Announcement: It is a sad day for the Linux community, especially here at


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Jul 23, 2020
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Rather than mince words, we have received a notice that Alan Rochester (@arochester) passed away suddenly on Friday due to a heart attack

Alan was a moderator here, soft-spoken, kind, and helpful. His online contributions were many and his son has been gracious enough to spend his time going through his online accounts to make us aware of his loss.

It is not easy to lose someone you've known for a long time, and this includes those relationships we form online.

We wish Alan's family well and their grief deserves our condolences. Alan's contributions made this site, the web, and Linux better than he found it. He touched lives and positively impacted countless people.

Alan will be missed.

My deepest condolences to Alan's family.

He gave me his time, taught me things and got me out of jams with my Linux distro's and he didn't have to.

And yes, no doubt: Alan will be missed.

Thank you KGIII for letting us know.
Condolences to friends and family, Rest In peace, Alan.

Alan helped quite a bit early on. A good guy and he'll be missed for sure. Thank you @KGIII for the announcement.

Those of us who care about our online persona, and the people with whom we've developed true friendships - albeit online, might want to consider leaving some sort of directions for loved ones to easily follow so that they can make the various communities aware of our passing.

I keep a special binder to make things easier when I pass. (I've dealt with deaths of people who made no preparations and it can be made much easier on the survivors.)

That binder includes information that will let my loved ones (once the dust settles) to notify the online communities know that I've died. I should probably do a similar binder in case I'll have an extended period offline, where I'm unable to communicate myself. I guess I just plan on being able to convey those messages personally, but that might not always be viable.

This is (sadly) not the first time I've had to write this sort of message. There have been times when people simply disappeared, here one day and gone the next. We never know what happened to them and can only speculate.

So, to spare your online friendships (and yes, such a thing exists) from not knowing, you might want to consider preparing a way to bring your online presence to a close.
Where to begin?

I am still marshalling my thoughts on this one, and for those who know me well, you'll know Wizard is seldom at a loss for words.

I can track Alan back to at least January 2013, here (Rob may know better), with this Post here

... and what was he doing?


For those wondering about the "Guest" reference - we had a major site software revision around 23 April 2017, and existing Members had to rejoin.

Posts from those prior to that date are listed as Guest.

I joined in mid-2014 but didn't say boo until I rejoined in 2017.

Alan and I worked alongside each other for a number of years, since I became a Mod in 2018, it was always a pleasure, and I learned much from him.

When I was having troubles installing Debian some years ago, in particular getting my wifi to work, it was he who told me about a non-free edition of the .iso which immediately solved my problems (no longer needed since June 23 and Debian 12 Bookworm).

Alan did not confine his Linux activities to here at this site.

He was a Moderator, then a Global Moderator, I believe over at the Debian Forums, and I have sent them a message today in case they are unaware of his passing. He was with them since 2010 or before.

There, he is listed as Emeritus, meaning that he had retired from duties there, but was honoured by them for his work.

Members are not expected to know the work that goes on here behind the scenes to try to keep this site as secure and enjoyable as possible.

With David @KGIII being in Mayne USA, and me in Australia, Alan (from UK) would pick up the slack on Spammers and give them the boot.

I have checked the logs, and even in the last night before he passed away, he had given a half dozen Spammers the old heave-ho.

His family are in my prayers, his spirit or shade has my thanks and my respect, and he will indeed be sorely missed.

Chris Turner
That's really sad news! Thanks for your contributions to the Linux community @arochester! RIP Condolences to his family and friends, may they find strength in this hard time!

So, to spare your online friendships (and yes, such a thing exists) from not knowing, you might want to consider preparing a way to bring your online presence to a close.
For anyone that I have contact with here on since I don't expect to die soon but you never know, know that I will just not disappear without saying a good bye if I do decide to leave. So if that happens and I don't respond to your pm's, then you can take it that my lifetime has come to an end.
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That's sad news indeed. I didn't know Alan, as such, but the Linux community is not huge.....and I came across him on several occasions in some of the most unlikely places.

I've lost a few good "on-line" acquaintances over the last decade, and it's always a wrench to realise that folks you've become friends with won't be around any more. Condolences to his family & loved ones. RIP, mate. We'll remember you.....

(I'll agree with Chris. Almost to a man, most ordinary community members are never aware of just how much behind-the-scenes work DOES go on to keep their favourite "watering-holes" clean, happy, inviting places.......& somewhere you often come to think of as "home".

There's a LOT of nasty people, idiots and complete nutters out there on-line, trust me.)

Mike. o_O
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Alan's son reached out to us at The Debian User Forums, wizardfromoz from these forums also reachout. This is a cross post, the breaking of forum and online discussion rules, but we need Alan's story to be heard and known:

Dear Community,

Yesterday the forum emailer sent me an email notification for a PM that I received on the Debian User Forums. The subject was "Alan Rochester". The sender was @arochester.

Dreadfully I suspected what the message was going to be about. I fought for a few moments before my morning cigarette and tea, I fought breaking my habit of not reading emails prior to the morning wake-up stages of reflection before sitting down at my desk. After a few minutes I lost that battle. I sat down, logged in and learned that I lost so much very more.

Alan's son reached out through the arochester account informing us that his father has passed last Friday of a sudden heart attack. I closed the window immediately. I went to have the tea and the smoke, but they tasted funny, everything was off. I went to talk to my wife but I was just mummers and downcast eye contact. I snubbed the cigarette and left the tea cold as I went back to the desk and desktop that had just changed the world.

I sent the news in the private area for the administration staff here at Debian User Forums, sharing the message intact. And then I walked away to ... I guess just walk away.

Later I logged back into the forum and composed the following message to his son:

I am so very saddened by this news. Alan was amazing all around, he was and will be always be remembered as one of the best members of this community who was a testament to technical literacy across several areas and someone who always took the time to explain, educate, and mentor anyone with a question. He truly showcased passion for helping those in need and sharing knowledge.

He was 73? I believe. He gave me some hope that as I got older that I could still do all of the things I do now when I got older, in stark contrast my parents still have difficulties using anything with a battery or a keyboard.

Alan was initially a fellow member here on the forums then he moved through the ranks from member, to moderator, to global moderator, to admin, to senior admin; I would be remiss in saying that he even wanted that. He tried to step down several times :D, I kept asking him to stick around a bit because not only I who took over here as the new site administrator needed him, but the community here needed him. Alan answered that call and we are all the better for it.

I've shared this news with the staff here who are as well saddened.

-snip PII -

God bless you and your family at this time.

In sadness,

Donald Norwood

I cleaned the house, I played with the dogs, I tried to get an NTP server working, I got it working, I talked with a few friends...I did everything today and still felt empty. That NTP server took me over 11 years to get running and the accomplishment felt like nothing but empty.

Eventually I came to understand what really had happened. I lost a friend. I lost a true to me mentor. I lost someone who I had never met but someone who meant very much to me, more that I was willing to admit when I had the time to admit to it and it to him.

Alan did a lot of work, I mean a lot of work here and he also was a moderator on where they have nothing but kind words to say about him:

Alan worked tirelessly on the Debian User forums, he triaged new users, fought the spam battle daily, checked logs, he and the other senior admin literally did the work that everyone thinks scripts, reporting tools, and plug-ins do. Nope. Our forums are super clean because he took the time to work in the background to create a nice clean space and then while still logged in he would go into individual threads to share some knowledge, promote community, and give a bit of kindness.

Alan was driven to share information to those who could eventually take up the mantle. He tried so so so so very many times to walk away from the responsibility of his role here, saying that a younger person should be doing it or working on it, and every single time I implored and begged him to stay on for a bit because I needed him. You needed him. We needed him. He stayed, he worked, he fostered.

Alan will not be missed just because he was a member of the forums, or missed because he was in a clique. Alan will be missed because he was that person who never got involved in minutiae like that. His focus was what can YOU learn, how could he show YOU, how can WE make this better, what tools could he share to help YOU on YOUR journey? Alan's signature in each post consisted of links to the reader for additional information, for the reader to improve and acquire self knowledge, to push people down a rabbit hole of curiosity.

Alan was not of ill health, but he had had a few scares along the way. 24 years ago he suffered a brain hemorrhage. He kept going. Last year he had a health issue and took some time off. He came back, he kept going.

I'm hurt by his passing because it reminds me of the many many many unspoken and un-heralded voices in our community. People who dedicate their free time to teach, inspire, foster, mentor, and force others to look toward a better future with the tools that are given freely. Alan saw a vision and worked toward it, he never spoke of it. He never bragged about it. He knew it, we all around him kind of knew it, but none of us really got it. We never really understood what a contributor or mentor REALLY DOES.

Alan had no title in The Debian Project, nor in Free and Open Source Software. He never got accolades from us, but he never indicated that it was a concern or an issue, I can say that in that he simply did not care. His goal was to move the process and projects like this forward. Today I realized how much that really meant to me, to us, to the world.

There are so many Alans out in the world right now, giving their time, giving their energy, giving the small moments between the end of the day home and family moments to stop for a moment to create and foster a better world.

Isn't that what Free Software is all about? Creating a world for us that is better through a community and commodity of humanity toward a goal? Isnt' that really what it is all about in the long run?

When we push to create safe spaces, invite overlooked groups into our spaces, when we endeavor to provide and teach the methodology of software, hardware, construction, development, finance, digitization, sewing, seeding, farming, planning and so many other vestiges of knowledge for FREE, what are we doing? We are creating a better world. We are creating a world for the future devoid of the interests of commerce removed from the oversight of committees of self serving governance, deigning to not be held accountable to locked knowledge and information. We do it to create a better world.

Today with the news of Alans passing I really and finally understood that.

I can only say, thank you Alan, thank you for being there, thank you for never taking credit but instead seeding and sowing the fields of the future. Thank you for being a true mentor.

I am at a loss, because I never realized this.

Debian recently had a chance to meet and talk with members of the EU parliament about upcoming legislation that will impact FOSS and innovation worldwide. One of the drivers is another unknown person who is committing time, resources, knowledge, and vocalization. They are doing everything they can under their power. And they want what? No credit what so ever. They do like Alan did, they do like many of us do on the daily, we shape the world around us no matter how despondent and depressing it may be. They shoulder the load and the weight; the weight is heavy.

They ask nothing in return.

Not even these words.

When the next I love Free Software day comes around. Let us not celebrate just the titled Developers, Managers, NGOs, and so on. Let us celebrate the wheels on this chariot that will take us to the heavens, let us celebrate and acknowledge the true movers of the community.

Its you the person reading these words. Know that you are making a difference. Do it for the future. Do it like Alan was showing us how to do it all along.

The forum banner will display a purple and black banner for the next 30 days.

arochesters rank has been changed to Emeritus with a rank image of roses.

We will come up with a better title and display for him and his legacy. Suggestions welcome.

Be well. Be kind.


⣾⠁⢠⠒⠀⣿⡁ Donald Norwood
⢿⡄⠘⠷⠚⠋⠀ B7A1 5F45 5B28 7F38 4174
⠈⠳⣄⠀⠀⠀⠀ D5E9 E5EC 4AC9 BD62 7B05
From Donald's post over at :

"" he was that person who never got involved in minutiae""

"His focus was what can YOU learn, how could he show YOU, how can WE make this better, what tools could he share to help YOU on YOUR journey? Alan's signature in each post consisted of links to the reader for additional information, for the reader to improve and acquire self knowledge, to push people down a rabbit hole of curiosity.""

Indeed, that was Alan. Always, about who he could help.

That is something we can all aspire to.
While I did not have any personal interaction with Alan, I have great respect for everyone on here that freely gives their time to help others and from what I have read he was greatly respected by many so my thoughts are with his family at this sad time.