Portrait: Dr. Alain Empain Helps Grow Open Source

“Twice a week, Dr. Alain Empain drives his car away from his
solar-paneled home in the Belgian countryside, then parks and
boards a train that an hour and 10 minutes later will take him to a
bus, which half an hour later will take him a small village called
Meise and to his job as a botanist with Belgium’s National Botanic
Garden, where since the early 1990s he has been a persistent
pioneer of open source software.

“Empain has spent the last several decades, as he puts it,
‘mixing biology and the nascent … informatics world.’ Empain
first connected a few computers to a Unix minicomputer in 1986; he
was experimenting with Linux by 1993; soon after that had the first
Linux server in the Belgian federal government, and by 1998 had
switched not only servers but desktops at the National Botanic
Garden to Linux…”


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