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FSFE Newsletter - October 2012
Software Freedom Day: What alternative is there to Skype?
The Free Software community celebrated the worldwide Software Freedom Day, held annually the third Saturday in September, with diverse events and meetings. Our local Fellowship group in Manchester met to test and discuss what alternative there is to Skype. They did extensive testing and published the results.
Dressed with hoodies with the slogan "Independent through Free Software" our Vienna Fellowship group had an information booth giving away 300 Free Software live CDs and over 1000 Free Software leaflets. At Freedom Kosova 2012, Erik Albers gave a talk and the day before he helped to free some Android phones. More devices were liberated during the Free Your Android workshop, that Torsten Grote organised during SFD in Berlin. And, in Cologne, there was a gathering with lectures about software freedom.
The resurrection of the debate: Should Europe have software patents?
After Apple sued Samsung, Personalweb Technologies and Level 3 Communications is suing GitHub, and "Twin Peaks Software, Inc." is suing Red Hat (they filed a counterclaim because of a GNU GPL violation) about patents.
Meanwhile the European Parliament has postponed the debate about the Unitary Patent , which gives us more time to work on pointing out the serious problems and hazards of the proposal to the Legal Affairs Committee.
Our president, Karsten Gerloff, wrote a series of articles about software patents pointing at the current situation at the European Union level and he has published his notes about "The Case Against Patents", a recent draft paper by economists Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine. He concludes that we cannot "leave it to the EPO" and that "patent policy needs to be integrated into a larger innovation policy strategy"within the EU.
France's Prime Minister issues guideline in favour of Free Software
After Italy's new law on software procurement which clearly prefers Free Software upon non-free software, France also took action: On September 19th France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault signed a guideline, addressed to all ministries, that the French public administration should favour Free Software. The advantages the Prime Minister sees in Free Software, are its lower costs and that it increases flexibility and competition in the IT market. The public administration should make "an educated choice", and do "a systematic review of free alternatives when doing development and major revisions of applications."
The cross-ministry IT services give a set of recommendations to be implemented by the French ministries aiming at developing and improving the use of Free Software such as: find Free Software alternatives, follow and contribute to the communities, or improve the culture of Free Software and Free licences.
Something completely different
- Free Software policies from France, Italy, UK, or Sweden were also a topic in the German Parliament. On Friday 21st September, your editor was invited to speak there as an expert for Free Software. In the next weeks you will receive a summary on this topic, but, until then you can take a look at the questions your editor had to answer before it, as well as links to the written statements from the other invited experts.
- FSFE's president Karsten Gerloff was busy giving talks: During Finland's Openmind conference he spoke about Free Software migrations, procurement, and overcoming common obstacles. Another talk was about the intense battle about who will control the computers we will use tomorrow, and why the general-purpose computer is worth fighting for.
- There is information that the City of Freiburg wants to switch to a proprietary office suite. FSFE, together with OSB Alliance and BIKT, wrote an open letter about it asking several questions to the City's officials (German). EC's joinup reported about it in English.
- "How can I change the license, so my software cannot be used for military use?" Richard Stallman published an article arguing, why a program must not restrict what jobs its users do with it, and why we cannot stop torture through software licenses.
- "Who controls the internet controls the data. Who controls the data, controls the future", says Georg (T)ORwell in the latest episode "Big Brother is WWWatching you" from Juice Rap News (youtube link, you can use youtube-dl to download it). It is about several Free Software connected topics and the advantages of TOR, and also features the Linksys-WRT-54 router, which was the first GNU GPL violation court case worldwide.
- Thanks to Kåre Thor Olsen the article "Democracy requires Free Software" is now translated also into Danish. It is now available in 12 languages, thanks to all the volunteers in our our translators team.
- FSF is updating the Free Software directory, and is looking for your help with this task.
- From the planet aggregation:
- Isabel (now Drost-Fromm) took your editors advise from the August newsletter (under "The Fellowship: One to rule them all") and made sure that Thilo became a Fellow before their wedding. Of course marrying did not stop her to write several other blog posts last month. FSFE thanks the two of them for their support, and wishes them all the best for their marriage.
- FSFE's intern Ana Galan has a journalist background. She now wrote about her experience from Campus Party in "my first time", as well as the above mentioned Free Your Android workshop at Berlin's Software Freedom Day.
- How much do you pay per month for Free Software? Last month Torsten Grote payed $25 and your editor $20 for Twidere, an Android Status.net and Twitter client, who's developer needs new hardware.
- Can you verify Karl Beecher's results that PHP is essential to a career in web programming?
- On the technical side Torsten also wrote about his first experiences installing the Kolab 3.0, Daniele Domenichelli had some fun with the KDE telepathy text user interface plugins, Matija Šuklje and Christian Kalkhof both migrated their websites, Alexandre De Dommelin wrote about how a small hosted site gets redundancy, and Alexandre Keledjian describes how to convert your audio CDs into FLAC (French).
- And finally FSFE would like to thank Michael Stehmann who organised an FSFE Fellowship project room at FrOSCon, which dealt with the usage of Free Software in SMEs (German).
Get active: Less than 3 minutes to support FSFE
To make it short: If you care about Free Software and support what FSFE is doing, please become a supporter of FSFE. It does not cost any money and takes less than 3 minutes to do so. If you are interested you can read about the background of this.