Who is Ben Hutchings?

I'm really quite dull, but if you really want to know:

Early years

I was born in 1977 in Surrey, England. I lived with my parents in Reigate and attended the Holmesdale school there from the age of 5. My favourite subject at school was always mathematics, but I also liked writing terrible poetry and making a mess with paint. My father would often bring a microcomputer (Commodore 16 or 64 and later a BBC Model B) home from the college where he worked during holidays. This, and later access to computers at school, got me hooked on computer programming. I think the first program I wrote (at the age of 6) would convert temperatures in degrees celsius to degrees fahrenheit (or vice versa). Unfortunately I could never recover it from the tape I saved it on - not that there were much more than 5 lines of it!

Publishing career

In 1985 I started at the Priory school, also in Reigate. (The name is due to the fact that parts of the building were originally an Augustinian monastery, founded in 1235.) Here I started and edited a school magazine (with the ridiculous name Priory in Action) for two brief periods. My proprietor was the headmistress, whose approval I needed to spend time in the office photocopying it and to place a copy in each classroom. I was always short of contributors and had to spend a lot of time using my limited talents to produce text and cartoons myself. Particularly shameful parts of the magazine were the occasional jokes page and the `Boing!' cartoon whose main character was a rubber ball. High points were the 32-page Christmas 1987 issue, which had nearly 20 contributors, and the contribution of some excellent cartoons by the mother of a pupil.

(My brother later ran his own magazine Not 'alf Bad together with a friend at secondary school. He took the different approach of selling the magazine at cost to whoever wanted it, making no effort to obtain official approval, and being generally satirical, offensive and puerile. He also managed to meet various celebrities so that he could interview them. I think he had a lot more fun, though it cost him more money.)


I got the first computer of my own in January 1992. I chose to buy an Amiga 500 Plus since it was cheap and had a decent OS and graphics capabilities. I intended to use it for school work and programming; in fact I used it mostly for programming and games. This was the first computer I used the C language on. I wrote various programs, most of which weren't very useful and were full of bugs. Some of them were good enough for other people to use, at least once I'd debugged them. So I sent them to PD libraries, and soon enough I was getting feedback and free magazines from time to time. In 1995 I subscribed to the comp.sys.amiga.misc and comp.sys.amiga.programmer newsgroups - in which I wasted no time in making a fool of myself in public - and started uploading my software to Aminet. I became a regular in both those newsgroups. Later I became active in the Jay Miner Society and the ICOA, which were intended to provide some of the organisation of information and support for users and developers that Amiga Technologies could not in its state of limbo following the bankruptcy of its parent company Escom. Sadly these both had a short useful life.

Now that the Amiga name and assets have been bought from Gateway by Amino, there is some hope that its technologies will be made public rather than being locked away indefinitely. However, I do not intend to continue any work on Amiga software or support.


In 1995 I joined Oxford University, reading for a BA in Mathematics and Computation (similar to the newer BA in Mathematics and Computer Science) which I gained after a 3 year course. At university I gained regular access to the Internet, enabling me to use newsgroups, the web, and the IRC chat system. These got me involved with Pratchett fandom, and various Amiga activities described above. This was also the time when I became much more independent from my parents, living away from home for half of the first 2 years and most of the 3rd. I enjoyed most of this time greatly, but I had some periods of depression and I limited my social life severely for fear of over-spending. I often found myself overwhelmed by mathematics, a subject I had previously excelled in, though this was partly due to my laziness in studying and practising it. By contrast, I found computation mostly quite easy to understand, and so I achieved a respectably good class of degree.


Nattie became my girlfriend in August 1999 and my fiancée in September 2000. We were finally married in August 2002. Explaining how we got together while living 5,500 miles apart would be too complicated, so I won't bother. She moved here to live with me in January 2002. Do have a look at her web pages.


I've worked for a series of software companies since leaving university.

Debian and Linux

I've been contributing to various areas of Debian since about 2003, and was accepted as a Debian Developer in 2006. I'm now mostly working on the Linux kernel and some related packages as part of the Debian kernel team.

I also work on the Linux kernel upstream, mostly through the 'stable' bug fixing process. I was interviewed about this a while ago so I shan't repeat myself here.

Missing things

There's a still a lot of important things I haven't covered. Sorry about that. One of these days I will spend some hours writing some decent web pages. Really.

Personal codes

Last updated 2nd November 2000.

Test results

Ben Hutchings
Last modified: Sun 15 Sep 21:30:13 BST 2013