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'Goodbye' to a friend

Over the weekend, my colleagues and I learned that Nigel McFarlane has died. Besides being a well-known Mozilla, Web standards and open source advocate, Nigel served as a site expert and contributor.

Personally, I received this news with great sadness. Though ours was a business relationship, Nigel and I discovered that we had in common wicked senses of humor, a great love of Australia and water sports, and about the same 20-plus-year tenure in the IT industry. So, our shared meals and e-mail conversations were peppered with droll comments about our industry and our personal activities. For example, we shared stories about the state of technology since we started working, Nigel on a Z80-based System V and I on an Underwood manual typewriter. Also, Nigel attended one of my comedy performances in San Francisco last year, and he's the only person in IT I've ever invited to one. We skewered the other performers over dinner and pints afterward, and that was a memorable evening for me.

Nigel McFarlane, open source analyst and author

Nigel's sense of humor was most evident in his column, Mozilla's Boston Tea Party. He got quite randy in the first draft of the story, but I was ready to roll with it. He reconsidered and made some cuts. Even so, he told me – with a nod and a wink -- that some of his more serious peers took him to task for that article.

Despite his humorous tone in that column, Nigel was right on the money about Firefox's impact on the IT world. In the column, Nigel told readers why he believed the Firefox browser -- with 22 million downloads at the time -- was going to be the Cinderella story of LinuxWorld Boston in February. The crowds there proved him right and continue to validate his enthusiasm for Firefox. It's now late June, and the little browser that could has surpassed 50 million downloads.

Nigel's most recent contribution to, Excavating ancient abbreviations in Linux, was published just a week ago on June 15. As usual, Nigel attacked this topic with his usual mix of humor and concrete tech advice.

An erudite fellow, Nigel was well versed in science, technology and software engineering. He was a leading commentator on Mozilla and Firefox technology and wrote a number of articles and books on the subject. His most recent book, Firefox Hacks, was published this year on March 14.

Nigel's contributions to were greatly appreciated by our readers, who sent many positive responses. He provided a great service to our community and to our staff. He will be greatly missed.

Jack Loftus and Amy Kucharik contributed to this piece.

Here are a few links to Nigel McFarlane's articles and advice on SearchEnterpriseLinux:

Ask the Expert: Nigel McFarlane

Tip: Finding stuff on Linux

The final frontier: Hacking sendmail

Rebranding Mozilla

Running Mozilla processes on Linux

Tip: Where's the Firefox security button?

Tip: Clearing Internet Explorer barriers to using Firefox

Dig Deeper on Linux servers

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