FSFE Newsletter – December 2014
More demand from the EU institutions
The new European Commission is currently setting the direction of its policy making for the coming five years. The FSFE is in frequent contact with Commission staff, who currently see open doors for Free Software in Brussels. We want to make sure to use this momentum to push for changes on software procurement, standardisation, and device sovereignty. So our president Karsten Gerloff participated in several meetings.
In November the European Parliament (EP) organised a conference to inform members of the parliament about the IT services available to them. It featured a panel discussion led by Adina Valean, the new EP Vice President in charge of ICT, with a contribution from Giancarlo Villela, the director of the EP’s IT department. After the panel discussion, Karsten got the chance to contribute a few brief remarks about the EU institution’s live streams, DebianParl, and vendor lock-in.
In the beginning of December Karsten was again at the Parliament, this time at a workshop on “Open Standards for ICT procurement”. The real value of those events, as so often, was in the people who are there. The workshop provided an opportunity for the small community pushing Free Software and Open Standards in procurement to meet and share updates. So in the future we can push together with them for positive changes.
There is no cloud just other people’s computers
Another event Karsten participated in was the presentation of the report on “cloud” computing and interoperability by the Brussels-based lobby organisation ECIS’s. Karsten documented the meeting in his blog post “Some common-sense recommendations on cloudy computing”.
Just a few days later our new “there is no cloud just other people’s computers”-stickers arrived in our office. We received lots of positive feedback about the stickers, and now added them to our promo packs. We are planning to have some more merchandise with this slogan ready for our booth at FOSDEM from 31 January to 1 February 2015 in Brussels.
Progress with “email self-defence” leaflets
Beside the new stickers, you can now also order new leaflets, to promote our sister organisation’s “email self-defence guide”. Originally we produced this leaflet in German for the annual Berlin “freedom not fear” demonstration in September. Afterwards volunteers all over Germany ordered and distributed them. For example, one cinema gave out a leaflet for everybody who bought a ticket for the Snowden documentary “Citizienfour”. Meanwhile we had to reorder the German version for a third time and since the end of November we have been sending out the English version to Free Software supporters throughout Europe.
In the next weeks our translators and designers will finalise a Chinese, Dutch, French, Greek, Italian, and a Spanish version. For 2015 we want to enable local Free Software supporters to distribute this and other leaflets at libraries, universities, schools, cinemas, companies, restaurants and cafes, shops and in other places.
FSFE’s translators: they are just awesome
This brings us to a badly needed thank you note. During the last 12 months we published the newsletter monthly. Two of the editions were written by our volunteer Heiki ”Repentinus” Ojasild, so your editor could enjoy his vacation. Our newsletter was available in 6 languages on average (lowest 4 languages highest 9 languages). We had newsletters in Albanian, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, and Spanish.
Your editor is proud to work in a team with such dedicated volunteers. They translate the newsletter, the leaflets mentioned above, plus other FSFE news. They enable more people around the world to read about Free Software in their mother tongue, and are therefore a crucial part of the FSFE. So your editor would like to deeply thank our growing translators team for this important work.
Something completely different
- The year is almost over, and it is reporting season. Our president published a sneak preview of things we achieved in 2014 covering our work on: public procurement, the Free Software pact, compulsory routers, improving information material, informing about “trusted computing” and “Secure Boot”, organising Document Freedom Day, answering legal questions, as well as our participation events such as workshops, panel discussions, or organising booths.
- In the last newsletter we asked you to help the FixMyDocuments campaign. With the support they received, they have now compiled a list of over 15,000 editable documents from the European institutions not available in the Open Document Format.
- WhatsApp adopted a secure end-to-end encryption method developed for the Free Software app TextSecure. Torsten Grote takes a look at what that means for Free Software.
- Local events: FSFE had a booth at T-Dose in the Netherlands. Our Dutch Fellows organised the booth together, Kevin Keijzer gave a talk about “Discrimination of Free Software (users) in education”, Maurice Verheesen spoke about “Digital Sovereignty For Europe”, and Felix Stegerman talked about the opportunities and dangers of the “Internet of Things”. Beside that, our Berlin group organised a booth at the FiFFkon at the Technical University Berlin.
- Guido Arnold published a summary of what happened in education throughout Europe during October.
- The French Fellow Alexandre Keledjian published F-Droid-Web, a simple and lightweight web interface to F-Droid server. It provides an easy way to add a new software repository to your mobile using qr-codes, and to browse the F-Droid catalogue by name, category, summary, license type, and description.
- From the planet aggregation:
- Mirko Böhm, FSFE Fellow and KDE community member, wrote about why you should support FSFE’s work, which in his words is: to protect, explain, and organise the freedoms to use, study, share, and improve software.
- Daniel Pocock questions if Amnesty is giving spy victims a false sense of security. In his post he provides a letter template to sent to Amnesty.
- “EOMA68” is an open electronic interface standard, designed to support the development of small computing devices. Nico Rikken wrote why EOMA68 will advance both Free Software and free hardware.
- Mario Fux explains how you can contribute as a non-developer to KDE.
- Beside that we had some technical HowTos on the planet, including: Kevin Keijzer who reports from his experience trying to install Ubuntu without proprietary software.
- Hannes Hauswedell who wrote about how to encrypt cron’s daily mail on FreeBSD. His HowTo pertains to FreeBSD in particular, but he is “sure all you GNUsers out there will figure out the necessary changes”.
- Mirko Böhm who describes how to configure a gaming mouse on GNU/Linux in a way that you can work and play at the machine.
- And Max Mehl who is now running his own Git (a decentralised version control system) instance which also includes a script to delete all meta data from PDF files in a directory.
Get active: Get a smartcard and support us
Next year, we will push harder than ever to weave software freedom into the fabric of our society. To enable us to intensify our work with the European Commission, to let more people know about Free Software, and to continue our other work we still need €190,000 for 2015.
As an individual the best way to support the FSFE’s work financially is to become a Fellow (a sustaining member of the FSFE). All Fellowship contributions directly benefit our work towards a free society.
Fellows receive a state-of-the-art Fellowship smartcard which, together with the free GnuPG encryption software and a card reader, can be used to sign and encrypt e-mails, to securely log into a computer from a potentially insecure machine using SSH, or to store the user’s hard disk encryption keys. Since the encryption key is stored on the card itself, it is almost impossible to steal.