Mustafa Akgül: A Pioneer of the Internet in Turkey

Mustafa Akgül: A Pioneer of the Internet in Turkey

Mustafa Akgül, who passed away in 2017, was a visionary computer scientist and a leading figure in the development of the internet in Turkey. He was also a passionate advocate for free and open source software, digital rights, and social responsibility. In this article, we will explore his life and achievements, and how he influenced the Turkish internet landscape.

He was a Turkish computer scientist, academic, and activist who played a key role in the development and promotion of the internet in Turkey. He was the founder and chairman of the Turkish Informatics Foundation, the Internet Society Turkey Chapter, and the Linux Users Association of Turkey.

Early Life and Education

Mustafa Akgül was born in 1946 in Ankara, Turkey. He graduated from the Middle East Technical University (METU) with a degree in electrical engineering in 1968. He then pursued his master’s and doctoral studies at the University of California, Berkeley, where he specialized in computer networks and distributed systems. He returned to Turkey in 1974 and joined the faculty of METU as an assistant professor.

The Birth of the Turkish Internet

In 1986, Akgül initiated a project to connect METU to the European Academic and Research Network (EARN), which was a precursor to the internet. He obtained a grant from IBM and installed a satellite dish on the roof of the METU Computer Center. He also established the first email service in Turkey, using the domain name trmetu.bitnet. This was the beginning of the Turkish internet, which Akgül later described as “a dream come true”.

Akgül continued to expand the network by connecting other universities and research institutions in Turkey. He also helped to create the Turkish Academic Network (TANet), which was the first national network in Turkey. He played a key role in establishing the Turkish Network Information Center (TR-NIC), which is responsible for managing the .tr domain name system. He also founded the Turkish Internet Society (ISOC-TR), which is a non-profit organization that promotes internet development and education in Turkey.

Free and Open Source Software Movement

Akgül was a strong supporter of free and open source software (FOSS), which he believed was essential for fostering innovation, collaboration, and democracy. He contributed to various FOSS projects, such as Linux, Apache, and GNU. He also organized several events and conferences to spread awareness and knowledge about FOSS among students, academics, and professionals. He was the founder and chairman of the Linux Users Association of Turkey (LKD), which is one of the largest FOSS communities in Turkey.

Akgül also advocated for the use of FOSS in public institutions and education. He initiated a project called Pardus, which is a Linux-based operating system developed by TÜBİTAK, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey. Pardus is designed to meet the needs of Turkish users and is widely used by government agencies, schools, and universities. Akgül also launched a project called Eğitimde Özgür Yazılım (Free Software in Education), which aims to provide FOSS training and resources to teachers and students.

Open Source and Digital Rights Advocacy

Mustafa Akgül was a strong supporter of open source software and culture. He founded the Linux Users Association of Turkey (LKD) in 1995, which organizes events, workshops, and campaigns to promote Linux and other free software. He also contributed to several open source projects, such as Pardus, a Linux-based operating system developed by the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK). He was a vocal advocate for digital rights and freedoms, such as privacy, net neutrality, and freedom of expression. He was a founding member and chairman of the Internet Society Turkey Chapter (ISOC-TR), which works to advance the internet as a platform for innovation, collaboration, and social good. He also participated in various national and international forums and initiatives related to internet governance, such as the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) and the European Dialogue on Internet Governance (EuroDIG).

Awards and Honors

Mustafa Akgül received numerous awards and honors for his contributions to the internet and society. Some of them are:

  • The Internet Society’s Jonathan B. Postel Service Award in 2017, which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the data communications community.
  • The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Prize in 2016, which recognizes projects that leverage information and communication technologies for social development.
  • The Turkish Informatics Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of informatics in Turkey.
  • The Linux Foundation’s Community Leadership Award in 2014, which recognizes individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, creativity, collaboration, and innovation within the Linux community.
  • The Turkish Grand National Assembly’s Honorary Plaque in 2013, which recognizes individuals who have made valuable contributions to the nation.

The Legacy of Mustafa Akgül Lives On!

Mustafa Akgül passed away on December 13, 2017, at the age of 71, after a long battle with cancer. His death was mourned by many people from different sectors and backgrounds, who expressed their gratitude and admiration for his work and vision. His funeral was attended by thousands of people, including government officials, academics, activists, journalists, students, and friends. His legacy lives on through his publications, projects, organizations, and initiatives that continue to shape the internet landscape in Turkey and beyond.


  1. “Remembering Mustafa Akgul” . Internet Policy Review . Archived from the original on 16 February 2020 . Accessed on February 16, 2020 .
  2. “The 25th anniversary of the Internet in Turkey” . Archived from the original on 16 August 2019 .
  3. “Who is Mustafa Akgül? Akgül, who passed away, was known as the “father of the internet” in Turkey” . . Sözcü newspaper, 14 December 2017. Archived from its original on 22 December 2017 . Accessed December 22, 2017 .
  4. c “The Pioneer of Internet and Free Software in Turkey, Mustafa Akgül, Loses His Life” . . news site 14 December 2017. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017 . Accessed December 22, 2017 .
  5. ” ” Free Software Camp” Begins” . Freedom . Archived from the original on 17 February 2020 . Retrieved January 23 , 2022 .

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