Libreboot – Open Letter to the Free Software Community

2 Apr 2017

To the free software community:

Over the past six months, the Libreboot project has been in a state of discord. After an issue with a transgender employee at the FSF escalated, Libreboot publicly left GNU with little consultation from the community. Relations with so many people were strained. Friendships broken, lines of code never written: the chaos needs to come to an end.

A series of organisational issues with Libreboot enabled this fallout to occur. We have since corrected them:

Previously, the libreboot repository and the website could only be modified by the project leader, Leah Rowe. This setup created a single point of failure, with little leeway for dissenting contributors. Since then, I have joined the project as the sysadmin. Along with another contributor, Sebastian “Swift Geek” Grzywna, direct access to the code and servers is shared. Though the project cannot yet be completely decentralised, this change is a win for transparency.

Previously, most of, including public statements such as those regarding GNU, were issued by Leah herself. The rest of the team and the community were not consulted. As Damien Zammit, a former contributor noted, the word “we” on old Libreboot notices meant “Leah”. But alas, there is no room for the “royal we” in democracy.

Finally, on a personal note, Leah was at the time struggling with gender dysphoria and substance abuse. Since then, she has been managing these issues. She agrees that her behaviour was rash and is determined to find a unifying solution.

With all of this in mind, were the allegations against the Free Software Foundation true? Perhaps. Perhaps not. At this point, it doesn’t matter. Indeed, it is unlikely that Libreboot will ever rejoin GNU, but feuding in an already fragmented community helps nobody. The world of free software is shrinking and under attack. Though the FSF may make mistakes from time to time, so do we. We do not need another divide.

Similarly, we would like to work closely with librecore, another project working to deblob coreboot, whose team includes Damien Zammit. Once librecore matures, libreboot plans to switch to librecore in lieu of our current deblobbed fork. That is, there will be less duplication of effort; instead of competing with librecore, libreboot will complement it.

As a technical update, we are currently working on a Libreboot port to the X220. Leah and Swift are investigating ways to disable the ME on Sandybridge hardware, which potentially means more modern Intel hardware may be supported. Additionally, Paul Kocialkowski has been working on supporting several new Chromebooks with ARM chips; these ports will also be available in an upcoming release.

No more “royal we”. No more notorious surprises. No more late night “typofixes”.

Transparency and collaboration are the way forward.

~Alyssa Rosenzweig

Cross-posted from

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