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Sam Hocevar

Sam Hocevar
Born Samuel Hocevar
(1978-08-05) 5 August 1978
Forbach, Moselle, France
Residence Paris, France
Nationality French
Alma mater École Centrale Paris
Occupation Software developer
video game developer

Samuel “Sam” Hocevar (born 5 August 1978) is a French software and video game developer. Hocevar was the Debian project leader from 17 April 2007 to 16 April 2008.


Hocevar was born in Forbach, Moselle, France. From 1995 to 1997, Hocevar took preparatory classes at the Lycée Fabert in Metz, Moselle, France.[1] He graduated in 2002 from École Centrale Paris, after receiving the "Award of Information Technology and Communication" from the SNCF as the most promising student in his class.[2] He specialized in electromechanical systems and applied mechatronics, and project management.

From 2005 to 2006, Hocevar was a Wikimedia France board member.[3]

Hocevar is best known for his role in the Debian project. Hocevar was elected Debian project leader on 17 April 2007.[4][5] Hocevar's Debian leadership platform[6] stated a preference for finishing larger numbers of small projects in succession, echoing Japanese management philosophy of Kaizen that constant, incremental improvements to a project would generate more gains per unit of time than large single leaps of performance. Hocevar was succeeded by Steve McIntyre on 16 April 2008.

Hocevar is also known for his contributions to the VideoLAN project.[7] He has made large contributions to almost all software of the VideoLAN project, especially to VLC media player and libdvdcss since 1998. He is the author of various free software programs, such as zzuf, a data fuzzer, and libcaca, a color ASCII art renderer. He is also the current maintainer of the Extension Language Kit Scheme interpreter, which has found use in many multimedia applications including audio processing.[8]

Hocevar is renowned for his expertise in reverse engineering and image processing. He reverse engineered DVD subtitles in 2000[9] and in 2005, it was found that the DRM software which triggered the Sony BMG CD copy protection scandal had unlawfully pirated open source code from the VideoLAN project which Hocevar was involved in authoring.[10][11]

Hocevar's experience in image processing includes authoring a CAPTCHA decoding framework called PWNtcha.[12][13][14] PWNtcha was the first CAPTCHA decoder framework to defeat multiple CAPTCHAs and was referred to as the "most famous" CAPTCHA breaker in a 2009 Stanford University publication.[15]

Hocevar authored WTFPL version 2, an extremely liberal, permissive free software license that is recognized by the Free Software Foundation.[16] He has also been cited for his "whimsical" copyleft activism.[17]

Hocevar is part of Goatse Security, an information security working group most known for revealing a security flaw in AT&T's website, leading to the release of 114,000 email addresses of Apple iPad users.[18]


  1. ^ "Samuel HOCEVAR - CV." (DVI, PDF, PS). Sam Hocevar Official Website. Retrieved on September 18, 2010.
  2. ^ "École Centrale Paris". Retrieved 2007-04-19. 
  3. ^ "2005-2006 WikiMedia France Conseil d'administration" (in French). Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  4. ^ "debian-devel-announce mailing list: Debian Project Leader Election 2007 Results". Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  5. ^ Sean Michael Kerner (2007-04-09). "Debian Etch Takes Over Command From Sarge". InternetNews. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  6. ^ Sam Hocevar. " Platform for Sam Hocevar".  
  7. ^ "VideoLAN Team". Retrieved 2010-02-18. 
  8. ^ Rumori, Martin (2005), footils – Using the foo Sound Synthesis System as an Audio Scripting Languagesam+hocevar"+elk&hl=en&as_sdt=1000 ,  
  9. ^ "DVD subtitles". Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  10. ^ "Suspicious Activity? Indeed". Retrieved 2010-03-20. 
  11. ^ Hussain, Muhammed Afzal (2005), "CD-DRM & Sony BMG: A Case Study", Penn State University Citeseer (Penn State University): 8, retrieved 2010-03-20 
  12. ^ Hocevar, Sam; Niger, Gary (2008), written at Cherbourg-Octeville, France, "Reinstating Floyd-Steinberg: Improved Metrics for Quality Assessment of Error Diffusion Algorithms", Lecture Notes In Computer Science; Vol. 5099: Proceedings of the 3rd international conference on Image and Signal Processing ( 
  13. ^ "PWNtcha website". Retrieved 2007-04-09. 
  14. ^ "Defeating Captcha".  
  15. ^ Bursztein, Elie; Bethard, Steven; Fabry, Celine; Mitchell, John C.; Jurafsky, Dan (2009), written at  
  16. ^ "Licenses — Free Software Foundation". Free Software Foundation. 
  17. ^ Eaton-Salners, Alex (2004), "DVD Copy Control Association v. Bunner: Freedom of Speech and Trade Secrets", Berkeley Technology Law Journal ( 
  18. ^ Keizer, Gregg (2010), "iPad hacker arrested on multiple drug charges after FBI search", Network World ( 

External links

  • Official website
  • Sam Hocevar on Twitter
Preceded by
Anthony Towns
Debian Project Leader
April 2007 - April 2008
Succeeded by
Steve McIntyre
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