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You are here: Home FSF News Let's Encrypt, Jim Meyering, and Clarissa Lima Borges receive FSF's 2019 Free Software Awards

Let's Encrypt, Jim Meyering, and Clarissa Lima Borges receive FSF's 2019 Free Software Awards

by Greg Farough Contributions Published on Mar 14, 2020 08:29 PM
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Saturday, March 14, 2020 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today announced the recipients of the 2019 Free Software Awards, which are given annually at the LibrePlanet conference to developers and community members who have made significant contributions to the cause for software freedom. This year's recipients are Let's Encrypt, Jim Meyering, and Clarissa Lima Borges. As the ceremony was conducted virtually this year, each winner selected the person to present them the award.

This year was the first time the FSF offered its Award for Outstanding New Free Software Contributor, a way to commemorate a community member whose first steps into the movement have demonstrated a remarkable commitment and dedication to software freedom.

Photo of Clarissa Lima Borges

This year's winner is Clarissa Lima Borges, a talented young Brazilian software engineering student whose Outreachy internship work focused on usability testing for various GNOME applications. Presenting the award was Alexandre Oliva, acting co-president of the FSF and a longtime contributor to crucial parts of the GNU operating system. Clarissa said that she is "deeply excited about winning this award -- this is something I would never have imagined," and emphasized her pride in helping to make free software more usable for a broader base of people who need "more than ever to be in control of the software [they] use, and [their] data." She also emphasized that her accomplishments were dependent on the mentoring she received as part of Outreachy and GNOME: "Every time I thought I had something good to offer the community, I was rewarded with much more than I expected from people being so kind to me in return."

The Award for Projects of Social Benefit is presented to a project or team responsible for applying free software, or the ideas of the free software movement, to intentionally and significantly benefit society. This award stresses the use of free software in service to humanity. Past recipients of the award include OpenStreetMap and Public Lab, whose executive director, Shannon Dosemagen, will be delivering a keynote for the 2020 LibrePlanet conference on Sunday.

Photo of Phil Porada of Let's Encrypt

This year's honoree is Let's Encrypt, a nonprofit certificate authority that hopes to make encrypted Web traffic the default state of the entire Internet. The award was accepted by site reliability engineer Phil Porada, on behalf of the Let's Encrypt team. Porada said: "I am extremely honored to accept this award on behalf of the Internet Security Research Group (ISRG) and Let's Encrypt. It’s a testament to the teamwork, compassion towards others, patience, and community that helps drive our mission of creating a more secure and privacy-respecting Web."

"As a maker I enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together; be it mechanical, wood, or software. Free software allows us to look deep into the internals of a system and figure out why and how it works. Only through openness, transparency, and accountability do we learn, ask questions, and progress forward."

Josh Aas, executive director of Let's Encrypt, added: "There is no freedom without privacy. As the Web becomes central to the lives of more people, ensuring it’s 100% encrypted and privacy-respecting becomes critical for a free and healthy society." Commenting on Let's Encrypt's receipt of the award, FSF executive director John Sullivan added: "This is a project that took on a problem that so many people and so many large, vested interests said they would never be able to solve. And they tackled that problem using free software and important principles of the free software movement."

The Award for the Advancement of Free Software goes to an individual who has made a great contribution to the progress and development of free software through activities that accord with the spirit of free software. Past recipients of the award include Yukihiro Matsumoto, creator of the Ruby programming language, and Karen Sandler, executive director of Software Freedom Conservancy.

Photo of the commemorative plaque and record for the 2019 Free Software Award

This year's honoree is Jim Meyering, a prolific free software programmer, maintainer, and writer. Presenting the award was Richard Stallman, founder of both the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Project. Receiving his award, Jim wrote, "I dove head-first into the nascent *utils and autotools three decades ago. Little did I know how far free software would come or how it would end up shaping my ideas on software development. From what 'elegant,' 'robust,' and 'well-tested' could mean, to how hard (yet essential) it would be to say 'Thank you!' to those first few contributors who submitted fixes for bugs I'd introduced. Free software has given me so much, I cannot imagine where I would be without it. Thank you, RMS, co-maintainers and our oh-so-numerous contributors."

Due to ongoing worries about the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2020 LibrePlanet conference is being conducted entirely online, utilizing free software to stream the scheduled talks all over the globe, in lieu of the usual in-person conference and awards presentation. The Free Software Award winners will be mailed their commemorative gifts.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at and, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at

Media Contacts

John Sullivan
Executive Director
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942

Photo credits: Free Software Foundation, Inc. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Photo Jim Meyering: Florence Meyering licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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