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Benevolent dictator for life

From EverybodyWiki Bios & Wiki

Benevolent dictator for life (BDFL) is a title given to a small number of open-source software development leaders, typically project founders who retain the final say in disputes or arguments within the community. The phrase originated in 1995 with reference to Guido van Rossum, creator of the Python programming language.[1][2] Shortly after Van Rossum joined the Corporation for National Research Initiatives, the term appeared in a follow-up mail by Ken Manheimer to a meeting trying to create a semi-formal group that would oversee Python development and workshops; this initial use included an additional joke of naming Van Rossum the "First Interim BDFL".[1] Van Rossum announced in July 2018 that he would be stepping down as BDFL of Python without appointing a successor, effectively eliminating the title within the Python community structure.[3]

BDFL should not be confused with the more common term for open-source leaders, "benevolent dictator", which was popularized by Eric S. Raymond's essay "Homesteading the Noosphere" (1999).[4] Among other topics related to hacker culture, Raymond elaborates on how the nature of open source forces the "dictatorship" to keep itself benevolent, since a strong disagreement can lead to the forking of the project under the rule of new leaders.

Referent candidates[edit]

Name Project Type Reference
Sylvain Benner Spacemacs Community-driven Emacs distribution [5]
Vitalik Buterin Ethereum Blockchain-based cryptocurrency [6]
Dries Buytaert Drupal Content management framework [7]
François Chollet Keras Deep learning framework [8]
Evan Czaplicki Elm Front-end web programming language [9][10]
Laurent Destailleur Dolibarr ERP CRM Software suite for Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Relationship Management [11]
Juan Carlos Franco Calcite Components TypeScript design system built using Web Components. [12][13]
David Heinemeier Hansson Ruby on Rails Web framework [14]
Rich Hickey Clojure Programming language [15]
Adrian Holovaty
and Jacob Kaplan-Moss
Django Web framework [16]
Andrew Kelley Zig Programming language [17][18]
Xavier Leroy OCaml Programming language [19][20]
Haoyuan Li Alluxio Data Orchestration System [21]
Yukihiro Matsumoto (Matz) Ruby Programming language [22]
Wes McKinney Pandas Python data analysis library [23]
Caolán McNamara LibreOffice Office suite [24]
Gavin Mendel-Gleason[lower-alpha 1] TerminusDB Open-source graph database for knowledge graph representation [25][26]
Bram Moolenaar Vim Text editor [27]
Matt Mullenweg[lower-alpha 2] WordPress Content management framework [28]
Martin Odersky Scala Programming language [29]
Taylor Otwell Laravel Web framework [30][31]
Theo de Raadt OpenBSD A Unix-like operating system [citation needed]
Eugen Rochko Mastodon Open source, decentralized social network [32]
Ton Roosendaal[lower-alpha 3] Blender 3D computer graphics software [33]
Sébastien Ros Orchard Project Content management system [34]
Mark Shuttleworth[lower-alpha 4] Ubuntu Linux distribution [35]
Jeremy Soller Redox Operating system [36]
Don Syme[lower-alpha 5] F# Programming language [37]
Linus Torvalds[lower-alpha 6] Linux Operating system kernel [14][38]
José Valim Elixir Programming language [39]
Pauli Virtanen SciPy Python library used for scientific and technical computing [40][41]
Patrick Volkerding Slackware GNU/Linux distribution [42]
Nathan Voxland Liquibase Database schema management [43]
Jimmy Wales Wikimedia Foundation Collaborative knowledge project [44][45]
Jeremy Walker Exercism Open-source programming education platform [46]
Shaun Walker DotNetNuke Web application framework [47]
Larry Wall Perl Programming language [48]
Evan You Vue.js JavaScript MVVM framework for building user interfaces and single-page applications. [citation needed]
Soumith Chintala PyTorch Deep learning framework [49]
Martin Traverso, Dain Sundstrom, David Phillips Trino SQL query engine [50]
Kohsuke Kawaguchi Jenkins Automation server [51]
Bram Cohen BitTorrent Peer-to-peer file sharing protocol [52]
Walter Bright D (programming language) Programming language [citation needed]

Organizational positions[edit]

  1. CTO of TerminusDB
  2. Lead Developer at the WordPress Foundation
  3. Chairman of the Blender Foundation
  4. Until December 2009, CEO of Canonical Ltd
  5. Technical Advisor at the F# Software Foundation
  6. Sponsee of the Linux Foundation. Also holds the trademark for Linux

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Guido van Rossum (July 31, 2008). "Origin of BDFL". Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2008. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. "Python Creator Scripts Inside Google". eWeek. March 6, 2006. Archived from the original on August 9, 2018. Retrieved May 13, 2008. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  3. Van Rossum, Guido (July 12, 2018). "Transfer of power". Archived from the original on July 12, 2018. Retrieved August 9, 2018. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. Eric S. Raymond (2000). "Homesteading the Noosphere § Project Structures and Ownership". Eric S. Raymond's Home Page. Archived from the original on July 1, 2012. Retrieved August 1, 2008. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  5. "Spacemacs". GitHub. Retrieved 2017-08-24.
  6. "Ethereum's Boy King Is Thinking About Giving Up the Mantle"
  7. Fay, Randy. "How Do Open Source Communities Govern Themselves? | RandyFay.comties Govern Themselves?". Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  8. "Keras API Special Interest Group, Leadership". GitHub. December 21, 2021.
  9. "56: Ember vs. Elm: The Showdown with Philip Poots | The Frontside Podcast". The Frontside Podcast. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. Retrieved 2017-08-14. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  10. elm-conf (2016-09-19), "Code is the Easy Part" by Evan Czaplicki, retrieved 2017-08-14
  11. "Dolibarr project organization, different roles of actors".
  12. "Calcite Components". GitHub. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  13. "Use the source Luke, and Calcite Components". The Bounding Box Podcast. Retrieved 2023-01-19.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Constine, Josh (December 7, 2012). "Dropbox Hires Away Google's Guido Van Rossum, The Father Of Python". TechCrunch. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  15. "Clojure JIRA Workflow". Archived from the original on November 13, 2015. Retrieved 3 October 2015. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  16. "Adrian and Jacob retiring as Django BDFLs". Adrian Holovaty. January 12, 2014. Retrieved June 14, 2015.
  17. "Proposal: Create a standard process for proposals". GitHub.
  18. "I think the Zig community/BDFL might appreciate adding an APE target "os"". Hacker News.
  19. "A History of OCaml |". Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  20. "OCaml Infrastructure mailing list". Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  21. Introducing Alluxio Open Source Project Governance "[1]"
  22. "A Ruby Design Process". Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  23. "pandas 0.20.3 documentation: Tutorials". Retrieved 2017-07-24. "Wes McKinney's (pandas BDFL) blog"
  24. "LibreOffice ecosystem interview: Caolán McNamara at Red Hat". Retrieved 2022-06-21. "The Document Foundation blog"
  25. "TerminusDB, Twitter". May 6, 2020. Retrieved May 6, 2020.
  26. "TerminusDB — what's in a name?". TerminusDB. August 21, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2020.
  27. "Why Neovim is Better than Vim". January 15, 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  28. "Thesis, Automattic, and WordPress | Post Status". July 24, 2015. Retrieved 2015-07-24.
  29. "Programming in Scala Leaps onto the World Stage!". Retrieved 2015-11-25.
  30. "Taylor Otwell, Twitter". Taylor Otwell. October 9, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  31. "Taylor Otwell, Creator of the Laravel PHP Framework". Facebook. August 5, 2014. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  32. "Mastodon is crumbling—and many blame its creator". The Daily Dot. January 18, 2019.
  33. "Developer Intro/Overview". Retrieved 20 July 2018.
  34. "Orchard Project Steering Committee". Archived from the original on August 12, 2015. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  35. "Ubuntu carves niche in Linux landscape". CNET. Archived from the original on 6 November 2015.
  36. " · master · redox-os / redox".
  37. "Contributing to the F# Language and Compiler". Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  38. Dee-Ann LeBlanc (31 July 2006). Linux For Dummies (7th ed.). John Wiley & Sons. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-470-04793-4. Search this book on
  39. "Elixir Companies". GitHub. Retrieved 2017-11-01.
  40. "SciPy 1.0.0". GitHub. Retrieved 2017-10-27.
  41. "SciPy project governance". GitHub. Retrieved 2017-10-27.
  42. "Stories of Linux: A Look at Slackware Linux". Archived from the original on October 30, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2014. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  43. "User and Developer Community | Post Status". Retrieved 2015-08-13.
  44. Chozick, Amy (June 27, 2013). "Jimmy Wales is Not an Internet Billionaire". The New York Times.
  45. Disputed by Wales; "I am not the benevolent dictator of anything"
  46. "Jeremy Walker on Being the BDFL of Exercism by Humans of Open Source • A podcast on Anchor". Anchor. Retrieved 2021-03-26.
  47. Book: Building Websites with DotNetNuke 5, Michael Washington and Ian Lackey, Packt Publishing. Page 14 "The core team comprises individuals invited to join the team by Shaun Walker, whom they affectionately call the "Benevolent Dictator".
  48. "The Art of Ballistic Programming". Archived from the original on June 17, 2013. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  49. "PyTorch Governance | Maintainers — PyTorch 2.0 documentation". Retrieved 2023-03-21.
  50. Trino and the BDFL model
  51. Jenkins Enhancement Proposal #1: BDFL
  52. BitTorrent Enhancement Proposal #1: The BEP Process