Like Dick Morrell, I was also one of Rob Levin’s coworkers at Linuxcare.
How I’d best sum up Rob: he had an idea for what he wanted to do with his life — and he made his life work out so that he could do exactly that. The irc.freenode.org structure he created has been of immense help in getting communication working for numerous free software projects, including Ruby on Rails (though the core team has now moved to Campfire for obvious reasons).
Rob wanted to make open source happen by making communication about open source easier. He did that, and everyone who uses open source has benefited, albeit indirectly, from his work.
I talked to him not so very long ago about some of the changes he’d made in his life since we worked together, including moving from the expensive bay area to much-less-expensive Houston.
I’m sorry he didn’t have a longer life. I’m especially sorry Benjamin will have to go through the last ten years of his childhood without his father. And, of course, I’m sorry that Deb won’t have the husband she relied on. I didn’t get their relationship (they seemed so different), but then again, I didn’t have to.
I haven’t met many people in my life that had Rob’s single-mindedness of purpose. At times, I thought he was nuts. In the end, though, he made it work, and that’s not nuts at all.