Remembering Progeny

by Bruce Byfield

Two weeks ago, I heard that Progeny Linux Systems of Indianapolis had closed its doors for the last time. The end was a long time coming – in fact, six years longer than I predicted. All the same, I paused last week for a bit of nostalgia. Working for the company in 2000-01 gave me my first sense of my potential and gave me a sense of self-worth at a time when I badly needed it.

I first heard of Progeny through Bruce Perens. I was talking to him over the phone for a story I was doing for Maximum Linux. When our business was done and we were chatting, I happened to mention that I was looking for work. At the time, Perens (whom I'm calling by his last name so that this entry doesn't sound like a Monty Python skit littered with Bruces) was running a venture capital group that had just funded a startup run by Ian Murdock, the founder of the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and his partner John Hartman. Would I be interested in doing marketing and communications for the new company?

Somehow, I managed not to gibber incoherently with excitement, and told him I would. But I admit I danced around our townhouse when I got off the phone.

A phone interview and a week or so later, and I was on a plane to Indianapolis, unsure whether the job would work out. I was a bit worried about the cost, since I had quit Stormix Technologies a month previously, but determined to enjoy the adventure.

I was met at the airport by Ian and John and a couple of coders – John Goerzen and possibly Branden Robinson. They whisked me away to a Greek restaurant, where I quickly realized that these guys had serious chops. I had thought for a while that Stormix was the big time, but I realized that, in going to work for Progeny, I was jumping leagues.

Somehow, I convinced them that I would be an asset. I may not be able to write code for a “Hello, World