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Remembering Eric P. Scott (eps)

Last night I learned the worst kind of news, my friend and valuable member of the Linux community here in San Francisco, Eric P. Scott (eps) recently passed away.

In an excerpt from a post by Chaz Boston Baden, he cites the news from Ron Hipschman:

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but It is my sad duty to inform you that Eric passed away sometime in the last week or so. After a period of not hearing from Eric by phone or by email, Karil Daniels (another friend) and I became concerned that something might be more serious than a lost phone or a trip to a convention, so I called his property manager and we met at Eric’s place Friday night. Unfortunately, the worst possible reason for his lack of communication was what we found. According to the medical examiner, he apparently died in his sleep peacefully (he was in bed). Eric had been battling a heart condition. We may learn more next week when they do an examination.

He was a good friend, the kind who was hugely supportive of any local events I had concocted for the Ubuntu California community, but as a friend he was also the thoughtful kind of man who would spontaneously give me thoughtful gifts. Sometimes they were related to an idea he had for promoting Ubuntu, like a new kind of candy we could use for our candy dishes at the Southern California Linux Expo, a toy penguin we could use at booths or a foldable origami-like street car he thought we could use as inspiration for something similar as a giveaway to promote the latest animal associated with an Ubuntu LTS release.

He also went beyond having ideas and we spent time together several times scouring local shops for giveaway booth candy, and once meeting at Costco to buy cookies and chips in bulk for an Ubuntu release party last spring, which he then helped me cart home on a bus! Sometimes after the monthly Ubuntu Hours, which he almost always attended, we’d go out to explore options for candy to include at booth events, with the amusing idea he also came up with: candy dishes that came together to form the Ubuntu logo.

In 2012 we filled the dishes with M&Ms:

The next year we became more germ conscious and he suggested we go with individually wrapped candies, searching the city for ones that would taste good and not too expensive. Plus, he found a California-shaped bowl which fit into our Ubuntu California astonishingly theme well!

He also helped with Partimus, often coming out to hardware triage and installfests we’d have at the schools.

At a Partimus-supported school, back row, middle

As a friend, he was also always welcome to share his knowledge with others. Upon learning that I don’t cook, he gave me advice on some quick and easy things I could do at home, which culminated in the gift of a plastic container built for cooking pasta in the microwave. Skeptical of all things microwave, it’s actually something I now use routinely when I’m eating alone, I even happened to use it last night before learning of his passing.

He was a rail fan and advocate for public transportation, so I could always count on him for the latest transit news, or just a pure geek out about trains in general, which often happened with other rail fans at our regular Bay Area Debian dinners. He had also racked up the miles on his favorite airline alliance, so there were plenty of air geek conversations around ticket prices, destinations and loyalty programs. And though I haven’t really connected with the local science fiction community here in San Francisco (so many hobbies, so little time!), we definitely shared a passion for scifi too.

This is a hard and shocking loss for me. I will deeply miss his friendship and support.


  • GoOSSBears

    A bunch of us remaining at Bobby G’s following the BerkeleyLUG meetup (your noms/food pic at https://www.flickr.com/photos/pleia2/16180844097/) are still sounding out on Eric’s passing away. Ilsa B, Daniel G, myself, GioXXX R, Michael P.
    It’s especially so very sad that Eric passed away alone…no friends present :(

  • Joyce Scott

    Eric’s father and I (his mother) want to thank all his friends who wrote up their memories of Eric. We are glad to know he had a lot of friends who cared about him.

    • pleia2

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment, he was indeed very loved by the community here.

    • Daniel Gimpelevich

      Regarding Aaron’s comment above lamenting that none of us were with him in the end: By many accounts, being very close to death is not that pleasant a feeling, so the chance to sleep through it is a gift. Yes, Eric suffered the loss of experiencing the rest of his life, but our collective loss of experiencing the rest of his life with him is perhaps far greater.

  • Rina and Jacob Weisman

    We were fortunate to know Eric via his attendance at our SF in SF events over the years. We always enjoyed our conversations/arguments/learning with Eric; sometimes I think we all enjoying the arguing more! He was a valuable contributor to the ambience of the program, and so helpful, bringing and suggesting items all the time to help us out. We were so sorry to learn of his passing, even knowing about his heart condition, and he’ll be missed.

    • Joyce Scott

      I just checked and saw more comments about Eric from his friends–which are so much appreciated. I’m very grateful for your taking the time to write about him.

  • Paul J. Ste. Marie

    So sad. Lots of memories of long nights in Jorgenson hacking away, Winchell’s runs, and general camaraderie.

    Too soon, too young.

  • Shawn Landden

    I am hearing of this late as I moved back to my home town (of Bellingham, WA) from San Francisco, but I certainly do remember Eric for his passion about free software and rail. (both noted here) His purchase of the first generation Nexus 7 convinced me to get one myself, which I had been dilly-dallying on. He will be missed.

  • Ken Lui

    Wow. I’m shocked to find out what happened to Eric. I just asked him what his opinions were re: systemd/init today and just did a web search on how he’s doing.

    I met -=eps=- way back in the late 1980s as a member on the BBS called Wetware Diversions in SF. As a UNIX newbie back then, I didn’t realize he was the author of the immortalized programs Rain http://www.unix.com/man-page/bsd/6/rain/ and Snake.

    The get togethers we had from those early days morphed into occasional get togethers when Eric had something new to show on NeXT cubes/workstations at SFSU. Sometimes we would meet at a Chinese restaurant–he loved dim sum. The last time I saw him we met at the Exploratorium before they moved. He showed me the infrastructure they had. At that time, he had gotten into Macs–a shocker coming from someone who said Macs were toys (“enjoying that Macintoy, Ken?”).

    When asked about how what he did with computers when he was younger, he told me when he was in high school, he was offered at job either at HP or working with HP computers in New Jersey. Because he lived in New York, he declined. I might have gotten the reasoning mixed up–it’s been years since he told me that story. I looked up to him when I was learning UNIX and would sometimes see him code. I eventually copied his style of leaving out spaces between operators in C code. Some of his posts on Usenet back when it was lively are absolute gems. His undocumentation posts bordered on wizardry https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/comp.sys.next.sysadmin/undocumentation$20eric$20p.$20scott
    NeXT was notorious for not having proper documentation or the binaries were old and had esoteric behavior. Eric’s experience with UNIX helped him expose why NeXT subsystems behaved they way they did.

    In my opinion his most memorable post was https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/comp.sys.next.sysadmin/iEhM7_Bn_vA

    Sorry to learn you had to leave this earth so soon Eric. I will miss you.

  • Katie Stone

    I met Eric in the early 1990’s at a NeXT party we were hosting. He had been a customer and so meeting him in person was super sweet because he was super sweet. We are just learning today about his untimely passing and we are just tears. He was funny and friendly beyond friendly. What a loss for a huge community. Hugs to his mama and all his mutual friends. We will always remember him with such fondness. I’m remembering his big smile. It was infectious.


    Ron … do you know how long Eric was dead? I was calling him for weeks and his phone kept picking up. Perhaps it was over a month ago that I did my first death notices search and checked UCSF where I found out that he had been there a while and had recently checked out. That was – perhaps – four or five weeks ago.

    I will sure miss him. There are so many things I can thank him for. We were friends since 1995 when he helped me by rewriting all the code for my first website for KMEL. Sat here for 4 hours and I barely knew him at the time. Amazing fellow. He as a kind, gental ( despite his moods ) and very giving person.

    – JK

  • Aaron Zorndorf

    Im in the 350 Townsend ST building with John K. above and have know Eric for as long.I’m saddened by this news.He was one of a kind.
    He was a very giving and kind, if king of particular and somewhat obsessive.He loved living below the radar, distrusted authority and worked the system better than anyone I know. He was an amazing mind when it came to programming and computer geek stuff.He loved to travel and knew where all the deals were.
    He helped many people in our building with any sort of technical problems we had, and would never take any money for it. A pepperoni pizza was enough. I will really miss him, they don’t make ’em like Eric much anymore, a true free spirit, RIP my friend.

  • Sandy Stark

    Thank you for writing such a great story of who Eric was. I knew Eric through our association with MHASF. I did not know him as well as others, but I certainly recognized the person I knew in this post.
    He went too early, but happily it was peaceful. Rest well, Eric, and don’t get too frustrated when you look down on us struggling and want to help.