Paul Boddie is a developer in the bioinformatics domain. In this interview, he explains his conception of Free Software, which has a lot to do with sustainable computing and with the ability to use, maintain and develop solutions indefinitely.
News Archive for 2011
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City officials in Helsinki, Finland, are overwhelmingly satisfied after trying out the Free Software office suite OpenOffice.org on their laptops. 75% of 600 officials have been using OpenOffice.org exclusively since February, as part of a pilot project where the city installed the program on 22,500 workstations.
This was an exciting year for Free Software, and for FSFE. We fought against software patents and the way they restrict Free Software and competition. We helped to defend the GPL against those who would take away our freedom to study and modify the software on our computers, and worked on many other important issues.
Competition authorities in the US and Europe are currently investigating the sale of 6000 patents from Nortel, a bankrupt telecommunications equipment manufacturer, to a consortium of Apple, Microsoft and four other companies.
The European Commission has adopted a set of proposals for its next framework program. Called Horizon 2020, this program will provide 80 billion EUR for research and development projects from 2014 to 2020. Prior to finalisation of the proposal, FSFE had provided input to the Commission in order to make the program accessible for Free Software research and projects. Our input also aims at making the results of publicly funded research available as widely as possible.
In the dispute between the companies AVM and Cybits the written reasoning for the decision of the Regional Court of Berlin (PDF, German) is now available. The court confirmed FSFE's view that users of GNU GPLed software are allowed to modify and install it even if it is shipped as a part of an embedded device's firmware.
FSFE has sent input to the European Commission on its upcoming seven-year flagship program for research funding. Under the "Horizon 2020" program, the European Commission will support research and development in Europe with 80 billion Euro from 2014 to 2020.
The YaCy project is releasing version 1.0 of its peer-to-peer Free Software search engine. The software takes a radically new approach to search. YaCy does not use a central server. Instead, its search results come from a network of currently over 600 independent peers. In such a distributed network, no single entity decides what gets listed, or in which order results appear.
The European Commission published a Green Paper to launch a public debate on the key issues to be taken into account for future EU research and innovation funding programmes. FSFE decided to contribute and provide input to this process.
Mirko Boehm currently works as a researcher at the Technical University of Berlin, focusing on the subject of Free Software and copyright and patents. For a long time he has been involved with KDE. In our November Internship Interview he talks about interactions between Free Software communities and “corporate” world, and the role of Free Software at universities and in education.
The controversial ACTA treaty will be discussed tomorrow in the a closed meeting of the European Parliament's committee on international trade (INTA). Together with six other civil society organisations, FSFE has urged the Parliament to make the committee session public, so that European citizens can form their own opinions on ACTA.
The patent litigation between Microsoft and Barnes & Nobles is taking a new turn, with the revelation of Microsoft's patent strategies against Android: FUD, invalid patents, etc. according to Barnes & Nobles. Also, new questions arise on exact scope of the copyrightability of software, with the litigation between Oracle and Google, again on Android, exploring new issues on linking, user-space and APIs specifications.
Erik Josefsson is the winner of the Nordic Free Software Award 2011. With the award, the Swedish Foundation for Free Culture and Free Software (FFKP) honours Josefsson for his achievements as a campaigner for freedom in the information society.
The Dutch government wants to tie the country's schools to a single software vendor for years to come. Dutch students using Free Software or devices without Silverlight-support will find themselves locked out of schools' online systems due to the use of proprietary technology and closed standards. Marja Bijsterveldt, the secretary of education, recently said that she is unwilling to enforce the Dutch government's own Open Standards policy on educational institutions. Instead, the government will accept long-term vendor lock-in of educational institutions.
On November 8th the Regional Court of Berlin [Landgericht Berlin] issued its decision in the previously reported case AVM Computersysteme Vertriebs GmbH (AVM) v. Cybits AG (Cybits). In this case, AVM was essentially trying to stop Cybits from modifying GNU GPL licensed Free Software inside of their AVM Fritz!Box products. Yesterday, the court dismissed this principal claim. Thus, it also confirmed that users of embedded devices with pre-installed Free Software have the legal freedom to make, install, run and distribute modifications to this Free Software. The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and gpl-violations.org, both welcome this decision.
Rikard Fröberg works at the The Society for Free Culture and Software, and contributes this year to the FSCONS organisation for the third time. In the October Internship Interview he considers the importance of having an active and engaged community of users, which, thanks to events like FSCONS, have the opportunity of direct interaction.
Last week Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the Next Big Thing (TM) for Facebook: OpenGraph. Facebook intends to act as its own private Internet, but fortunately there are lots of projects out there that will do the same things that Facebook does, and much more.
Stefan Kangas is the President of the recently started Fripost, the Free Email Association, which proposes itself to deliver a free and reliable Email service. This service, which is running since February, represents an alternative to proprietary Email providing services, which may limit user's freedom and privacy.
Richard Shipman, Teaching Fellow at the Computer Science department of Aberystwyth University, talks about the importance of promoting Free Software alongside alternatives at school level, and what role the computer sciences can play in relating the messages of Free Software to other institutions and disciplines.
On Saturday 13th August Free Software activists came to FSFE’s PDF Readers Sprint in Manchester and found 59 previously unreported adverts for proprietary PDF readers, all of them on UK Council websites.
OggCamp 2011 attracted 200-300 people, and the FSFE booth was successfully run by myself and Chris Woolfrey. We talked to approximately 60 people, handed out approximately 120 leaflets, received one donation, and sold five t-shirts. FSFE was generally well received and I felt that the booth was a great success.
This weekend Free Software activists will find and report web advertising for proprietary software that is being funded by the British Government. Activists will meet on Saturday at Manchester's 'MadLab' Hackerspace to hunt for new adverts and contact government departments requesting that they be removed.
What constitutes a socially acceptable and sustainable approach to "Cloud Computing" and "Software as a Service"? Georg Greve examines seven categories of requirements of cloud based systems which are truly Free.
Computer Aided Design software is critically important to a variety of industries and professions. It's also notorious for being poorly catered for by Free Software applications. Here's a brief summary of the current situation.
At FSFE's General Assembly which took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on June 11, FSFE's members elected Henrik Sandklef as the organisation's Vice President. A computer scientist and GNU Hacker from Gothenburg, Sweden, Henrik has been active with FSFE since 2005. He takes over from Fernanda Weiden, who held the volunteer position for the past two years.
Yesterday in Berlin a court hearing took place in a case that could set a crucial precedent for the embedded industry (see also "AVM violating license of the Linux kernel"). In the lawsuit between AVM and Cybits, AVM maintained that others should not be allowed to modify Free Software on computers bought from AVM, such as the widely used Fritz!Box. At the heart of the debate is the Linux kernel, distributed under the GNU GPL which guarantees exactly this freedom to users. Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and gpl-violations.org today published a detailed report about the hearing.
Berlin, 20th June - Tomorrow on June 21st a legal case will be heard before the District Court of Berlin which may have enormous consequences for the way that software is developed and distributed. The adversaries in the case are the manufacturer and distributor of DSL routers AVM Computersysteme Vertriebs GmbH (AVM), and Cybits AG (Cybits) which produces children's web-filtering software. Both companies use the Linux kernel, which is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 2 (GNU GPL); a Free Software license permitting everyone to use, study, share, and improve works which use it.
Fresh action in the European Commission's antitrust proceedings against Microsoft: On May 24, the European Court of Justice conducts a hearing on Microsoft's appeal against the fine. FSFE has participated in the case for a decade and will intervene on the Commission's behalf.
In the case of the Foreign Office turning away from Free Software, the German Government is entangling itself in contradictions. The reaction of the Government to an inquiry by "Bündnis 90/Grüne" has led to more pending questions than answers.
On Friday, Free Software Foundation Europe asked the European Commission to create a legal avenue for citizens seeking collective redress against companies. In its contribution to a public consultation by the Commision, FSFE argues that consumers should be able to join forces in order to defend their rights against harmful business practices.
Michiel explains how the Unhosted project could change the face of Free Software web applications, and solve problems of privacy, scalability and affordability for all kinds of software provided as a service.
Competition authorities in Germany and the United States today highlighted the fundamental role that Free Software plays for competition in the software market. After several months of discussions, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the German Federal Competition Office (FCO) have allowed a consortium of Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC to acquire 882 patents from Novell only subject to conditions clearly intended to prevent their use against Free Software players.
FSFE calls Free Software supporters to participate in the ongoing PDFreaders campaign and remind public institutions to remove advertisements of proprietary PDF readers from their websites.
On April 6, FSFE provided the German competition authorities with its
on the sale of Novell's patents to CPTN, a joint venture of
Microsoft, Apple, EMC and Oracle. According to the German authorities,
the terms of the sale have been slightly modified since
our concerns with them on December 22, 2010.
Despite these modifications, the transfer of a substantial number of patents to firms with a history of using them against Free Software remains a worrying prospect. Both documents are available on our overview page for the case.
Berlin, 15. April. Die Free Software Foundation Europe begrüßt die kleine Anfrage der Fraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen zur Rückmigration des Auswärtigen Amts auf Microsoft Windows XP.
Today the ARD internet platform Tagesschau.de will receive an award for the use of Open Standards at the "Document Freedom Day". The prize is awarded by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure e.V. (FFII) for offering the broadcasted shows also in the free video format "Ogg Theora".
At Document Freedom Day on 30 March 2011, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) awarded the German City of Munich the Document Freedom Day Prize.
Today, activists in 37 cities around the world are raising awareness for Open Standards and open document formats. In workshops, talks and other events, they are explaining why Open Standards and Free Software are crucial to a free and competitive information society.
Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) welcomes the initiative for users' freedom taken by the Italian Association for Users and Consumers Rights (ADUC). On January 24, ADUC filed a complaint against Microsoft demanding that the company should reimburse consumers who return unused licenses for the Microsoft Windows operating systems that are pre-installed on newly bought computers.
All through the month of February, FSFE's Fellows cast their votes for one of their number to represent them in FSFE's General Assembly. The election period ended yesterday at midnight, with the following results:
The 'Institude for Government' think tank has published a 100 page report on public sector IT in the UK called "System Error: Fixing the flaws in government IT", which calls for dramatic change to government attitudes, and wider use of both Free Software and, as Glynn Moody points out, the principles behind its development.
In a meeting called by the Home Office's lead architect, members of the British Computer Society's Open Source Specialist Group argued that some proprietary software was "viral" in the way that it had spread and stagnated within government and industry, and should be banned from government systems.
A presentation given by the Cabinet Office which outlines its expectations for greater availability and support of Free Software in the public sector is available to the public. It makes clear that the government sees great value in high quality FS, and expects to make significant savings by using it.
February 14, 01:38:27 UTC, the first identi.ca message related to FSFE’s “I ♥ Free Software” campaign airs on identi.ca. This was only the start of a tremendous love declaration to Free Software developpers and applications that went out until late at night, around 3:00 a.m.
Why not make this February 14th a very special Valentine's Day? On Valentine's Day, FSFE calls on Free Software users everywhere to show their love for Free Software. It is the perfect occasion to show our love for Free Software and the possibility to use computers in freedom.
Free Software Foundation Europe is asking the Members of the European Parliament to wait for legal advice before voting on a unitary patent for Europe. While a proposal is on the Parliament's agenda for the coming week, a legal opinion by the European Court of Justice is expected later this month.
Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) invites individuals, community groups and institutions to celebrate the Document Freedom Day (DFD) on March 30th. DFD is a global day to celebrate Open Standards and open document formats and its importance. Open Standards ensure the freedom to access your data, and the freedom to build Free Software to write and read data in specific formats.
The process might have slipped away quietly. But now it is in the spotlight, thanks to a request from the SPD parliamentary group: The Foreign Office (AA), once a "beacon project" for the use of Free Software in the federal ministries, will return to proprietary software. The Linux-Verband (LIVE) and the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) regret this development.
Free Software Foundation Europe has written to the German competition authorities in order to share its concerns about the sale of Novell's patents to a consortium called CPTN, made up of Microsoft, Oracle, Apple and EMC.