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Updated: 21 hours 7 min ago

Free Software Directory meeting recap for September 15th, 2017

Wed, 2017-09-20 17:33

Every week free software activists from around the world come together in #fsf on irc.freenode.org to help improve the Free Software Directory. This recaps the work we accomplished at the Friday, September 15th, 2017 meeting.

Last week's theme was again adding new entries. This time we ended up filing a lot of bugs with packages, rather than getting to add a lot of packages. That's still a very useful part of the work that we do on the Directory. The Directory helps users to find free software, and making sure that there isn't a freedom issue with a particular package ensures that there's more free software out there for them to find. Often the issue is something simple, like a missing license file. But sometimes it can get a bit tricky to sort out, when there are multiple conflicting licenses. So there's work to be done that can be accomplished by volunteers of any skill level, from just starting out to license-hacking gurus. Hope to see you all there again at the next meeting.

If you would like to help update the directory, meet with us every Friday in #fsf on irc.freenode.org from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT (16:00 to 19:00 UTC).

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

LibrePlanet 2018: Let's talk about Freedom. Embedded.

Tue, 2017-09-19 16:06

The call for sessions is open now, until November 2nd, 2017. General registration and exhibitor and sponsor registration are also open. Pre-order a LibrePlanet 10th anniversary t-shirt when you register to attend!

Do you want to discuss or teach others about a topic relevant to the free software community? You've got until Thursday, November 2nd, 2017 at 10:00 EDT (14:00 UTC) to submit your session proposals.

LibrePlanet is an annual conference for free software enthusiasts and everyone who cares about the intersection of technology and social justice. For the past nine years, LibrePlanet has brought together free software developers, policy experts, activists, hackers, students, and people who are at the beginning of their free software journeys. LibrePlanet 2018 will feature programming for all ages and experience levels.

If you're new to the community or to the LibrePlanet conference, check out last year's conference site and session videos, including the opening keynote, a look at the 21st century techno-surveillance state by Kade Crockford of the Massachusetts chapter of the ACLU.

What kinds of sessions are we looking for?

Each year, LibrePlanet offers both technical talks and sessions examining the intersection of free software and activism, culture, and current events. Here are a few examples of talks or sessions you might propose:

  • An examination of how free software can aid in an aspect of life that is important to you, like education, medicine, social movements, or community organizing

  • A workshop (for beginners or experienced users) on how to use a free software program or free hardware project

  • A project sprint, where new and current contributors to a free software project can meet and work together on an aspect of the project

  • An introduction to free software licensing, copyleft, or a deep dive into a current legal issue

  • An update on your free software project

Check out talk recordings from LibrePlanet 2017 for more ideas.

LibrePlanet's 10th anniversary theme is "Freedom. Embedded." Embedded systems are everywhere, in cars, digital watches, traffic lights, and even within our bodies. Proprietary software is everywhere, its sinister aspects woven throughout the devices permeating our lives. We've come to expect that our phones monitor our activity and share that data with big companies, and that governments enforce digital restrictions management (DRM).

In a society reliant on embedded systems, how do we defend computer user freedom? How do we insist on copylefted code, protect ourselves against government and corporate surveillance, and move toward a freer world? For many people, digital freedom seems like a pipe dream. We change the narrative and make free software the norm, instead of walled gardens, denial of the right to repair, and DRM.

The FSF is committed to increasing participation by people belonging to groups traditionally underrepresented at free software conferences, including women, people of color, and transgender and nonbinary people. If you are comfortable sharing demographic information on the proposal form, please do. Your proposal will not be judged negatively should you choose to omit information about your identity.

The LibrePlanet conference also has a safe space policy, because we want everyone who attends to feel comfortable, cared for, and able to enjoy the conference without worrying about harassment. The policy applies to all conference sessions, so keep that in mind when you write your proposal.

We will hold IRC office hours in the #libreplanet channel on irc.freenode.org so you can ask questions about the call for sessions and get feedback on your proposal before you submit -- we will announce hours and dates for these feedback sessions soon. You may also contact us at campaigns@fsf.org any time between now and the submission deadline if you have questions about your submission.

LibrePlanet has thrived for a decade thanks to the interesting ideas and generous spirit found in the free software community. We hope you will want to be part of LibrePlanet 2018. Submit a proposal now!.

Gratis admission for FSF members

Members (and students with valid ID) attend LibrePlanet gratis. FSF Associate Membership starts at just $10/month and comes with many benefits.

Need help attending LibrePlanet?

The FSF is able to offer a limited amount of funding to bring conference participants to LibrePlanet from all around the world. You can apply for a scholarship through Thursday, November 30th, 2017 at 10:00 EST (15:00 UTC). Scholarship recipients will be notified by early January.

If you don't need a scholarship, you can help those with financial need attend LibrePlanet 2018 by making a contribution to the conference's scholarship fund now, or when you register for LibrePlanet.

Volunteering

LibrePlanet is supported by dozens of volunteers, without whom this community event would not happen -- and volunteers attend LibrePlanet gratis. Applications for most LibrePlanet volunteer opportunities will be available soon, but if you would like to help with advance outreach (spreading the word about LibrePlanet in online communities, your networks, and by posting flyers at schools and community spaces), please email campaigns@fsf.org.

Free Software Award nominations

Each year at LibrePlanet, the FSF presents its annual Free Software Awards. Nominations for the awards are open through Sunday, November 5th, 2017 at 18:59 EST (23:59 UTC).

Promotional opportunities

LibrePlanet is a good place to spread the word about your organization to the free software community. You can sponsor LibrePlanet or have a table in our exhibit hall (or both!). Our exhibit hall is at the center of the LibrePlanet venue, and sponsors are highly visible at the conference and in our promotional materials. The FSF and LibrePlanet are heavily member-supported, and we appreciate the support of organizations that embrace free software. Apply to exhibit at LibrePlanet 2018 or email us at campaigns@fsf.org if you are interested in being a sponsor.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: September 22nd starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

Tue, 2017-09-19 10:41

Participate in supporting the Directory by adding new entries and updating existing ones. We will be on IRC in the #fsf channel on irc.freenode.org.

Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

While the Directory has been and continues to be a great resource to the world for over a decade now, it has the potential to be a resource of even greater value. But it needs your help!

On the 22nd of this month back in 1893, bicycle makers Charles and Frank Duryea showed off the first American automobile produced for sale by cruising through the streets of Springfield, Massachusetts. This momentous day requires two themes: first is CAD Software for the design of the parts, and second, in the modern car we can't overlook the navigation system.

If you are eager to help, and you can't wait or are simply unable to make it onto IRC on Friday, our participation guide will provide you with all the information you need to get started on helping the Directory today! There are also weekly Directory Meeting pages that everyone is welcome to contribute to before, during, and after each meeting.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: September 15th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

Thu, 2017-09-14 15:12

Participate in supporting the Directory by adding new entries and updating existing ones. We will be on IRC in the #fsf channel on irc.freenode.org.

Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

While the Directory has been and continues to be a great resource to the world for over a decade now, it has the potential to be a resource of even greater value. But it needs your help!

This week we're back to adding new packages to the Directory. We'll also be checking in on the import project, which will allow for the automated creation of entries from repositories based on their previously vetted licenses, and which could grow the Directory by a massive amount. The more the merrier! That goes for software packages, but also for friends joining us for the weekly meeting. Hope to see you all there.

If you are eager to help, and you can't wait or are simply unable to make it onto IRC on Friday, our participation guide will provide you with all the information you need to get started on helping the Directory today! There are also weekly Directory Meeting pages that everyone is welcome to contribute to before, during, and after each meeting.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Only a short time left to pre-order the Talos II; pre-orders end September 15th

Wed, 2017-09-13 13:42

We wrote previously about why you should support the Talos II from Raptor Engineering. The pre-order period for the Talos II is almost over. Making a pre-order will help them to launch this much-needed system. The goal for the folks at Raptor Engineering has always been to gain Respects Your Freedom certification. We certified a lot of new devices this year, and if we want to keep seeing those numbers increase, then it is critical that we support projects like this. As we said in our last post:

The unfortunate reality is that x86 computers come encumbered with built-in low-level backdoors like the Intel Management Engine, as well as proprietary boot firmware. This means that users can't gain full control over their computers, even if they install a free operating system.

While people are currently working to overcome the Intel Management Engine problem, each new generation of Intel CPUs is a new problem. Even if the community succeeds fully with one generation, it has to start over with the next one. This is precisely why the Talos II is important. As we said previously:

For the future of free computing, we need to build and support systems that do not come with such malware pre-installed, and the Power9-based Talos II promises to be a great example of just such a system. Devices like this are the future of computing that Respects Your Freedom.

You should help make the Talos II a success by making a pre-order by September 15th. The FSF Licensing & Compliance Lab will have to do another evaluation once it is actually produced to be sure it meets our certification standards, but we have high hopes. Here is what you can do to help:

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

The Apple is still rotten: Why you should avoid the new iPhone

Tue, 2017-09-12 15:15

We get it: people like technology that they believe is easy to use, and costly, flashy-looking smartphones have become status symbols for many. The trouble is that the cost of owning an iPhone is even higher than the new iPhone's hefty $1000 USD price tag.

Here are four reasons to avoid the new iPhone (and all things iOS):

The iPhone despises free software

While Apple is happy to make use of free software to construct its operating system, almost all of the software distributed with its devices is proprietary. Apple's refusal to release its source code violates your freedom to study, modify, and distribute software. Apple may claim to care about your privacy and security, but unless you can inspect Apple's source code, you have no way of verifying whether they're really looking out for you. And unless you have the right to install third-party or modified versions of the software on your device, you have no way to protect yourself when they aren't.

Apple loves DRM

Apple products, including the iPhone, are shackled with Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). Despite the fact that DRM restricts your freedom, preventing you from using computers as you please, Apple works hard to restrict you, even going so far as to argue that the anti-circumvention provisions of the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which makes it illegal to tinker with an iPhone for any reason, should remain in place. Even Steve Jobs's opportunistic 2007 essay arguing against DRM has mysteriouly disappeared from Apple's Web site. They have a history of using demonization, concern trolling, and false claims about security to justify this.

Apple is lawsuit-happy -- especially regarding software patents

Apple has often ended up embroiled in lawsuits, both as plaintiff and defendant, and has several times unleashed their massive legal team on other smartphone creators, including suing HTC for allegedly infringing on multiple software patents relating to the iPhone in 2010, and spending the last six years battling Samsung in massive litigation encompassing more than 50 lawsuits worldwide covering a variety of alleged violations, including that of some Apple software patents. Some of these cases drag on today.

We've written extensively about how these lawsuits could hurt free software, causing free software developers to shy away from any ideas that might expose them to a patent infringement lawsuit. The FSF advocates for the elimination of all software patents.

Apple has worked hard to take away their customers' right to repair

Many people like to tinker with things they own, to understand how they work, modify them in ways that make them more useful, or to extend their usefulness through repair. Though the four freedoms of free software do not encompass hardware, restriction of the right to repair often goes hand in hand with nonfree code, and Apple is a prime example.

Apple leads the charge among technology companies when it comes to removing your right to repair, through physical changes to their products and by lobbying for laws that make it illegal for you to modify devices that you own. Apple's physical changes include using non-standard screws and tools for their products, making it extremely difficult to open them up to examine, repair, or replace parts. Its legal efforts include attempting to kill a "Fair Repair" bill introduced by farmers and independent repair shops in Nebraska earlier this year. These measures by Apple negatively impact free software developers trying to reverse engineer support, or make modifications to the hardware that would allow free software to run on the devices.

Apple's encryption is not trustworthy

In 2016, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tried to force Apple to help it unlock an iPhone 5c used by a person believed to have staged a terrorist attack in California. While it is good that Apple did not create a wide open general backdoor for the FBI which could've been exploited by others and for other purposes, they still conceal their encryption practices, so users cannot discern what's happening under the glass or verify Apple's claims.

Part of Apple's security efforts include preventing unauthorized firmware from being installed on a device by verifying that all firmware updates are signed with a trusted key -- but the trusted key is Apple's, not yours. That means Apple is ultimately deciding what is "authorized" firmware -- you cannot. True security in the long term comes only from completely free software, and as security developer Matthew Garret argues, "If Apple genuinely value user privacy over Apple's control of a device" they should "allow users to remove Apple's validation keys and substitute their own."

What can you do instead?

We don't have a freedom-respecting drop-in replacement for the iPhone. Apple's government-subsidized DRM and massive legal intimidation team make developing and distributing a freedom-respecting smartphone very difficult. But we are nonetheless getting closer. You can have a solid, basic smartphone today by running Replicant, a free software version of Android. You can install it yourself on supported models, or buy one pre-installed from Technoethical. You can give the Replicant project a boost, and help them to implement missing features, by donating. Also, check out F-Droid, an app repository of exclusively free software for Android.

Keep an eye on the Purism phone crowdfunding campaign -- they haven't yet fully committed, but they are trying very hard to provide a phone whose hardware does not require any proprietary software, and won't be locked down. If they do make such an announcement, you should support them as much as you can.

Don't buy any iOS device, and let Tim Cook at Apple know why you won't.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

RMS article - "Why hackathons should insist on free software"

Tue, 2017-09-12 12:05

Richard Stallman's latest article, “Why hackathons should insist on free software,” explains how free software, by its very nature, is the only software suited for hackathons.

Like hackathons, free software strengthens community and facilitates cooperation. As long as hackathons do not insist on the use of free software exclusively, the “community spirit they are based on” will be at risk of being subverted. Beside egregious examples of hackathons set up for the benefit of specific companies, there are the seemingly benign cases of developers bringing to hackathons projects they don't explicitly say will be free—a practice that “undermines” the “community spirit.” Hackathons insisting on free software, and thereby insisting on cooperation in exchange for cooperation, is vital to “strengthen[ing] the community spirit they are based on.”

RMS concludes by listing ways in which, “as an individual hackathon participant, you can support this principle [of cooperation]” and by calling on hackathons, and the schools that often host them, to issue to their participants clear directives that support computer users' freedom.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Free Software Directory meeting recap for September 8th, 2017

Mon, 2017-09-11 11:41

Every week free software activists from around the world come together in #fsf on irc.freenode.org to help improve the Free Software Directory. This recaps the work we accomplished at the Friday, September 8th, 2017 meeting.

Last week we had a Star Trek theme, focusing on physics entries. Many of the entries in the category were relatively up to date, with almost all having been reviewed within the last few years. It may not be as exciting as adding new entries to the Directory, but this work is just as critical for ensuring that the entries we do have remain current and useful.

If you would like to help update the directory, meet with us every Friday in #fsf on irc.freenode.org from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT (16:00 to 19:00 UTC).

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Support the Talos II, a candidate for Respects Your Freedom certification, by pre-ordering by September 15

Fri, 2017-09-08 11:35

We've previously supported the work of the folks at Raptor Engineering. This time, rather than a crowdfunding effort, we are asking you to support their work by pre-ordering the Talos II. The system comes in a variety of forms to meet your needs, from a workstation to rack-mounted to the board by itself. Raptor Engineering has put in a great deal of effort researching and prototyping this system, and now it is ready for prime time. The Talos II is great for any hacker who needs a powerful machine, perfect for developing even more free software.

The Talos II is the first system to support PCIe 4.0, which offers lower power consumption and higher performance. To pair with this increased performance, the Talos II comes with plenty of slots for DDR4 RAM, so you can order (or add later) as much as you need. Of course, we can't forget about the 4-core IBM Power9 CPU. You can even go with more than one for extra processing power. By pre-ordering a Talos II, you could be one of the first users to own a Power9-based system.

Why is that such a big deal? The unfortunate reality is that x86 computers come encumbered with built-in low-level backdoors like the Intel Management Engine, as well as proprietary boot firmware. This means that users can't gain full control over their computers, even if they install a free operating system. Developers are working hard to fix these issues and getting closer every day, but for the time being, this is why many current Respects Your Freedom (RYF) offerings are refurbished older devices. For the future of free computing, we need to build and support systems that do not come with such malware pre-installed, and the Power9-based Talos II promises to be a great example of just such a system. Devices like this are the future of computing that Respects Your Freedom.

That is Raptor Engineering's ultimate goal as well, to create a machine that can pass RYF certification. They've already been working with us on the details, and things are looking good. We'll have to do another evaluation once it is actually produced to be sure it meets our certification standards, but we have high hopes. Here is what you can do to help:

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Free Software Directory meeting recap for September 1st, 2017

Thu, 2017-09-07 12:16

Every week free software activists from around the world come together in #fsf on irc.freenode.org to help improve the Free Software Directory. This recaps the work we accomplished at the Friday, September 1st, 2017 meeting.

Last week we had a "Back to School" theme, focusing on educational entries. Many of the entries in the category were relatively up to date, with almost all having been at least reviewed by last year's meeting with the same theme. It may not be as exciting as adding new entries to the Directory, but this work is just as critical for ensuring that the entries we do have remain current and useful.

We also had a discussion about how to prevent people from choosing licenses that restrict commercial use. Such licenses are non-free, but there is a common misconception that non-commercial licenses are a good thing, like a nonprofit. It couldn't be further from the truth. Such licenses mean that even nonprofit groups can't use the work for things like fundraising, and no one can use the work if they only use freely licensed works. Lots more work needs to be done in this area in terms of educating people about non-commercial licenses.

If you would like to help update the directory, meet with us every Friday in #fsf on irc.freenode.org from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT (16:00 to 19:00 UTC).

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: September 8th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

Tue, 2017-09-05 14:45

Participate in supporting the Directory by adding new entries and updating existing ones. We will be on IRC in the #fsf channel on irc.freenode.org.

Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

While the Directory has been and continues to be a great resource to the world for over a decade now, it has the potential to be a resource of even greater value. But it needs your help!

September 8th marks the anniversary of the 1966 debut of Star Trek, introducing the world to the U.S.S. Enterprise and its intrepid crew of explorers. The universe created by this series is still expanding today, and this fictional universe has even bridged the gap to non-fiction, providing the name for the first NASA orbital shuttle, as well as numerous asteroids. To honor this well-loved cultural touchstone, the theme of the Directory this week will be physics, those fundamental laws that make worlds spin.

If you are eager to help, and you can't wait or are simply unable to make it onto IRC on Friday, our participation guide will provide you with all the information you need to get started on helping the Directory today! There are also weekly Directory Meeting pages that everyone is welcome to contribute to before, during, and after each meeting.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

August 2017: Photos from FOSS4G, in Boston

Mon, 2017-09-04 08:05

On August 17th, RMS was at the International Conference for Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial this month, in Boston, MA, to give his speech “Free software: Freedom, privacy, sovereignty”1 to an audience of about a thousand academics, businesspeople, government employees, and, mostly, developers.

Since the venue was within walking distance of 51 Franklin, where we are located, the FSF's Ian Kelling and Matt Lavallee were able to attend the speech and run the FSF table.

(Photos under CC BY-SA 4.0 and courtesy of David J. Weaver.)

Thank you to Andy Anderson and to everyone else who made this appearance possible!

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can inform you about future events in and around Boston. Please see www.fsf.org/events for a full list of all of RMS's confirmed engagements, and contact rms-assist@gnu.org if you'd like him to come speak.

1. The speech recording will soon be posted on our audio-video archive.
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: September 1st starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

Thu, 2017-08-31 12:02

Participate in supporting the Directory by adding new entries and updating existing ones. We will be on IRC in the #fsf channel on irc.freenode.org.

Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

While the Directory has been and continues to be a great resource to the world for over a decade now, it has the potential to be a resource of even greater value. But it needs your help!

This week we return to school, with a focus on educational software. With many kids heading off to class, we want to make sure they have all the free software tools they need to succeed. We'll be looking to update and add new software useful for students and educators.

If you are eager to help, and you can't wait or are simply unable to make it onto IRC on Friday, our participation guide will provide you with all the information you need to get started on helping the Directory today! There are also weekly Directory Meeting pages that everyone is welcome to contribute to before, during, and after each meeting.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

FSF at DebConf17: John & Molly take Montreal

Mon, 2017-08-28 11:35

John Sullivan, the Executive Director of the FSF, joined me and nearly four hundred of our closest Debian friends for a week of celebrating free software, working together on cool projects, and talking endlessly about what we can do for user freedom around the world.

Speaking at DebConf was a big deal for me. Participating in the Debian community was an important part of what took me from being a person who used free software to an active member of the free software movement. Presenting at a conference provides a different kind of opportunity to interact with everyone there. As someone who organizes conferences, I feel as though the speakers do a huge amount of work to shape the experience that attendees have, and that by providing individuals with microphones and stages, we create a conversation that helps the community learn, explore, and grow.

DebConf17 kicked off with Open Day, where John was to deliver a session titled "Freedom embedded: Devices that respect users and communities." The same series of thunderstorms, a tornado warning, and other threatening weather forecasts that caused me to arrive in Montreal a day early, resulted in John's flights being delayed several times. Since he was trapped in New York, John and the DebConf organizing team agreed that it would be best for me to deliver the session on behalf of the FSF.

This kicked off what became a great week for the FSF in Montreal. John managed to arrive in time for his other session, "Increasingly permissive or increasingly dismissive?," on the lack of any data to support the exaggerated claims we've been hearing about the decline of copyleft.

We held a birds-of-a-feather (BoF) session for FSF members and potential members in Debian. Speaking with members of the Debian community while wearing our FSF hats is important: the FSF does not officially endorse Debian as a distribution due to some outstanding disagreements, but there is a lot of common ground and shared goals centered around the hope of one day having all software be free. We think that Debian has done a lot of great work for free software, and believe the project can become an even stronger force. These conversations help us find new ways to work together moving forward, and, in general, speaking with FSF members and those involved in the free software movement is invaluable to us as an organization.

I also got to organize a Debian Women meetup with Valerie Young, a LibrePlanet speaker, reproducible builds hacker, and Outreachy alum. As a group, we talked about the role that mentorship has had in our involvement in free software, and what we'd like to see more of in the future. It was fun for me personally, and interesting as someone who wants to see the movement grow. I'm hoping to bring some of the ideas that came out of it to the FSF.

This was also the final time I presented "All Ages: How to build a movement." All Ages, a talk on ageism in technology, debuted at HOPE XI. My friend, internship mentor, and FSF alum Deb Nicholson and I have given this talk four times over the past year. It changed a bit each time, including new things we learned and new ideas we came across after each presentation.

I think I speak for both John and myself when I say that DebConf 17 was a lot of fun. We learned an incredible amount (including the efficacy of plane travel versus bicycle travel). Connecting with our free software friends and making new ones, meeting people in the community, and hearing their free software stories is an invaluable experience for us.

In the upcoming months, FSF staff will be at All Things Open. More details coming soon! We hope to see you there.

Photos by Aigars Mahinovs CC-BY and Michael Banck CC-BY 3.0

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Free Software Directory meeting recap for August 18th, 2017

Fri, 2017-08-25 11:51

Every week free software activists from around the world come together in #fsf on irc.freenode.org to help improve the Free Software Directory. This recaps the work we accomplished at the Friday, May 26th, 2017 meeting.

Our most recent meeting was focused on adding new entries. While it was lightly attended, we did get quite a few new packages added. As is often the case, we also filed numerous bugs with projects that had licensing issues. By far the most common issue we tend to come across with a package's licensing is that they haven't included a license at all! We often find packages that contain notices in the headers of the source files indicating that the work is under the GNU General Public License, but then there won't actually be a copy of the license. It's a simple mistake, but thankfully easy to correct. We did discuss possibly creating some new educational materials to help spread the message: "Don't forget your license!" More work will have to be done on that front.

If you would like to help update the directory, meet with us every Friday in #fsf on irc.freenode.org from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. EDT (16:00 to 19:00 UTC).

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: August 25th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

Wed, 2017-08-23 10:37

Participate in supporting the Directory by adding new entries and updating existing ones. We will be on IRC in the #fsf channel on irc.freenode.org.

Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

While the Directory has been and continues to be a great resource to the world for over a decade now, it has the potential to be a resource of even greater value. But it needs your help!

On August 25, 1972, in Great Britain, computerized axial tomography (CAT scan) was introduced. This advance in medical imaging opened new possibilities for treatment and diagnosis. To commemorate this advance, the Directory meeting this week will focus on medical free software. Currently, these entries are scattered throughout the Directory, so a great concrete project for this week could be gathering all of these projects under one category. Don't worry about the doctors, we have plenty of apples to fend them off.

If you are eager to help, and you can't wait or are simply unable to make it onto IRC on Friday, our participation guide will provide you with all the information you need to get started on helping the Directory today! There are also weekly Directory Meeting pages that everyone is welcome to contribute to before, during, and after each meeting.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Friday Free Software Directory IRC meetup: August 18th starting at 12:00 p.m. EDT/16:00 UTC

Thu, 2017-08-17 14:36

Participate in supporting the Directory by adding new entries and updating existing ones. We will be on IRC in the #fsf channel on irc.freenode.org.

Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions, to providing detailed info about version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing info that has been carefully checked by FSF staff and trained volunteers.

While the Directory has been and continues to be a great resource to the world for over a decade now, it has the potential to be a resource of even greater value. But it needs your help!

This week we return to adding new entries to the Directory. We've been doing a great job all year getting things updated (over 4,000 entries reviewed), but we want to keep it growing as well. We'll also be discussing the Debian import project, which could add thousands of packages in the near future.

If you are eager to help, and you can't wait or are simply unable to make it onto IRC on Friday, our participation guide will provide you with all the information you need to get started on helping the Directory today! There are also weekly Directory Meeting pages that everyone is welcome to contribute to before, during, and after each meeting.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Summer internship wrapup: Ethan Dorta, FSF sysadmin intern

Thu, 2017-08-17 11:57

I came here to work on LibreJS, and made a demo for the new version that uses WebExtensions instead of the now deprecated XUL extensions. I also worked for a short time on the linting program JSHint to help remove proprietary code. I hope I will be able to continue helping out with this in the future.

I have learned a lot while working with FSF. I am enthusiastic about software freedom, so being able to work with the leading example of this movement was an honor. I learned new technologies and met new people. While my internship was remote, I actually visited the office while I was visiting Rhode Island. I am thrilled I got this opportunity, and would love to come back after high school or college to do more with the FSF.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Summer internship wrapup: Andrew Cabey, FSF sysadmin intern

Wed, 2017-08-16 12:40

With my summer internship coming to a close and new days on the horizon, I'd like to share about my experiences as a systems administration intern at the FSF. Over the last twelve weeks, I've been immersed in a professional environment where I've had the opportunity to face the challenges of communication and cooperation across teams, concentrations and organizations. I've worked with a unique group of people in a close-knit office environment, and I've been exposed first-hand to enterprise technologies. Finally, I've been given an incredible opportunity to take part in a long-term project and see the result of nearly 18 months of research and development.

The Free Software Foundation, as an organization founded on activism, fosters and empowers an activist culture across all domains. In this open atmosphere of free thought, the FSF creates a comfortable environment for its employees and attracts insightful, forward thinkers. It was a pleasure working with such a welcoming and passionate group of individuals.

I came into my internship with the broad focus of cyber-security. Since this is a "focus" that treads across nearly every aspect of technology, though, it was soon narrowed down to two primary goals, the encryption schema of the GNU server cluster and an audit of existing infrastructure. As a member of the systems administration team, I was exposed to a variety of new technologies, including a performant libvirt virtualization stack backed by a solid-state Ceph distributed storage cluster; a partially oxymoronic transparent and air-tight security model; and free software from the BIOS to the user interface. I am lucky to have been involved in the challenge that is building one of the first systems of such high-scale performance and security demands from entirely free software.

Having set ambitious timeline goals early on, I was soon faced with the reality of seemingly unending technical and logistical challenges to overcome: one of the surprises I faced in my internship was how easily time can slip away, whether through unforeseen difficulties or through sunk-cost expenditure. While struggling to make progress is frustrating, this has taught me an important lesson in project planning and management, and I am privileged to have seen the project's finale in deployment.

During my time here, I helped in the design of the GNU server stack's encryption schema, and I wrote tools to benchmark the performance of this system. I also contributed to free software security projects, and then used these tools to conduct an audit of deployed FSF services.

I would like to give a special thanks to Ruben, Ian, and Andrew for having taken their time over the past three months to act as mentors for no benefit but my own; their technical expertise and dedication to the FSF is thoroughly appreciated.

Going forward, I will be in Boston studying computer science and cyber-operations at Northeastern University. If you want to contact me, you can find me on freenode as acabey, or if you prefer email I can be reached at acabey@gnu.org with GPG key fingerprint A320 41B2 D62F 34DB 505F 84DF A843 2CD3 6C24 E504.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

The Licensing and Compliance Lab interviews David Rosca of QupZilla

Tue, 2017-08-15 11:55

QupZilla, currently at version 2.1.2, is a free software Web browser using the new and very fast QtWebEngine browser. It aims to be a lightweight Web browser available through all major platforms. This project was originally started only for educational purposes by a lone developer, David Rosca, and since then, QupZilla has grown into a feature-rich browser. QupZilla has all of the standard functions you expect from a Web browser. It includes bookmarks, history (including a sidebar view), and tabs. Above that, it has ad-blocking enabled by default with a built-in plugin. Over time, this one-man project has grown to include numerous contributors.

What was the educational purpose that QupZilla was started for?

When I started working on QupZilla (before it actually had a name), I had no prior experience with programming desktop applications. In fact, my only experience with programming involved simple websites written in PHP. I decided to learn how to write desktop apps, and with that, I needed some project to work on. At that time, I had some performance issues with GNU/Linux Web browsers, so I decided to try creating my own browser.

I didn't have much hopes for it to take off, so I didn't even think much about its name. Users sometimes wonder what does the QupZilla name mean, and if it has some association with Mozilla. The truth is, my imagination for these things is not great, so I just made a bizarre combination of Qt (qute) and zilla. Maybe it would be better if I had come up with different name, but it's too late now.

How are people using QupZilla?

Even though QupZilla uses a modern rendering engine and displays most of the pages correctly, there are of course compatibility issues, whether it's incompatibility with the specific site (changing User-Agent may help in this case) or a problem on the QupZilla side. While there are users that use QupZilla as their primary browser, I myself see its potential as a secondary browser due to its speed. But I can't really tell how people are using it, because there is no tracking/telemetry or anything like that in QupZilla. I don't like any form of spying on users, and I'm sure QupZilla's users feel the same about it. Since the beginning, some GNU/Linux distributions decided to ship QupZilla as their default Web browser. Chances are, there are users reading this article from QupZilla without actually knowing about it.

What features do you think really sets QupZilla apart from other browsers?

One thing that makes QupZilla appealing for GNU/Linux users is that it is based on Qt framework and thus integrates very well in Qt desktops, unlike other "big" browsers that all are based on GTK. Another feature, which is now being discussed by other big browsers but wasn't the case in the last few years, is an advertisement blocker included and enabled by default. This makes the Web pages clean, but most importantly speeds up loading noticeably. With regards to the ability to customize the browser to each user's tastes, it provides a lot of options in preferences. I won't be naming them here, but users should discover them for themselves. It also supports extensions, although it doesn't have compatibility with extensions from other browsers. Despite that, there are very useful extensions available, including the AutoScroll plugin, a TabManager plugin allowing you to effectively move tabs to the side, and also the very popular GreaseMonkey plugin for userscripts.

Why did you choose the GPLv3 as QupZilla's license?

Well, I'm not really experienced in legal stuff. I simply chose GPLv3 because of its popularity, and it perfectly suiting my needs. It is important for me that it enforces copyleft, by giving all users the freedom to redistribute and change the software.

How can users (technical or otherwise) help contribute to QupZilla?

The first thing is, naturally, by contributing code, but of course the majority of QupZilla users are non-technical. As with other projects, users can help by reporting bugs and cooperate in the bug reports. Some bugs are not easily reproduced, so being able to communicate with the reporter is required to resolve them. With reporting bugs comes hand-in-hand also requesting new features or proposing new ideas. Another thing is contributing to the graphical side of the browser, be it icons, themes or even a completely new concept of some UI part. There was a contest for the new QupZilla logo some time ago, where quite a lot of users proposed their ideas, and the final logo came out really great. But that was just a logo, there are other parts that could be improved, including internal pages like speed dial. On the documentation side, it's not great either, and translations are always appreciated. There is a wiki with some info scattered around, some of it being outdated. So there is always much to do even for users who can't contribute code. And finally, users can also donate money.

What's the next big thing for QupZilla?

The next big thing is definitely a recently-announced move under the KDE project. QupZilla will become part if the KDE project and replace Konqueror as a web browser there. I already mentioned that a better name would help the project, and this transition is a perfect opportunity to change it. Search for a new name is currently ongoing, and I hope this time we will pick a great one. Feature-wise, I wouldn't say there is going to be something really big, unless something radically changes in the near future.

I plan to continuously work on QupZilla and move it forward, but instead of having some big milestone, I'll rather call it an evolution. Of course there will be new features, for example upcoming version 2.3 to be released in following months will have a session manager, an often-requested feature from users.

Enjoy this interview? Check out our previous entry in this series, featuring Jonathan Thomas of the OpenShot Video Editor.

QupZilla logo and Maintainer images are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets