Benjamin Mako Hill is a free software activist,[1] hacker,[2] author, and professor. He is a contributor and free software developer as part of the Debian and Ubuntu projects as well as the co-author of three technical manuals on the subject, Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible, The Official Ubuntu Server Book, and The Official Ubuntu Book.

Benjamin Mako Hill
Benjamin Mako Hill in 2012
EducationHampshire College (BA)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MS, PhD)
OccupationAssociate Professor
EmployerUniversity of Washington
SpouseMika Matsuzaki (2006-present)

Hill is an associate professor in Communication at the University of Washington.[3]



Hill has an undergraduate degree in Literature & Technology from Hampshire College,[4] a master's degree from the MIT Media Lab, and a PhD in an interdepartmental program involving the MIT Sloan School of Management and the MIT Media Lab. As of fall 2013, he is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington.[5] He is also a Fellow at the MIT Center for Civic Media where he coordinates the development of software for civic organizing. He has worked as an advisor and contractor for the One Laptop per Child project. He is a speaker for the GNU Project,[6] and serves on the board of Software Freedom International (the organization that organizes Software Freedom Day). In 2006, he married Mika Matsuzaki and used mathematically constrained wedding vows at the marriage ceremony.[2][7]



Since 1999, Hill has been an active member of Debian. He has served as a delegate of the Debian Project Leader, and is a founder and coordinator of Debian Non-Profit,[8] a Debian custom distribution designed to fill the needs of small non-profit organizations. In addition he served on the board of Software in the Public Interest from March 2003 until July 2006,[9][10] serving as the organisation's vice-president from August 2004.[11]



Hill is also a core developer and founding member of Ubuntu, and continues to be an active contributor to the project.[citation needed] In addition to technical responsibilities, he coordinated the construction of a community around the Ubuntu Project as project "community manager" (later ceding the role to Jono Bacon) during Ubuntu's first year and a half.[12] During this period, he worked full-time for Canonical Ltd. Within the Project, he served on the "Community Council" governance board that oversees all non-technical aspects of the project, until October 2011. His work included contributing to a code of conduct[13] and diversity statement for the project.[14]

Other work


In addition to software development, Hill writes extensively. He has been published in academic books and magazines, newsletters, and online journals,[15] and Slate Magazine republished one of his blog posts.[16] He is the author of the Free Software Project Management HOWTO, the canonical document on managing Free and open-source software (FOSS) projects, and has published academic work on FOSS from anthropological, sociological, management and software engineering perspectives and has written and spoken about intellectual property, copyright, and collaboration more generally.[17][18][19] He has also studied the sociology of community involvement in web communities, and been widely published and cited about projects like Scratch and Wikipedia.[20][21][22][23] He has talked about these topics publicly, as well as giving a keynote address at 2008 OSCON.[24]

Hill has worked for several years as a consultant for FOSS projects specializing in coordinating releases of software as free or open software and structuring development efforts to encourage community involvement.[25] He spends a significant amount of his time traveling and giving talks on FOSS and intellectual property primarily in Europe and North America.

Previous to his current positions, Hill pursued research full-time as a graduate researcher at the MIT Media Laboratory.[26] At the lab, he has worked in both the Electronic Publishing and Computing Culture groups on collaborative writing and decision-making software. One project, Selectricity is a voting tool which received prizes and grants from MTV and Cisco. He was a fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society[27] and the MIT Center for Civic Media.[28]

He served on the advisory board of the Wikimedia Foundation,[29] the advisory council of the Open Knowledge Foundation[30] and the board of the Free Software Foundation.[31] He was a founding member of the Ubuntu Community Council[32] in 2009.



2018-2019 Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Social and Behavioral Sciences[33]

2019 Research Symbiont Award—General Symbiont[34]


  • Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible ISBN 978-0-7645-7644-7
  • The Official Ubuntu Server Book ISBN 978-0133017533
  • The Official Ubuntu Book ISBN 978-0-13-243594-9


  1. ^ "Lessig, Stallman on 'Open Source' DRM • The Register". The Register.
  2. ^ a b "Hackers' wedding vows based on Pi and Phi – Boing Boing". June 8, 2006.
  3. ^ "Hill, Benjamin Mako". University of Washington. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  4. ^ "Benjamin Mako Hill's CV" (PDF). Benjamin Mako Hill. Retrieved January 3, 2022.
  5. ^ "University of Washington, Department of Communication". University of Washington. September 9, 2013. Archived from the original on February 21, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  6. ^ "GNU speakers". Free Software Foundation. July 17, 2007. Retrieved July 17, 2007.
  7. ^ "Art, Activism and Other Fun Projects :: Benjamin Mako Hill". Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  8. ^ "Non-Profit". Debian. Archived from the original on September 27, 2019. Retrieved October 18, 2011.
  9. ^ Akkerman, Wichert (February 22, 2003). "Result for vote regarding new members for the board of directors". Retrieved July 16, 2007.
  10. ^ Hill, Benjamin (July 5, 2006). "Stepping Down From Software in the Public Interest, Inc". Retrieved July 16, 2007.
  11. ^ Graham, David (September 7, 2004). "Minutes for August 10th, 2004". Retrieved July 16, 2007.
  12. ^ Linton, Susan (July 14, 2013). "Has Ubuntu lost it? Some say Canonical has lost its way. Are they right?". Tech Radar Pro. Future US, Inc. Archived from the original on November 11, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  13. ^ Paul, Ryan (October 20, 2009). "5 years later, 5 ways that Ubuntu has made Linux more human". Ars Technica. Condé Nast. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  14. ^ Graner, Amber (February 10, 2011). "Ubuntu Increasing Its Diversity". Linux Pro Magazine. Linux New Media USA. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  15. ^ "Google Scholar Citations". Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  16. ^ Hill, Benjamin Mako (May 13, 2014). "Don't use Gmail? Here's how to determine how many of your emails Google may have". Slate. Retrieved November 18, 2014.
  17. ^ "Benjamin Mako-Hill on Open Source vs. Free, GPL and Prepping for OSCON".
  18. ^ "Penguicon 6.0 -- Penguins in Space!".
  19. ^ Doctorow, Cory (February 5, 2011). "Antifeatures: deliberate, expensive product features that no customer wants". Boing Boing. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  20. ^ "The contribution conundrum: Why did Wikipedia succeed while other encyclopedias failed?". Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  21. ^ "Wikipedia Editor Threatened With Lawsuit For Participating In Discussion Leading To Deletion Of Entry". April 2, 2013. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  22. ^ Doctorow, Cory (May 10, 2013). "What makes a project remixable?". Boing Boing. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  23. ^ Steadman, Ian (May 13, 2013). "Study: open source remixing seems to lead to less original work". Conde Nast UK. Archived from the original on November 13, 2014. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  24. ^ "OSCON 2008 talks". Archived from the original on November 11, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  25. ^ "Free Software Project Management HOWTO". Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  26. ^ Peek, Robin (April 1, 2007). "Stickers, a Pit Bull, and Brussels: A Busy Month for OA". Information Today.[dead link]
  27. ^ Berkman Center for Internet & Society. "Berkman Center Fellow". Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  28. ^ MIT Center for Civic Media. "MIT Center for Civic Media Fellow". Archived from the original on November 11, 2014. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
  29. ^ Beesley, Angela; Devouard, Florence; KIZU, Naoko; Möller, Erik; Dillen, Oscar; Moreau, Nicholas; Kaganer, Paul; Pathoschild; Aprabhala. "Advisory Board". Archived from the original on June 9, 2007. Retrieved July 16, 2007.
  30. ^ "Advisory Council". Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  31. ^ "Staff and Board". Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  32. ^ "Poll Results: Ubuntu Community Council 2009". Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  33. ^ "Shannon's Ghost | Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences". September 25, 2018. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  34. ^ "Benjamin Mako Hill is a Research Symbiont". Department of Communication, University of Washington. January 9, 2019. Archived from the original on August 8, 2020. Retrieved June 18, 2019.