I can’t say that she was a close friend, but we knew each other since way back in time. She was a constant companion in search of good food and during several free software conferences, she and I took the lead of a group of hackers, finding them nourishment for the night and day ahead. So I was saddened today to learn that Telsa Gwynne has passed away.
My first exchange with Telsa was around Christmas of 1998. We were talking about Christmas gifts, and whether Alan Cox, her husband, wouldn’t like to get a nice printout of RFC-1149, the “Standard for the Transmission of IP Datagrams on Avian Carriers”. Little did we know at the time that Alan would later support a group of Norwegian hackers in actually implementing that very specification!
Telsa never had an easy time in the free software community. From the very early days when we started talking, she was frequently and repeatedly abused by people trying to use her to get to her husband. Over the years, she withstood harassment and abuse of almost any sort from people in the free software community. She got to witness first hand the darkest corners of our community and the worst kind of people anyone can ever imagine.
Some of Telsa’s contribution to the free software community before that included a lot of work on explaining GNOME to people. She served on the GNOME Foundation’s Board of Directors, contributed translations and wrote comprehensive FAQs about both GNOME and the GNOME Foundation.