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April 19, 2014

Faster DHCP, network-test and APG.

Hi all, This would be about few things I have been wanting to document about my debian configuration for sometime now. Let me start by quoting Enrico Zini’s quote (a free software Developer and a DD) :- I refuse to be bound by software I cannot trust and negotiate with. – Enrico Zini Years before […]

April 18, 2014

Congratulations Ubuntu, for the wide choice!

Inspired by Yngve Svendsen’s post, I too think it makes absolute sense to congratulate Ubuntu on the 14.04 LTS release (some server notes - MySQL has a section dedicated to it). Ubuntu users have a lot of server choice today (that’s from all major MySQL ecosystem vendors):

  • MySQL 5.5.35 ships in main. It is the default MySQL. Oracle has committed to providing updates to 5.5 throughout the LTS release cycle of Ubuntu (which is longer than the planned EOL for 5.5). This is why the grant of a Micro Release Exception (MRE).
  • MySQL 5.6.16 ships in universe
  • MariaDB 5.5.36 ships in universe.
  • Percona XtraDB Cluster 5.5.34 ships in universe

Ubuntu’s pitch is being the cloud platform of choice, with OpenStack support. This explains why Percona XtraDB Cluster (the only shipping Galera Cluster variant — no upstream Codership release, and no MariaDB Galera Cluster) is critical infrastructure as its used widely in OpenStack deployments. 451Research estimates that the OpenStack distributions market is worth $82 million in 2014 and $119 million in 2015.

Press release had a choice quote from Percona CEO, Peter Zaitsev:

“We are very pleased that Percona XtraDB Cluster is included in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. Many organisations that use MySQL need high availability solutions to ensure that their applications meet the expectations of their users. Percona XtraDB Cluster is an easy to use, open source solution for MySQL clustering which addresses these high availability needs. We continue to see growth in Ubuntu usage by our customers and our open source software users so we are confident that the inclusion of Percona XtraDB Cluster in Ubuntu 14.04 will help spread the adoption of cost-effective, high availability MySQL.” Peter Zaitsev, Co-Founder and CEO at Percona


Related posts:

  1. Ubuntu 10.04 LTS released, MariaDB 5.1.44/5.2-BETA VM’s available
  2. OpenSUSE users have a choice of database now!
  3. Communications, Ubuntu 6.06 LTS & MySQL downloads

April 17, 2014

SSL and MariaDB/MySQL

With the recent Heartbleed bug, people are clearly more interested in their MariaDB/MySQL running with SSL and if they have problems. First up, you should read the advisory notes: MariaDB, Percona Server (blog), and MySQL (blog).

Next, when you install MariaDB (or a variant) you are usually dynamically linked to the OpenSSL library that the system provides. Typically on startup of MariaDB 10.0.10 on CentOS 6.5 (packages from the MariaDB repository), you can check what your status of SSL is.

MariaDB [(none)]> show variables like 'have_ssl';
| Variable_name | Value    |
| have_ssl      | DISABLED |
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

This means that SSL options are compiled, but mysqld didn’t start with it. You can verify SSL is linked dynamically:

ldd `which mysqld` | grep ssl
	libssl.so.10 => /usr/lib64/libssl.so.10 (0x00007ff82d1b1000)

If you are running with SSL enabled (some documentation at MySQL) you will have different options naturally. You can do this via: /etc/init.d/mysql start --ssl. Output now changes:

MariaDB [(none)]> show variables like 'have_ssl';
| Variable_name | Value |
| have_ssl      | YES   |
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

The value NO will be displayed if the server is not compiled with SSL support. See SSL Server System Variables for more.

Related posts:

  1. MySQL 5.6 system variables in the MariaDB 10 server
  2. Using MariaDB on CentOS 6
  3. MariaDB 10.0.5 storage engines – check the Linux packages

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

Today is a big day for Ubuntu and a big day for cloud computing: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS is released. Everyone involved with Ubuntu can’t help but be impressed and stirred about the significance of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

We are impressed because Ubuntu is gaining extensive traction outside of the tech luminaries such as Netflix, Snapchat and wider DevOP community; it is being adopted by mainstream enterprises such as BestBuy. Ubuntu is dominant in public cloud with typically 60% market share of Linux workloads in the major cloud providers such as Amazon, Azure and Joyent. Ubuntu Server also is the fastest growing platform for scale out web computing having overtaken CentOS some six months ago. So Ubuntu server is growing up and we are proud of what it has become. We are stirred up by how the adoption of Ubuntu, coupled with the adoption of cloud and scale out computing is set grow enormously as it fast becomes an ‘enterprise’ technology.

Recently 70% of CIOs stated that they are going to change their technology and sourcing relationships within the next two or three years. This is in large part due to their planned transition to cloud, be it on premise using technologies such as Ubuntu OpenStack, in a public cloud or, most commonly, using combinations of both. Since the beginning of Ubuntu Server we have been preparing for this time, the time when a wholesale technology infrastructure change occurs and Ubuntu 14.04 arrives just as the change is starting to accelerate beyond the early adopters and technology companies. Enterprises now moving parts of their infrastructure to cloud can choose the technology best suited for the job: Ubuntu 14.04 LTS:

Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS at a glance

  • Based on version 3.13 of the Linux kernel

  • Includes the Icehouse release of OpenStack

  • Both Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS and OpenStack are supported until April 2019

  • Includes MAAS for automated hardware provisioning

  • Includes Juju for fast service deployment of 100+ common scale out applications such as MongoDB, Hadoop, node.js, Cloudfoundry, LAMP stack and Elastic Search

  • Ceph Firefly support

  • Openvswitch  2.0.x

  • Docker included & Docker’s own repository now populated with official     Ubuntu 14.04 images

  • Optimised Ubuntu 14.04 images certified for use on all leading public cloud     platforms – Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Joyent Cloud, HP Cloud, Rackspace Cloud, CloudSigma and many others.

  • Runs on key hardware architectures: x86, x64,  Avoton, ARM64, POWER Systems

  • 50+ systems certified at launch from leading hardware vendors such as HP, Dell, IBM, Cisco and SeaMicro.

The advent of OpenStack, the switch to scale out computing and the move towards public cloud providers presents a perfect storm out of which Ubuntu is set to emerge the technology used ubiquitously for the next decade. That is why we are impressed and stirred by Ubuntu 14.04. We hope you are too. Download 14.04 LTS here

The New Linode Cloud: SSDs, Double RAM & much more

Over the last year, and very feverishly over the past five months, we’ve been working on a really big project: a revamp of the Linode plans and our hardware and network – something we have a long history of doing over our past 11 years. But this time it’s like no other. These upgrades represent a $45MM investment, a huge amount of R&D, and some exciting changes.


Linodes are now SSD. This is not a hybrid solution – it’s fully native SSD servers using battery-backed hardware RAID. No spinning rust! And, no consumer SSDs either – we’re using only reliable, insanely fast, datacenter-grade SSDs that won’t slow down over time. These suckers are not cheap.

40 Gbps Network

Each and every Linode host server is now connected via 40 Gbps of redundant connectivity into our core network, which itself now has an aggregate bandwidth of 160 Gbps. Linodes themselves can receive up to 40 Gbps of inbound bandwidth, and our plans now go up to 10 Gbps outbound bandwidth.


Linodes will now receive Intel’s latest high-end Ivy Bridge E5-2680.v2 full-power server-grade processors.

New Plans

We’ve doubled the RAM on all Linode plans! We’ve also aligned compute and outbound bandwidth with the cost of each plan.

In other words, the number of vCPUs you get increases as you go through the plans. And on the networking side, Linodes are now on a 40 Gbit link, with outbound bandwidth that also increases through the plans. Inbound traffic is still free and restricted only by link speed (40 Gbps).

Plan RAM SSD CPU XFER Outbound
Linode 2G 48 GB 2 cores 3 TB 250 Mbps $0.03/hr | $20/mo
Linode 4G 96 GB 4 cores 4 TB 500 Mbps $0.06/hr | $40/mo
Linode 8G 192 GB 6 cores 8 TB 1 Gbps $0.12/hr | $80/mo
Linode 16G 384 GB 8 cores 16 TB 2 Gbps $0.24/hr | $160/mo
Linode 32G 768 GB 12 cores 20 TB 4 Gbps $0.48/hr | $320/mo
Linode 48G 1152 GB 16 cores 20 TB 8 Gbps $0.72/hr | $480/mo
Linode 64G 1536 GB 20 cores 20 TB 10 Gbps $0.96/hr | $640/mo
Linode 96G 1920 GB 20 cores 20 TB 10 Gbps $1.44/hr | $960/mo

And in case you missed it, we announced hourly billing recently, too.


All new Linodes will be created exclusively on the new Linode Cloud, using the new plan specs and on the new hardware and network.

Likewise, existing Linodes can upgrade free of charge via the “Pending Upgrades” link on your Linode’s Dashboard (bottom right), however there are some temporary availability delays while we work through getting hundreds of more machines in the pipeline:

New Linodes Upgrade Existing 64-bit Upgrade Existing 32-bit
Fremont, CA Yes Yes ETA 2 months
Dallas, TX Yes Yes ETA 2 months
Atlanta, GA Yes Yes ETA 2 months
Newark, NJ Yes Yes ETA 2 months
Tokyo, JP Yes ETA 3 weeks ETA 2 months
London, UK Yes Yes ETA 2 months

Linodes that have configuration profiles that reference 32-bit kernels will need to wait while we ramp up 32-bit compatible availability. If you don’t want to wait, you can check out our switching kernels guide, or redeploy using a 64-bit distribution.

Also, new Linodes created on the new Linode cloud can only deploy 64-bit distributions, of which we support all popular versions. If you have a special need for legacy bitness, please open a support ticket and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.


Linode = SSDs + Insane network + Faster processors + Double the RAM + Hourly Billing

In conclusion………


This is the largest single investment we’ve made in the company in our almost eleven year history. We think these improvements represent the highest quality cloud hosting available, and we’re excited to offer them to you. We have always been committed to providing upgrades for our customers and are excited about continuing our focus on simplicity, performance, and support.

Thank you for your continued loyalty and for choosing us as your cloud hosting provider.


January-March, 2014 Status Report

The January-March, 2014 Status Report is now available with 41 entries.

April 15, 2014

Google Summer of Code 10th year celebration in Singapore

During our whirlwind tour of SE Asia, the Google Open Source Programs team made a stop in Singapore to hold an event celebrating the 10th year of Google Summer of Code at the local Google office. Guest writer and GSoC enthusiast Ellen Wang shares her experience of the event below.

On February 25, the Google Open Source Programs team held a 10 year celebration for the Google Summer of Code (GSoC) program at the Google office in Singapore. I was proud to attend the event as a GSoC enthusiast and second year CS student at the National University of Singapore and also very eager to learn more about how the program works. It was so exciting that a team from Google flew all the way from San Francisco to visit us.

GSoC, a program that continuously attracts new blood into the open source world, is celebrating its 10th instance this year. Following on the success of the GSoC program for university students, Google started Google Code-in (GCI), a contest for pre-university students (e.g., high school and secondary school students ages 13-17) with the goal of encouraging young people to participate in open source.
singapore 10things.jpg
On the day of the event, over 60 people attended the event including past GSoC students and mentors, professors from National University of Singapore and prospective students.  After a warm welcome to all the invitees, two Googlers from the Open Source team, Stephanie Taylor and Cat Allman, talked about the steps involved in applying to this year’s program. Specifically, they talked about the  “10 things” GSoC initiative and described how the program will be enhanced to celebrate a decade of GSoC. One of these enhancements includes a 10% raise in the student stipend to 5500 USD. Stephanie then spoke about GCI and encouraged the audience to help get younger students involved.

Dr. Damith C. Rajapakse, a professor from the School of Computing at National University of Singapore, then gave a speech on his TEAMMATES project which was accepted as a mentoring organization in the 2014 instance of GSoC. National University of Singapore was also recognized for having the 3rd most students from a university participate in this program over the last nine years.

The event then featured local Singapore mentors and past GSoC students who gave talks on their projects, shared their personal experiences, and gave constructive ideas on how to develop a great proposal. This was perfect timing for someone like me, as the application period for students opened just a couple of weeks after the event.

The evening concluded with a networking session for students to talk with mentors, former GSoC students and the visiting Googlers. Guests were also treated to an abundance of  well-prepared food and refreshments. The attendees enjoyed the event very much — it was very successful in raising the awareness of GSoC and open source development. It was a huge help for me as well! I applied to GSoC 2014 (students will be announced on April 21) and I hope to start regularly contributing to open source development. Many thanks to the Google team!

By Ellen Wang Zi, Computer Science Student, National University of Singapore

April 11, 2014

MediaGoblin: our summer of awesome

Our final in a series of wrap-up posts from Google Summer of Code 2013 comes from Christopher Webber at MediaGoblin, a free software media publishing platform. MediaGoblin also took part in the Outreach Program for Women, a program inspired by GSoC to help get more women involved in free and open source software. Students from both programs are highlighted below.
MediaGoblin had a really great summer. We were lucky to participate in both Google Summer of Code (GSoC) and the Outreach Program for Women. Read more about the great work accomplished last summer below:

Google Summer of Code Students:
  • Aditi Mittal’s blogging media type works, and we are polishing it up before we get it merged into master. Several exciting things came out of her work, including efforts to generalize media types as plugins (which they now are!). We use this new plugin infrastructure with the blogging media type, which now has its own panel and view.
  • Praveen Kumar got his search plugin up and running using Whoosh; efforts are now being made to merge and polish up with the present codebase.
  • Rodney Ewing went above and beyond all expectations for the summer. Not only did he finish “pluginifying” authentication (adding multiple plugins including LDAP, OpenID and Persona), he helped immensely with code review and many other projects, including most of the work on the “pluginification” of media types.
Outreach Program for Women projects:
  • Emily O’Leary worked on various testing tasks: improving the speed of unit tests (merged), working on a Jenkins testing setup set up for MediaGoblin, and getting a functional testing setup with Selenium. In the process, we also discovered some issues about how hard it is to get functional testing working nicely with MediaGoblin; many lessons learned), as well as the bonus task of ticket triage!
  • Jessica Tallon worked on federation support in MediaGoblin via the Pump API. Jessica wrote a wrapup post which can give you some sense of things, but things have continued even after that blogpost was originally written. PyPump has been rewritten and works really well, can do all sorts of new things. Updating MediaGoblin to include the appropriate endpoints for the Pump API is currently in progress; there is much work still to be done, but an image has been successfully submitted to MediaGoblin via PyPump.
  • Natalie Foust-Pilcher’s administrative interface work is now in place and pending review. The new admin interface includes new features such as the ability to set the terms of service / code of conduct for a site, the ability to submit reports on problematic users, and the ability to review and take actions on said reports. Additionally, some work has been done under the hood, including a nice new, "foundations," framework for adding default values into the database, and a new permissions/privileges system. All this thanks to Natalie’s work.
Overall it was a great summer. Thanks to the hard work of all our students we are much, much closer to MediaGoblin 1.0 than I would have dreamed. The only "downside" is that I now have a large pile of code to review and get cleanly merged with mainline MediaGoblin. Talk about problems you can’t complain about.

Thanks to all our students mentioned above… you all rock! And thanks also to our mentors: Sebastian Spaeth, Joar Wandborg, Aeva Palecek, and Aaron Williamson (well, and myself). Without you all this summer would not have been possible. And now, onward to use all this summer of awesomeness to make MediaGoblin the best media publishing software ever.

By Christopher Allan Webber, MediaGoblin Lead Developer

FreeBSD Foundation Spring Fundraising Campaign!

We're kicking off our Spring Fundraising Campaign! Our goal this year is to raise $1,000,000 with a spending budget of $900,000.

As we embark on our 15th year of serving the FreeBSD Project and community, we are proud of how we've helped FreeBSD become the most innovative, realiable, and high-performance operating system. We are doing this by:
  • funding development projects,
  • having an internal technical staff available to work on small and large projects, fixing problems, and areas of system administration and release engineering,
  • providing legal support,
  • funding conferences and summits that allow face-to-face interaction and collaboration between FreeBSD contributors, users, and advocates,
  • and advocating for and educating people about FreeBSD by providing high-quality brochures, white papers, and the FreeBSD Journal.

We can't do this without you! You can help by making a donation today.

Help spread the word by posting on FaceBook, Twitter, your blogs, and asking your company to help. Did you know there are thousands of companies that wil match their employee's donations? Check with your company to see if you can automatically double your donation by having your company match your donation.

Thanks for your support!

April 10, 2014

FreeBSD Journal Issue #2 is Now Available!

The FreeBSD Journal Issue #2 is now available! You can get it on Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon. In this issue you will find captivating articles on pkg(8), Poudriere, PBI Format, plus great pieces on hwpmc(4) and Journaled Soft-updates. If you haven't already subscribed, now is the time!

The positive feedback from both the FreeBSD and outside communities has been incredible. In less than two months, we have signed up over 1,000 subscribers. This shows the hunger the FreeBSD community has had for a FreeBSD focused publication. We are also working on a dynamic version of the magazine that can be read in many web browsers, including those that run on FreeBSD.

The Journal is guided by a dedicated and enthusiastic editorial board made up of people from across the FreeBSD community. The editorial board is responsible for the acquisition and vetting of content for the magazine.

You can find out more information about the Journal by going to https://www.freebsdfoundation.org/journal. Or, subscribe now by going to the following links for the device you'd like to download to:



Google Button

Your subscriptions and the advertising revenue the Journal receives will help offset the costs of publishing this magazine. So, consider signing up for a subscription today! 

We know you are going to like what you see in the Journal! Please help us spread the word by tweeting, blogging, and posting on your FaceBook page. You can also help by asking your company to put an ad in the Journal. For advertising information contact  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

And, don't forget you can support the Journal and FreeBSD by making a donation today!

April 09, 2014

Introducing Hourly Billing

hourly-cloudIntroducing hourly billing. Now you can enjoy Linode services billed in hour increments, add services to your account without needing to pre-pay, and be invoiced at the end of each month only for the hours you used.

We’ve made this as simple as possible: resources are still bundled together so it’s clear what you’re getting, and there is a monthly cap on the hourly services which keeps things predictable.

Compute, persistent storage, and network transfer are bundled into a flat rate. While many cloud providers have complicated and unpredictable billing where you pay separately for instance time, storage, network transfer, IP addresses, each keystroke, etc – we kept pricing simple by integrating everything into one price. No calculator required.

Our monthly caps keeps your bill predictable. For example, the base Linode plan is $0.03/hour with a monthly cap of $20/month. Keeping a Linode only for a few hours means you only pay the hourly rate. But, you’ll never pay more than the monthly cap for a Linode, despite months having a different number of hours in them. We’ve priced our hourly rates so even in the shortest month the monthly cap is achieved. Easy and predictable. It’s the best of both worlds.

New customers will default to hourly billing. Existing customers can convert from the Account tab. Note that annual discounts are not available under hourly billing.

Full pricing is listed on the home page. You can read more about how this works in our billing guide.

We really hope this change is simpler and more convenient for everyone. Enjoy!

Hobart April Talk: The open-source graphics train wreck

Welcome to April already! Last month's talk on OpenDCP had a great reception, and I hope you're all not too busy getting new keys after that OpenSSL Heatbleed vulnerability.

NOTE: for this month only, TasLUG in will be meeting in the downstairs room at SoHo rather than upstairs.

When: Thursday, April 17th, 18:00 for an 18:30 start
Where: DOWNSTAIRS, Hotel Soho, 124 Davey St, Hobart. (Map)


  • 18:00 - early mingle, chin wagging, etc
  • 18:30 - Question and answer session, News of Note.

  • 19:00 - Mathew Oakes - The open-source graphics train wreck

    train wreck
    a chaotic or disastrous situation that holds a peculiar fascination for observers.
    "his train wreck of a private life guaranteed front-page treatment"

  • 20:00 - Meeting end. Dinner and drinks are available at the venue during the meeting.

We will probably get to a discussion on the Hobart LCA 2017 bid, ideas for upcoming Software Freedom Day in September, the Statewide meetup, Committee nomination and voting, so our pre-talk discussion should be packed full of jam.
Note for May: There will be no Hobart meeting next month in May - instead we should all be heading to our statewide meetup at Ross! If you need a lift, contact one of us on the mailing list or IRC so many of us can get along and bring your open source stuff to show off!

Also in April:
26th - Launceston meeting
24th - Statewide Meet-up - Ross Town Hall
19th - Hobart: No talk scheduled, idea being thrown about to make it an OpenStack short talk night.
11-13th - Gov Hack 2014 - There's at least a Hobart venue for this event.
20th - Software Freedom Day - events in Hobart and Launceston

April 08, 2014

Free Software Foundation statement on Heartbleed vulnerability

Today, news broke of a major security vulnerability in OpenSSL. The bug, which is being referred to as "heartbleed", allows unauthorized access to information protected, under normal conditions, by the SSL/TLS encryption used to secure much of the Internet. In response to the news, Free Software Foundation executive director John Sullivan made the following statement:

April 07, 2014

New committer: Johannes Jost Meixner (ports)

April 06, 2014

Books and Music in 2013

Another year gone. Just like in years before, here's a recommendation of music and books, from what has been released during the year (in the case of music), and what I've read in 2013 (for books). Note that there are other, great 2013 music releases, that I only got my hands on in 2014, and those aren't on this list. Without further ado:


* Neal Stephenson - The Mongoliad (Books 2 and 3)
* Iain M. Banks - The Hydrogen Sonata
* Cory Doctorow's fiction - The Rapture of Nerds and Pirate Cinema
* Music - Looking For Europe
* Tech - Videojogos em Portugal


* Kokori - Release Candid Hate (Vinyl)
* Gvar - Vraii (Cass)
* Charanga - Borda Tu! (CD)
* Dismal - Giostra Di Vapori (CD)
* Mindless Self Indulgence - How I Learned To Stop Giving A Shit And Love Mindless Self Indulgence (CD)

April 03, 2014

FSFE Newsletter - April 2014

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

Support FSFE, join the Fellowship
Make a one time donation

April 02, 2014

Shutting down Ubuntu One file services

Today we are announcing plans to shut down the Ubuntu One file services.  This is a tough decision, particularly when our users rely so heavily on the functionality that Ubuntu One provides.  However, like any company, we want to focus our efforts on our most important strategic initiatives and ensure we are not spread too thin.

Our strategic priority for Ubuntu is making the best converged operating system for phones, tablets, desktops and more. In fact, our user experience, developer tools for apps and scopes, and commercial relationships have been constructed specifically to highlight third party content and services (as opposed to our own); this is one of our many differentiators from our competitors.  Additionally, the free storage wars aren’t a sustainable place for us to be, particularly with other services now regularly offering 25GB-50GB free storage.  If we offer a service, we want it to compete on a global scale, and for Ubuntu One to continue to do that would require more investment than we are willing to make. We choose instead to invest in making the absolute best, open platform  and to highlight the best of our partners’ services and content.

As of today, it will no longer be possible to purchase storage or music from the Ubuntu One store. The Ubuntu One file services will not be included in the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 LTS release, and the Ubuntu One apps in older versions of Ubuntu and in the Ubuntu, Google, and Apple stores will be updated appropriately. The current services will be unavailable from 1 June 2014; user content will remain available for download until 31 July, at which time it will be deleted.

We will work to ensure that customers have an easy path to download all their content from Ubuntu One to migrate to other personal cloud services.  Additionally, we continue to believe in the Ubuntu One file services, the quality of the code, and the user experience, so will release the code as open source software to give others an opportunity to build on this code to create an open source file syncing platform.

Customers who have an active annual subscription will have their unused fees refunded. We will calculate the refund amount from today’s announcement, even though the service will remain available until 1 June and data available for a further two months.

We will contact customers separately with additional information about what to expect.  We will also publish further blog posts with advice on how to download content and with details on the open sourcing of the code.

The shutdown will not affect the Ubuntu One single sign on service, the Ubuntu One payment service, or the backend U1DB database service.

We’ve always been inspired by the support, feedback and enthusiasm of our users and want to thank you for the support you’ve shown for Ubuntu One. We hope that you’ll continue to support us as together we bring a revolutionary experience to new devices.


April 01, 2014

Debian jessie, Raspberry Pi, Arduino day

Hi all, This would be a longish post on the various goings-on in the community of free software. First up, apologies for not being as active as I wanted to be. There has been lot of things which have been happening and I’ve not been able to share partly due to the laziness on my […]

March 31, 2014

Pink Arabesque

PA_finished93.5″ x 95″. Cotton fabric, soy/cotton blend batting, polyester thread. Designed by me, stitchcoded by Theo, stitched on Behemoth the Quilt Plotter, reverse appliqued and bound by me. The process:

1. Draw vector design in Macromedia Flash 8.

1. Draw vector design in Macromedia Flash 8.

2. Load onto Quilt Plotter and set appropriately.

2. Load onto Quilt Plotter and set appropriately.

3. Stitch.

3. Stitch.

4. Begin snipping away top layer of fabric (because you loaded two top layers before stitching, color on the bottom and white on top)

4. Begin snipping away top layer of fabric (because you loaded two top layers before stitching, color on the bottom and white on top)

5. Keep snipping.

5. Keep snipping.

6. Snip until done.

6. Snip until done.

7. Bind on Davis Vertical Feed treadle (best binding machine evah).

7. Bind on Davis Vertical Feed treadle (best binding machine ever).

8. Include tag.

8. Include tag.

9. Place on Momz's bed.

9. Place on Momz’s bed.

10. Get approval from cat.

10. Get approval from cat.

This is an experiment/prototype. Someday we may sell these, but for now PaleGray Labs is just research & development, consulting, and commissions.


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March 30, 2014

Upcoming Greenboard deployment

fossasia-group-sOver the past few months we have been busy introducing the Greenboard project in a few places, namely at Teach for China in Shantou and at FOSSASIA in Phnom Penh to name just two places. Both have been very interested in the concept, its flexibility, past deployments and more importantly using it within their environment.

greenboard-teamWe are now working on refurbishing a classroom of sixty computers in a school not too far from Shantou, classroom which was installed ten years ago and has never ever been used. Of course not all the machines start (in fact only 15 out of 60) but the room is properly set up and looks like a very nice place to start in the region. The people we are working with from Teach for China are very motivated as well which brings a lot to the equation.

usaidOn the Cambodian side, the discussions we had with USAID and the representative from the Ministry of Education were very positive too. We will have further discussions during April and need to start checking the translation status of all the components we use. Luckily the person in charge of packaging Greenboard happens to be Cambodian too!

All in all we are pretty excited about what’s coming ahead of us and will work hard to make it happen. Stay connected to learn more as the projects move forward!

March 29, 2014

Upcoming Greenboard deployments

Over the past few months we have been busy introducing the Greenboard project in a few places, namely at Teach for China in Shantou and at FOSSASIA in Phnom Penh to name just two places. Both have been very interested in the concept, its flexibility, past deployments and more importantly using it within their environment.

We are now working on refurbishing a classroom of sixty computers in a school not too far from Shantou, classroom which was installed ten years ago and has never ever been used. Of course not all the machines start (in fact only 15 out of 60) but the room is properly set up and looks like a very nice place to start in the region. The people we are working with from Teach for ChinaTeach for China are very motivated as well which brings a lot to the equation.

On the Cambodian side, the discussions we had with USAID and the representative from the Ministry of Education were very positive too. We will have further discussions during April and need to start checking the translation status of all the components we use. Luckily the person in charge of packaging Greenboard happens to be Cambodian too!

All in all we are pretty excited about what's coming ahead of us and will work hard to make it happen. Stay connected to learn more as the projects move forward!

March 28, 2014

Promote OpenClipart on Culture Freedom Day!

As Culture Freedom Day preparation is ongoing I got the chance to meet up with Jon Philips from the Open Clipart Library during FOSSASIA.I actually got to know Jon since about 2007 from the Beijing LUG and we have been doing quite a few things together. CFD events is of course something he definitely cares about. While at the Digital Freedom Foundation we make extensive use of all the great graphics from OpenClipart for our design needs, it is important to help others discover such a useful resource. So Jon kindly authored a video to support us and encourage participants to take a closer look at the Open Clipart Library new website design and functionalities. So without further ado I will let Jon do the presentation and thank him and the Open Clipart Library team for their support! And of course don’t forget to use and showcase the Open Clipart Library at your CFD event!

Celebrate Free Culture with us on May 17!

Promote OpenClipart on Culture Freedom Day!

As Culture Freedom Day preparation is ongoing we got the chance to meet up with Jon Philips from the Open Clipart Library, a good friend of ours and a strong supporter of our events. Jon kindly authored a video to support us and encourage participants to take a closer look at the Open Clipart Library new website design and functionalities. So without further ado we will let Jon do the presentation and thank him and the Open Clipart team for their support!

So don't forget to use and showcase the Open Clipart Library at your event!

March 27, 2014

CCC und FSFE: Bundesnetzagentur muss nachbessern

CCC und FSFE: Bundesnetzagentur muss nachbessern

Nach mehreren öffentlichen Anhörungen und politischen Debatten hat die Bundesnetzagentur Mitte Februar einen Verordnungsentwurf präsentiert, der den Routerzwang abschaffen und die Transparenz für Kunden von Telekommunikationsunternehmen verbessern soll. Der Routerzwang bindet Kunden an ein vom Provider geliefertes Gerät. Die Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE), der Chaos Computer Club (CCC), die Projektleitung von IPFire und OpenWrt sowie weitere Experten haben diese Verordnung begutachtet und eine Stellungnahme an die Bundesnetzagentur abgegeben.

Prinzipiell sind die Ideen der Bundesnetzagentur, welche für die Aufrechterhaltung und Förderung des Wettbewerbs in Netzmärkten zuständig ist, begrüßenswert. So soll der Routerzwang etwa dadurch abgeschafft werden, dass die Provider grundlegende Informationen wie technische Funktionen auf einem Produktdatenblatt sammeln und Endkunden auf Anfrage auch die Zugangsdaten erfragen können.

Es ist allerdings nicht nachvollziehbar, wieso die Bundesnetzagentur die Last weiter beim Verbraucher belassen will, die Daten erfragen zu müssen, anstatt diese auf dem geplanten Produktdatenblatt zu vermerken. Selbst die Große Koalition hat in ihrem Koalitionsvertrag schon deutlich das Gegenteil gefordert, damit Endkunden auch ohne explizite Nachfrage im Besitz der Zugangsdaten sind, um einen alternativen Router betreiben zu können.

"Wenn die Last weiterhin beim Verbraucher liegt, die Daten zu erfragen, hat die Bundesnetzagentur kaum die Möglichkeit, die Zuverlässigkeit der Provider bei der Herausgabe der Daten zu überprüfen. So könnten Verzögerungen weiterhin mit unglücklichen Einzelfällen begründet werden. Die Verbraucher hätten am Ende mehr Komplikationen als zuvor", so Matthias Kirschner, Vizepräsident der FSFE. "Daher müssen dem Kunden die Zugangsdaten zu allen verfügbaren Diensten unaufgefordert von Beginn des Vertrags an bekannt sein, wie sogar von der Regierungskoalition gefordert."

Es sind daher unmissverständlichere Formulierungen angebracht, damit keine Schlupflöcher für Provider entstehen können. Beispielsweise müssen für die volle Austauschbarkeit der Geräte auch die verwendeten Protokolle bekannt sein.

"Ohne eine Pflicht des Providers, dem Kunden die Zugangsdaten von sich aus mitzuteilen sowie Transparenz bei Diensten und Protokollen herzustellen, bleibt es faktisch beim Routerzwang. Schwammige Formulierungen und eine Pflicht zum Nachfragen würde den Kunden nur zum Bittsteller degradieren", sagt Frank Rieger, Sprecher des CCC.

Auch die Definition des Netzabschlusspunkts ist trotz einer eigens dafür anberaumten Anhörung, zu der sich unter anderem die FSFE geäußert hat, noch immer nicht geklärt.

Auch bei den Messverfahren, die Internetprovider zukünftig anbieten müssen, besteht Nachbesserungsbedarf. Nach den Plänen der Bundesnetzagentur müssen die Mechanismen und Details der Messung nur der Behörde mitgeteilt werden, nicht aber den eigenen Kunden. Dies schränkt die angestrebte Transparenz künstlich ein und macht die Verfahren nicht nachvollziehbar für Verbraucher sowie unabhängige Spezialisten.

Nur wenn die Bundesnetzagentur bei Routerzwang und Transparenz der Messverfahren nachbessert, kann die Verordnung ihren Zweck überhaupt erfüllen und erst dann sind die Forderungen im Koalitionsvertrag abgedeckt. Alles andere würde nur weitere Schlupflöcher öffnen, wodurch Kunden weiterhin drangsaliert und benachteiligt werden können.

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LulZbot HFD contest results announced!

Last Monday LulZbot announced the 3D printer winners. Instead of selecting eight they actually picked twelve out of all the submissions, from which five are out of the USA. First we would really like to thank LulZbot for the generosity and offering more printers than planned. Second while we are a bit late on the announcement, all the competition participants did receive an email early Monday morning to let them know the results, which is a very nice thing to do. Now it is just a matter of time before the winners can enjoy their new tool and take part in the other contests LulZbot runs regularly.

For the others you can either buy one now at a discounted price or wait until the next opportunity to play again. Thank you all for participating!

Hobart Submitting LCA 2017 Bid!

We're excited to tell you that fellow LUGgers Chris Neugebauer and Craige McWhirter have laid the groundwork to put in a bid to get Linux.conf.au back to Hobart for 2017!

Starting this year, Linux Australia started announcing the successful bids for future conferences on a two year cycle, so while we have plenty of time before an actual LCA would arrive in Hobart, we need to get our bid in now!

The intention to bid was announced on the Linux Australia mailing list here.

If you would like to help out by volunteering to be part of the bid team, and later to help bring about a successful conference, please get in contact with Chris - you will find his email in the above annoucement link, drop a note on the TasLUG mailing list or drop by our IRC channel #taslug on FreeNode.

March 25, 2014

Comic and quotes: why you should use Open Standards

In a few hours Document Freedom Day will start with the event in Tokyo organised by the Japanese LibreOffice team. During the whole day, people around the world will explain why Open Standards matters. This year we can provide you a comic to make the topic a bit more catchy:

Comic about why to use Open Standards Next Time Choose Open Standards
Jamie Casley CC BY-SA

March 22, 2014

Matthew Garrett, GNOME Foundation's Outreach Program for Women are Free Software Award winners

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA — Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 — Free Software Foundation president Richard M. Stallman announced the winners of the FSF's annual Free Software Awards at a ceremony on Saturday, March 22nd, held during the LibrePlanet 2014 conference at MIT, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Two awards were given: the Award for the Advancement of Free Software, and the Award for Projects of Social Benefit.

March 21, 2014

Anyone want to buy my almost-new 16″ quilting machine?


Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen (I didn’t name it! I’d paint over the name but it would reduce resale value) sit-down long arm quilting machine. Less than one year old, only 134,228 stitches total.

handi quilter sweet sixteen quilting machine

Includes table, two table extensions, smooth table overlay, open-toe hopping foot (in addition to closed-toe foot it came with), extra needles, bobbins, tools, supplies, manual, documentation, etc.
Purchased May 8 2013 via Lori’s Pins ‘n’ Needles, Paris IL

Selling because I bought a full-frame computer-guided system, and now do any hand-guided work on treadles. It’s a great machine, practically brand new, and just gathering dust in my studio.

Pickup only in downtown Urbana IL. I’m happy to give instruction and let you “test drive” it before buying.

What I paid:
Machine package: $4965.94
2 18″ x 30″ table extensions: $478 ($239.00 each)
Table overlay: $89.95
Open toe hopping foot: $39.90
= $5,573 total

Selling for $4,500 without the separate bobbin winder, or $4,800 with.


As seen on Craigslist!


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March 17, 2014

ACPI, firmware and your security

ACPI comes from an era when the operating system was proprietary and couldn’t be changed by the hardware manufacturer.

We don’t live in that era any more.

However, we DO live in an era where any firmware code running on your phone, tablet, PC, TV, wifi router, washing machine, server, or the server running the cloud your SAAS app is running on, is a threat vector against you.

If you read the catalogue of spy tools and digital weaponry provided to us by Edward Snowden, you’ll see that firmware on your device is the NSA’s best friend. Your biggest mistake might be to assume that the NSA is the only institution abusing this position of trust – in fact, it’s reasonable to assume that all firmware is a cesspool of insecurity courtesy of incompetence of the worst degree from manufacturers, and competence of the highest degree from a very wide range of such agencies.

In ye olden days, a manufacturer would ship Windows, which could not be changed, and they wanted to innovate on the motherboard, so they used firmware to present a standard interface for things like power management to a platform that could not modified to accommodate their innovation.

Today, that same manufacturer can innovate on the hardware and publish a patch for Linux to express that innovation – and Linux is almost certainly the platform that matters. If Windows enters this market then the Windows driver model can evolve to give manufacturers this same ability to innovate in the Windows world, where proprietary unverifiable blobs are the norm.

Arguing for ACPI on your next-generation device is arguing for a trojan horse of monumental proportions to be installed in your living room and in your data centre. I’ve been to Troy, there is not much left.

We’ve spent a good deal of time working towards a world where you can inspect the code that is running on any device you run. In Ubuntu we work hard to make sure that any issues in that code can be fixed and delivered right away to millions of users. Bruce Schneier wisely calls security a process, not a product. But the processes for finding and fixing problems in firmware are non-existent and not improving.

I would very much like to be part of FIXING the security problem we engineers have created in our rush to ship products in the olden days. I’m totally committed to that.

So from my perspective:

  • Upstream kernel is the place to deliver the software portion of the innovation you’re selling. We have great processes now to deliver that innovation to users, and the same processes help us improve security and efficiency too.
  • Declarative firmware that describes hardware linkages and dependencies but doesn’t include executable code is the best chance we have of real bottom-up security. The Linux device tree is a very good starting point. We have work to do to improve it, and we need to recognise the importance of being able to fix declarations over the life of a product, but we must not introduce blobs in order to short cut that process.

Let’s do this right. Each generation gets its turn to define the platforms it wants to pass on – let’s pass on something we can be proud of.

Our mission in Ubuntu is to give the world’s people a free platform they can trust.  I suspect a lot of the Linux community is motivated by the same goal regardless of their distro. That also means finding ways to ensure that those trustworthy platforms can’t be compromised elsewhere. We can help vendors innovate AND ensure that users have a fighting chance of privacy and security in this brave new world. But we can’t do that if we cling to the tools of the past. Don’t cave in to expediency. Design a better future, it really can be much healthier than the present if we care and act accordingly.


March 08, 2014

The very best edge of all

Check out “loving the bottom edge” for the most important bit of design guidance for your Ubuntu mobile app.

This work has been a LOT of fun. It started when we were trying to find the zen of each edge of the screen, a long time back. We quickly figured out that the bottom edge is by far the most fun, by far the most accessible. You can always get to it easily, it feels great. I suspect that’s why Apple has used the bottom edge for their quick control access on IOS.


We started in the same place as Apple, thinking that the bottom edge was so nice we wanted it for ourselves, in the system. But as we discussed it, we started to think that the app developer was the one who deserved to do something really distinctive in their app with it instead. It’s always tempting to grab the tastiest bit for oneself, but the mark of civility is restraint in the use of power and this felt like an appropriate time to exercise that restraint.

Importantly you can use it equally well if we split the screen into left and right stages. That made it a really important edge for us because it meant it could be used equally well on the Ubuntu phone, with a single app visible on the screen, and on the Ubuntu tablet, where we have the side stage as a uniquely cool way to put phone apps on tablet screens alongside a bigger, tablet app.

The net result is that you, the developer, and you, the user, have complete creative freedom with that bottom edge. There are of course ways to judge how well you’ve exercised that freedom, and the design guidance tries to leave you all the freedom in the world while still providing a framework for evaluating how good the result will feel to your users. If you want, there are some archetypes and patterns to choose from, but what I’d really like to see is NEW patterns and archetypes coming from diverse designs in the app developer community.

Here’s the key thing – that bottom edge is the one thing you are guaranteed to want to do more innovatively on Ubuntu than on any other mobile platform. So if you are creating a portable app, targeting a few different environments, that’s the thing to take extra time over for your Ubuntu version. That’s the place to brainstorm, try out ideas on your friends, make a few mockups. It’s the place you really express the single most important aspects of your application, because it’s the fastest, grooviest gesture in the book, and it’s all yours on Ubuntu.

Have fun!

February 28, 2014

Why Open Standards aren’t enough: the minimal principle

Although a good data-format can only be an Open Standard, FSFE’s Bernhard Reiter argues that this requirement alone is not enough. Originally written for last year’s Document Freedom Day in German, the article “The minimal principle: because being an open standard is not enough” is now available in English. In a nutshell Bernhard argues that the data-format needs to solve a problem adequately: It should be a good fit from a functional point of view, as well as on a technical level. In order to judge this, there are a number of things to consider: efficiency, maintainability, accessibility, extensibility, learnability, simplicity, longevity and a few more. Two central questions here are: How well does the data-format solve the problem and –more interesting– is there a simpler format that could solve the problem just as well?

Read the article, discuss it on our public mailing lists, and if you are a developer always ask yourself if it can be done simpler.

This does not mean that every time you stumble over an existing standards, you should develop your own, even smaller one.

xkcd-standards xkcd CC BY-NC

February 21, 2014

Some updates (EFD, Greenboard, etc)

We are getting back with some good and bad news. On the bad side we will not be able to run any Education Freedom Day event in Hong Kong this year as we actually need to take care of some urgent personal problems. On the good news side we will be discussing with several organizations in the coming weeks about Greenboard deployments including Teach For China in Shantou this weekend and more located in Cambodia next weekend. We are very excited about those potential opportunities and hope to have a lot more to tell soon. And of course you can definitely attend our next development session here in Hong Kong and get a better feeling about some of the things we do. Thanks and happy FOSS'ing!

February 18, 2014

FAmSCo in F20 Term

Yesterday, we had the last FAmSCo meeting with the old set of members and it was effectively our last meeting in the F20 term. So I suppose it’s the right time to report how FAmSCo was working in the just ended term. Here are some stats:

Number of meetings: 31 (only 2 were cancelled due to Flock and Christmas holidays)Average attendance: 5.1 / 7 members (we didn’t reach quorum of 4 members in only one occasion)
Total number of topics discussed: 125 (4 per meeting)

Activity of members by number of meetings attended:

  1. Alejandro Perez 30
  2. Jiří Eischmann 25
  3. Robert Mayr 24
  4. Luis Bazán 24
  5. Truong Anh Tuan 21
  6. Christoph Wickert 20
  7. Buddhika Chandradeepa Kurera 9

As you can see Alejandro was again the ironman of FAmSCo in the last term, missing just one meeting. He will be missed in FAmSCo.

Activity of members by numbers of messages posted:

  1. Jiří Eischmann 1781 (71 per meeting)
  2. Christoph Wickert 1049 (52)
  3. Truong Anh Tuan 841 (40)
  4. Alejandro Perez 759 (25)
  5. Robert Mayr 570 (24)
  6. Luis Bazán 265 (11)
  7. Buddhika Chandradeepa Kurera 74 (8)

The highest number of messages posted for me is no surprise considering I chaired most of the meetings.

I’d like to note that this post is not meant to be a judgement of FAmSCo member’s contributions. It’s far more complex. But it’s nice to see that FAmSCo is active and we meet, discuss and make decisions regularly.

I’d like to thank the members that are leaving FAmSCo, especially Alejandro who served as the vice-chair in the last term and missed almost no meeting during his one and half year in FAmSCo. I’m very much looking forward to new members: Neville A. Cross and Jon Disnard. Both are a long-term contributors who have been very active in the regional communities. I’m also glad that all regions have representatives in FAmSCo again. That’s a very important thing for the communication between FAmSCo and the regions.

February 14, 2014

hostnames as commands

Several years ago, I adopted a practice I've realized I should write down. I have two shell scripts that live in ~/bin/:
james.mojo.home ~ $ cat bin/ssh-host

remote_host=`basename $0`
if ! ssh $remote_host $*; then
echo from $start to
james.mojo.home ~ $ cat bin/mosh-host

remote_host=`basename $0`
if ! mosh $remote_host -- $*; then
echo from $start to
And I have many symlinks in ~/bin/ that point to those scripts. For example:
lrwxr-xr-x 1 moquist staff 8 Jul 12 2013 aristotle -> ssh-host
lrwxr-xr-x 1 moquist staff 8 Jul 12 2013 bhs.somedomain.com -> ssh-host 
lrwxr-xr-x 1 moquist staff 8 Jul 12 2013 devserver.somedomain.com -> mosh-host 

Of course I also have ~/.ssh/config set up, and my SSH keys are all in the appropriate ~/.ssh/authorized_keys files on remove systems.

But once all that's done, if I want to log in to a system, I can just type the name of the system (with tab completion). If I want to pipe something into or out of a command on a remote system (via ssh-host only), the system name just becomes another command:
james.mojo.home ~ $ aristotle "w | grep eviluser || echo eviluser is absent"
eviluser is absent
james.mojo.home ~ $ aristotle cat somefile | grep bits-i-want
### elided ###
james.mojo.home ~ $ for h in aristotle plato plantinga kant; do echo ====$h====; $h ls | grep lostfile; done
Obviously these are contrived examples, and there are plenty of other ways to do the same things. I've just found it convenient to think of hosts as commands, and this approach has let me do that.

February 12, 2014

DevConf.cz 2014

Developer Conference 2014 is finally over. The last two weeks were damn busy for me. Just a week before the conference I went to FOSDEM and it wasn’t just attending. I organized a bus with 40 hackers between Brno and Brussels, accommodation for 6 Fedora people, and pretty much the whole Fedora booth at FOSDEM + producing 400 t-shirts for CentOS guys and bringing a lot of other stuff from Brno for various parties. When I returned I didn’t have time to rest because DevConf.cz was just a few days away. This in a combination with very little sleep meant that I had a complete physical meltdown on Wednesday. Not only was I dead tired, but I also got some flu/cold. Then I just focused on surviving till DevConf.cz because as the main organizer I just couldn’t simply back off. So I just worked and slept and removed all stuffing between it and it worked :)

We put DevConf.cz just one week after FOSDEM which as I described above almost killed me. But it also had a lot of benefits. Most importantly, people from overseas could come for both events and spend the week between on internal Red Hat meetings in Brno. And a lot of people did. I wondered how many attendees would come this year. Last year, it was around 700, but quite a lot of publicity on the Internet and people mentioning the conference indicated it could be much more this year which could be a problem because the venue is not very large and half of the campus is under reconstruction.

And we did have a lot of attendees. The number from DevConf.cz 2013 was exceeded within two hours and the total number of attendees for the first day was nearly 900. The total number of unique attendees for all three days was around 1000 which was a significant increase from the last year. Especially on Friday, we were hitting the capacity of the venue. Several talks were completely packed. For example the ones about Docker and OSTree where you couldn’t even get into the room if you came too late. I didn’t attend many talks and when I found time to attend one I was usually called back by an urgent problem. Nevertheless, the general feedback I heard from other people was that the talks had even better quality than last year. I really liked the Fedora Day which was the third day of the conference. This attracted a lot of people from the Fedora community and I could actually meet maybe more Fedora contributors at DevConf.cz than at Flock.

I can’t rate DevConf.cz because as the main organizer I’m biased, but from the organizer’s perspective the event went quite smoothly which was mainly due to tireless help of dozens of volunteers without whom the event wouldn’t be possible and I thank them for that.

And DevConf.cz 2015? I’m already thinking about that. We improve the event incrementally based on feedback from attendees to make the event better every year. Some of the proposed changes such as making the talk slots shorter to have longer breaks worked very well and we’ve already gathered new ideas for the next year. We also will have to assess the venue. The cooperation with the university is almost ideal, the location is also very good, but if we want to accommodate even more attendees next year we’ll have to have more space. The reconstruction will be finished in summer and then there should be mid-sized rooms for smaller talk or workshop tracks available. We will see. The only significantly larger venue in Brno is The Brno Exhibition Area which would be a huge cost jump up and I still find university campuses more appropriate for developer’s events.

P.S. Videos of talks from the three main tracks will be online within a few weeks. We’re working on it.

Talk on Docker (© Sirko Kemter)

February 02, 2014

New releases from the Cangjians

We made our first round of major releases on Christmas day, and since then, a few issues were found, and some were fixed.

So on this second day of the new year of the horse, here comes a new round.

Today, we release libcangjie 1.1, pycangjie 1.1 and IBus Cangjie 2.1

All of these are pretty minor releases, which fix bugs and improve the internals without introducing any user-visible change. We recommend everybody to upgrade as soon as possible. (Fedora packages are coming)

I'll finish with the changelog for each release.

Happy Chinese New Year to everyone!

libcangjie 1.1

  • Fix typo in data/README.table.rst (Linquize)
  • Add docs to the tarball (Mathieu)
  • Add a link to the release tarballs in the README (Mathieu)
  • Correct typo of README file (Anthony)
  • Improve the benchmark tool (Mathieu)
  • Add a missing copyright header to the benchmark tool (Mathieu)
  • Various code improvements (Mathieu, with help from clang's scan-build)
  • Code refactoring of the filter handling (Dridi)
  • Add install instructions for a few distributions (Mathieu)
  • Document libcangjie_cli (Mathieu)

pycangjie 1.1

  • Add docs to the tarball (Mathieu)
  • Add a link to the release tarballs in the README (Mathieu)
  • Add install instructions for a few distributions (Mathieu)
  • Improve « make clean » (Anthony)
  • Fix the URL to the documentation in the README (Linquize)

IBus Cangjie 2.1

  • Add a link to the release tarballs in the README (Mathieu)
  • Actually run the unit tests on « make check » (Anthony)
  • Improve « make clean » (Anthony)
  • Add install instructions for a few distributions (Mathieu)
  • Improve the optionality of pycanberra (Mathieu)
  • Fix the pt_BR translation (Mathieu)
  • Reset sys.path to limit side effects on the unit tests (Mathieu)
  • Ensure validity of the preferences UI file (Mathieu)
  • Fix the UI file (Mathieu)

January 29, 2014

Pete Seeger

Hearing of Pete Seeger's passing hit me hard today. His work to revive folk music and use music as a powerful weapon for positivity in the world inspired me.

In 1992 I went to Kobe Japan and studied at a college there and then stayed with a lovely Japanese family in Yao, Osaka. I fell in love with American style, old timey, banjo music in Japan.

While I was in Kobe, my friend Joe Pepi Benge, an avid banjo player, took me to Shaggy's which was a western bluegrass bar that played the best authentic old timey and bluegrass music. Everyone but us was Japanese. In Japan, people take their hobbies SERIOUSLY and the Japanese guys had studied Scruggs and then kept going. They were fantastic. Pepi was pretty good too!

It was the first time I'd heard American folk music and I fell hard for it. I returned to the states, Claudia bought me a banjo, and I got Pete Seeger's book and checked his records out of the library and made cassette copies.

A week later I wrecked my bike and gave myself a good gash and spent the rest of the summer learning to play banjo when I wasn't limping around. A few years later, in London, I met Tom Paley of the Lost City Ramblers at the Cecil Sharpe House and bought a fiddle off of him. 

For a few years, I thought that I might have a future as a professional banjo player. It turns out I'm not gifted with a great singing voice and while I can read music easily, I don't have an ear for picking up tunes easily.

Playing banjo is one of the things that makes me happy. It's really hard to be miserable while playing the banjo. Pete Seeger gave me hope that doing art and following your passion can lead to wonderful things and have an impact on the world. I admire his work and I love that his banjo said, "This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender."

January 07, 2014

Rescheduling EFD

As we are getting ready for Education Freedom Day we obviously did not plan that the Christmas holiday season would delay some of the logistic. In view of the current status and the nearby Chinese New Year we have decided to move our EFD celebration around end of February or early March in Hong Kong. So please keep posted and we will announce the exact date within a week.

January 03, 2014

Moztour at USJR


First time to talk on Cebu City regarding Mozilla and as a first project talking one of the university in Cebu City which is the  University of San Jose – Recoletos last December 16, 2013 , My talk is regarding Mozilla and introduce them some tools for web development and as a result it was a successful seminar which started at 9:00A.M. and end up at 12:00 noon.  More than 70 students from engineering department from second year to fifth year.  I also have the opportunity to talk regarding the Mozilla Student Ambassador program wherein they are also interested to register and create future project to contribute on Mozilla as some of them are already registered to the program.  More photos to be uploaded soon and looking forward for more projects with their schools as they have another 3 more branch interested to conduct same seminars. :)

December 30, 2013

The ownCloud Public Link Creator

ownCloud Share Link Creator - Context Menu

ownCloud Share Link Creator – Context Menu

Holiday season is the perfect time to work on some stuff on your personal ToDo list. ownCloud 6 introduced a public REST-style Share-API which allows you to call various share operations from external applications. Since I started working on the Share-API I thought about having a simple shell script on my file manager to automatically upload a file and generate a public link for it… Here it is!

I wrote a script which can be integrated in the Thunar file manager as a “custom action”. It is possible that the program also works with other file managers which provide similar possibilities, e.g Nautilus. But until now I tested and used it with Thunar only. If you try the script with a different file manager I would be happy to hear about your experience.

ownCloud Share Link Creator - File Upload

ownCloud Share Link Creator – File Upload

If you configure the “custom action” in Thunar, make sure to pass the paths of all selected files to the program using the “%F” parameter. The program expects the absolute path to the files. In the “Appearance and Conditions” tab you can activate all file types and directories. Once the custom action is configured you can execute the program from the right-click context menu. The program works for all file types and also for directories. Once the script gets executed it will first upload the files/directories to your ownCloud and afterwards it will generate a public link to access them. The link will be copied directly to your clipboard, additionally a dialog will inform you about the URL. If you uploaded a single file or directory than the file/directory will be created directly below your default target folder as defined in the shell script. If you selected multiple files, than the program will group them together in a directory named with the current timestamp.

This program does already almost everything I want. As already said, it can upload multiple files and even directories. One think I want to add in the future is the possibility to detect a ownCloud sync folder on the desktop. If the user selects a file in the sync folder than the script should skip the upload and create the share link directly.

Edit: In the meantime I got feedback that the script also works nicely with Dolphin, Nautilus and Nemo

December 25, 2013

The Cangjians wish you a merry Christmas

About a year and a half ago now, we set out to fix what seemed to us like the one critical issue which was preventing broad adoption of Free Software in Hong Kong: the lack of a good Cangjie/Quick input method for IBus.

And today, at the foot of the Christmas tree, we have 3 presents: today we are releasing libcangjie 1.0, pycangjie 1.0, and IBus Cangjie 2.0.

This is a release we are very proud of, it is the achievement of a year and a half of hard work, of studying all about Chinese input methods, and the lessons we learned with our previous attempts.

Speaking of previous attempts, even though we don't use Wan Leung Wong's libcangjie any more (we rewrote it completely), the hindsight we got from Wan Leung's original efforts was invaluable, and we wouldn't be where we are right now without it.

Without further ado, here are the links to the release:

Fedora packages are already on their way, and we'll get them very soon at least in Ubuntu and Arch Linux.

The major highlight from this release is that finally, we support all the characters which are important in Hong Kong out of the box.

But we're not done yet. For the next release, we are already working on a few things. Among others, suggestion of whole expressions and automatic translation from Traditional to Simplified Chinese are on our TODO list.

Merry Christmas to all, and don't hesitate to join us, send us code or bug reports, or just let us know how this release works for you.

December 13, 2013

WordPress 3.8 Arrives named “Parker”

Here is some good news for all the WordPress users! WordPress.org has announced the release of WordPress 3.8. The new version brings along a new design, which the company is calling the “most beautiful update yet.” Those interested can download the new version from WordPress.org/Download. The file size is 6.1MB.
The new version has been named “Parker” after the American jazz saxophonist and composer Charlie Parker.

As reported by The Next Web, the new features of the version are here:

The new version has a fresh, uncluttered design that offers clarity and simplicity.

Additionally, the Open Sans typeface offers simple, friendly text, which is optimized for both desktop and mobile viewing. What’s more? It’s open source like WordPress.

It comes along with refined contrast that is comfortable for viewing.

This new version has given WordPress the power of high definition at high speed. Pages load faster and it has the all new vector-based icons that can easily scale to your screen.

It comes with eight new admin color schemes.

You can survey your themes at a glance with the new refined theme management. With a click, you can add more information and use the keyboard keys to slide through themes.

The widget screen is now smoother. When viewed on big screen, multiple widget areas appear side-by-side to make use of the available space.

The Twenty Fourteen theme can turn your blog into a magazine.

December 04, 2013

Hulumtim nga kumevotu.info

Përshkak të përvojave me zgjedhjet e kaluara dhe dyshimeve që edhe emrat e personave të vdekur gjinden në listat e votimeve kemi bërë një hulumtim, duke marrë për bazë përkujtimet dhe shpalljet e të vdekurve në gazetat ditore në Kosovë, të cilat i kemi analizuar dhe krahasuar me listat e votimeve të publikuara nga KQZ-ja.

November 14, 2013

MakerBot Academy

I was a teacher in Seattle Public Schools in the early 2000s. I had a generalist certification and I had a background in puppetry so, even though I was qualified to teach anything K-8, I mostly taught middle school art with a two year stint thrown in there teaching K-5.

I'm really happy to be announcing MakerBot Academy. It's our initiative to put a MakerBot in every school in the USA. I'm personally jumpstarting the movement by putting in a chunk of change and Ralph Crump and Autodesk are joining me to empower the next generation with advanced technology.

We also put together a Thingiverse Challenge to make math manipulatives so that the community can do their part to get materials ready so that when teachers get their MakerBots, they can have things ready to make that will make their classroom better.

I can't wait to see what teachers and students do with MakerBots! 

Google Code-in 2013 Contest is starting

Our long term sponsor, Google has launched its Code-in 2013 program, an online contest to introduce 13-17 year old pre-university students to free and open source software development.

The contest is similar to the Google Summer of Code program for older students in that it gives participants the opportunity to work with mentors from carefully chosen free and source software projects on real-world coding and related tasks like QA, documentation and more. Over the last 3 years over 1200 students from 71 countries have participated. We hope to expand the program this year and would appreciate your help and that of the members of your community to spread the word to girls around the world.

The contest begins on Monday, November 18th 2013 and runs through January 5th, 2014. Prizes for participating - online only! - in the contest include certificates, tee-shirts, and an all-expenses paid trip to Google headquarters in California, USA for 20 Grand Prize winners with a parent or legal guardian.

You can learn more by watching a screencast and/or a short video describing the contest here and by visiting the program site for complete details here. You can also download a flyer about the program here.

Please help to spread the word!

November 10, 2013

Saucy Party in Flix, Catalonia

Last Saturday Catalan LoCo Team did its Ubuntu Saucy Salamander 13.10 Party at the Enric Grau Fontseré School in Flix, Catalonia with some 40 people who attended to the different speeches and installs. The party was developed without technical incidents and apparently it was great for everyone. As I cannot write a summary of the speeches, I’ll show you some pictures for see the ambiance.

We started the day with a presentation about what Ubuntu and Catalan LoCo Team are, and a basic questions session.

After that, there was a speech of Jordi Binefa from Electronics.cat about free hardware control with Ubuntu.

Following, a talk of Jordi Ros, Labdoo founder, a project for distributing used laptops with Ubuntu installed to development countries so the can prevent Digital Divide in the youth.


Then, in other classroom, there was a talk about 3D print from BuildRepRap.

We got lunch at a good restaurant nearby.

After lunch, there was a F-Droid speech, free software for Android with Daniel Martí from FSFE.

Francesc Busquets presented Linkat Edu 12.04, education distribution, its first version based on Ubuntu.

And finally, Roman from Funlab presented free robotics.


Meanwhile, during all day, there were Ubuntu installations and doubt resolutions at the install classroom we gave printed installation and use Ubuntu guides.

And we finished with the usual draw of T-shirts, caps, and material provided by our sponsors.

September 22, 2013

Software Freedom Day Melbourne 2013 – Free software in a free society

Andrew Pam on content creation with free and open source software tools

Although Jon Lawrence of Electronic Frontiers Australia was billed to start the day, Andrew Pam kicked off after Lev Lafayette opened the session. Mirroring a presentation given at linux.conf.au in in Canberra in January 2013, Andrew explored many of the free and open source software tools available in rich media content creation. He introduced the topic by demonstrating how the concept of FOSS has extended beyond software development into content creation, and showed how open tools are sometimes ahead of the proprietary ones – particularly in the 3D space.

Andrew also outlined how open formats are even more important than open software, using the example of not being able to open a file in several years time because the software used to produce it no longer exists. This was a very strong point in the digital design arena, where players like Adobe set file standards – such as .psd and .ai early on, and other software has had to follow suit.

Text editors

Andrew explained that one of the early drivers behind FOSS text editors was the need to represent non-Roman characters. This spread to tools for translation, and even for script editing and producing. This sparked a discussion on whether HTML5 should be the basis for all documentation in the future – separating the content and the markup – as many other tools are simply leveraging HTML5 content for other display or output formats. Specifically, web browsers are moving into the presentation space, particularly with the animation capabilities of HTML5 and CSS.

One of the poignant examples of this talk that underlined the social justice aspect of the free and open source model was that of LibreOffice. LibreOffice is available in many smaller languages – such as Icelandic and Welsh because the tools are freely available to translate this product into those languages. While it doesn’t make business sense for Microsoft to translate Office into Icelandic, it’s been done by end users because the tools are available to do so.


Andrew briefly covered the difference between vector and bitmap graphics, and then explained some of the FOSS tools available for photography and fonts such as;

  • fontforge.org
  • digikam.org

One of the great examples of FOSS here was that of open source Canon firmware; Canon hardware allowed for two exposures to be taken at once – perfect for rapid action shots (instead of just bracketing the exposures). The Canon firmware did not take advantage of the hardware capabilities and so open source firmware was developed which provided this functionality.


Andrew covered the tools available for audio by branching them out into recording and editing, creating and performing, typesetting scores and sampling. One of the great tools here is the ability to leverage free and open sound libraries, which can be remixed for new compositions.


Andrew explained how hand animation has fallen by the wayside, yielding to several advanced tools in the space. One of the problems remaining to be solved here is the concept of distributed rendering. by farming out frames to different nodes to divide up the processing power needed for video animation. Luckily there is an open format available that can be used.

Libraries and distribution

Andrew walked us through a number of libraries for content creation, including Creative Commons and CC-licensed content on flickr. There are also a number of other open media libraries available for adoption and re-use, including freesound.org, artistx.org and Open Symphonium.

This lead to a great discussion on the crowdsourcing of media production and movie production – a model which does not sit comfortably with some studios.

Patrick Sunter on the importance of FOSS in public decision making

Patrick, a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne, outlined the concept of ‘democratic autonomy’ – and how many of the principles of science, embodied in the free and open source software movement, can also be applied to public decision making. In particular he highlighted the concepts of

  • reproduceability (of results)
  • contestability (for instance, if a model is transparent the flaws in the model can be contested)
  • peer view (open and transparent data means that it can be better reviewed)

He opened with the example of climate change, questioning whether if the data and models used in so-called ‘Climate Gate’ were made open to scrutiny and reproduceability whether the scandal would have erupted. This parallels the free software concept of favouring the ‘bazaar’ – many contributions by many people versus the cathedral – power held by a small number of members.

He covered a number of tools that were useful to researchers for opening up models including;

  • Madagascar
  • Kepler
  • Nimrod
  • SAGE

One of the very interesting discussions as part of this talk was whether it should be a requirement of research funding that the research output be released under a FOSS license, particularly given that much research is publicly funded.

The example of the East West link proposal was also discussed, particularly in light of the model used for estimates – which is closed and proprietary, and therefore not open to the same level of public scrutiny. This example was illustrated with some excellent visualisations, based on the GTFS format (for travel and transport timetables) and open street map – showing how combining open data sources can provide new insights to drive informed decision making. This sort of data also provides better opportunities for the development of ecosystems, such as consulting, review, and widens participation in policy debate.

An excellent presentation.

Adam Bolte – protecting yourself online

Adam’s presentation focused on a number of online vulnerabilities and the software tools that can be used to prevent them. Firstly, Adam facilitated a discussion on privacy, making the point that people don’t realise the value of privacy until it’s too late. In short, even though data about you may not be damaging, it’s nobody else’s business to know about it. This point was underlined by the http://pleaserobme.com/ example – which uses FourSquare data to predict whenyou’re not at home.

Adam also gave an overview of GPG encryption for email, and keysigning for public key infrastructure.

He guarded against the growing trend of software as a service (SaaS), arguing that the software is owned and managed by someone else – that someone else also owns the data. Similar arguments were made against centralised networks such as Facebook and Google +.

Adam gave a great overview of privacy and security protection tools available in browsers (with his favourite being Firefox), including the proper use of passwords, not installing third party toolbars, and request policy setting to see where websites are sending your data. In particular he recommended the use of HTTPS everywhere, GreaseMonkey, User Agent switcher and No Script.

In the instant messaging and videoconferencing sphere, he argued that giants such as Microsoft/Skype were reading your messages, and than open source alternatives were better for confidentiality and privacy. He also argued for the use of TOR and Bitcoin.


September 20, 2013

SFD Call to Action: Let the STEED run!

Information Technology is a hype driven industry, a fact that has largely contributed to the current situation where the NSA and GCHQ have unprecedented access to the global communication and information. Including for a very Realpolitik based approach to how that information may be used. Economic and political manipulation may not be how these measures are advertised, but it may very well be the actual motivation. It’s the economy, stupid!

Ever since all of this started, many people have asked the question how to protect their privacy. Despite some there is still a lack of comprehensive answers to this question. There is an obvious answer that most mainstream media seem to have largely missed: Software freedom advocates had it right all along. You cannot trust proprietary cryptography, or proprietary software. If a company has a connection to the legal nexus of the United States, it is subject to US law and must comply with demands of the NSA and other authorities. But if that company also provides proprietary software it is virtually impossible for you to know what kind of agreements it has with the NSA, as most of their management prefer not to go to jail. But one would have to be very naive to think the United States is the only country where secret agreements exist.

Security unfortunately is a realm full of quacks and it is just as easy to be fooled as it is to fool yourself. In fact many of the discussions I’ve had over the past weeks painfully reminded me of what Cory Doctorow called “Schneier’s Law” although Bruce Schneier himself points out the principle has been around for much longer. He has dated it back to Charles Babbage in 1864:

One of the most singular characteristics of the art of deciphering is the strong conviction possessed by every person, even moderately acquainted with it, that he is able to construct a cipher which nobody else can decipher.

So in my experience it makes good sense to listen to what Bruce Schneier and a few others have to say, which is why I think his guide to staying secure on the internet is probably something everyone should have read. In that list of recommendations there are some points that ought to read familiar:

4) Be suspicious of commercial encryption software, especially from large vendors. My guess is that most encryption products from large US companies have NSA-friendly back doors, and many foreign ones probably do as well. It’s prudent to assume that foreign products also have foreign-installed backdoors. Closed-source software is easier for the NSA to backdoor than open-source software. Systems relying on master secrets are vulnerable to the NSA, through either legal or more clandestine means.

5) Try to use public-domain encryption that has to be compatible with other implementations. For example, it’s harder for the NSA to backdoor TLS than BitLocker, because any vendor’s TLS has to be compatible with every other vendor’s TLS, while BitLocker only has to be compatible with itself, giving the NSA a lot more freedom to make changes. And because BitLocker is proprietary, it’s far less likely those changes will be discovered. Prefer symmetric cryptography over public-key cryptography. Prefer conventional discrete-log-based systems over elliptic-curve systems; the latter have constants that the NSA influences when they can.

So you were right, good for you” I hear you think. The point I am trying to make is a different one. It has been unbelievably difficult in the past to consequently do the right thing that would now give us the answers to the questions posed by the NSA and others. Both the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) as an organisation and Kolab as a technology have a very long history to that extent. In fact if you’ve read the background of MyKolab.com, you’ll hopefully see the same kind of approach there, as well. Having been involved with both has given me a unique perspective.

So when Bruce Schneier is listing GnuPG as the first of several applications he is using and recommending to stay secure, I can’t help but find this rather ironic and rewarding at the same time. Because I know what has been necessary for this crucial piece of software to come so far. Especially Werner Koch, but also Markus Brinkmann are two people all of us are indebted to, even though most people don’t realize it. Excellent software developers, but entrepreneurs with much room for improvement and (I’m sorry, guys) horrible at marketing and fundraising. So they pretty much exploited themselves over many years in order to be able to keep the development going because they knew their work was essential. Over the course of the past 12 years the entire Kolab team and especially individuals such as Bernhard Reiter at Intevation have always done what they could to involve them in development projects and push forward the technology.

And we will continue to do that, both through MyKolab.com and some other development projects we are pushing with Kolab Systems for customers that have an interest in these technologies. But they have a whole lot more in mind than we could make possible immediately, such as dramatically increasing the usability for end-to-end cryptography. The concept they have developed is based on over a decade of working on obstacles to end user adoption. It’s called STEED — Usable End-to-End Encryption and has been available for two years now. I think it’s time to be finalized and implemented.

That’s why I am using tomorrow’s Software Freedom Day to ask for volunteers to help them run a crowdfunding campaign so they can finally put it into practice, in the open, to everyone’s benefit. Because that’s going to contribute more than just a little bit towards a world where privacy will once more be the default. So please help spread the word and let the STEED run!

September 03, 2013

Microsoft and Nokia a Match made in Hell

Since Elop took the reins of Nokia the share price has been slashed and divided by 4, today Microsoft is essentially buying Nokia and nominating Elop to run both the existing Microsoft Mobile Business and the Nokia business.

Nokia Communicator 9000 my first "smart phone", when Nokia was still relevant and interesting!

Incidentally rumours indicate that Stephen Elop might be the successor of Balmers.

So ruining a company is supposed to make you the right candidate to run another one ? talk about second chances...

Or maybe it when like this:

  • "Dear Stephen, we need you to run Nokia, your mission is to destroy as fast as you can any non Microsoft business inside, and push Windows mobile as fast as you can".
  • "Won't that be an issue with some of the Brand Loyal clients ?"
  • "We do not care, and remember whom you are working for! either you can make all these suckers use our software and our share and business with Nokia might be worth something, or you can't that would be even better since it would destroy the stock value of Nokia enabling us to buy the patent pool for a song".

In reality it is probably just an instrumentation of what happened, nevertheless I believe the Nokia shareholders have good cause to sue jointly Elop and Microsoft, but I guess they won't and will just be happy to salvage at least a quarter on the dollar from the whole mess.

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Digital Freedom International (Aka SFI) is the non-profit organization at the origin of SFD and CFD. DFI handles sponsorship contracts, official team registrations, sending out schwags to teams, the annual Best Event Competition and many other things. Hundreds of teams around the world manage the local celebration and help to send out a global message. So do drop by and attend an SFD and CFD event nearby!

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