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Reiser's software work suffering after his arrest

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Before he was arrested in connection with his wife's disappearance, Hans Reiser had gained a reputation as an innovative but controversial figure in the software development world.

An article posted on the technology news site last week elicited more than 1,500 comments that mixed speculation about his role in his wife's disappearance with hand-wringing about the future of his popular software.

While the reaction may seem surprising, it speaks to Reiser and the recognition of his company — Namesys — in the "free and open source" community, a group of programmers dedicated to developing software free for anyone to use and improve.

Within the small community, Reiser's arrest has created a furor comparable to the arrest of a mid-size company's chief executive officer on murder charges, says Bruce Byfield, whose coverage of Reiser and the open source software community appears on the news sites NewsForge and Slashdot.

"Some say Reiser's a genius, some say his (software) doesn't work," Byfield said about Reiser's reputation.

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