FSFE Newsletter – April 2014
Document Freedom Day: Open Standards explained for grandpa
Although more entrepreneurs and politicians understand the importance of Open Standards, people do not see the connection with their daily life. That is why on 26 March we again organised Document Freedom Day (DFD). This year we had a lot of new materials: new leaflets in different languages explain Open Standards, and a nice comic shows why you should use Open Standards so you do not have problems with your files when you are old.
There were at least 51 events in 22 countries organised by a lot of independent groups. FSFE's volunteers in the UK presented an award to The OpenStreetMap Foundation in Birmingham, while FSFE's Werner Koch participated in an event on Open Standards in Cryptography in the Parliament. Our local group in Linz organised an information booth in the city centre, and in the evening they gave a talk about Open Standards at the university. At the booth in Vienna our volunteers had some problems with an artist of a monument, but still handed out a huge amount of leaflets and also informed four friendly police officers about Free Software and Open Standards. Our DFD team is still gathering information of what happened during the DFD week, and will publish a full report during April.
EU institution acknowledges captivity to Microsoft
In a recent letter to MEP Amelia Andersdotter (PDF), the EC acknowledges that it is in a state of "effective captivity" to Microsoft. As FSFE has pointed out repeatedly that this is a persistent problem for the Commission, the Council and the Parliament. On Document Freedom Day the FSFE and Open Forum Europe sent an open letter to the European Parliament and the European Commission highlighting its vendor lock-in with Microsoft.
Using Free Software in the Netherland's education sector
The Free Software in education news for February are out, including an update from the NLEdu campaign: Kevin reports that the commercial director of SchoolMaster, the largest Dutch ELO/student administration software supplier, confirmed that they will roll out a platform-independent HTML5 version in April, replacing the Silverlight version. This would make the NLEdu campaign a success as it will allow Free Software users to access the course materials with any standard compliant browser. Kevin Keijzer published detailed information about this matter.
Something completely different
- For the European Parliament elections from 22 May to 25, FSFE supports the Free Software Pact by April, and the WePromise.Eu by EDRi. Our volunteers worked on translations, and help to promote the campaign.
- Karsten Gerloff participated in the first meeting of the Asian Legal Network in Hong Kong. Most of the people there were representatives from technology companies in Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, and Korea. This is a series of round tables organised jointly by FSFE, Open Invention Network and Linux Foundation. Inspired by the Legal Network which FSFE has been facilitating since 2006, it has the same goal: enabling legal experts to share knowledge about Free Software.
- FSFE welcomes its new Fellowship representative Stefan "Penny" Harmuth in the the General Assembly.
- PDFreaders: Heiki reports why we had to remove SumatraPDF from pdfreaders.org, as it includes non-free code.
- Local FSFE Fellowship meetings: Guido Arnold reports from the meeting in Frankfurt including the schedule of the next events in Wiesbaden, Bad Homburg, and of course Frankfurt. Thanks to Simon Wächter our group in Zürich resumed their monthly Fellowship meetings after some time of inactivity.
- After several years, our education team coordinator Guido Arnold finally visited the Chemnitzer Linuxtage. As in previous years the FSFE had a booth there, distributing our new Free Software leaflet for beginners which was written by our Vienna Fellowship group for a vegan festival and which is now available printed in English, German, French, and to be printed in Finnish. Beside that your editor gave a talk about the threat to the general purpose computer.
- We welcome OSB Alliance's publication of a guide how to procure Free Software in the public administration for the German public administration.
- During LibrePlanet 2014 The Free Software Awards went to the GNOME Foundation's Outreach Program for Women and Matthew Garrett, for his work to keep "Secure Boot" Free Software compatible. Dan Fritzmartin documented how he made a video for LibrePlanet using all Free Software.
- Free Your Android: Paul Kocialkowski of Replicant found a backdoor in the Samsung Galaxy. Basically, these devices have a proprietary userspace program which accepts requests from the proprietary baseband firmware to modify the filesystem. By replacing that userspace program with a free one, this particular back-door can be closed by Replicant -- of course the proprietary modem firmware will still have sufficient control over the device to do many evil things.
- South Tyrol will increase its use of Free Software, announced their Governor Arno Kompatscher. The European Parliament wants its IT department to rehabilitate its GNU/Linux desktop pilot. On Tuesday, the EP's committee on budgetary control accepted a request by MEPs Bart Staes and Amelia Andersdotter to restart the GNU/Linux desktop pilot, which had been shelved in 2012.
- From the planet aggregation:
- Setup a call for papers, select a few talks, publish a schedule, book a venue, sell a few tickets - have fun: Essentially all it takes to organise a conference, isn't it? In theory maybe - in practice - not so much. Fellow Isabel Drost-Fromm is sharing her experience on event organisation so others can learn from it, e.g. how increasing the ticket price relates to your amount of sleep.
- Hugo Roy considers himself to be a turing complete user. He points to a recommendable essay by Olia Lialina. Related to this, if you have not seen revealing errors by Benjamin Mako Hill, it is worth it.
- Henrik Sandklef wrote about what education is, and he searches for a strategy for teaching programming to newbies.
- Nikos Roussos wrote that making things distributed is hard, and why centralisation happens. But although it takes effort and determination, he argues that we all together can build an Internet that is distributed.
- He also documented how to build and run Popcorn Time from source.
- Jens Lechtenbörger describes how he pins certificates in GNU Emacs.
- Timo Jyrinki from our Finnish team wrote about the problems to switch to Qt 5.2.1 in Ubuntu involving roughly 130 source packages.
- Franz Grazer wrote an article asking the question: Do we need DRM? arguing that Free Software should not get involved with DRM since it is all about locking things down.
- Matija documented How to write your Pelican-powered blog using ownCloud and WebDAV and reports from his first results of testing DE razor blades for shaving with oil.
Get active: The right not to pay for non-free software
The revelations from Edward Snowden concerning massive surveillance of communications demonstrates the need for each person to be able to control their computers and phones. Yet computer and telephone manufacturers and retailers typically impose on users programs that jeopardise their privacy.
Each person should therefore have the opportunity to refuse to pay for non-free software, and be allowed to choose the programs that run on their telephone and computer, in our case a Free Software operating system and other Free Software.
We joined other organisations throughout the world in requesting an unfettered choice of the operating system on telephones, laptops and other computing devices.
This month we ask you to sign the international petition, and help us promoting it!
Thanks to all the volunteers, Fellows and corporate donors who enable our work,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE