FSFE Newsletter - June 2012
Free Software, Open Source, FOSS, FLOSS – Same same but different
There are two major terms connected to software that can be freely used, studied, shared and improved: Free Software and Open Source. You can also find different combinations and translations of those terms like FOSS, Libre Software, FLOSS and so on. Reading articles about Free Software or listening to people involved in Free Software often raises the question: Why do they use one term or another and how they differ from each other?
Long time FSFE volunteer Björn Schiessle wrote a good article about this topic, how to deal with the different terminology.
State neglected web standards, company now faces EUR 5600 in fines
In Slovakia, the state has mandated electronic means as the only way of fulfilling certain statutory obligations. However the dedicated web solution excludes some citizens from participating as it is not interoperable and runs only on the non-free software from one vendor. In absence of any non-electronic option, this means that the state mandates the use of a certain product from a certain vendor. People who did not own the copy, had to buy one. A Slovak textile importer deemed that the state should not force him to use a certain software for its business and fulfilled its legal obligation by paper. Now the company faces EUR 5600 in fines.
Current FSFE intern Martin Husovec decided this is not just and made it his internship project to change it: he is working on the case, reading court files, wrote FSFE's press release, and an executive summary of the EURA case. He is motivated to ensure that no one is forced to use certain non-free software in Slovakia just to fulfil the law, and will keep you updated.
Will the UK be lobbied into the FRAND trap?
Free Software could be blocked from the UK's public sector use if the new policy allow "FRAND" terms within British standards. As recently revealed by Freedom of Information Requests: Intensive lobbying efforts have focused on pressuring the Cabinet Office to back down on a strong definition of Open Standards over the past few months.
FSFE is trying to counter this development. In May the FSFE asked North-West UK businesses to tell Government that Open Standards matter, and we will continue to work on the case.
Democratic elections with non-free software?
In France, the FSFE has raised its concerns (French) on the online voting process implemented for French electors registered abroad. FSFE strongly criticised the complete lack of precautions, the opacity of the voting process, and the request to use proprietary software to vote.
Something completely different
- "My cooking can't be a copy of your cooking." Richard Stallman wrote a new article "Network Services Aren't Free or Nonfree; They Raise Other Issues".
- This month's Fellowship interview is with Giacomo Poderi, member of FSFE's general assembly, has worked as a translator and editor for FSFE, as well as completing a masters degree in Philosophy. Currently he is working on a Ph.D in sociology, which looks at the user experience in Free Software Projects, focusing on the turn-based strategy game "The Battle for Wesnoth".
- According to joinup, software written by or for public authorities and public organisations in the Basque Country will by default be made available to others as Free Software starting this July.
- What happens with licenses when the licensor gets insolvent? IfrOSS wrote a proposal (German) about insolvency questions with Free Software Licenses, which FSFE also supports.
- Open Standards: "How did we get to a point where we will pay for the 'privilege' of having a vendor take our data and lock it up such that we have to pay them, again and again, to access it?" asks Jake Edge from LWN in his article "Who owns your data?". Will you "rebel" at next year's Document Freedom Day?
- In the lawsuit Oracle vs. Google FSFE's Carlo Piana and FSF's John Sullivan published articles covering the topic.
- A selection from the Fellowship blog
- Fellowship representative Nikos Roussos gave a speech about Free Software solutions that can be used for self-hosted web services.
- Georg Greve does "not believe that Windows is the future of the Free Software desktop." Sounds obvious? Is it? Here is his blog article "A bridge leading nowhere: Outlook-centric groupware".
- Clean, playful, wide use in Free Software, out-of-the-boxiness. Fellow Karl Beecher argues why to choose Python for teaching .
- FSFE's vice-president is hacking on Searduino, a software to make it easy to program C/C++ for Arduino. It is also a simulator for source level Arduino API so it is possible to directly test executable code without the Arduino board present, and it can even do more.
- Or are you looking for a good configuration for your tiling window manager? Fellows shared their configuration files for Awesome, and xmonad.
- Beside that Hannes Hauswedell wrote about improving e-mail privacy by removing header information when using GnuPG and Thunderbird, and
- Isabel Drost explains how to ruin software projects fast and rapidly. E.g. by referring developers as resources, not not investing in tooling, or by other suggestions.
- Finally, if you have the problem that one of your presentations is still too long, she also has suggestions how to shorten it.
Get Active: PDFReaders 2.0 – Your help is needed!
Our petition is signed by 72 organisations, 57 businesses, and 2327 individuals. The Green party filed an oral request in the European Parliament (5 questions) , and in the German Parliament (18 questions with introduction). The German agency for IT security is recommending pdfreaders.org in their new migration guide and highlights that you should not advertise for non-free software readers. And 539 public administrations removed the advertisement for non-free software, which is a success rate of 25%.
After long discussions and considerations the PDF readers team is now preparing a major update to PDFReaders.org, adding: a more appealing and cleaner front-page, with one recommendation for the auto-detected platform; free pdf reader recommendations for mobile platforms; and free pdf browser plugin recommendations.