Skip to content

The Stallman wars

Open Source

So, 2021 isn't bad enough yet, but don't despair, people are working to fix that:

Welcome to the Stallman wars

Team Cancel: (repo)

Team Support: (repo)

Current Final stats are:

Team Cancel:  3019 signers from 1415 individual commit authors
Team Support: 6853 signers from 5418 individual commit authors

Git shortlog (Top 10):

rms_cancel.git (Last update: 2021-08-16 00:11:15 (UTC))
  1230  Neil McGovern
   251  Joan Touzet
    99  Elana Hashman
    73  Molly de Blanc
    36  Shauna
    19  Juke
    18  Stefano Zacchiroli
    17  Alexey Mirages
    16  Devin Halladay
    14  Nader Jafari

rms_support.git (Last update: 2021-09-29 07:14:39 (UTC))
  1821  shenlebantongying
  1585  nukeop
  1560  Ivanq
  1057  Victor
   880  Job Bautista
   123  nekonee
   101  Victor Gridnevsky
    41  Patrick Spek
    25  Borys Kabakov
    17  KIM Taeyeob

(data as of 2021-10-01)

Technical info:
Signers are counted from their "Signed / Individuals" sections. Commits are counted with git shortlog -s.
Team Cancel also has organizational signatures with Mozilla, Suse and X.Org being among the notable signatories. The 16 original signers of the Cancel petition are added in their count. Neil McGovern, Juke and shenlebantongying need .mailmap support as they have committed with different names.

Further reading:

12.04.2021 statements from the accused:

18.04.2021 Debian General Resolution

The Debian General Resolution (GR) vote of the developers has concluded to not issue a public statement at all, see for the results.

It is better to keep quiet and seem ignorant than to speak up and remove all doubt.

See Quote Investigator for the many people that rephrased these words over the centuries. They still need to be recalled more often as too many people in the FLOSS community have forgotten about that wisdom...

01.10.2021 Final stats

It seems enough dust has settled on this unfortunate episode of mob activity now. Hence I stopped the cronjob that updated the stats above regularly. Team Support has kept adding signature all the time while Team Cancel gave up very soon after the FSF decided to stand with Mr. Stallman. So this battle was decided within two months. The stamina of the accused and determined support from some dissenting web devs trumped the orchestrated outrage of well known community figures and their publicity power this time. But history teaches us that does not mean the war is over. There will a the next opportunity to call for arms. And people will call. Unfortunately.


No Trackbacks


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

Jonathan on :

So Neil McGovern has clicked the “merge PR” button a load more times than anyone else. What use is this figure?

Daniel Lange on :

This is just data.

I'll come up with analysis once this is all over. I will not fuel either side. I much prefer peace over war.

If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially.
- Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

shenlebantongying on :

My name is not "slb Prime", I update my GitHub profile. Will it show a different name "shenlebantongying" :-) Can you update it?

Daniel Lange on :

Sure, done. I extended the .mailmap support to both repos now. Thanks for the nudge!

shenlebantongying on :

Since this page got cited and can be searched via Google, I just want to inject some of my person opinion for a moment for random visitors or future internet historian:

It's not coincident that the top a few people on rms_support.git are all nobodies. Due to high political rightness pressure, one with big titles just cannot easily involve in such an affair. In contrast, we really have nothing to lose for this political issue (My professional doesn't relate to IT at all :-)) .

Someone just has to do it to resist the impact of the open letter. I wouldn't say the support letter is our contribution, since if we don't do it, someone else would do it.

History is interesting. It forces people to react passively, and at the same time people also push the history forward. Yes, in my view, we are just a few random internet people who accidentally involved by the wheel of a series of events.

Who would have thought Epstein's crime would make us friends?

Some of our signers think we win this little battle. However, I personally think we just don't lose, rather than win. RMS got removed or not, the community is already divided which may require years to heal. However, I also think the overall outcome of this event is positive, since the message of free software movement passed to the whole earth (as the support letter translated to 32 languages). This might be the biggest "advertisement" campaign for FSF/GNU in many years. A lot of people realized that free software movement need them, and they can do things to improve it. Besides, many outsiders for the first time heard the word "Free/Libra Software".


Timo Kinnunen on :

Well, this is the first I heard of RMS being back at FSF. I'm a bit disappointed that during the years no figure emerged who could revolutionize and elevate free software the way RMS revolutionized proprietary software.

I'll read RMS's statement before forming an opinion. My hope is that he took advantage of his two-year absence as an opportunity to learn and self-critique to become a better person, and that this will be reflected in his statement.

But, seeing terms like "mob activity", "orchestrated outrage" or "Team Cancel", which focus on the consequences of one's actions, and nary a word on the actions that led to those consequences doesn't give me much reason to be hopeful.

Add Comment

Markdown format allowed
Standard emoticons like :-) and ;-) are converted to images.
E-Mail addresses will not be displayed and will only be used for E-Mail notifications.

To prevent automated Bots from commentspamming, please enter the string you see in the image below in the appropriate input box. Your comment will only be submitted if the strings match. Please ensure that your browser supports and accepts cookies, or your comment cannot be verified correctly.

Form options

Submitted comments will be subject to moderation before being displayed.