshadowed by his temperament but whose file system technology may have a better shot under new management.
"Hans was not the easiest person to work with and and it's ironic that that having some of these folks [who now work on the Reiser4 project] interact with the Linux comunity allows Reiser4 to make more of a focus toward mainline inclusio simply because hans was his won worst enemy and questionable social skills," Ts'o said. "Hans was technically brilliant but socially not at quite the same level."