Benevolent Dictator for Life.
The informal, slightly tongue-in-cheek title given
to a respected individual in the open source
development community who sets general directions and makes final calls
in certain situations within the scope of a given
project. The BDFL is a tacit
acknowledgement that communal, consensus-based decision making within the open source
community occasionally runs up against obstacles, in which case a single
authoritative voice can be useful. That BDFLs
survive and flourish in these otherwise anarchistic contexts is attributed to their
personal charisma and their
reluctance to wield their
power except in rare moments.
Of course, a project coordinator cannot really be anything like a dictator in the sense that he or she ultimately
cannot enforce a decision, since
a project fork is always possible.
Not all, or even most, open source
projects have a BDFL.
the difference from the historical meaning of benevolent dictator, which is used in a political context.
List of Benevolent Dictators for Life
Drupal content management framework
Linus Torvalds, explicitly recognising the "benevolent dictator" epithet, e.g. in the interview published August 18, 2004 in Business
OpenBSD operating system
Theo de Raadt
Perl programming language
PHP programming language
Python programming language
Guido van Rossum, known
for his conservatism
in changing Python. Very little changes
between Python versions, and what does
change tends to be considered and discussed for months or years in advance.
Jimbo Wales, who however is not convinced he can be qualified as a "benevolent dictator" since
wikis require less
WINE, the Open source
implementation of the Windows API
Slackware, the most Unix-like Linux distribution, known
for stability and speed.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.