Benjamin Mako Hill (born December 2, 1980) is a Debian hacker, intellectual property researcher, activist and author. He is a contributor and free software developer as part of the Debian and Ubuntu projects as well as the author of two best-selling technical books on the subject, Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible (ISBN 978-0-7645-7644-7) and The Official Ubuntu Book (ISBN 978-0-13-243594-9). He currently serves as a member of the Free Software Foundation board of directors. Hill has a Masters degree from the MIT Media Lab and is currently a Senior Researcher at the MIT Sloan School of Management where he studies free software communities and business models. He is also a Fellow at the MIT Center for Future Civic Media where he coordinates the development of software for civic organizing, and works as an advisor and contractor for the One Laptop per Child project. He is a speaker for the GNU Project, and serves on the board of Software Freedom International (the organization that organizes Software Freedom Day)
Since 1999, Hill has been an active member of Debian. He has served as a delegate of the Debian Project Leader, managing money and equipment and is a founder and coordinator of Debian Non-Profit, 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, serving as the organisation's vice-president from August 2004.
Hill is also a core-developer, founding member, and active contributor to Ubuntu. In additional 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 the Ubuntu's first year and a half. During this period, he worked full time for Canonical Ltd. Within the Project, he continues to serve on the "Community Council" governance board that oversees all non-technical aspects of the project.
In addition to software development, Hill writes extensively. He has been published in academic books and conference proceedings and in magazines, newsletters, and online journals. He is the author of the Free Software Project Management HOWTO, the canonical document on managing 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.
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. 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. 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 an award-winning voting tool which reserved prizes and grants from MTV and Cisco.