Debian developers vote to ‘not issue a statement’ on Richard Stallman’s return to FSF board
Written by Finbarr Toesland Mon 19 Apr 2021
Stallman resigned from the FSF board in September 2019 following controversial comments about convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
The results of a two-week vote on how to respond to calls for Richard Stallman’s removal from leadership of the free software community and the removal of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) board for seemingly supporting Stallman, saw the community of Debian developers decide to “not issue a public statement on this issue”.
Stallman resigned from the FSF board in September 2019, after many people in the open source community objected to his controversial comments about convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
But in late March, FSF re-admitted Stallman to its board, to the surprise of many, including software firm Red Hat. The provider of enterprise open source solutions said in a statement they were “appalled to learn that [Stallman] had rejoined the FSF board of directors” and would be “immediately suspending all Red Hat funding of the FSF and any FSF-hosted events.”
Eight options were offered by the Debian GNU/Linux Project in the vote, which was conducted under a complex preferential voting system called the Condorcet Method.
Option 1 “Call for the FSF board removal, as in rms-open-letter.github.io”
Option 2 “Call for Stallman’s resignation from all FSF bodies”
Option 3 “Discourage collaboration with the FSF while Stallman is in a leading position”
Option 4 “Call on the FSF to further its governance processes”
Option 5 “Support Stallman’s reinstatement, as in rms-support-letter.github.io”
Option 6 “Denounce the witch-hunt against RMS and the FSF”
Option 7 “Debian will not issue a public statement on this issue”
Option 8 “Further Discussion”
The seventh option received the most votes from the 420 developers who participated. All of the options received a quorum of votes, but options 5 and 6 (“Support Stallman’s reinstatement” and “Denounce the witch-hunt against RMS and the FSF”) appear to not have achieved a majority.
An open letter in support of Stallman now has more than 6400 signatures, with a competing open letter asking for the removal of Stallman from all leadership positions closed on April 1st with 3010 signatures.