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FSFE Newsletter - July 2013
In Court: Defending our Freedoms with Copyleft
"To protect your rights, we need to prevent others from denying you these rights or asking you to surrender the rights. Therefore, you have certain responsibilities if you distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it: responsibilities to respect the freedom of others." (Praemble of the GNU GPL)
Unfortunately sometimes companies forget their responsibility when using Free Software in their products. Someone has to make sure that companies are reminded from time to time. That's what we do with our compliance work. After our volunteers found a GNU GPL violation in a workshop in May 2012, we handed all the evidence to Harald Welte from gpl-violations.org and his lawyers. They processed the case and we were now informed that we won the case.
EU's public bodies wasting 1.1 billion Euro every year
This month the European Commission published a Communication titled "Against lock-in" (see FSFE's comments.) The European Commission urges public bodies to break free from vendor lock-in in their IT systems by relying on standards rather than brand names and proprietary technology. Besides the Communication highlights that public bodies unnecessarily spend 1.1 billion Euro every year because they do not allow more competition among their suppliers. The Commission cites studies saying that 16% of public procurement make reference to brand names. In most of the cases those brand names are the names of non-free software companies.
Implementing Open Standard policies is hard work but is necessary to ensure that Free Software companies can compete on an equal basis. We criticised the EC before and will continue to remind them that Open Standard policies only have value if they are really implemented.
NSA: 24 hours video surveillance with Xbox One?
Faced with user protests, Microsoft has been forced to make the terms for its latest Xbox gaming console look a little less restrictive. However, the “new” terms which had caused such outrage were not in fact new at all: they were similar to most other proprietary software licences, including those covering other Microsoft software products and on-line services. Anna Morris created a graphic about it.
Also on surveillance: twelve years ago the European Parliament called upon the Commission and public bodies across Europe to help citizens and companies protect themselves from surveillance. Free Software played a crucial part there. Unfortunately the EC did not implement them.
After the leaks from intelligence services, some of your friends might now understand much better what you talked about when you explained them why you do not use Skype, Facebook, Xbox One, or others. They might now understand why it is important to be in control of your device and your data. Erik Albers wrote an article about ownership, remote control and privacy, and in connection with Xbox One ask how many people would visit a home when there would be a sticker saying “This flat is under 24h surveillance by Microsoft and the NSA”.
Something completely different
- Together with Turkish Free Software activists FSFE wrote an Open Letter to Turkish President Erdogan about a contract for more than 10 million new tablet computers.
- FSFE continue to monitor that you can file your taxes with Free Software in Slovakia.
- Founder of GNU and the president of the Free Software Foundation, Richard Stallman was inducted into the 2013 Internet Hall of Fame! His comment: "Now that we have made the Internet work, the next task is to stop it from being a platform for massive surveillance, and make it work in a way that respects human rights, including privacy."
- Events: On 8th and 9th of June 2013 the Vienna fellowship group of the FSFE organised an information booth at the Austrian vegan society’s summer festival with 9000 people visiting the festival. Tobias Platen and Guido Arnold were at an FSFE booth at Fuxcon in Frankfurt, while next month we will be with several activities at RMLL in Brussels, Matija Šuklje will talk at aKademy in Bilbao, and Sam Tuke will give a talk at the OpenSUSE conference in Thessaloniki.
- After having three meetings in 2012 now there was the second Fellowship meeting this year in Aarhus (Denmark). From now on they plan to have monthly meetings.
- SCO scolding again: the case SCO vs IBM will be opened. Judging from the past we can expect SCO spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt about Free Software in the coming months again.
- And after the NSA leaks the journalist Glyn Moody asks how any company can ever trust Microsoft again?
- From the planet aggregation:
- Our intern Lucile reports that on June 25 the French Senate voted the final version of the law on education, accepting a governmental amendment weakening the bill's Free Software provision. Following April's call for action (FR), she spent a morning calling and writing emails from the FSFE office to members of this commission. Beside, she looked at what other Free Software news we had in France during June.
- Mobile web users already number 1.5 billion, which happens to be quite close to the total number of Internet users back in 2009. Read Henri Bergius' articlethe mobile-first web.
- From a conference in Romania Karsten Gerloff created a quick list about problems for Free Software in Romania and reports about his problems with registering with Free Software for a workshop in the European Parliament.
- Paul Boddie was actively writing last month. He argued that standards are used as the ultimate excuse for not doing one's work
- He also wrote an evaluation about Kolab and in a follow-up blog post he wrote about the resource autocompletion in the webmailer roundcube.
- His article "Where Now for the Free Software Desktop?" takes us on a journey of GNU/Linux on the desktop. Paul concludes that "once we have shown that we can work together and act on all of [the mentioned challenges] simultaneously and continuously as a community, maybe then it will become clear that the year of the Linux desktop has at last arrived for good."
- And finally he analyses site licences and volume licensing and who the real loser of those schemes is.
- How can you avoid the Microsoft tax when buying a new laptop? Kevin Keijzer documented some tips and tricks on how to buy a new laptop which is a nice follow-up on last months test of a preinstalled GNU/Linux laptop from Dell. Help us in gathering more information on laptops without Microsoft tax in our wiki.
- Daniel Pocock looks into the question if you should I use a 2048 bits or 4096 bits, looked into principles for free communications, vendor lock-in in Australian schools, and wrote about Girls Around Me and the NSA.
- Anna Morris wrote several howtos: e.g. how to cut out a photo and removing the white edges in GIMP or how to to stay in the Google's HTML5 trial when you clear your cookies.
- Sergey Matveev critisised current GNU/Linux distributions and wrote about why he will switch back to *BSD. Related to that Hannes Hauswedell is searching for a KISS GNU/Linux distro.
- Beside Hannes is also looking for a good way to publish Photos copyleft.
- Sam Tuke writes about how to compile the Free Software audio program Ardour from its source code in this tutorial.
- Your editor set the search engine duckduckgo as default in his awesome window manager.
- Finally Matija gives some tips for your daily life: he describes why and how to shave with shaving oil and DE safety razors.
Get active: Post us Good Free Software News
Often the news we spread contain negative developments, topics where we need attention to fix a problem. Fellow Chris "cw" wants to pay more attention to the good news about Free Software. The idea is to publish good news on a dedicated wiki page.
E.g. this month a city in Portugal wrote about their success with Free Software and Italy's South Tyrol starts three-year LibreOffice migration.