Almost a Year After Richard Stallman Was 'Cancelled', Free Software Foundation has Elected a new President
Almost a year after Richard Stallman, the founding president of Free Software Foundation, was forced to resign, FSF board has finally elected a new president.
Geoffrey Knauth, a FSF veteran, is the new FSF president
The new president is Geoffrey Knauth. As per Phoronix, Geoffrey is a computer science professor at Lycoming College, Pennsylvania state in the USA. However, I did not find any proof to validate this claim.
Geoffrey’s own bio on FSF website mentions that he is an independent software contractor, has worked as a programmer, senior associate, systems engineer, and systems analyst at various companies. He has contributed to the development of GNU Objective-C project. He holds a BA in Economics from Harvard University and is also the treasurer of the FSF.
From his personal website (last updated in 2014), I learned that he also volunteers for Civil Air Petrol as a mission pilot. A person of many talents, Geoffrey is also fluent in Russian and French languages.
Knauth has been a Free Software Foundation board member for more than thirty years. In his first statement as the president of FSF, Geoffrey wrote:
“The FSF board chose me at this moment as a servant leader to help the community focus on our shared dedication to protect and grow software that respects our freedoms. It is also important to protect and grow the diverse membership of the community. It is through our diversity of backgrounds and opinions that we have creativity, perspective, intellectual strength and rigor.”
The ‘cancellation’ of Richard Stallman
Richard Stallman is a programmer and free software activist. In fact, he is the founder of the Free Software Movement. He is best known for launching GNU project, writing GNU General Public License (GPL) and founding Free Software Foundation.
Richard Stallman founded the Free Software Foundation (FSF) in 1985. He was also the founding president of FSF and remained so till September 2019 when he (forced) resigned first from MIT university and then from the board of FSF.
If you remember It’s FOSS coverage of Stallman episode from last year, you might remember some details.
Some students at MIT wanted to protest about Jeffrey Epstein’s donation (to MIT’s AI lab). Richard Stallman objected to word ‘assaulted’ in the protest proposal email thread that mentioned “deceased AI ‘pioneer’ Marvin Minsky (who is accused of assaulting one of Epstein’s victims”.
Stallman’s ‘intellectual discourse on the choice of word’ would have gone unnoticed but a robotics student started a ‘remove Stallman’ campaign. Soon it was picked up by mainstream media and sensational headlines made Stallman a defender of Jeffrey Epstein.
Within a week or so, Richard Stallman was ‘cancelled’.
The cancel culture has become so prevalent that even the leftists and liberal intellectuals are voicing against it. Only last month around 150 eminent liberals including JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Noam Chomsky signed a letter expressing their concern over the toxic cancel culture that leaves no room for debate and does not tolerate opposite views.
Stallman is still heading the GNU project despite efforts to remove him from the project.
Let’s welcome Geoffrey Knauth as the new FSF president and hope that he drives FSF to new heights. I have also approached him for an email interview. If FSF approves it, you should read the interview on It’s FOSS.