Mar 19

Hans Reiser, a programmer famous for creating the ReiserFS computer file system for Linux, is charged with killing his wife, whose body has never been found.

Hans ReiserReiser, 44, testified in his murder trial that he tried to figure out what happened to his wife after she disappeared in September 2006.  His defense attorney suggested Nina Reiser may have moved back to her native Russia.

But prosecutors say Nina was not the type of person who would abandon her two children.  Authorities found blood splatters in Reiser’s car and house, but DNA tests could not determine if the blood was Nina’s.  The passenger seat of Reiser’s car was also missing, and the floorboard was soaked with water.  Reiser testified he removed the seat to make it more comfortable to sleep in the car.  Police also found two homicide-related books in his car, but Reiser claims he purchased the books because he was under suspicion for murder and wanted to read up on the subject. 

When Reiser was arrested in October 2007, he was carrying his passport and nearly $9,000 cash in a fanny pack.  Reiser and his wife were in the midst of a bitter divorce when she disappeared.  Reiser admitted he “put a lot of pressure” on Nina, including accusing her of embezzlement and perjury.  Reiser remains jailed without bail while his trial continues.

One interesting angle the defense is playing in the murder trial is to highlight Reiser’s open source generosity.  Here’s the logic: Hans Reiser could have made millions on his file system but instead chose to donate it to open source.  Therefore, a man this generous surely could not kill his wife.  Unfortunately for Reiser, the judge dismissed this line of reasoning as irrelevant.

ReiserFS is a general-purpose, computer file system designed by Hans Reiser and implemented by his company Namesys.  ReiserFS was the first journaled file system included in the standard Linux kernel.  Journaled means the file system “logs changes to a journal (usually a circular log in a dedicated area) before committing them to the main file system. Such file systems are less likely to become corrupted in the event of power failure or system crash.” (wiki)  ReiserFS was the default file system in Novell’s SUSE Enterprise Linux until Novell decided to move to another file system in 2006, “coincidentally” just two days after Reiser was charged with his wife’s murder.


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Article published on March 19, 2008

2 Responses to “Famous Programmer on Trial for Murder”

  1. ArticlesPR » Blog Archive » Famous Programmer on Trial for Murder Says:

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  2. timm Says:

    Update: Hans Reiser has been found guilty of first-degree murder and faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

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