01.10.21

Alex Oliva’s Departure is a Massive Loss to the Free Software Foundation

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GNU/Linux at 5:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The FSF (Free Software Foundation, established 1985) is losing not only Mr. Oliva; it loses some credibility as the departure contributes to the general perception that there’s still an ongoing coup, reinventing the FSF in the image not of its very own founder

“Real loss is only possible when you love something more than you love yourself,” Robin Williams said. There are two people in this world whom I can name as putting software freedom before anything else, probably including themselves. Those two people are no longer in the FSF.

“Mr. Oliva was, to Dr. Stallman himself, like a guardian in the Foundation. If he leaves, what exactly does that mean and what’s going to happen next?”Today’s breaking news and sad news may be another coup or insurrection, as a key FSF person is being accused of sedition for speaking out his mind, in effect dismantling another person who thinks a lot like Richard Stallman, the founder of GNU and the FSF. As readers may recall, in a nine-part series nine months ago we explained that in the FSF (at the time) the "Majority of the Board Supports Richard Stallman". Is that still the case? We can only hope so. At the moment the Board is down to four people: Gerald Sussman, Henry Poole, Kat Walsh, and Odile Bénassy. That’s about half what it was before "Free software 9/11" and if the move to remove the Stallman mindset is still ongoing, then we have reasons for concern and some reassessment. We’re currently trying to investigate the circumstances under which the resignation of Mr. Oliva happened because it seems or feels like it was compelled if not forced. Mr. Oliva was, to Dr. Stallman himself, like a guardian in the Foundation. If he leaves, what exactly does that mean and what’s going to happen next?

“To me, personally, he was one of the most inspiring hackers.”At the moment the FSF’s site still lists Oliva as a board member. He seems most qualified (among the members). To quote: “Alex “lxo” Oliva lives two lives. In one, he’s a respectable (i.e., free) software hacker, having worked as GNU Toolchain developer since 2000 at Red Hat and AdaCore, and he does his taxes in Brazil with free software he’s maintained since 2007. In the other life, he’s a software freedom activist, who speaks, writes, and attempts to motivate people to take the red pill and escape the surveillance matrix most of us live in. He’s used GNU since 1991, and contributed to it since 1993. He’s maintained GNU Linux-libre since 2008, and launched the 0G project to escape the surveillance black hole in 2019. He co-founded FSF Latin America, and he’s a member of LibrePlanet São Paulo, a GNU Speaker, and the recipient of the 2016 FSF Award for the Advancement of Free Software. He graduated as a Computing Engineer and became MSc in Computer Sciences at University of Campinas, where he got acquainted with free software.”

What a tragic loss if they remove him from the page. To me, personally, he was one of the most inspiring hackers. He’s polite, he’s technically apt (with long track record to show this), and he’s very true to the principles set out by Dr. Stallman when he established the FSF more than 35 years ago.

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