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GNOME Foundation hires "Professional Shaman" as new Executive Director
Seriously. This isn't satire.
October 18, 2023
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Before we begin, I need to stress something: This is not satire.  Not a joke.  What follows, while ridiculously whimsical, is 100% real.

 


 

Just a few short hours ago, the GNOME Foundation announced that they had hired a new Executive Director to lead GNOME into the future.  And her name is "Holly Million".

Oh!  And, before I forget, I should note that the new GNOME Executive Director... is a "Professional Shaman".

Seriously.

There still is a great deal of information yet uncover and digist about the person who will lead largest Linux desktop environment... but here is what we know so far.

According to the GNOME press release, Holly Million is a "multi-talented individual with a diverse background in nonprofit leadership, filmmaking, teaching, public speaking, and writing."

In the announcement, this new GNOME director stated, "I am impressed by the international reach of the GNOME community and the diversity of the individuals involved in creating all of this amazing output."

All of which set off my "This doesn't sound like a person with software experience" alarm.

So I began doing searches to see what the background of Holly Millions truly was.  And it was more amazing and whimsical than I could have possibly dreamed.

Holly The (Disappearing) Shaman Artist

That's when I found www.HollyTheShamanArtist.com.  A website which, unfortunately, was set to "Private" in the last few days. 

hollytheshamanartist.com as of October 17th, 2023
HollyTheShamanArtist.com as of October 17th, 2023

Thankfully both Archive.org and Google have snapshots for us to enjoy.

Here are a few snippets from the website.

"My name is Holly Million, and I am a professional shaman, an artist, an herbal medicine maker, and a micro-homesteader."

 

"Eight years ago, I realized the best word to describe me must be “shaman.” A shaman is a bridge between the material and spiritual worlds, between the seen and unseen worlds. I am now a professional shaman."

 

"I am planning to write a series of books, two of which are now works in progress."

She also appears to sell "Spiritual Herbs" and offers virtual shaman services which people can purchase via Venmo.  Which, interestingly, is a sentence that makes my left eye twitch.

In addition to her now-private website, Holly Millions has also, recently, set her Instagram account to private.

Wonder what shaman-y goodness is in there.  The world may never know.

Thankfully, as of this writing, she has not yet locked down her Facebook business page.  

Holly Million's business on Facebook

So what, exactly, is Holly Million's business that she runs on Facebook?  So glad you asked!

She posts the following each week:

"Join me every Wednesday from 5 PM to 5:30 PM Pacific Time as I guide all participants through a group shamanic energy clearing. Learn about the shamanic spiritual hygiene process that I use on myself and with my clients. This is a great technique to help you keep yourself free of any interference, heavy energies, emotional burdens, and other things you really don’t need.

This clearing is FREE for all participants. Learn more about the work that I do and experience it firsthand.

If you appreciate having this weekly group, please consider making a donation to support it. Tip jar: https://venmo.com/u/Holly-Million

Find out more about my 1:1 energy work with clients, my herbal products, and my shamanic apprentice program at Hollytheshamanartist.com

Just show up on my page on Facebook or Instagram at 5 PM Pacific, and I will be there!"

Shamanic.  Energy.  Cleaning.

Every Wednesday!

As one recent Facebook Post described her:

"The fabulous Ms. HOLLY MILLION. This woman has much to say about a world which we are sometimes challenged to access.  She connects with the spirits and the unseen. Come hear Holly share her magical mystical mysteries."

I'll leave that quote there without further comment.

Not Much That Isn't Shaman-y

Her LinkedIn page is almost completely empty, showing no signs of life for many years.  Likewise it does not appear that she has used Twitter since 2019.  Not that using LinkedIn and Twitter are mandatory, mind you... I simply mention it as most people in the "Executive Director" line of work would tend to have at least one or the other.

In fact... I would say roughly 99% of the information relating to Holly Millions is specifically about her work as a "Professional Shaman"... and much of that appears to be in the process of being deleted or set to "private".

About the only non-Shaman-y thing I could find about Holly Million was that she runs artists-united.org.  Which seems to be not much more than a simple template of a website with 4 pages on it and almost no references to it anywhere on the Internet.

Left With a Lot of Questions

After looking through just about everything I could find on Holly Millions, I have a few takeaways:

  1. She does not seem to have any experience with GNOME or Linux.
  2. In fact... she does not seem to have any experience related to software.  At all.  In any way.
  3. Her primary business appears to be focused on her work as a "shaman".
  4. Leading up to her announcement as the new GNOME Foundation Executive Director, she appears to be trying to erase her online history of shamanism.
  5. The GNOME Foundation seems to have left out her primary (Shaman) work in their press release.

All of which leaves me with some pressing questions:

  1. Why did the GNOME Foundation not mention their Executive Director's primary passion and work experience as a shaman?  Is the GNOME Foundation ashamed of shamanism?
  2. What aspect of shamanism was most needed within the role of the Executive Director?
  3. How will shamanism be incorporated into future GNOME releases?
  4. Will ayahuasca be used at future GNOME conferences or during future UI design?
  5. How, exactly, did GNOME find Holly Million during their search for a new Executive Director?

Seriously.  Those may sound like tongue-in-cheek questions... but, considering this move, I kinda want to know the answers!

A Note of Thanks to GNOME

I would also like to take this opportunity to directly thank the GNOME Foundation.

This is, without question, one of the most whimsical Tech news stories in quite a long time.  And, let's be honest, we could also use a bit of whimsy in our lives.

And to Mrs. Holly Million, the new Executive Director of the GNOME Foundation: Welcome to the wonderful world of Linux!  You have a standing invitation to The Lunduke Journal podcast whenever you like.

Just be prepared for most of my questions to be about the relationship between ayahuasca and GTK4.

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GNOME bans Manjaro Core Team Member for uttering "Lunduke"
"Lunduke" has become the "He Who Shall Not Be Named" of Big Tech and Open Source

The GNOME team has censored -- and deleted the account -- of the maintainer of Manjaro Linux GNOME Edition.

Why would GNOME take such a drastic action for a person so important to the packaging and distribution of GNOME software?

Because that Manjaro Linux GNOME Edition maintainer... dared to post a link to an article published by The Lunduke Journal.

How to Get Banned from GNOME in 1 Easy Step

On July 21st, The Lunduke Journal published an article entitled "GNOME Ousts Elected Board Member in Secret... and Tells Nobody for 2 Months" -- covering the expulsion and banning of GNOME Board Member, Sonny Piers.

That article was then posted by Mark Wagie -- a member of the Manjaro Linux Core Team, and maintainer of the Manjaro GNOME Edition -- to a GNOME forum post, relevant to the topic.

 

Screenshot of the post prior to deletion.

 

Within roughly 1 hour, that post was flagged and hidden...

 

Screenshot of the post after it was hidden.

 

Shortly thereafter, the post was deleted entirely... as was Mark Wagie's account.

That's right.  GNOME deleted the account of a Manjaro Team Core Member, and a GNOME package maintainer.  All because he posted a link to an article that had the name "Lunduke" on it.

From Mark Wagie:

 

"Today, I dared sharing your article on the GNOME Discourse forum in the Updates to the GNOME Foundation Board of Directors Roster topic. It didn't take long before my reply was flagged as spam and hidden. My account was also deleted with no communication whatsoever. I was able to take screenshots before my account was deleted.

 

A fellow Manjaro forum user told me he messaged the GNOME Discourse Moderators and 'questioned the wisdom of banning the Manjaro GNOME maintainer from their forums.'"

 

This is, without question, incredibly peculiar.  Banning a prominent contributor?  All because he posted a link to an article relevant to a topic being discussed?

An article, I might add, that nobody has objected to based on the facts.

Is the leadership of GNOME so afraid of the truth of their actions being exposed, that they resort to banning anyone who simply links to articles about GNOME?

Or, perhaps, is the GNOME leadership filled with so much hatred and fear for all things "Lunduke" that they are willing to cut off their own nose to spite their face?

He Who Shall Not Be Named

Here's something truly crazy: This isn't the only instance of people being censored (and banned) from portions of the GNOME project for uttering the name "Lunduke"... this week.  This is simply the most ridiculous example.

While it's true that the GNOME Foundation operates with a high level of secrecy -- often ignoring members of the press entirely -- they appear to reserve the bulk of their animosity for anyone who dares to mention articles or shows from The Lunduke Journal.

And they are not alone.

Leadership throughout the Big Tech and Open Source world have hard "Do not mention Lunduke" policies -- with some within the Open Source industry regularly screaming, bullying, and threatening anyone who dares to link to The Lunduke Journal.

One prominent Linux distribution even went so far as to add automatic censorship to their forum -- which instantly changed the word "Lunduke" to "violates forum rules".

 

102127_gfaxwjam9ardl8k.jpeg

 

Likewise, members of the Fedora (Red Hat) Linux Marketing Team speak openly about the need for hard censoring anything related to "Lunduke".  (The Fedora Marketing Team also likes to call Jewish men "Nazis", apparently.)

 

Source

 

The fact is... they fear the word "Lunduke".

Why?  Because, when you do shady things, the truth makes you look bad.  Wikipedia, Red Hat, The Linux Foundation, Google, Microsoft, and, yes, even GNOME (and so many others).  They fear the truth.

The Lunduke Journal reports the truth.

All of which has resulted in "Lunduke" becoming the Big Tech and Open Source equivalent of "Voldemort" or "Beeltejuice".  Should that name be uttered a little too loudly -- or, perhaps, three times in a row -- Lunduke will appear and wreak havoc.

And, you know what?

I'm ok with that.

Because here's a fun secret about being "He Who Shall Not Be Named"...

Everyone instantly knows exactly who you are talking about.

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GNOME Ousts Elected Board Member in Secret... and Tells Nobody for 2 Months
Secret meetings. No transparency. Total chaos.

The chaos at the GNOME Foundation continues, as it is revealed that an elected GNOME Board member was forced out in a secret meeting... held two months ago, but withheld from the public until now.

Chaos and Secrecy within GNOME

As you may remember, GNOME recently announced that they were in dire financial circumstances... followed immediately by the resignation of their Executive Director (who had only been on the job for 9 months, with almost nothing to show for her time).

Now, the GNOME Foundation Board has announced that they have removed one of their recently elected Board Members... in a "Special Meeting"... held on May 17th.

Yet this fact was kept secret until July 17th -- two months later -- when they made the following statement:

 

"The GNOME Foundation Board voted to remove Sonny Piers as a member of the Board of Directors for cause, at a Special Meeting on May 17th, 2024, following the procedure outlined in the GNOME Bylaws, and remove him from all committees. Effective May 25th, 2024, his seat is now vacant, and in accordance with the Bylaws will be filled for the remainder of its term by an appointment made by the Board.

 

A Code of Conduct complaint was also made against Sonny Piers. The Foundation is engaged in a mediation process with him, which is still ongoing and so we are unable to share more information at this time."

 

Sonny Piers, first elected less than a year earlier, was forced out of his seat on the GNOME Board.  Unexpectedly.

Why?  That information is not provided.  In fact the meeting minutes for this May 17th "Special Meeting" are incredibly vague... providing almost zero information.

Almost total secrecy about the reason for this Board Member being forced out of the GNOME Foundation.

 

May 17th, 2024 "Special Meeeting" Minutes

 

This forced removal was not limited to the seat on the GNOME Board... the GNOME accounts of Sonny Piers all have (seemingly) been blocked or banned.  Including source control.

 

The ousted Board Member was even blocked from all source control.

 

Who is Sonny Piers?

There are multiple things which makes this incident extremely peculiar.  Not least of which is the fact that Sonny Piers is one of the most effective and prominent members of the GNOME project: Being the creator and developer of GNOME Workbench, and one of the orchestrators of the 1 Million Euro Sovereign Tech Fund grant from late last year (one of the only pieces of positive news from GNOME in quite some time).

If you were to create a list of the 5 most important, influential, and effective people within GNOME... Sonny Piers would make that list.  Easily.

According to a July 21st statement from Sonny Piers, his ousting from the GNOME Board was a "shock" to him:

"I am no longer a member of the board of directors of the GNOME Foundation since May 2024. The process and decision shocked me. I know people are looking for answers, but I want to protect people involved and the project/foundation. It was never an interpersonal conflict for me."

While we can read between the lines on some of this statement... there are very few details here about what, exactly, transpired.

GNOME Does Damage Control

After this news began to spread within the GNOME world (and after The Lunduke Journal reached out to him for comment), the GNOME Foundation President, Robert McQueen was forced to make a public statement:

"This has also been an unprecedented situation for the Foundation. The Directors have met 15-16 times this year so far already and directed a great deal of time and attention into making this decision and trying to find the least worst outcomes, considering our legal and moral obligations to the community, the staff, and the Foundation — obligations which have sometimes felt in tension."

Least worst outcomes?  Legal and moral obligations?

A secret vote to oust an elected official.  Followed by keeping it a secret from the voters.  How is that a "moral obligation"?

While we're not getting many details from GNOME about why they ousted an elected Board member... the words chosen raise many, many additional questions.

"Regarding the Board decision; whilst the Board did receive a report from the CoCC, removal of a Director is a separate process as set out in the Bylaws and solely at the authority of the Board. The Board considered it separately and independently as we are required to do, and made our own autonomous decision by a significant majority. We took outside legal advice on the situation and the process at multiple points, and it was duly followed. For the purposes of limiting legal liability, that advice also included making the announcement very terse and factual. I appreciate this is at tension with the transparency that the community would hope to see, but Directors are also obligated to look after the Foundation’s legal requirements and financial interests."

We know that the GNOME "Code of Conduct Committee" was involved in some way. 

According to that "Code of Conduct Committee" there were only two "incidents" which were "actionable".  Based on their reporting (which is incredibly vague and secretive), that incident would be one of the two items listed in this report.

 

Code of Conduct Committee Report

 

No names.  No details.  Complete secrecy.

Likewise, outside legal counsel was saught by the GNOME Foundation on whatever this matter was.

And why did the GNOME Foundation keep all of this a secret for two months?  Their statement on the matter seems rather... weak.

 

"Regarding the timing; the previous Board was intentionally refraining from announcements while we made arrangements for mediation mentioned in the announcement. Subsequently during the election period we did not want to appear to be interfering in the election which runs autonomously with its own timeline, and since the election the new board has only had its first official meeting (i.e., duly notified, with quorum, able to make votes) to approve this announcement on Wednesday before GUADEC."

 

To be clear: The GNOME Foundation subverted the votes of the GNOME Foundation Members, by ousting an elected board member (in secret)... and the reason they didn't tell anyone about it for two months is... that they were making "mediation arrangements"?

And they only, just now, felt the need to tell people what they had done... because people would find out anyway at their annual conference (GUADEC)?

Seriously?

I'll be honest here... I don't buy it.  The GNOME statement, quite simply, doesn't hold water.

So Many Questions

These events raise so many questions and concerns regarding the GNOME Foundation.

  1. Why was Sonny Piers ousted from his elected seat on the GNOME Foundation Board?
  2. Why was this action done entirely behind closed doors, with absolutely zero documentation regarding this vote?
  3. Why was this undocumented vote, in this "Special Meeting", kept secret for two months?
  4. Why does GNOME only feel the need to tell people what actions they take, in secret, when their secret activities are on the verge of being discovered?
  5. Why was "legal advice" necessary?
  6. Does the ousting of Sonny Piers have anything to do with the other events happening within GNOME during the same time period (the removal of the "GNOME Shaman" Executive Director, the massive flop of the "5 Year Plan", and the announcement of financial difficulties)?

Will GNOME answer any of these questions?  If their past (and current) dedication to secrecy are any indication... probably not.  Heck.  GNOME bans critical tech journalists from even asking questions in their forums.

Thoughts From Lunduke

If I were a voting member of the GNOME Foundation, I would find this all deeply troubling.

If the GNOME Foundation can get rid of undesirable board members -- 100% in secret, without ever giving justification... and not even telling GNOME voters that they did it for multiple months -- then that means GNOME Members have absolutely no power within the Foundation.  Their votes simply do not matter.

It should be noted that The Lunduke Journal reached out to multiple people with questions and a request for comment on this story, including:

  • The entire GNOME Foundation Board
  • The GNOME Foundation Code of Conduct Committee
  • Sonny Piers

Several hours after reaching out, both Sonny Piers and the GNOME Foundation President posted the statements outlined earlier in this article.  Yet, as of the publishing of this article, not one representative from GNOME has directly responded.  And the public statements failed to answer any of the questions asked above.

GNOME is a critically important suite of software -- used by numerous prominent, consumer-focused, open source operating systems... as well as relied upon by all of the major Linux Enterprise corporations.  What happens to GNOME can have a significant impact on the entire Linux, BSD, and Open Source ecosystem.

The extreme levels of secrecy within the GNOME Foundation -- coupled with their repeated chaos and failures -- raises significant concerns.

The GNOME Chaos Timeline

There's so much going on within GNOME... it can be hard to keep it all straight.

Here is a timeline, covering roughly the last year, of some of the key events discussed within this article (along with some of the other events relating to the GNOME Foundation).

What will happen next?  More chaos, disaster, drama, and secrecy?  We'll find out.

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Last week at The Lunduke Journal (July 7 - July 20, 2024)
Fedora's Empty Diversity Event, GNOME Shaman Out, Firefox's Data Collection

The Tech News insanity continues!  GNOME's Shaman Executive Director is out, Firefox gets into the data collection business, a Tech Journalist speaks out in favor of assassinating President Trump (seriously), Microsoft lays off some DEI staff, Fedora holds a Diversity event... and nobody shows up to it.

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Wild.  Just plain wild.

The Videos

The Articles

Previous Few Weeks

Reminder: Check out The Lunduke Journal Link Central page for all the handy URLS.  Podcast RSS feeds, contact info, direct links to some of the big shows and articles and a bunch of other goodies.  And be sure to subscribe to The Lunduke Journal to help support the work... and make sure you don't miss out on anything.

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