You know the story. Richard Stallman (RMS) who was forced out in 2019 from FSF made a surprise announcement of his return to the FSF board of directors.

This was bound to create a controversy, and it did.

GNOME Foundation director led the charge against RMS by creating an open letter that calls for the removal of Stallman as well as the entire board of the Free Software Foundation.

Several organizations take official stance against Stallman and FSF

Since the open letter against RMS was created by GNOME Foundation’s executive director and influential people from the Debian project, Open Source Initiative, several organizations have also released official statements against Stallman and FSF.

In the open letter calling for removal of Stallman and FSF board members, you can find at least 41 organizations. This includes big names like Mozilla, SUSE, GNOME Foundation, Open Source Collective, Outreachy, Tor, X.org, FreeDOS.

FSFE (Free Software Foundation Europe) is stopping its collaboration with FSF:

Therefore, in the current situation we see ourselves unable to collaborate both with the FSF and any other organisation in which Richard Stallman has a leading position. Instead, we will continue to work with groups and individuals who foster diversity and equality in the Free Software movement in order to achieve our joint goal of empowering all users to control technology.

Mozilla signed the letter against Stallman in its official capacity:

Melissa Di Donato, CEO of SUSE, voiced her opinion in public:

Red Hat has gone a step ahead and suspended all funding to Free Software Foundation and its events.

Red Hat was appalled to learn that he had rejoined the FSF board of directors. As a result, we are immediately suspending all Red Hat funding of the FSF and any FSF-hosted events.

The suspension is not permanent and Red Hat says it looks forward to “working with the FSF and others to enable the FSF to once again become an effective and trusted advocacy organization in line with its chartered non-profit mission”.

Individuals supporting RMS are not giving up

While most of those opposing Stallman and FSF are based in the United States of America, the support keeps on pouring from other parts of the world.

The open letter in support of RMS has over 2900 signatories which is slightly more than 2700 signatures on the letter opposing RMS.

There is not even a single organization that has come in support of RMS but it seems that RMS has quite some fan following in Russia and other ex-USSR/East European countries (pardon my lack of geographical/historical knowledge). The open source developers from these countries are not scared to show their support for RMS.

The stats are bound to change in coming days. It’s time someone makes a real time counter comparing the signature/votes on both letters so that it is easier to follow the stats.

What is FSF doing on this situation?

There are two small blog posts on FSF websites that talk about “organizational governance and the appointment of members to its board of directors”.

FSF board is soliciting proposals from qualified consultants to assist in creating a transparent, formal process for identifying candidates and appointing board members who are wise, capable, and committed to the FSF’s mission.

They will rewrite the by-laws to reflect transparency in its choice of directors. I think this addresses the concern on how Stallman was ‘sneakily’ brought to the board of FSF.

FSF president Geoffrey Knauth also announced that he would resign once this new process is in place.

I commit myself to resign as an FSF officer, director, and voting member as soon as there is a clear path for new leadership assuring continuity of the FSF’s mission and compliance with fiduciary requirements.

Geoffrey Knauth, FSF President

Let’s wait and watch how things unfold.