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ReiserFS programmer murder trial gets under way

San Francisco Chronicle predicts trial of Hans Reiser, accused of killing his wife whose body has not been found, will be one of the most sensational in recent local memory.

The murder trial of Hans Reiser, the 43-year-old Oakland, Calif., computer programmer accused of killing his wife, is scheduled to begin Tuesday in what the San Francisco Chronicle predicts will be one of the most sensational local trials in recent memory.

Among the circumstances driving the likely media circus are Reiser's prominence in developer circles as the founder of the ReiserFS file system software available for Linux; the fact that the body of his estranged wife has never been recovered; and the national TV coverage, including a recent spot on ABC's 20/20.

Also fueling the frenzy are reports that Reiser plans to take the stand in his own defense, which concerns his attorney William Du Bois, according to the Chronicle.

Hans Reiser via Stanford University

"We are apprehensive to some degree, because we don't know how he will come across because of his intellect," Du Bois is quoted as saying, later adding that his client is so meticulous that he can readily identify by memory where key pieces of evidence are amid some 9,000 pages of discovery, the Chronicle reported.

The Reisers married in 1999, but separated in May 2004 and were undergoing contentious divorce proceedings when Nina Reiser, 31, disappeared on September 3, 2006, according to various news accounts.

Nina Reiser, a Russia-trained obstetrician and gynecologist, was last seen when she dropped the couple's two children off with Hans Reiser at his mother's house, where he was living at the time. Although her minivan was later found with groceries inside, efforts to find her body--including search and rescue efforts and reward offers--have been fruitless.

Oakland police have said they found biological and trace evidence suggesting Nina Reiser is dead, and also tying her husband to the death, according to news reports. Hans Reiser has been held without bail in Alameda County, where the trial is taking place.

Until October 2006, Novell's Suse Linux Enterprise products used ReiserFS as the default software to manage how data is stored on hard drives. New versions of Suse Linux Enterprise now use ext3 as the default file system, demoting ReiserFS to secondary, though still supported, option.

The change occurred the same week Reiser was arrested, but Novell had been considering its decision well before that event.

CNET's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.