Raj Mathur (aka OldMonk), one of the leading figures of the Indian FOSS (free and open source software) community, passed away on 12.12.12. The cause of his death was a massive heart attack. This is the second major loss for the Indian FOSS world another notable figure, Kenneth Gonsalves passed away in August this year.
I met Raj when I organized the Software Freedom Day in Delhi. He was extremely brilliant, sharp, witty and blunt. We spent quality time discussing different aspects of Free Software. I remember when Richard M Stallman, the father of free software movement, was in Delhi and I was spending three days with him for a story. I got a call from Raj and he wanted to take Stallman out for dinner - they sounded like buddies talking to each other. I have been in touch with Raj over phone when I was in India and would often solicit his opinion for stories.
He was one of the founding members of the Delhi Linux Users group.. He played a very active role in the FOSS community, he was on the committee of the Free Software Award, was an OSI Emeritus Member and a visiting professor at the Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi.
A tribute to Raj Mathur
One of the pillars of the Indian FOSS Community passed away this week. Known for his humor, his uncompromising honesty and his generosity in sharing FOSS knowledge with like-minded individuals. His sudden passing after a massive heart attack has shocked and saddened his friends across the FOSS World.
Kishor Bhargawa, one of the closest friends of Mathur wrote:
People who knew and have met Raj will always remember him as a lively and humourous person - brutally honest and a man of principles. Raj loved to have fun and encouraged everyone around him to do the same. He loved his food, his movies, his music and being with friends and family.
A brilliant hacker and much respected for his pioneering work, he will be missed by one and all.
Rest in peace, Raj "Oldmonk" Mathur.
I suspect that it will take some time for all of us to come to terms with the fact that OldMonk will never again be annoying^W gracing us with his wisecracks. His mother, who is not at all computer-savvy
has requested a compilation of remembrances of him; especially about what people have been saying about his passing.
Yesterday's news, of Raj moving on, is shocking. I met him through ilugd and came to know better of him through various activities of ilugd that he helped organize. He was brutally honest and that made him special. He was special because with those piercing words, he could get through to you better. Yesterday night, I visited his drawing room, which played host to many linux-dellhi events. Niyam playfully called it opium den. The opium den was filled with people, Andrew, Gora and Friji. The trade-mark green camouflage was lying life-less on the low diwan. For a second, I imagined a cup of coffee and creme, which was kind of ritual commencement of linux-delhi meetings, with Kishore bringing the coffee and Raj arranging for cups and creme. The cup of coffee is not there any more, that table is missing and more importantly Raj has checked out of the opium den.
Let us wish his wife, kids and rest of the family, the strength to reconcile with this reality of life, where, they will not see him physically and will need the strength to live on.
We at Muktware are sorrowed by his untimely departure. A prayer meeting is being organized today (Dec 16,2012) in the memory of Raj Mathur at Gurudwara C-604, Defence Colony, New Delhi.