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Ladybird Web Browser becomes a non-profit with $1 Million from GitHub Founder
The "From Scratch" browser is preparing to take on Mozilla & Google
July 01, 2024
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The original founder of GitHub (Chris Wanstrath) has partnered up with the founder of SerenityOS and the Ladybird web browser (Andreas Kling) to create "The Ladybird Browser Initiative" -- a USA-based non-profit dedicated exclusively to building a brand new web browser.  From scratch.

While many have claimed that developing a new web browser "from scratch" is an impossible goal, the founders of The Ladybird Browser Initiative believe they can do it.  What's more, they are confident it can be done without taking any funding from corporate deals or advertising revenue.

Their goal?  To have a fully functional "Alpha" version of the Ladybird browser ready sometime in 2026.

Ladybird Funding

Roughly one year ago, the Ladybird Browser received their first major sponsorship ($100,000 from Shopify).  Now, with the creation of a 501(c)(3) non-profit (accompanied by a $1 Million dollar pledge from the GitHub founder), Ladybird is preparing to become the only major web browser which does not treat the user like the product being sold.

"Today, every major browser engine is open source, which is wonderful, but there's still one issue: they're all funded by Google's advertising empire. Chrome, Edge, Brave, Arc, and Opera all use Google's Chromium. Apple receives billions to make Google the default search engine in Safari, and Firefox has a similar deal where they receive hundreds of millions each year.

 

The world needs a browser that puts people first, contributes to open standards using a brand new engine, and is free from advertising's influence."

The fact that every major web browser engine is funded by advertising (specifically, via Google) is, indeed, a concern -- which makes the idea of a web browser free from that influence incredibly interesting.

But how, exactly, is Ladybird going to pull this off?

"Unlike traditional business models that rely on monetizing the user, Ladybird is funded entirely by sponsorships and donations from companies and individuals who care about the open web. Our non-profit will not pursue corporate deals or revenue outside of unrestricted donations. The software and its source code will be available for free, forever."

While it's easy to dismiss the notion of "funding a web browser via donations" as an unachievable, whimsical goal... Ladybird has already had some significant success in that area (not least of which, the $1 Million dollars from the GitHub founder), resulting in Ladybird already having 4 paid, full time developers (with 3 more programmers "starting soon").

So, maybe this approach is not as "unachievable" and "whimsical" as it first seems.

No Corporate Control

Also fascinating is this statement:

"Our non-profit will not pursue corporate deals or revenue outside of unrestricted donations."

What does that mean, in practice?

It means Ladybird won't be doing corporate deals for default search engines.  Or marketing campaigns for other companies.  This means that, if they can stick to their guns, Ladybird stands a real chance of a truly independent web browser... one which no company can control.

In fact the Ladybird Browser Initiative even has a policy specifically not allowing corporate donors to buy board seats:

"All sponsorships are in the form of unrestricted donations. Board seats and other forms of influence are not for sale."

This is a huge deal.  Massive.

A problem many non-profit foundations face is corruption of their core mission via corporate control of their boards.  There are many examples throughout the Open Source world of exactly this sort of problem (looking at you, Linux Foundation), and to see Ladybird recognize this problem -- and take action to prevent it -- right from the start?

Color me impressed.

The Current Status

The first public "Alpha" release of Ladybird may be a ways out (slated for 2026), but the current development versions are already quite far along.

"We can already do some of our daily browsing with Ladybird, like managing GitHub issues and pull requests, and commenting on Hacker News. The browser is improving every day, as our community of contributors are actively fixing bugs and adding features."

Testing of a recent build of Ladybird confirmed that statement.  Many websites function perfectly -- including some quite complex sites.  While many other websites were... less than functional.  Lots of work has clearly been done, with lots more left to do.

Can the development team improve Ladybird to a point where it will be usable, as a primary web browser, some time in next few years?  Considering the progress to date... it seems entirely possible.

"We won't be chasing buzzwords"

The Lunduke Journal reached out to The Ladybird Browser Initiative's co-Founder, Andreas Kling, with a burning question...

Now that the Ladybird web browser has an official nonprofit, with multiple full time developers working on it, you are clearly moving towards direct competition with the likes of Google and Mozilla.  The eye of Sauron is upon you.  How does that feel?

Kling's response:

"Feels great! The web is one of humanity's greatest inventions, and it deserves diverse, competing implementations to truly thrive. The industry has been heading in a troubling direction for years, with companies like Microsoft and Opera abandoning their own browser engines in favor of Chromium.

 

We obviously don't have the resources of companies like Google, Apple, and Mozilla, so things will take some time. However, I'm extremely optimistic about the road ahead. We have a fantastic community of developers working on Ladybird, and we're making solid, consistent progress.

 

One thing we have going for us is focus. Unlike the major players, we're *completely* focused on one thing only: the web browser.

 

We won't be chasing buzzwords or looking for alternative revenue streams. Our goal is to build a good browser and give it away for free, while soliciting nothing but unrestricted donations from anyone who likes what we're doing."

There's a lot here to be excited about.

  • No chasing buzzwords.
  • No alternative revenue streams.
  • Total focus on the web browser.
  • A brand new, from scratch browser engine.
  • No advertising or Big Tech influence.
  • A rag-tag team of rebels going, toe to toe, with the Big Tech web browser makers.

While, according to the Ladybird team, they are a ways off from a major public release... it's hard not to feel a bit optimistic about what this could mean for the future of web browsing.  This may be early days still, but the possibilities are tantalizing.

The Lunduke Journal is rooting for you, Ladybird.

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GNOME bans Manjaro Core Team Member for uttering "Lunduke"

The GNOME team has censored -- and deleted the account -- of the maintainer of Manjaro Linux GNOME Edition. Why? Because he linked to a Lunduke article.

GNOME bans Manjaro Core Team Member for uttering "Lunduke":
https://lunduke.locals.com/post/5908516/gnome-bans-manjaro-core-team-member-for-uttering-lunduke

More from The Lunduke Journal:
https://lunduke.com/

00:17:16
GNOME Ousts Elected Board Member in Secret, Tells Nobody for 2 Months

Secret meetings. No transparency. Total chaos at the GNOME Foundation as they remove Sonny Piers, one of their Board Members, without telling anyone. This all happens right as the GNOME Executive Director quits, GNOME announces dire financial circumstances, and a disastrous "5 year plan" focusing on DEI.

The article:
https://lunduke.locals.com/post/5899324/gnome-ousts-elected-board-member-in-secret-and-tells-nobody-for-2-months

More from The Lunduke Journal:
https://lunduke.com/

00:37:30
Don't get cocky: CrowdStrike can happen to Linux & Mac too

I know. The Windows Blue Screen of Death is funny. I get it. But don't forget: Linux & macOS have seen some gnarly similar issues. Including some bugs that granted root access, completely broke graphical systems (like XOrg), and more.

00:24:08
November 22, 2023
The futility of Ad-Blockers

Ads are filling the entirety of the Web -- websites, podcasts, YouTube videos, etc. -- at an increasing rate. Prices for those ad placements are plummeting. Consumers are desperate to use ad-blockers to make the web palatable. Google (and others) are desperate to break and block ad-blockers. All of which results in... more ads and lower pay for creators.

It's a fascinatingly annoying cycle. And there's only one viable way out of it.

Looking for the Podcast RSS feed or other links? Check here:
https://lunduke.locals.com/post/4619051/lunduke-journal-link-central-tm

Give the gift of The Lunduke Journal:
https://lunduke.locals.com/post/4898317/give-the-gift-of-the-lunduke-journal

The futility of Ad-Blockers
November 21, 2023
openSUSE says "No Lunduke allowed!"

Those in power with openSUSE make it clear they will not allow me anywhere near anything related to the openSUSE project. Ever. For any reason.

Well, that settles that, then! Guess I won't be contributing to openSUSE! 🤣

Looking for the Podcast RSS feed or other links?
https://lunduke.locals.com/post/4619051/lunduke-journal-link-central-tm

Give the gift of The Lunduke Journal:
https://lunduke.locals.com/post/4898317/give-the-gift-of-the-lunduke-journal

openSUSE says "No Lunduke allowed!"
September 13, 2023
"Andreas Kling creator of Serenity OS & Ladybird Web Browser" - Lunduke’s Big Tech Show - September 13th, 2023 - Ep 044

This episode is free for all to enjoy and share.

Be sure to subscribe here at Lunduke.Locals.com to get all shows & articles (including interviews with other amazing nerds).

"Andreas Kling creator of Serenity OS & Ladybird Web Browser" - Lunduke’s Big Tech Show - September 13th, 2023 - Ep 044
Heads up: A Locals issue when using the App, looking into it

For some reason many of you cannot see locked posts (subscriber only) when using the mobile Locals app.

This seems to mostly be impacting "Lifetime Subscribers" but others as well. I'm checking into this to see what's going on... luckily the Locals crew is super responsive, so hopefully we'll have this fixed pronto.

In the mean-time, you can access everything from the website, it seems like.

Something funky going on with locals mobile app. On the web I can see the locked posts (which I should be able too), but on the mobile app I can't. Anyone else see this? It was fine earlier today, just started.

Found on the intartubez. The LISP keyboard.

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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.

Plus all the CrowdStrike craziness.

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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