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The Stallman Lineup (Profile)

March 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm

Choice: The Free Software Foundation

Rationale

We chose to look at the Free Software Foundation mostly because of our team’s interest in the organization and their overarching principles.

Organizational Details

  • Is the subject of your profile a corporate entity?

Yes, surprisingly!

  • What type?

501(c)(3) non-profit organization

  • When was it founded?

October 4, 1985

  • By whom?

Richard Matthew Stallman

  • Original founder(s) still active?

Yes, rms is the current President of the FSF

  • Publicly Traded? Since when? Initial Stock Price? Current stock price?

Nope, and their legal status is “Foundation”

  • Has the company made any acquisitions? If yes, which companies, and what were their core products?

Not technically an acquisition, but one of the reasons it was founded was to continue development of the GNU Project created by its founder, Richard Stallman, which it continues to sponsor.

  • Has the company made any investments in other companies? If yes, which ones.

The 2013 Audited Financial Statement for the FSF shows they held $264,530 in investments for fiscal year 2013.

  • Number of Employees?

12, including rms. There are also 7 (not including rms) members on the FSF’s Board of Directors.

  • Where is HQ?

Boston, MA (51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor)

  • Does it have any other offices or locations?

No.

  • Website?

fsf.org

  • Wikipedia?

yep

  • Does your organization file any annual reports? Please include links to any relevant documents (i.e. 990, Annual Report, Year in Review, etc…)

2013 990 | 2013 Audited Financial Statement

Communications

  • Does your subject participate in social media? If yes, please list a URL for each account, and reach within that community. (i.e. Twitter: @RedHatNews – 61.9K Followers.

Twitter

Blog

News/RSS Feed

  • What communication channels does your subject use to reach their public? Briefly describe and include a URL for each.

Free Software Supporter

  • Does your subject organize or participate in any conferences? If so, list them here, and provide links to any relevant sessions, keynotes, or content.

LibrePlanet

Community Architecture

Your subject likely runs or contributes to one or more Open Source products or projects. Choose one (or more) of these and answer the following questions:

Coreboot

If applicable, list and provide links to:

  • The project’s IRC Channel

#coreboot on Freenode

  • Source Code repository

review.coreboot.org

  • Mail list archive

Mailing list

  • Documentation

Documentation

  • Project Website and/or Blog

coreboot.org

  • Describe the software project, its purpose and goals.

Coreboot is a fast and flexible open source firmware aimed to replace the proprietary BIOS seen in most computers by running a lightweight boot process designed to run only the necessary tasks. It is endorsed by the FSF.

  • Give brief history of the project. When was the Initial Commit? The latest commit?

April 15th, 2003. Project started in 1999. Wednesday March 18th at 11:41 AM

  • Who approves patches? How many people?

Every developer can vote on what can be added. After the patch hits a specific threshold, then they will be added on their own. Certain developers have the ability to give enough votes to auto-merge a commit.

  • Has there been any turnover in the Core Team? (i.e. has the top 20% of contributors stayed the same over time? If not, how has it changed?)

It doesn’t appear like there has been any

  • Does the project have a BDFL, or Lead Developer? (BDFL == Benevolent Dictator for Life)

Ron Minnich

  • Are the front and back end developers the same people? What is the proportion of each?

The project is based around creating a Free BIOS, so there isn’t really a front-end to speak of.

  • What have been some of the major bugs/problems/issues that have arisen during development? Who is responsible for quality control and bug repair?

“I got some help from kmalkki and he said my best bet is to disassemble the mrc blob. #### that. I know what’s in it. It’s ####.” ~In regards to porting a sandybridge board |from here|

  • How is the project’s participation trending and why?

The project looks fairly consistent in terms of participation across its commit history

  • In your opinion, does the project pass “The Raptor Test?” (i.e. Would the project survive if the BDFL, or most active contributor were eaten by a Velociraptor?) Why or why not?

Yes, as Ron doesn’t appear that active as a developer any more

  • In your opinion, would the project survive if the core team, or most active 20% of contributors, were hit by a bus? Why or why not?

Due to how the team manages committing code and the general maturity of the project, the project looks like it would be fine.

  • Does the project have an official “on-boarding” process in place? (new contributor guides, quickstarts, communication leads who focus specifically on newbies, etc…)

yep

  • Does the project have Documentation available? Is it extensive? Does it include code examples?

Documentation

  • If you were going to contribute to this project, but ran into trouble or hit blockers, who would you contact, and how?

FAQ

  • Based on these answers, how would you describe the decision making structure/process of this group? Is it hierarchical, consensus building, ruled by a small group, barely contained chaos, or ruled by a single or pair of individuals?

The entire project seems fairly communal, with a few people that serve as directional influences in which way the project should go

Technology/Product (Section adapted from EFF Worksheet)

  • Who invented, created, or sponsored the technology?

Endorsed by FSF; Led by Minnich.

  • What was the technology designed to do? How was it used?

Open source replacement of BIOS firmware that does only the bare minimum system setup necessary before handing off control to a bootloader, kernel, BIOS, or other ELF executable.

  • Who would benefit from using this technology?

Consumers interested in a completely open and libre system could benefit, but a mature coreboot could create benefits for players pretty much everywhere in the computer manufacturing market as well.

  • What kinds of companies or organizations (stakeholders) might have been concerned about the development of this technology? Why?

Companies like American Megatrends and other BIOS chip providers might be concerned, because the software serves as a replacement for the software they provide on their chips.

  • Did an aspect of copyright law play a role in controversies about the technology? How?

No major controversies regarding this software yet, to our knowledge.

Business and Revenue Model

  • How was this organization funded originally?

Most of the FSF funding comes from patrons and members.

  • How does this organization make revenue?

See above.

  • Which specific Open Source Revenue Models are utilized?

Donations.

  • What investments/acquisitions has the organization made?

None in companies, however it does have many projects.

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