FSFE Newsletter - October 2013
Our movement turned 30!
On 27 September 1983 Richard Stallman announced the GNU project. An initiative that started with a programmer's frustration over a broken printer driver has changed our society. The idea of software that everyone can use, study, share and improve has proven powerful.
The GNU project has acted as the starting point of a movement that makes sure we can control technology, and not technology controlling us. Today, Free Software is everywhere: It powers the Internet, our mobile phones, televisions, cars, routers, and electronic devices of all sorts. Free Software has fundamentally changed the way people create software: instead of preventing people to adapt the software to their own needs, they invite people to participate in the development.
FSFE is grateful to Richard Stallman for sparking this epochal change, and to everyone who has joined our movement to drive Free Software's progress for three decades.
Boost local activities: European Fellowship Coordinators Meeting
For example our local Fellowship groups. During last month our groups in Aarhus hosted a talk and the meetings in Frankfurt are continuing. In Munich we had a public booth during a street festival, during Software Freedom Day our Fellows informed passers-by about Free Software in Vienna and in Offenburg, whereas in Helsinki they helped others installing Free Software. Our Düsseldorf Fellowship group was very active the last weeks as well: They had a booth at the summer party of the Pirate Party, and attended the summer party of the Green Party, held a Software Freedom Day event, supported a Cryptoparty in Kempen, held a regular meeting, as well as a talk by Sam Tuke about Free Your Android.
From 27-29 September 22 Fellows of FSFE from 10 countries gathered in Berlin for the first European Coordinators Meeting. During the weekend the coordinators got to know each other, presented their work, talked about possibilities to promote Free Software, shared good practices, and provided valuable feedback about our campaigns. If you are interested to see who is promoting Free Software in local Fellowship groups have a look at Lucile's blog entry.
Something completely different
- Technology should be a means to freedom and creativity. Yet governments around the world are turning computers and networks into tools of oppression. FSFE joined a coalition of more than 265 organisations which launched a list of 13 International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communication Surveillance.
- Ask Your Candidates: Our Austrian team published their questions and answers for the Nationalratswahl (federal election), and the German published the answers to similar questions for the state election in Hessen.
- After FSFE already spoke up against it, KDE also rejected the Fairsearch initiative claims, and stated why Free Software is competitive.
- There is a new edition of the Free Software in education news for August, including what Open Education Resources can learn from Free Software.
- Together with Mirko Vogt from OpenWrt FSFE wrote a letter to the German Federal Network Agency (German). We argued about the importance of having the freedom to use every router you want to have for your internet access.
- CERN, which is publishing a lot of hardware design documentation, has updated its Open Hardware License to version 1.2.
- To celebrate GNU's 30th anniversary, FSF suggested software freedom actions for each day during September. Of course you can repeat that anytime you want.
- Public administration: the French Gendarmerie now maintains 37,000 GNU/Linux desktops, and after the planned switch next summer it will be 72,000. Officials say they are able to lower the total cost of operation by 40% compared to the proprietary solution. But the savings are just one point, the other one is more vendor independence.
- From the planet aggregation:
- Hugo Roy asks for feedback on the user data manifesto.
- Georg Greve argues that software freedom advocates had it right all along: You cannot trust proprietary cryptography, or proprietary software.
- Mirko Böhm and Paul Adams organised a seminar about Free Software in economy and society at the German protestant student union (German), where Karsten Gerloff also gave a talk as a guest speaker in front of students of medicine, natural sciences, or theology.
- Lucile learnt to appreciate regular expressions, and highlighted some quotes by Bruce Schneier, including "We’re afraid of risk. It's a normal part of life, but we're increasingly unwilling to accept it at any level."
- Thomas Løcke asks if we want to live in a world where shadow agencies run amok and where our hard-earned taxes are being used to fund leashes for our necks and whips for our backs?
- Our Munich Fellowship coordinator Christian Kalkhoff explains why he finally quit facebook (German) after they changed their terms of services.
- On a technical level: if you have to dual boot GNU/Linux and Windows 8 on a machine with restricted boot read the description from our Finnish Fellows.
- If you used GnuCash or HomeBank before for your finances, Daniel Pocok suggests to have a look at PostBooks, and maybe support their crowdfunding campaign for missing features.
- He also looked into calendar and contact data with Free Software in the Smartphone era.
- Paul Boddie wrote about the Neo900, successor of the famous N900 mobile phone.
- Guido Günther is monitoring a heating system powered by Free Software, and
- Henri Bergius was flying a quadrocopter with NoFlo.
- After many years Matija's laptop broke. Read how he changed his distribution after a decade and the good feeling to have working backups.
- Finally he is discussing if copyright, patents and state-given monopolies in general are natural.
Get active: Talk to some friends about how it started!
As you read on the first paragraph it is 30 years since Richard Stallman announced to start with the GNU operating system. Many people mistakenly think of this 30th anniversary only as a success in a technical way but it is more: GNU and the philosophy behind it is a social revolution as well.
More people should know about the importance and uniqueness of the development GNU has started. So we ask you to talk with your friends, acquaintances and colleagues about the history and philosophy of GNU project and to reflect about which positive side effect of GNU's invention you personally appreciate the most.