FSFE Newsletter – February 2014
A big step forward for Free Software in Italy
More public administrations using Free Software means more money for the development of Free Software and less problems for citizen using Free Software communicating with their authorities. In January the Italian government has made Free Software the default choice for public administrations. The Italian Digital Agency issued new rules saying that all government organisations in the country must consider using Free Software before buying licenses for proprietary programs. The rule, which has been discussed for over a year, has now been reaffirmed. Carlo Piana, who participated on FSFE's behalf in the working group, wrote: "Now public administrations have no excuse not to comply with the guidelines. There are no more excuses, there is no room for ambiguous interpretations."
What else is going on in the public administration
First the bad news, the European Commission is still in denial on their vendor lock-in and Karsten Gerloff offers good reasons to believe that they are not serious about using and supporting the Open Document Format. But there were also a lot of good developments: The European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), wants to use more Free Software for their new IT systems. The Greens/ETA in the European parliament started a small pilot program to increase e-mail security, running 10 laptops with Debian GNU/Linux. The next step for them would be to budget to pay for the Free Software support, like the Parliament does for non-free software.
The city of Munich successfully completed their GNU/Linux migration with 14.800 PCs. They also announced that they will continue their advocacy work for Free Software. EC's Joinup reports that public administrations in the Netherlands who use Free Software spend 24% less than the ones who do not. In Denmark public libraries are switching to GNU/Linux, and are demanding a complete free admin system. Carsten Agger, our local coordinator for Århus/Denmark, is involved in providing this system.
Compulsory routers: Private network should be private!
You should be able to use a router of your own choice in your home, so you can have more control over this gateway from your private network to the internet. But in Germany ISPs started to force customers to use specific routers, and did not offer them the internet access credentials to use routers of their own choice. Together with dedicated volunteers from OpenWRT, IPFire and others, FSFE worked on this issue in 2013, sending a letter to the authorities, and answering 18 detailed questions. Our argument were then covered by German newspapers, magazines and and television news sites.
What did we achieve? The new coalition agreement of the German governments says that they are against compulsory routers, and that the ISPs have to send the usernames and passwords without request from the customers. Those are the good news from the new coalition agreement. Our intern Max Mehl summarised our work on compulsory routers in his blog entry "Why free choice of routers is a must".
But although the coalition agreement by CDU/CSU und SPD is an improvement for Free Software compared to the one from the last Government, there are still some critical points, which we pointed out in our press release (in German, but Joinup published a good article in English about it).
Something completely different
- You might have noticed it already: Our web team applied a new design to FSFE's website. Hugo Roy announced the plans in the beginning of the month. The new design should make the website better usable on every screen (tiny mobile, mobile, big mobile/tablet, laptops, desktops, whatevercomesnext) and we will reuse this for www.,wiki.,planet.,fellowship., search. and eventually, blogs.fsfe.org. Hugo documented how to use the new web design in a template article, and how to edit our CSS with LESS.
- Matthew Garrett criticised Canonical's contributor agreement. Other copyright assignment tools, such as FSFE's Fiduciary License Agreement and the GNU Project's copyright assignment, enable developers to prevent their code from being used in non-free software. In contrast, Canonical's agreement explicitly states that the company may distribute people's contributions under non-free licenses. If you value software freedom, FSFE recommends you not to sign agreements which make it possible to distribute your code under non-free licenses.
- Get 46.03€ back for an unused Microsoft Windows license. Rui Miguel Silva Seabra explains in a series of blog entries how he was successful to get a Windows tax refund in Portugal. You can help us to keep Windows Tax Refund wiki up to date.
- Fellowship representative Heiki "Repentinus" Ojasild and other Free Software supporters convinced the Institute of the Estonian Language to differ between Free Software and gratis software.
- Local groups: Carsten Agger, our local group coordinator from Aahrus Denmark, started blogging about Free Software and FSFE in Danish. FSFE's local group in Manchester ran a Cryptoparty and explained public/private key encryption with actual locks, keys, and a diary. We had our first Fellowship meeting in Aschaffenburg, and at the meeting in Frankfurt local Free Software activists discussed I love Free Software, Document Freedom Day, PDFreaders, TheyDontWantYou.to, the local event Fuxcon, and CryptoParties.
- Interesting news about Free Software in education are covered in Guido Arnold's latest update,
- and an edited version of Benjamin Mako Hill's talk "When Free Software isn't better" is now available.
- From the planet aggregation:
- Debian.org enabled SIP federation. Furthermore Daniel Pocock describes how easy it is to have a phone call from a mobile phone to a desktop system using WebRTC.
- Fellow No 1, Mario Fux, wrote about the 2014 Free Software meetings in Randa/Switzerland about several KDE topics, Open Street Map, and usability.
- Are you looking for ways to get your children in touch with technology? Isabel Drost-Fromm was asked how to achieve that and wrote about it in "Children tinkering". But be careful, like mentioned in the quote from the December education news: If your children start hacking, companies might want to hire them.
- Lucile Falgueyrac organised a meeting about the European Commission's consultation on copyright to share knowledge about the consultation, and she wrote about her first television interview in Russia Today.
- The KDE Community released a tech preview of the upcoming KDE 5 Frameworks, Mirko Böhm summarised the changes.
- Tobias Platen wrote about GNU/Linux on mobile devices and single board computers.
- Paul Boddie wrote an article about "Python 3: I Told You So?" explaining why it may be easier for users to choose another technology entirely than to deal with version 3,
- and your editor found his old Free Software floppies and CDs, and remembered how he got involved in Free Software.
Get active: You love Free Software? Show it!
Free Software eases our daily life and ensures we can work and create in freedom. In many cases, we do not pay for these tools and yet we write bug reports to make the developer improving his software even more. On 14 February we ask you to show your love to the people working on the Free Software you use. For example, you could prepare a "love letter" telling the developers of a certain program why you love their work, include banners or buttons on your website, (micro)blog about your favourite piece of software, or help us collecting quotes by well-known people and yourself. On "I love Free Software day", it is time to give back.
In Manchester, our local group is even celebrating Free Software with a week-long event. The "I love Free Software Festival" takes place from 3 to 8 February 2014 and focusses especially on Bitcoin, Wordpress, encryption, and Free Your Android. It is a great opportunity to meet other likeminded people in MadLab's great atmosphere.
Thanks to all the volunteers, Fellows and corporate donors who enable our work,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE