Introducing our new associate member forum!

I'm excited to share that we've launched a new forum for our associate members. We hope that you find this forum to be a great place to share your experiences and perspectives surrounding free software and to forge new bonds with the free software community. If you're a member of the FSF, head on over to https://forum.members.fsf.org to get started. You'll be able to log in using the Central Authentication Service (CAS) account that you used to create your membership. (Until we get WebLabels working for the site, you'll have to whitelist its JavaScript in order to log in and use it, but rest assured that all of the JavaScript is free software, and a link to all source code can be found in the footer of the site.) Participation in this forum is just one of many benefits of being an FSF member – if you're not a member yet, we encourage you to join today, for as little as $10 per month, or $5 per month for students.

The purpose of this member forum is to provide a space where members can meet, communicate, and collaborate with each other about free software, using free software. While there are other places on the Internet to talk about free software, this forum is unique in that it is focused on the common interests of FSF members, who care very much about using, promoting, and creating free software.

The forum software we chose to use is Discourse.

One of the technical requirements for the forum was that it needs to work well with single sign-on (SSO) systems, specifically our CAS system. In the process of launching the new member forum, I patched our CAS server so that it would verify FSF associate membership. I also wrote a patch for the Discourse CAS SSO service so that we can require email validation when users log into Discourse for the first time.

We built our own patched instance of Discourse's base Docker image to resolve a freedom issue, and as preparation for any times in the future that we may need to make changes to the upstream source code for our local installation.

I spent some time trying to set up Discourse without using Docker, but getting email delivery to work without a Docker image proved to be very challenging. In the end, we decided that using Docker adds complexity when making patches to the software, but think that it makes using Discourse easier overall.

One of the reasons we chose Discourse is because it allows users to respond to conversations via email. Users may enable the "mailing list mode" in their user settings, which allows us to interact with the member forum as if it were a mailing list.

I would like to thank the Discourse team for creating this software, and for their responsiveness to my questions about Discourse patching, new features, configuration, and deployment. They responded very quickly to a security issue that I reported, and donated a hacker bounty to the FSF.

If you want to chat with other members via IRC, I suggest joining the #fsf-members channel on Freenode, where I made an early announcement about the member forum launch.

I hope you are excited to use our new forum. I certainly am! I look forward to the great conversations that we will have among members who care very much about free software. Happy hacking!

The completion of Sonali's Outreachy internship work on the Free Software Directory

For context, see the previous blog post, Sonali's Internship work on the Free Software Directory, part 2

After much work, I finally completed the upgrade of the Directory from the previous long term support version of MediaWiki, 1.27, to the current one, 1.31, which was released shortly after my internship started. I also made some general improvements.

  • I downloaded the Semantic MediaWiki extensions using composer;
  • I removed deprecated code in LocalSettings.php;
  • I ported the customizations to Vector skin to the new version;
  • I improved the search bar by placing it in the right navigation panel instead of the sidebar;
  • I added the FSF favicon; and
  • I spent about a week fixing bugs in the CASAuth and HeaderTabs extensions.

Upgrading the mobile site took more work, and after some testing I decided to switch from the MobileFrontend extension to the mobile friendly Timeless skin along with MobileDetect.

I recorded the shell commands required to set up the server and translated them to ansible commands. Since I was unfamiliar with ansible and yaml, I took some time to learn about it.

Then we performed the final migration. Andrew (my mentor) gave me the latest MySQL dump from the directory and made the old site read-only. I imported it to the new server and ran the upgrade script. Then he migrated the DNS. There were a few small hiccups, but after a few hours, the upgrade was complete.

It was my first internship and my first experience of working in a free software community, and I grew very attached to it. My mentors were very experienced and responsive. I was able to learn a lot from them. I am grateful that I got the opportunity to associate with such an amazing organization. Thanks to Outreachy organizers for giving me a great way to work for a distinguished organization and to develop my skills. Lastly, a big thanks to my mentors, Andrew and Ian, who helped me all along and made my internship a truly incredible experience!

CopyLeft Conf's Call for Presentations is Open!

The First Annual Copyleft Conference is ready to receive your proposals for twenty-five minute talks and for eighty minute discussions you would be willing to lead. The conference will be held in Brussels, on February 4th (aka the Monday after FOSDEM.)

FSF statement on Microsoft joining the Open Invention Network

Microsoft's announcements on October 4th and 10th, that it has joined both LOT and the Open Invention Network (OIN), are significant steps in the right direction, potentially providing respite from Microsoft's well-known extortion of billions of dollars from free software redistributors.

These steps, though, do not by themselves fully address the problem of computational idea patents, or even Microsoft's specific infringement claims. They do not mean that Microsoft has dismantled or freely licensed its entire patent portfolio. The agreements for both LOT and OIN have substantial limitations and exclusions. LOT only deals with the problem of patent trolling by non-practicing entities. OIN's nonaggression agreement only covers a defined list of free software packages, and any OIN member, including Microsoft, can withdraw completely with thirty days notice.

With these limitations in mind, FSF welcomes the announcements, and calls on Microsoft to take additional steps to continue the momentum toward a complete resolution:

1) Make a clear, unambiguous statement that it has ceased all patent infringement claims on the use of Linux in Android.

2) Work within OIN to expand the definition of what it calls the "Linux System" so that the list of packages protected from patents actually includes everything found in a GNU/Linux system. This means, for example, removing the current arbitrary and very intentional exclusions for packages in the area of multimedia -- one of the primary patent minefields for free software. We suggest that this definition include every package in Debian's default public package repository.

3) Use the past patent royalties extorted from free software to fund the effective abolition of all patents covering ideas in software. This can be done by supporting grassroots efforts like the FSF's End Software Patents campaign, or by Microsoft directly urging the US Congress to pass legislation excluding software from the effects of patents, or both. Without this, the threats can come back with a future leadership change at Microsoft, or with changes in OIN's own corporate structure and licensing arrangements. This is also the best way for Microsoft to show that it does not intend to use patents as a weapon against any free software, beyond just that free software which is part of OIN's specific list.

The FSF appreciates what Microsoft joining OIN seems to signal about its changing attitude toward computational idea patents. Taking these three additional steps would remove all doubt and any potential for backsliding. We look forward to future collaboration on fully addressing the threat of patents to free software development and computer user freedom.

The FSF will also continue to monitor the situation, for any signs that Microsoft intends to still continue patent aggression, in ways permitted by the terms of LOT and OIN. We encourage anyone who is a target of such patent aggression by Microsoft to contact us at campaigns@fsf.org.

Media Contact

John Sullivan
Executive Director
+1 (617) 542-5942
campaigns@fsf.org

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at https://fsf.org and https://gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at https://www.fsf.org/press.

FSF job opportunity: program manager

The Free Software Foundation (FSF), a Massachusetts 501(c)(3) charity with a worldwide mission to protect computer user freedom, seeks a motivated and talented Boston-based individual to be our full-time program manager.

Reporting to the executive director, the program manager co-leads our campaigns team. This position develops and promotes longer-term resources and advocacy programs related to increasing the use of free software and expanding and advancing the free software movement. The program manager plays a key role in external communications, fundraising, member engagement, and special events.

Examples of job responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Lead the planning and successful implementation of most events, such as our annual LibrePlanet conference;
  • Develop and maintain longer-term free software resources, such as the High Priority Projects list;
  • Coordinate two annual fundraising appeals, including goal setting, strategy, and working with outside contractors;
  • Implement the FSF's communications and messaging strategy, including serving as a primary point of contact with press and the external public;
  • Write and edit for FSF blogs, external periodical publications, and both digital and print resources;
  • Assist with planning and execution of issue campaigns, working in concert with the campaigns manager;
  • Occasional conference travel and speaking as an FSF representative.

Ideal candidates have at least three to five years of work experience with project management, fundraising, events management, and nonprofit program management. Proficiency, experience, and comfort with professional writing and media relationships preferred. Because the FSF works globally and seeks to have our materials distributed in as many languages as possible, multilingual candidates will have an advantage. With our small staff of fourteen, each person makes a clear contribution. We work hard, but offer a humane and fun work environment at an office located in the heart of downtown Boston. The FSF is a mature but growing organization that provides great potential for advancement; existing staff get the first chance at any new job openings.

Benefits and Salary

This job is a union position that must be worked on-site at the FSF's downtown Boston office. The salary is fixed at $61,672/year and is non-negotiable. Other benefits include:

  • Fully subsidized individual or family health coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield;
  • Partially subsidized dental plan;
  • Four weeks of paid vacation annually;
  • Seventeen paid holidays annually;
  • Weekly remote work allowance;
  • Public transit commuting cost reimbursement;
  • 403(b) program with employer match;
  • Yearly cost-of-living pay increases based on government guidelines;
  • Health care expense reimbursement;
  • Ergonomic budget;
  • Relocation (to Boston area) expense reimbursement;
  • Conference travel and professional development opportunities; and
  • Potential for an annual performance bonus.

Application Instructions

Applications must be submitted via email to hiring@fsf.org. The email must contain the subject line "Program Manager." A complete application should include:

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Two recent writing samples

All materials must be in a free format. Email submissions that do not follow these instructions will probably be overlooked. No phone calls, please.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled. To guarantee consideration, submit your application by Sunday, October 28, 2018.

The FSF is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or application for employment on the basis of race, color, marital status, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, handicap, or any other legally protected status recognized by federal, state or local law. We value diversity in our workplace.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software — particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants — and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. We are based in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at https://www.fsf.org/press.

Thoughts on Microsoft Joining OIN's Patent Non-Aggression Pact

Folks lauded today that Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN)'s limited patent non-aggression pact, suggesting that perhaps it will bring peace in our time regarding Microsoft's historical patent aggression. While today's announcement is a step forward, we call on Microsoft to make this just the beginning of their efforts to stop their patent aggression efforts against the software freedom community.

Digital-O-Mat: Wat vinden de partijen in Hessen van Vrije Software?

Digital-O-Mat: Wat vinden de partijen in Hessen van Vrije Software?

De Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) heeft voorafgaand aan de komende verkiezing voor de Landdag in Hessen met behulp van een "Digital-O-Mat" de posities van de partijen ten aanzien van Vrije Software onder de loep genomen. Opvallend zijn met name de zwaarwegende verschillen tussen de huidige coalitiepartners. Terwijl de CDU zich voor de status quo uitspreekt presenteert Bündnis 90/Die Grünen zich als ondersteuner van Vrije Software en spreekt zich expliciet uit voor het door de FSFE gepropageerde grondbeginsel "Publiek Geld, Publieke Code!" van de gelijknamige campagne uit.

Samen met de Koalition Freies Wissen heeft de FSFE een "Digital-O-Mat" georganiseerd: een online gereedschap voor het informeren van kiezers over de verkiezing van de Hessische Landdag 2018. De verkiesbare partijen moeten daarin stelling nemen ten aanzien van de inzet van Vrije Software en van de publicatie van met belastinggeld gefinancierde software onder vrije licenties.

Naast de genoemde Bündnis 90/Die Grünen verheugt ook Die Linke zich in een stapsgewijze verandering van de IT richting Vrije en Open Source Software in het bondsland Hessen, alsmede op een wettelijke richtijn om alle door het bondsland gefinancierde of mede-gefinancierde software-ontwikkelingen onder vrije licenties te publiceren.

Ook de sociaal-democraten spreken zich in principe uit voor meer gebruik van Vrije Software en in het bijzonder bij het beheer en publieke beeldschermwerkplekken. Dit zonder daarbij passende wettelijke grondslag te eisen. Daarentegen blijft het onduidelijk wat de positie van de FDP is, die zich welliswaar inzet voor een digitalisering van bestuursprocessen maar zich niet eenduidig uitspreekt over de inzet van Vrije Software.

Weinig overtuigend is de positie van de AfD, die zich in bochten wringt om zich achter de inzet van Vrije Software te stellen maar deze tegelijk fundamenteel bekritiseert en daarmee deels terugvalt tot achter de conservatieve positie van de CDU.

Samenvatting

Vooruitblikkend op de komende landdagverkiezing kan men ervan uitgaan dat er in de komende coalitie tenminste een partij zich sterker voor Vrije Software zal inzetten. Wij verwachten daarom in een nieuw coalitieverdrag tenminste een duidelijke verklaring voor een grotere inzet van Vrije Software om innovatie te eisen, grondrechten te versterken en belastinggeld zinvol te besteden.

Meer over de actuele campagne "Publiek Geld? Publieke Code!", die door meer dan 150 organisaties, waaronder de gemeente Barcelona, en meer dan 18.000 individuen ondersteund wordt, vindt u op https://publiccode.eu/nl/.

De Digital-O-Mat is er ook voor de landdagverkiezing 2018 in Beieren.

Wat is de Digital-O-Mat?

De Digital-O-Mat maakt partijstandpunten over netpolitiek relevante thema's zichtbaar en maakt het kiezers gemakkelijker om op basis hiervan een passende partij voor de landdagverkiezing in Hessen te vinden. Ze is gebouwd op basis van de bekende Wahl-O-Mat. Gebruikers van de Digital-O-Mat kunnen in totaal veertien vragen beantwoorden en daarna hun eigen standpunt met die van de deelnemende partijen vergelijken. De thema's van de Digital-O-Mat zijn onder andere transparantie, surveillance, digitale burgerrechten en natuurlijk Vrije Software. AfD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, CDU, FDP, Die Linke en de SPD zijn ondervraagd. De Digital-O-Mat is Vrije Software.

Over de Koalition Freies Wissen

De Koalition Freies Wissen ("Coalitie Vrij Weten", vert.) is een vereniging van meerdere burgerorganisaties, namelijk Bündnis Freie Bildung, de Chaos Computer Club e.V., de Digitale Gesellschaft e.V., Förderverein freie Netzwerke e.V., de Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V., Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. en de Free Software Foundation Europe.

Het gemeenschappelijke doel van de Koalition Freies Wissen is de politieke educatie op het gebied van digitale- en netpolitiek te bespoedigen en om digitale burgerrechten in de samenleving en in de politiek een basis te geven en uit te lichten.

Support FSFE, join the Fellowship
Make a one time donation

Conservancy Visiting the US South — Twice in October!

Join Conservancy staff and supporters at All Things Open in Raleigh, NC and at LISA in Nashville, TN later this month.

John Sullivan - "How can free communication tools win?" (freenode #live, Bristol, UK)

FSF executive director John Sullivan will be speaking at freenode #live (2018-11-03–4).

The free software movement aims to have all software be free “as in freedom.” But communication tools are especially important, because they are fundamental to the movement’s infrastructure, and its self image. We are supposed to be the experts in distributed, online collaboration. Communication and collaboration tools are also where we have had some of our greatest disappointments and challenges in recent years – consider the popularity and subsequent network effects of tools like Skype, Slack, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Can free tools – IRC, XMPP, GNU Ring, WebRTC, and others – overcome or even just compete with the network effect of the proprietary platforms? If so, how? What’s the current state of affairs and what should we be focusing on?

Location: We The Curious (formerly At-Bristol Science Centre) , Bristol, UK

We hope you can attend the speech, or meet John at the conference, or visit us at the FSF booth.

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Bristol.

Molly de Blanc - "Insecure Connections: Love and mental health in our digital lives" (SeaGL, Seattle, WA)

FSF campaigns manager Molly de Blanc will be speaking at SeaGL (2018-11-09–10).

The lens through which we view--and know--what it means to love, to be ourselves, and to connect with others is now backed by microchips and millions of lines of code. As our lives continue to become increasingly managed by our devices, we need to ask ourselves what we're gaining--and what we're giving up--by allowing technology into the spaces that make our hearts ache and that keep us up at night.

This talk will weave together two narratives essential to many people: health and love. It will examine the ways in which both of these topics have become entwined with computing, what that means for us as individuals, and what that means for our individual and societal user freedoms.

Location: Theatre, Seattle Central College, Seattle, WA

We hope you can attend the speech, or meet Molly at the conference, or visit us at the FSF booth.

Please fill out our contact form, so that we can contact you about future events in and around Seattle.