FSF and GNU decide to grant Libreboot lead developer Leah Rowe’s wishes. The project is no longer a part of GNU says RMS.
A saga that began about four months ago has ended — or so it seems, On Thursday, Richard Stallman, founder and head of the GNU Project, officially said Goodbye to GNU Libreboot in an email on the GNU mailing list.
This story first broke on September 16 when Leah Rowe announced, also in an email to the GNU mailing list, that she was pulling Libreboot from the GNU Project. Rowe is the lead developer for the project, which produces free and open source software to replace proprietary BIOS firmware. The project was endorsed by the Free Software Foundation and became an official part of the GNU Project on May 14, 2016.
Rowe said that her reason for seeking to remove the project was because “[t]he Free Software Foundation recently fired a transgendered employee of the FSF, just for being trans, because some transphobic cissexist people wrote negatively about her. The FSF fired her because they thought she, rather than the assholes bullying her, was causing the FSF potential damage.”
Not so, Stallman said in a reply the next day. “The dismissal of the staff person was not because of her gender,” he wrote. “Her gender now is the same as it was when we hired her. It was not an issue then, and it is not an issue now.”
Later the same day, John Sullivan, executive director of the Free Software Foundation, GNU’s parent organization, posted an official statement to the organization’s website. “This morning, an open email circulated in which the author said that the Free Software Foundation ended a relationship with one of our employees for discriminatory reasons,” he began. ‘Although it is our usual policy not to comment publicly on internal personnel matters for privacy reasons, we felt it necessary to state unequivocally that the allegations made in that email are untrue.”
Two day after that, on September 18, Damien Zammit, a developer with the Libreboot project, contributed to the discussion with a post on his personal blog in which he painted a picture of a project lead who was both out of control and without boundaries. “I have recently noticed that Leah Rowe is the only person who has git commit access to the website, libreboot.org,” he wrote, “and also the only person who has git commit access to the codebase, which has only become a problem recently.
“We (the contributors) are not consulted about any of the views expressed on the libreboot.org website when they are hastily published by Leah,” he continued. “So, whenever you read ‘We believe…’ or ‘We say that…’ on the lists and websites, Leah has ultimate control of the libreboot project currently. It is clear that this person has been misusing control of the project to spew out irrelevant personal opinions on behalf of the ‘libreboot community,’ a singleton group of people consisting of … yes you guessed it, Leah Rowe.”
It was assumed at the time that the GNU Project would keep Libreboot under its care, perhaps under a new name, and that, for a while at least, there would be two Libreboot projects. However, Thursday’s announcement by RMS put’s an end to GNU’s involvement.
“A few months ago, the maintainer of GNU Libreboot decided not to work on Libreboot for the GNU Project any more. That was her decision to make. She also asserted that Libreboot was no longer a GNU package — something she could not unilaterally do. The GNU Project had to decide what to do in regard to Libreboot.
“We have decided to go along with the former GNU maintainer’s wishes in this case, for a combination of reasons: (1) it had not been a GNU package for very long, (2) she was the developer who had originally made it a GNU package, and (3) there were no major developers who wanted to continue developing Libreboot under GNU auspices. Given these circumstances, to continue development of Libreboot within GNU would not be useful, so we are not going to do so.
“Thus, Libreboot is no longer a GNU package. It remains free software.”
Rowe, who is herself transgender, appears to continue to have issues with the FSF and GNU, and has placed something of a diatribe against the organizations along the bottom of the project website’s home page. “Libreboot left GNU on 2016-09-15, in protest of transgender discrimination at the FSF,” it reads. “GNU arrogantly resisted this. Here are 5 reasons why your project should leave and/or never join GNU.”
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