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Updated: 23 hours 6 min ago

Coming soon: A new site for fully free collaboration

Tue, 2020-02-25 11:36

As we said in an end-of-year post highlighting our work supporting free software development and infrastructure, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) is planning to launch a public code hosting and collaboration platform ("forge"), to launch in 2020. Members of the FSF tech team are currently reviewing ethical Web-based software that helps teams work on their projects, with features like merge requests, bug tracking, and other common tools.

The new site will complement the current GNU and non-GNU Savannah servers, which we will continue to support and improve, in collaboration with their awesome volunteer team. (By the way, if you want to volunteer, please email savannah-hackers-public@gnu.org with a note about your interest!)

Infrastructure is very important for free software, and it's unfortunate that so much free software development currently relies on sites that don't publish their source code, and require or encourage the use of proprietary software. Our GNU ethical repository criteria aim to set a high standard for free software code hosting, and we hope to meet that with our new forge.

We plan on contributing improvements upstream for the new forge software we choose, to boost its score on those criteria. Our tech team is small for the size of the network we maintain, and we don't have any full-time developers who work for the FSF, so we are limited in the amount of time we can spend on the software we choose. We'll communicate with the upstream developers to request improvements and help clarify any questions related to the ethical repository criteria.

So far, we have been researching a list of candidate programs, and analyzing them in terms of ethical and practical criteria. Some of the software candidates we're looking at were found on the Free Software Directory. We aim to initially reach a B rating on the GNU ethical repository criteria, and then to work towards reaching an A rating after we launch. Reaching a B will require LibreJS support, no third party tracking, proper license information, and more. We also came up with a list of practical criteria, which includes two-factor authentication (2FA), high performance, being well supported upstream, and other common forge features.

We are filtering out systems that are targeted toward single organizations or companies, because we want users to be able to sign up and create their own repos on our site. If you're looking for a system to handle your organization's source code management needs, there are some fully free options out there for you, including Kallithea, Allura, and Phabricator.

We also hope that in the future we'll be able to see decentralized, federated collaboration platforms that meet most needs. We will continue to be interested in that direction, but we think the need for this freedom-respecting forge is time sensitive, so we're going to do it with the free software we have available right now. Allowing issues and other data to be imported and exported is a feature that we want in our new forge, because that will at least ensure that users can move to another instance of the same platform.

We are tracking our ongoing analysis on the LibrePlanet wiki, and will continue updating the page with information pertaining to our research about free software for our upcoming forge.

The project will operate with a high level of transparency: we will publish the source code that runs on the server and document how we run the system, and we welcome volunteers to help guide and improve the project. Reach out to us at the LibrePlanet developers mailing list if you're interested in participating.

Up next for the FSF tech team is to do more research about systems that have met our initial requirements, in order to find the best options available. Once we know what we're interested in, we'll start trying them out and performing more extensive tests.

Stay tuned to hear from us about the software stack we end up choosing, and for our site launch announcement!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Hot off the presses: a sneak peek at the LibrePlanet 2020 schedule

Thu, 2020-02-20 19:36

On March 14th and 15th, 2020, the free software community will come together at the Back Bay Events Center to learn, exchange ideas, catch up with friends, and plan the future of the movement.

Register today! As always, Free Software Foundation (FSF) associate members and students attend gratis.

LibrePlanet 2020 is organized by the FSF. Hundreds of people from across the globe will converge to explore this year's theme, "Free the Future." We'll be delving into the threats to user freedom that we've all been reading about every day in the media, as well as the unique role the free software movement plays in solving these problems.

In addition to the first keynote we announced last month, Brewster Kahle, LibrePlanet 2020 will feature a panoply of presentations. Our lineup includes some talks we absolutely can't wait to see, and we think you'll feel the same way! You can now dive in to the speakers already confirmed and start planning your itinerary. Make sure to have a look at these highlights:

  • Executive director of Free Geek Toronto Ryan Fukunaga will focus on the positives, challenges, and ongoing conversation around using free software to expand access to technology in his presentation "Free software and the digital divide."

  • Last year's keynote speaker Micky Metts will return with Keegan Rankin and Chris Thompson in an engaging session on surveillance capitalism and how users can seize control over their own data in "Platform cooperativism, surveillance capitalism, predictive analysis, and you."

  • Purism CEO Todd Weaver will present the latest news on his company's attempts to create a truly free cell phone in: "Freeing the mobile phone: The story of the Librem 5."

  • DeeDee Lavinder will help us explore the world of encryption in "Keeping secrets: What you need to know about encryption."

  • LibrePlanet newcomer Lucy Ingham will explore the continued domination of the Service as a Software Substitute (SaaSS) model in "Rented future: The dangerous rise of life as a service."

  • Due to popular demand, this year features two(!) lightning talk sessions, which you can sign up for via the LibrePlanet wiki.

LibrePlanet 2020 offers lots of opportunities for socializing, too! The annual FSF open house will take place on the evening of Friday, March 13th, at the FSF office. And the LibrePlanet Saturday night party will feature a sparkling new location. As we have in the past, we'll organize a dinner specifically for women, genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming attendees, please mail campaigns@fsf.org if you're interested in joining. If you are looking to organize your own dinner or meetup, you can do so using the LibrePlanet wiki 2020 conference social and dinner pages as a central place for communication about this.

Pre-order a LibrePlanet 2020 T-shirt by February 26

You can pre-order a LibrePlanet 2020 commemorative T-shirt from the GNU Press shop. Make sure you order your shirt by February 26 to guarantee availability in your size.

We are planning a photo with people wearing LibrePlanet T-shirts this year. So if you have a vintage LibrePlanet T-shirt, sign up on the LibrePlanet wiki T-shirt page, bring it and we will take a snazzy group photo!

LibrePlanet needs volunteers -- maybe you!

LibrePlanet has grown in size and scope, and its continued success is thanks to dozens of volunteers who help prepare for and run the conference. Volunteering is a great way to meet fellow community members and contribute to LibrePlanet, even if you can't attend in person! If you are interested in volunteering for LibrePlanet 2020, email resources@fsf.org. We thank all of our on-site volunteers by offering them gratis conference admission, lunch, and a LibrePlanet T-shirt.

Seeking sponsors

LibrePlanet cannot exist without the support of the community. If you or your company would like to sponsor or exhibit at LibrePlanet, please email resources@fsf.org.

Your support will help sustain, energize, and inspire the free software community. Sponsoring provides you the unique opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to free software, and engage with hundreds of legal and policy experts, developers, students, activists, free software and technology enthusiasts, and potential employees with your organization.

Spread the word about LibrePlanet 2020: blog or microblog to let people know that you'll be there, using the hashtag #libreplanet.

We hope to see you in four weeks at LibrePlanet!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Charity Navigator awards the FSF coveted four-star rating for the seventh time in a row

Tue, 2020-02-18 12:45

Recently, we got some terrific news: Charity Navigator, an independent evaluator of US-based nonprofit charities, awarded the Free Software Foundation (FSF) a four-star rating, the highest available. According to the confirmation letter from Charity Navigator president Michael Thatcher, this rating demonstrates the FSF's "strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency." A four-star charity, according to their ratings, "exceeds industry standards and outperforms most charities in its cause."

This is our seventh time in a row receiving the coveted four-star rating! Only 7% of the charities that Charity Navigator evaluates have gotten this many in a row, and they assess over 9,000 charities a year. As Thatcher's letter says, "This exceptional designation from Charity Navigator sets the Free Software Foundation apart from its peers and demonstrates to the public its trustworthiness." Even better: our overall score went from 96.66 out of 100% last year, up to 98.55 this cycle.

We do score 100% in the transparency category, which we work very hard at. You can see all of our audited financials at https://www.fsf.org/about/financial, and our yearly annual reports give you even more details about our activities. It's nice to see this effort pay off.

This is why you can be confident that when you contribute to the FSF, we're going to turn your money into free software advocacy, infrastructure, and development – and you don't have to just take our word for it, either. We have a certificate that says so! And if you need more confirmation, you can see Charity Navigator's breakdown of our facts and figures on their Free Software Foundation summary page.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Register today for LibrePlanet -- or organize your own satellite instance

Fri, 2020-02-14 11:44

LibrePlanet started out as a gathering of Free Software Foundation (FSF) associate members, and has remained a community event ever since. We are proud to bring so many different people together to discuss the latest developments and the future of free software. We envision that some day there will be satellite instances all over the globe livestreaming our annual conference on technology and social justice -- and you can create your own today! All you need is a venue, a screen, and a schedule of LibrePlanet events, which we'll be releasing soon. This year, a free software supporter in Ontario, Canada, has confirmed an event, and we encourage you to host one, too.

Of course, ideally you'll be able to join us in person for LibrePlanet 2020: "Free the Future." If you can come, please register now to let us know -- FSF associate members attend gratis. We are looking forward to receiving the community at the newly confirmed Back Bay Events Center this year. We've put together some information on where to eat, sleep, and park in the vicinity of the new venue.

However, we know that not every free software enthusiast can make it to Boston, which is why we livestream the entire event. You can view it solo, with friends, or even with a large group of like-minded free software enthusiasts! It is a great opportunity to bring other people in your community together to view some of the foremost speakers in free software, including Internet Archive founder and Internet Hall of Famer Brewster Kahle.

We will also host an IRC instance, #libreplanet on Freenode, through which you can be in direct contact with the room monitors, who can relay any questions you may have about the talks going on here in Boston.

If you are working on getting a group of people together for the event, please let us and others know by announcing it on the LibrePlanet wiki and the LibrePlanet email list. If you have any questions, if you need any help organizing, if you'd like some free FSF sticker packs, or if you just want to let us know about a satellite instance, email us at campaigns@fsf.org. We look forward to receiving you here in Boston and all over the world.

LibrePlanet needs volunteers -- maybe you!

LibrePlanet has grown every year in size and scope -- and its continued success is thanks to dozens of volunteers who help prepare for and run the conference. Volunteering is a great way to meet fellow community members and contribute to LibrePlanet, even if you can't attend in person. And yes, remote volunteers are definitely needed to help us moderate IRC chat rooms -- you can help us out from anywhere in the world!

If you are interested in volunteering for LibrePlanet 2020, email resources@fsf.org. We thank all of our in-person volunteers by offering them gratis conference admission, lunch, and a LibrePlanet T-shirt.

Help others attend!

Take your support for LibrePlanet to the next level by helping others attend. We get a lot of requests from people internationally who would like to attend the event. We try to help as many as we can, and with your support, we can really put the "planet" in LibrePlanet.

We also hope that you'll spread the word about LibrePlanet 2020: write a blog, or take it to social media to let people know that you'll be there, using the hashtag #libreplanet.

We hope to see you in March!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Why freeing Windows 7 opens doors

Thu, 2020-02-13 12:05

Since its launch on January 24th, we've had an overwhelming amount of support in our call to "upcycle" Windows 7. Truthfully, the signature count flew far faster than we ever expected it to, even despite our conservative (if aptly numbered) goal of 7,777 signatures. We have seen the campaign called quixotic and even "completely delusional," but in every case, people have recognized the "pragmatic idealism" that is at the core of the FSF's message. Even where this campaign has been attacked, it's nevertheless been understood that the FSF really does want all software to be free software. We recommend every fully free operating system that we are aware of, and want to be able to expand that list to include every operating system. So long as any remain proprietary, we will always work to free them.

Over the last few weeks, we have been carefully watching the press coverage, and are glad to see the message of software freedom popping up in so many places at once. We received a lot of support, and have responded to dozens of comments expressing support, concern, and even outrage over why the FSF would think that upcycling Windows 7 was a good idea, and why it was something we would want to demand.

Microsoft can free Windows. They already have all of the legal rights necessary or the leverage to obtain them. Whether they choose to do so or not is up to them. In the past weeks, we've given them the message that thousands of people around the world want Windows to be freed. Next, we'll give them the medium.

This afternoon we will be mailing an upcycled hard drive along with the signatures to Microsoft's corporate offices. It's as easy as copying the source code, giving it a license notice, and mailing it back to us. As the author of the most popular free software license in the world, we're ready to give them all of the help we can. All they have to do is ask.

We want them to show exactly how much love they have for the "open source" software they mention in their advertising. If they really do love free software -- and we're willing to give them the benefit of the doubt -- they have the opportunity to show it to the world. We hope they're not just capitalizing on the free software development model in the most superficial and exploitative way possible: by using it as a marketing tool to fool us into thinking that they care about our freedom.

Together, we've stood up for our principles. They can reject us, or ignore us, but what they cannot do is stop us. We'll go on campaigning, until all of us are free.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

"I Love Free Software Day": Swipe (copy)left on dating apps

Tue, 2020-02-11 10:55

Every year, Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) encourages supporters to celebrate Valentine’s Day as “I Love Free Software Day,” a day for supporters to show their gratitude to the people who enable them to enjoy software freedom, including maintainers, contributors, and other activists. It seems appropriate on this holiday to once again address how seeking love on the Internet is, unfortunately, laden with landmines for your freedom and privacy. But today, I’m also going to make the argument that our community should think seriously about developing a freedom-respecting alternative.

Before we get started, though: make sure to show your love and gratitude for free software on February 14 and beyond! Share the graphic below with the hashtag #ilovefs:

With that said: as you probably heard earlier this year, the hydra-headed Match Group, which divides its customers among Tinder, OKCupid, Match.com, Hinge, and others, as well as several other dating companies, was revealed to be sharing user information in flagrant violation of privacy laws. OKCupid was caught sharing what was described as “highly personal data about sexuality, drug use, political views, and more,” and Grindr has been caught multiple times sharing users' HIV status. All of these apps also tell Facebook everything, whether a user has a profile or not (remember, even if you're not a user, you probably have a shadow Facebook profile!). This is typical behavior for modern technology companies, but the fact that it’s so ordinary makes it neither less ugly nor less flagrant.

Why do people put up with this? It isn’t that they don’t know that their personal information is being treated like candy tossed from a parade float: in 2014, Pew Research Center found that 91% of poll participants “agree or strongly agree that people have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by all kinds of entities.” A 2017 survey found that only 9% of social media users felt sure that Facebook and their ilk were protecting their data. And a 2017 Pew study led researchers to conclude that “a higher percentage of online participation certainly does not indicate a higher level of trust.” One anonymous commenter quipped, “People will expect data breaches, but will use online services anyway because of their convenience. It’s like when people accepted being mugged as the price of living in New York.”

It turns out that even if they're aware of how these companies are mistreating us, many people are making a cost-benefit analysis, and perceiving the benefits they get from these downright skeevy programs as valuable enough to be worth the ever-increasing exposure to the advertisers’ panopticon. As one anonymous Web and mobile developer from the Pew study said, “Being able to buy groceries when you’re commuting, talking with colleagues when doing a transatlantic flight, or simply ordering food for your goldfish right before skydiving will allow people to take more advantage of the scarcest good of our modern times: time itself.”

Here at the Free Software Foundation (FSF), we disagree strongly that the tradeoff is worth it, and it’s central to our mission to convince software users that letting developers pull their strings is destructive to their lives and dangerous to our society. When you use proprietary software, the program controls you, and the people who develop that program can use it as a tool to manipulate you in many absolutely terrifying ways. The same can also be true of services where the software is not distributed at all and is therefore neither free nor nonfree; but step one is to ditch all of the proprietary apps and JavaScript these companies try to get people to use.

Nevertheless, our battle is going to be an uphill one when a majority of people perceive conveniences to be worth the cost. In the case of dating Web sites, by 2015, 59% of people polled by Pew agreed that “online dating is a good way to meet people.” And it’s perceived, at least to some degree, as being effective: according to Pew, “nearly half of the public knows someone who uses online dating or who has met a spouse or partner via online dating.” eHarmony claimed, according to this 2019 article, that four percent of US marriages begin on their site, while a poll by The Knot found that twenty two percent of spouses polled met online. (The eHarmony stats may be questionable, but as part of a sales pitch, it definitely works to draw people in.)

Conversely, the alternative to online dating doesn’t feel very rosy to an increasing number of people. The same poll on The Knot found that one in five couples polled were introduced in a more traditional way, through their personal network, which sounds terrific, except for one small problem: our IRL social networks are shrinking. In 2009, Psychology Today reported that 25% of Americans have not a single friend or family member they can count on, and half of all Americans had nobody outside of their immediate family. So, how do you meet the elusive love of your life? It’s unsurprising that many people reluctantly choose the less obvious potential harms of OKCupid over the more tangible harms of isolation and loneliness. (After all, they’re not exactly trumpeting on their front page, “We’ll help you find a date, but in the meantime, we have information about what you’re into in bed, and we’ll give it to whoever we like!”)

This quandary sets up an extraordinarily unfair proposition: nobody should be forced to sacrifice their freedom in the name of a perceived shot at happiness. At the end of the day, we maintain that it’s not worth it, and you should keep Mark Zuckerberg as far away from your love life as possible, but I don’t think we should stop there, either. I believe that ethical, freedom-respecting online services that facilitate people’s social lives, from finding someone to date to staying in touch with friends far away, are an important social good, and that the free software movement has something unique and important to contribute.

Just as we have encouraged free software enthusiasts to move their social media presence from the walled gardens of Facebook to decentralized, federated services like Mastodon, GNU social, Pixelfed, and Diaspora, we would love to be able to point lovelorn free software supporters to an online dating site that will treat them like a human being rather than a commodity to be dissected into chunks of profitable data. So while we can’t endorse a project that’s barely gotten started at all, much less one that’s being built on Kickstarter, we were pleased to see a Redditor introduce the idea of Alovoa, which “aims to be the first widespread free software dating Web application on the Web.” Alovoa is licensed under AGPLv3, which is an excellent signpost for ethical behavior in the future.

Is Alovoa the solution? It’s far too early to say -- but we do know that the only acceptable solution will be a dating site that is 100% free software. And we also know that the free software community possesses the talent and conviction to make that alternative happen. When you’re freely permitted to use, share, study, modify, and share the modifications of the software you own, there are no shackles on your creativity: you can build the programs that you need, and make them available to everyone else who needs them. Perhaps we can solve the problem of how to find love online without sacrificing your privacy, and that’s only the beginning of the many problems we can solve. If we can build free software that offers ordinary people the conveniences they crave without the ethical tradeoffs, then someday, we will have a future where all software is free.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Thank you for supporting the FSF

Mon, 2020-02-10 10:51

On January 17th, we closed the Free Software Foundation (FSF)'s end of the year fundraiser and associate membership drive, bringing 368 new associate members to the FSF community.

This year's fundraiser began with a series of shareable images aiming to bring user freedom issues to the kitchen table, helping to start conversations about the impact that proprietary software has on the autonomy and privacy of our everyday lives. Your enthusiasm in sharing these has been inspiring. We also debuted the ShoeTool video, an animated short presenting a day in the life of an unfortunate elf who is duped into forking over his liberty for the sake of convenience. And we also sent out our biannual issue of the Free Software Bulletin, which had FSF staff writing on topics as diverse as ethical software licensing and online dating.

It is your support of the FSF that makes all of our work possible. Your generosity impacts us on a direct level. It doesn't just keep the lights on, but is also the source of our motivation to fight full-time for software freedom. Your support is at the heart of our work advocating for the use of copyleft and the GPL. It's also what brought seventeen new devices to the RYF program this year, and is what drives our campaigning against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). We are deeply grateful for the new memberships and donations we have received this year, not to mention the existing members and recurring donors that have enabled us to reach this point. And not to worry, we're working hard to send you the premium gifts we offered as soon as possible!

2020 has started off strong already, with our petition calling on Microsoft to "upcycle" Windows 7 by releasing it as free software, which has reached more than 12,000 signatures in less than a week. And there is much more to come. The campaigns, tech, and licensing teams are all working on ambitious projects that we hope will drive the fight for freedom forward, especially as the FSF enters its 35th year of free software activism.

This year's LibrePlanet: "Free the Future" conference is almost upon us as well, and we're all putting our best into the planning process. LibrePlanet 2020 will see keynotes from speakers including Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle, and there are still more surprises to come. We hope to see you there.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

LibrePlanet 2020 needs you: Volunteer today!

Tue, 2020-01-28 11:27

The LibrePlanet 2020 conference is coming very soon, on March 14 and 15 at the Back Bay Events Center in Boston, and WE NEED YOU to make the world's premier gathering of free software enthusiasts a success.

Volunteers are needed for several different tasks at LibrePlanet, from an audio/visual crew to point cameras and adjust microphones, to room monitors to introduce speakers, to a set-up and clean-up crew to make our conference appear and disappear at the Event Center, and more! You can volunteer for as much or as little time as you like, whether you choose to help out for an hour or two, or the entirety of both days. Either way, we'll provide you with a VERY handsome LibrePlanet 2020 shirt in your size, in addition to free admission to the entire conference and lunch and our eternal gratitude.

Excited? If you're ready to help put on an excellent conference, we are more than ready to show you how. One important step is to come to an in-person training and info session at the Free Software Foundation office, in downtown Boston. We have scheduled six training sessions beginning late February; the last one is the afternoon of the day immediately before LibrePlanet, which is perfect for people arriving from far away for the event. Please come to one if you can! Some volunteer tasks (room monitors, A/V crew) require more training than others, but there are some important things we need all volunteers to know, and attending a training will ensure that you're fully informed. The schedule for trainings is at the bottom of this email.

You're interested? Wonderful. Please reply to this email or write to resources@fsf.org. Let me know your T-shirt size (we'll have unisex S-XXXXL and fitted S-XXXL) and which training you can make it to. You can certainly volunteer without making it to a training -- I'll send you some info via email -- but your role may be a little less glamorous. Please also feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have; I will respond eagerly to your queries.

THANK YOU for supporting the Free Software Foundation and THANK YOU for volunteering for an excellent LibrePlanet!

LIBREPLANET 2020 VOLUNTEER TRAINING & INFO SESSION DATES:

All except one of these take place from 6 PM to 8 PM at the FSF office, 51 Franklin Street, Fifth floor, Downtown Crossing, Boston:

  • Wednesday, February 19
  • Tuesday, February 25
  • Thursday, February 27 (includes A/V training)
  • Wednesday, March 4 (includes A/V training
  • Tuesday, March 10 (includes A/V training
  • Friday, March 13: This is an afternoon session for people coming to town late, starting at 3 PM! It will also be at the FSF office, prior to the Friday night open house.
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 16 new GNU releases in January!

Mon, 2020-01-27 16:42

For announcements of most new GNU releases, subscribe to the info-gnu mailing list: https://lists.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/info-gnu.

To download: nearly all GNU software is available from https://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/, or preferably one of its mirrors from https://www.gnu.org/prep/ftp.html. You can use the URL https://ftpmirror.gnu.org/ to be automatically redirected to a (hopefully) nearby and up-to-date mirror.

A number of GNU packages, as well as the GNU operating system as a whole, are looking for maintainers and other assistance: please see https://www.gnu.org/server/takeaction.html#unmaint if you'd like to help. The general page on how to help GNU is at https://www.gnu.org/help/help.html.

If you have a working or partly working program that you'd like to offer to the GNU project as a GNU package, see https://www.gnu.org/help/evaluation.html.

As always, please feel free to write to us at maintainers@gnu.org with any GNUish questions or suggestions for future installments.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

LibrePlanet 2020: We'll see you at the Back Bay Events Center in Boston, MA!

Mon, 2020-01-27 12:55

We at the Free Software Foundation (FSF) are excited to say that the Dorothy Quincy suite of Boston's very own Back Bay Events Center will be the home of this year's LibrePlanet conference! We've taken the grand tour and couldn't be happier about our choice of location. We're confident that the Events Center will be a great host for the technology and social justice conference we've all come to know and love. It's just the right place for us (and the movement) to take our next steps in freeing the future.

The Events Center is providing LibrePlanet with its own entrance and a dedicated and speedy Internet connection for the livestream, and is close to both public transportation and the FSF headquarters itself. As in past years, we'll have ample space for an exhibit hall and free software workshops, as well as the ever popular "hallway track," where you can engage with other attendees in conversations on contributing to free software projects.

On the Events Center Web site, you will find accommodation and transportation suggestions that will pair nicely with those we've put up on the LibrePlanet 2020 site. The Back Bay Events Center is located at the corner of Berkeley and Stuart Street, and is close by the Back Bay stop of the Orange Line MBTA train and the Arlington stop of the Green Line MBTA train.

If you have attended LibrePlanet in past years but are generally unfamiliar with the Boston area, please note that LibrePlanet 2020 will be held in Boston and not the nearby city of Cambridge.

As in past years, you can expect the venue to be fully accessible, and equipped with enough network horsepower to drive the conference livestream. For more information on the venue's perks and services, visit the Back Bay Events Center Web site, or reach out to campaigns@fsf.org. And if you have yet to register for the LibrePlanet 2020 conference, now is the time to do so!

LibrePlanet depends on the community for its success. One way you can help us is by donating to help sponsor an attendee to come to LibrePlanet, and assist us in making the conference a truly global one. If you're interested in volunteering, please write us at resources@fsf.org.

All of us here at the FSF are deep in the planning process, but we couldn't be more excited about seeing you in person -- especially if it is your first time. (No worries, it's my first LibrePlanet conference as well!) Let's use the time we have together to the fullest, and make LibrePlanet 2020 go down in history as the place where we made great strides to "Free the Future."

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Tell Microsoft to upcycle Windows 7. Set it free!

Fri, 2020-01-24 14:55

It was just last week that Windows 7 crossed into the afterlife. While we can't say we've been in mourning, we have spent that time thinking back on Windows 7's legacy of abusing users, and reflecting on Microsoft's change in tone over the last few years. For one, they now state clearly that Microsoft "loves open source" (sic).

But things were not always this way, and we can thank software activists around the world for making the message of software freedom too loud to ignore. In the headlines we've seen many stories of people feeling burned by the support cutoff, and justifiably angry by being forced to upgrade. Microsoft is leaving its users high and dry, but they don't have to. There is another option.

Microsoft has taken a few steps in the right direction, such as releasing some small but important components of Windows as free software. We want to push them to go further. We need Microsoft to prove to the world that their "love" of free software isn't just an ad campaign, and that they aren't just reaping the benefits of free software in order to exploit users.

They can do this by releasing Windows 7 under a free software license. The history of free software has shown us that software doesn't have to expire, and can even be written to last fifty years. And now that this version of their operating system has reached its "end-of-life," they have no good reason not to.

We need your help to urge Microsoft to give Windows 7 to the community. It is our aim to get 7,777 supporters to take a stand for user freedom. Sign the petition here.

In addition to signing, you can:

  • Share the #UpcycleWindows7 image to show your support of the campaign.

  • Share on social media that you've signed the petition. Write your own message, or feel free to use ours:

    Microsoft's support of Windows 7 is over, but its life doesn't have to end. Join me in calling on Microsoft to #UpcycleWindows7 by signing https://u.fsf.org/upcycle

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

CiviCRM meetup looking for new organizer

Thu, 2020-01-23 11:38

The Free Software Foundation's (FSF) CiviCRM meetup in Boston is looking for community members who are interested in taking over and reviving this meetup.

At one point, this meetup had about twelve people every month, but in the last two or three years it has gone down to one to three. We know there are people in the Boston area working at nonprofits, and who are using or considering using CiviCRM as an important part of their work. We would love for them to get together, but we don't have the time to organize the meetup anymore.

The FSF is willing to host the event in our office. If anyone wishes to take over meetings, our mailing list, meetup.com page (which predated our involvement -- we'd like the group to move away from this), and gettogether.community page are open to moderation by the new organizers.

If you're interested in organizing the group, or know someone who would, please contact us at this mailing list:

https://lists.libreplanet.org/mailman/listinfo/civicrm-boston

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Bring the planet to LibrePlanet by sponsoring an attendee

Wed, 2020-01-08 16:10

LibrePlanet 2020: Free the Future is only ten weeks away! On March 14 and 15, we will welcome free software enthusiasts and experts to Boston for the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) annual conference on technology and social justice.

We're hard at work creating an event with engaging talks with speakers from all over the world, and without spoiling any future announcements, we're very excited about the program we have so far. It is promising to be a year filled with talks about interesting and successful projects. Anticipated talks will expose the fascinating parallels between social movements in free software, dig into community-related subjects, and as always, explore the latest issues in licensing, security, education, and government adoption of free software with experts from these fields.

The FSF is proud of the fact that the LibrePlanet audience and speakers come from a diverse range of backgrounds, countries, and cultures. We believe that anyone who wants to attend or speak at the conference should not be held back by financial burdens, so if you have a few dollars to spare, why not make a donation in support of the LibrePlanet Scholarship Fund? You'll be supporting a robust, diverse free software community by helping to reduce the financial barrier for those who need the help.

Those who are awarded travel scholarships bring unique ideas to the conference, and commit to sharing what they learn at LibrePlanet with their local community.

We look forward to sharing this year's LibrePlanet conference program soon, and welcoming members of the free software community from all corners of the world. Registration for the event is open. If you're not already a member of the FSF, we have multiple good reasons for you to join today:

  • FSF associate members can attend LibrePlanet free of charge! (We nevertheless ask you to register so we'll know how many people to expect.)

  • As part of our current fundraising drive, we're offering exclusive membership gifts to all new members through January 17th!

  • FSF associate members get a 5% discount at Technoethical until January 17th.

Volunteers also attend gratis, and get an exclusive LibrePlanet 2020 T-shirt.

On top of all the free software work we fund and do year-round, with your financial support, we can invite speakers who can enlighten us with their knowledge and experience. Your donations will also help free software enthusiasts attend who otherwise would not have the means to do so. Your contribution, even if it's only a couple dollars, can be the difference between someone attending or not.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Extending our offer for exclusive membership gifts through January

Mon, 2020-01-06 13:05

In the final weeks of 2019, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) welcomed nearly 300 new associate members. That is a strong achievement, but we to boost our numbers further in order to continue our work to educate others about free software and defend copyleft.

Every day, millions of new people globally are gaining access to software, and are integrating it into their lives. We need to continue to spread the message of software freedom far and wide to reach these newcomers, and the millions of longtime software users who are unaware of how proprietary software is being used to exploit and abuse them. It’s a big challenge.

At the beginning of this new decade, we're inspired to dream up a freer future. To help turn this dream into reality, we're extending our membership drive and our offer for exclusive associate membership gifts as an extra incentive for people to join the movement until January 17th. To assist us further, our friends at Technoethical are offering a 5% discount for FSF members until this date as well.

Will you start out the new decade with an FSF associate membership?

If you can't join us yourself, we also offer these membership gifts as a special thank-you gift if you convince just three others to join the FSF -- email campaigns@fsf.org and let us know who they are.

You care about free software, just like we do. Let your friends, family and followers know that free software needs their support. If you're looking for something to help get the message across online, we recommend using the ShoeTool video, as well as these images.

Let's make 2020 the start of a decade in which we liberate the future for generations to come.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Last chance to help us reach our membership goal in 2019!

Mon, 2019-12-30 11:50

The pace and demands of modern life pressure us to carry computers in our pockets laden with nonfree software (our cell phones), and new threats to our privacy are popping up on every street corner, via proprietary Amazon Ring cameras, and on many kitchen counters, via “smart” home devices. Back when our movement was born, software freedom was only of great concern to people who were actively involved in development. Today, nobody in the world can afford to ignore the crucial importance of knowing what our software is doing, and keeping it from doing us harm.

As the battles and triumphs of 2019 fade into the past and the new challenges of 2020 emerge, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) continues our commitment to the goal we’ve had from our earliest days: a future in which all software is free, and can be trusted to serve the needs and best interests of every user. Our strength depends on your support: we need you to boldly carry the message and goal of software freedom to everyone you know, bring them into the fold, and help us mobilize them to use and talk about free software.

That's why the central message of our fall/winter fundraiser has been membership: because our associate members are the most committed fighters for the cause of software freedom, pledging not just financial support but also a vote of confidence. This is your final chance to help us reach our goal of 600 new members by the end of 2019 (and your last chance for a tax deduction if you're in the US), so today is the day to join the FSF! The numbers matter, and FSF membership is a very powerful gesture to make for only $10 a month ($5 if you are a student).

As a special bonus, all new and renewing annual associate members ($120+) can choose to receive one of our exclusive year-end gifts. If you get a minimum of three people to mention you as a referral, you can get the gifts, too!

While financial support is a must, using your voice to boost our movement is an equally important role for every member and supporter. We're behind on our new membership goal for this fundraiser period, so please help us get the word out today! You can expand our reach by sharing our posts on social media, sharing our articles via email, and talking to your friends, family, and coworkers about why free software should matter to them. We've prepared some images as fun conversation starters you can share: use the hashtag #ISupportFreeSoftware and help them spread!

We’re spending the end of this year making plans to make 2020 the best year for the FSF ever: you can read about some of these plans in the reports from our tech team, licensing and compliance team, and campaigns team. Will this be the year that we make user freedom a kitchen table issue? We’ll never stop trying – and we hope you’ll be by our side all the way.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Bringing the free software vision to 2020

Fri, 2019-12-27 17:30

2019 has been an eye-opening, transformative year for free software and the Free Software Foundation (FSF), bringing some major changes both internally and in the world around us. As we navigate these changes, we are guided by the FSF's founding vision -- the four freedoms that define free software, and our mission to make all software be compatible with human freedom. It must be honest, transparent, and shareable, and it must truly work in service of its users.

For the last sixteen years, I have been steeped in these principles, and along with so many of you, have absorbed them into my heart and soul. Thank you for being a member of this community, for your advocacy and code and commitment. It is your support that has put us in a position to be able to face new challenges, and to continue evolving into an organization that can last for as long as the work still needs to be done.

Over the last month and a half, we've been sharing highlights of the work our campaigns, licensing, tech, and operations team have done in 2019. We don't have a full-time position dedicated to fundraising, so you've heard these details directly from the people doing the work. I'm proud of what our teams have accomplished this year with your support: huge steps forward for the Respects Your Freedom product certification program, significant updates to the infrastructure we provide for thousands of free software developers and users worldwide, an impactful International Day Against Digital Restrictions Management, a successful pilot program to teach public school students about free software, and of course our new ShoeTool video. Our intense focus on program work earned us another 4-star top rating from Charity Navigator.

Author and activist Cory Doctorow said recently of the FSF, "You interact with code that they made possible a million times a day, and they never stop working to make sure that the code stays free." We need your help now to be able to continue this work. But we can't stop there. We need to take the free software vision much further in 2020. We have to be better in the areas of mobile devices, network services, software-driven cars, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

Most of all, we need to do better at communicating and spreading the free software vision in different ways so that others, from all walks of life, will join us in tackling these problems. This means building a stronger, kinder, more united, and powerful community.

We are behind on our goal of welcoming 600 new associate members by December 31st. But I know we can still reach that goal. In my sixteen years, I have seen single individuals inspire a dozen people to join in a week. Please join us in our final year-end push by becoming a member or renewing your membership? Show your friends, family, and colleagues the ShoeTool video, and explain to them the reasons you support free software. We'll even send you a special thank-you gift if you convince just three others -- email campaigns@fsf.org and let us know who they are.

Thank you for everything you've done for free software, and for believing in us to carry the vision forward into 2020.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 14 new GNU releases in December!

Fri, 2019-12-27 13:07

For announcements of most new GNU releases, subscribe to the info-gnu mailing list: https://lists.gnu.org/mailman/listinfo/info-gnu.

To download: nearly all GNU software is available from https://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/, or preferably one of its mirrors from https://www.gnu.org/prep/ftp.html. You can use the URL https://ftpmirror.gnu.org/ to be automatically redirected to a (hopefully) nearby and up-to-date mirror.

This month, we welcome Martin Schanzenbach as comaintainer of GNUnet.

A number of GNU packages, as well as the GNU operating system as a whole, are looking for maintainers and other assistance: please see https://www.gnu.org/server/takeaction.html#unmaint if you'd like to help. The general page on how to help GNU is at https://www.gnu.org/help/help.html.

If you have a working or partly working program that you'd like to offer to the GNU project as a GNU package, see https://www.gnu.org/help/evaluation.html.

As always, please feel free to write to us at maintainers@gnu.org with any GNUish questions or suggestions for future installments.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Presenting: ShoeTool -- Happy Holidays from the FSF

Mon, 2019-12-23 17:10

ShoeTool is an animated fairy tale about an elf shoemaker who thinks he buys a machine to help him make shoes... only to find out that there are there are strings attached to his "purchase." Please show your support for free software and this video by promoting it on your social media using the #shoetool hashtag.

Here's a short URL you can use: https://u.fsf.org/shoetool

Software restrictions, analogous to the kinds of restrictions our main character Wendell runs into as a user of the promising ShoeTool, are detrimental to our freedom, creativity, and jobs. We hope watching Wendell's frustrations will shake things up in many homes and help more people understand.

People have been looking to the FSF for almost thirty-five years for leadership, positive innovation, and being the uncompromising defender of free software. We want to keep producing high quality visuals that are informative and engaging, but they cost money. This is the biggest fundraising time of the year, and we still have a long way to go if we are to meet our goal of 600 new associate members. Make a donation or become a member today.

Wishing everyone a happy holiday and a liberated 2020!

Sincerely,

The Free Software Foundation
Zoë, Andrew, Craig, Dana, Dawn, Donald, Greg, Ian, Jeanne, John H., John S., Matt, Michael, and Ruben

Download the video: Subtitles and translations

Help us translate to many different languages so we can share this video across the globe! Translation drafts and the how-to explanation can be found on our wiki. Once you have finalized a translation, email campaigns@fsf.org and we will make it available on the Web site.

Subtitle files: English

Embed ShoeTool on your site or blog with this code:

<video style="width: 100%; max-width: 640px;" controls="controls" poster="https://static.fsf.org/nosvn/videos/fsf-shoetool/thumbnails/ShoeTool-Cover-1.jpg" crossorigin="anonymous"><source src="https://static.fsf.org/nosvn/videos/fsf-shoetool/fsf-shoetool-720p.mp4" type="video/mp4" /><track kind="subtitles" label="English" srclang="en" src="https://static.fsf.org/nosvn/videos/fsf-shoetool/captions/shoetoolfsf_en.vtt" default="default" /></video>

Video credits:

ShoeTool by the Free Software Foundation
LENGTH: 02:05
PRODUCER & DIRECTOR: Brad Burkhart
STORY: Douglas J. Eboch

ShoeTool by the Free Software Foundation Copyright © 2019 is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Setting the right example: Say no to the Elf on the Shelf

Mon, 2019-12-23 13:08

Many if not most people have come to the conclusion that the song "Every Breath You Take" is creepy and inappropriate: Every step you take / Every move you make / Every bond you break / Every step you take / I'll be watching you isn't very reassuring, much less romantic. Yet for many years, we've been completely fine with kids learning that Santa Claus sees you when you're sleeping / He knows when you're awake / He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.

As noted by writer Matt Beard in The Guardian, the latest iteration of teaching kids to accept constant surveillance via holiday tradition is the Elf on the Shelf, a cheerful little snitch whom parents hide in different spots every day in the house. The idea is, the Elf watches what kids are up to, and if they call their little sister a name or steal a cookie from the cookie jar, the friendly household spy will tattle to Santa, who will add them to the "naughty" list. Beware! We agree with Beard that this cutesy, innocent-seeming "tradition" (which actually only dates back to 2005!) communicates to children that someone is always watching them, and that moreover, this is a perfectly normal thing. This should give us pause, and cause us to think carefully about what kind of messages we are sending in our behavior at home and with friends.

This resonates with us not just because surveillance and privacy are obviously important free software issues, but because kids are little sponges who soak up our values from day one, and thus it's important to communicate clearly. This is why, although it's extraordinarily difficult to live in complete software freedom, we want to think about every concession to the proprietary world we make, and make sure that kids know that being forced to make those concessions is unfair. When we reject services that try to make us submit to Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) to watch our favorite movies, then we should explain why it's bad; we can also endeavor to use the services in the Guide to DRM-Free Living instead, and explain why they're better. At the center of the free software philosophy is a fundamental respect for human dignity and individual rights, as well as our responsibility to our community, and no matter how much we might want to use a shortcut to get kids to behave well, ultimately it sends the message that stomping on their right to privacy is okay today -- and will be okay tomorrow when they're grown up, too.

Likewise, we want to communicate our values clearly to the other people in our lives. Because during the holidays many of us spend a lot of time with family, this is an important opportunity to talk about why we don't want the grownup equivalent of the Elf on the Shelf in our homes: "smart" devices like the Amazon Ring, the Google Home, and other items that grant us some useful capabilities while stealing away our right to privacy. It's quite possible that you're the kind of free software activist who is carefully stacking up small refusals to trade freedom for convenience (having trouble using WiFi on your phone or laptop because of proprietary software, or planning your travel carefully to avoid using proprietary ridesharing apps), and it's also quite likely that you're going to wind up spending some time this holiday in the home of someone whose "smart" devices will be spying on your conversations without your permission, and likely without your knowledge!

So this holiday, it's good to think about why free software matters, and communicate that to someone you care about -- whether it's your own child, or your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, or circle of best friends. You can tell them about why you don't want an Amazon Echo or a Nintendo Switch, or any other user-hostile device, and explain why, and also explain why having that Echo in their own home is not only disrespecting their own rights, but yours as well. You can also use our Ethical Tech Giving Guide to select gifts that fit your family's needs. Even better, you could show your support of user freedom by giving as associate membership to the FSF in place of a physical gift to a friend or family member. Even if they have yet to hear about us, make sure your gift is one that respects their freedom, and by extension, the freedom of us all.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Raleigh, North Carolina: good BBQ and great outreach for free software knowledge.

Fri, 2019-12-20 15:40

We recently posted a lengthy write-up of the licensing team’s activities in 2019. Although we have been really busy, we didn’t want to miss the chance to share some specifics about our activities in October. That month, members of our licensing and campaigns teams headed down to North Carolina to spread the message of software freedom. First, on the 14th & 15th, the Free Software Foundation (FSF) staffed a booth at the ATO conference where we reminded hundreds of people that freedom is better than just being open. Next, on October 16th, our licensing and compliance team held another Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminar.

We had a great time representing software freedom at the ATO conference. ATO was a huge conference with almost 5,000 people from all over the world in attendance. We were fortunate to have prime real estate for our booth location, which was at a bottleneck right outside the keynote auditoriums, and it provided us with a constant stream of visitors. We gave away 200 Bash stickers, and we happily said goodbye to four adorable baby gnu plushies, along with many T-shirts and books. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring our new DRM dust jackets, and we only discovered this because someone asked for one. It was a very busy and full day of introducing people to the FSF and meeting our fervent supporters. As usual, we also hosted a meetup after the conference. Well over twenty people joined us, and we feasted on fried Brussels sprouts and boiled peanuts, among other tasty appetizers. Meetups are always a great time to socialize with free software supporters, and this was no exception, as we had staff from the GNOME Foundation, the Open Source Initiative, and the Software Freedom Conservancy in attendance. While chatting among peers, one of the attendees informed us about a barcade right around the corner requiring a picture of your face to enter the establishment, and that those images are allegedly shared with the police. Yikes! The idea of giving up your whereabouts so wantonly seems like a horrible activity to normalize.

Following the two days of the ATO conference, we hosted our CLE seminar. Attendees of the full day seminar got a comprehensive overview of copyleft and other practical concepts in the GNU family of licenses. They also learned about ethical considerations important to lawyers working with clients involved in free software, and other current topics in free software licensing.

After the morning pleasantries and an introduction by FSF program manager Zoë Kooyman, FSF executive director John Sullivan gave an introduction to the GNU General Public License (GPL). Next up Marc Jones, JD, in-house counsel and compliance engineer at Civic Actions, took the stage and discussed how the courts view the GPL based on a variety of precedent-setting court cases.

What followed was a quiz-show styled learning activity, "Malpractice! The Free Software Ethics Quiz Show!" hosted by Justin C. Colannino, JD, attorney at Microsoft, and Donald R. Robertson, III, JD, licensing and compliance manager of the FSF. You might find this an odd pairing, but the FSF has been working with Justin for several years, since before he went to Microsoft. Presented in the style of Jeopardy, this was a fun time for all, and it presented a platform for tangent discussions and interesting view points.

Pamela Chestek, JD, principal of Chestek Legal, next discussed the topic of trademarks and free software, delving into the governance of free software projects, the “forking” of projects, and some history of a discussion between the Mozilla Foundation and the Debian Project involving trademark. The day’s final talk was given by Donald, about the dangers of the current spate of license proliferation.

After the CLE, we hosted another meetup for seminar attendees. Given that so many of the attendees were lawyers in the free software space, the discussions and debates about the legal landscape surrounding software freedom continued on late into the evening.

Between the hundreds of conversations at the ATO conference, the chats among peers at the meetups, and the informative CLE, it was a fantastic couple of days for free software education. All fun and socializing aside, the CLE seminars are an essential component of the licensing and compliance team’s outreach and education efforts, and is the only CLE offered by a free software organization. We look forward to another CLE in 2020, and we hope to see you there!

To support work like our legal seminar series, here’s what you can do to get involved and help make the world a better place:

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

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