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July 02, 2015

Applying the most important lesson for non-developers in Free Software through Roundcube Next

Software is a social endeavour. The most important advantage of Free Software is its community. Because the best Open Source is built by a community of contributors. Contribution being the single most important currency and differentiation between users and community. You want to be part of that community at least by proxy because like any community, members of our community spend time together, exchange ideas, and create cohesion that translates into innovation, features, best practices.

We create nothing less than a common vision of the future.

By the rules of our community, anyone can take our software and use it, extend it, distribute it. A lot of value can be created this way and not everyone has the capabilities to contribute. Others choose not to contribute in order to maximise their personal profits. Short of actively harming others, egoism, even in its most extreme forms, is to be accepted. That is not to say it is necessarily a good idea for you to put the safeguarding of your own personal interests into the hands of an extreme egoist. Or that you should trust in their going the extra mile for you in all the places that you cannot verify.

That is why the most important lesson for non-developers is this: Choose providers based on community participation. Not only are they more likely to know early about problems, putting them in a much better position to provide you with the security you require. They will also ensure you will have a future you like.

Developers know all this already, of course, and typically apply it at least subconsciously.

Growing that kind of community has been one of the key motives to launch Roundcube Next, which is now coming close to closing its phase of bringing together its key contributors. Naturally everyone had good reasons to get involved, as recently covered on Venturebeat.

Last night Sandstorm.io became the single greatest contributor to the campaign in order to build that better future together, for everyone. Over the past weeks, many other companies, some big, some small, have done the same.

Together, we will be that community that will build the future.

July 01, 2015

FUDCon APAC 2015 in Pune

I had the pleasure to attend my second FUDCon APAC, in Pune, India this time. I arrived the day before the conference at the airport in Bombay where I met Tuan. After four tiring hours, we arrived to Pune and met Kushal.

My contribution to the conference was a keynote on Fedora Workstation. I found out just a couple of days before the conference that my talk had been selected as a keynote. That is why I changed my presentation last minute, I removed slides with technical details, so that it’s understandable for general audience. I also didn’t speak about Fedora Workstation specifically, but about (Linux) desktop problems in general and how we’re trying to solve them in Fedora Workstation. I think the talk went pretty well and received a lot of questions in Q&A at the end of the keynote and later during hallway conversations. The most frequent complaint of users was lack of multimedia support, so I added it to my presentation, and explained that it’s not really a technical issue, and that we’re working hard to make it better, and that we might see a significant improvement in Fedora 23.

Me giving the keynote, photo is courtesy of Kushal Das.

Me giving the keynote, photo is courtesy of Kushal Das.

I also really enjoyed other keynotes, especially the one by Tenzin Chokden who has worked on adding Tibetan translations to Fedora.

I also achieved other things:

  • participated in the discussion about the location for the next FUDCon APAC.
  • shared with APAC ambassadors what is our system for swag production and distribution in EMEA.
  • attended a key-signing party and got my GPG key signed by Harris Pillay, Dennis Gilmore, Jared Smith and others.
  • met a lot of Fedora contributors from India and people from Pune office of Red Hat.
  • agreed with Ryan Lerch that we would create a repository of artworks for Fedora swag production (yay!)

I’m staying in India for a few more days. I and Dennis Gilmore went to the historical center of Pune on Monday and to highlands near Pune yesterday.

I’d like to thank Fedora Project for providing me with accommodation during the conference and taking care of me (it was my first conference where they arranged a pick-up at the airport for me!). My big thanks go to the whole organizing team and especially Kushal who has been a great host to us.


June 30, 2015

BSDCan 2015 Trip Report: Zbigniew Bodek

Thanks to the FreeBSD Foundation and Semihalf I was able to attend FreeBSD DevSummit and BSDCan this year (2015).

After a relatively long flight I finally arrived to Ottawa airport. On the spot I started noticing familiar faces and BSD logos here and there (we had plenty of time to stare while waiting in a huge line to immigration). BTW. Don’t ever forget your FreeBSD T-shirt and/or cap when attending BSD conference. They make you glow in the dark for other BSD-geeks so if you don’t have any - buy one.

The Developer Summit started on Wednesday morning with an interesting presentation by Nathan Dautenhahn about the nested kernel - just right to set up the “technical conference” mood. My main goal that day was to attend to a working group related to clocks and power domains in FreeBSD and meet up with guys working on ARMv8 project. And so after months of remote cooperation I was able to talk face to face to Andrew Wafaa (from ARM Ltd.), Ed Maste (from The FreeBSD Foundation) and Andrew Turner (from ABT Systems). Most of us went to ‘Clock and Power Domains’ session where we met with (i.a.) Justin Hibbits and John Baldwin - engineers who really knew what they were talking about. During the discussion I got acquainted with the general demands of the contemporary industry for the energy efficient systems, the ideas that ARM Ltd. recently developed for ARM architecture to prevail in these areas and what could we do to make FreeBSD keep up with the upcoming standards. The brainstorm was quite fruitful and some initial plan and goals for future work were established.

During the dinner on the same day I had a chance to have some less official conversations related to Semihalf’s part of the ARM64 support and an opportunity to perform few test runs of the FreeBSD on Cavium’s Thunder-X that I was supposed to present the following day.

The ARMv8 working group was scheduled for the second day of the DevSummit. That day I met with Larry Wikelius from Cavium from whom I got some feedback of Semihalf’s work so far. He also brought two Thunder-X based boards (or should I say beasts) that served as main attraction and photo/selfie spots. The session was lead by Andrew Wafaa and was one of the most populated working groups this year. We discussed the whole spectrum of topics starting with the current ARMv8 port state through problems that we may encounter when scaling to multiple cores, we talked about packages building, QEMU and future work around the power management, virtualization and etc. Semihalf’s presentation of the FreeBSD on Thunder-X was scheduled for the second part of the working group. The Thunder-X server board was located in Semihalf’s lab in Krakow and I was able to connect to it remotely. Thanks to my colleagues in Poland the board was up and running and all the necessary loader and kernel binaries were in place. It is truly a rare view of so many cores, that they barely fit in top(1) window :).

The main conference was held on Friday and Saturday. The opening lecture was given by famous Steve Bourne, the author of sh (the number of attendees was way above the capacity of the auditorium). Of course there were also some presentations on embedded and hacking tracks that drew my attention. Undoubtedly FreeBSD on ARMv8 (presented by Andrew Turner) was high on my list. The interest in the topic was quite high and after Andrew’s lecture we had some more discussions at which I met (i.a.) Julien Grall from Citrix who works on Xen for ARM and is interested in FreeBSD Xen support for ARMv8.

The DevSummit and conference gave me the opportunity to share Semihalf’s work on ARMv8 with the BSD community, exchange experience and gather other people’s feedback.

Zbigniew Bodek
Software Engineer in Semihalf

BSDCan 2015 Trip Report: Vsevolod Stakhov

During the BSDCan 2015 conference, I have attended the FreeBSD developers summit. I was particularly interested in the track called "Designing Universal Configuration Files for FreeBSD". As I'm the author of the library that was discussed,  I did a talk about library internals and discussed some open questions with Jonathan Anderson, David Chisnall and Allan Jude. We have planned some proposal changes, the interaction with libnv and casper and the following integration of UCL into FreeBSD base system. We have also discussed the desired features and Jonathan suggested a reasonable approach to implement missing ones.

Moreover, during the conference I have finished the feature of flexible dependencies in `pkg'. We have discussed this feature among all pkg developers that were also on BSDCan (namely, bapt@, matthew@ and bdrewery@). I've proposed my view of the future packages dependencies that would resolve the vast majority of the current issues with dependencies and upgrades. I'm going to write a detailed report about this feature to the pkg@ mailing list (I was just too busy with other tasks after the conference).

Another question we've discussed was the problem of digital signatures for packages and distributions. We have concluded that moving from RSA to ed25519 algorithm would simplify pkg architecture by avoiding linking to openssl (which is quite complicated for all openssl versions supported).

Further, after Ted Uagnst presentation I have a conversation with him and John-Mark Gourney (jmg@) about digital signatures formats, compatibility with OpenBSD signify tool and packages signing questions including the ways of how to verify signatures of untrusted sources with potentially malleable signing algorithms.

Afterwards, I've talked with Colin Percival (cpersiva@) asking for his comments about streamlined signatures scheme proposed by D.J. Bernstein. He agreed that this scheme might work securely providing a more convenient users' tool for digital signatures verification and creation.

Among other topics, I have discussed cryptography and security with John-Mark Gourney. We have also talked about '/dev/random' and fortuna upcoming patch. We discussed numerous topics about FreeBSD packages and pkg tool in particular with Baptiste Daroussin, Bryan Drewery and Matthew Seaman.

I have also extracted a lot of valuable information from BSDCan topics, namely from 'CloudABI' given by Ed Schouten and 'Protecting FreeBSD with Secure Virtual Architecture' given by John Criswell.

I'd like to thank the FreeBSD Foundation for giving me the possibility to attend the BSDCan 2015!

June 26, 2015

Google Summer of Code 2015 midterms are here!

GoogleSummer_2015logo_horizontal.jpg

Today marks the halfway point of Google Summer of Code 2015. Both students and mentors will be submitting their midterm evaluations of one another through Friday, July 3 as indicated in our timeline. If you would like to read more about these midterm evaluations, please check out the "How Do Evaluations Work?" link on our FAQ.

The next milestone for the program will be the “pencils down” date of August 17, after which students can take a week to scrub their code, write tests, improve calculations and generally polish their work before the firm end of coding on August 21.

There has been fantastic progress made so far, and we encourage all the students, mentors, and org admins to keep up the great work!


by Carol Smith, Open Source Team

Leap Seconds and FreeBSD Article

A new article, FreeBSD Support for Leap Seconds, gives a quick overview of leap second handling. The next leap second will occur at 2015-Jun-30 23:59:60 UTC.

June 24, 2015

Impressions from the European Lisp Symposium, Goldsmith University April 2015

Martin Cracauer is a software engineer for Google’s Travel team and a dedicated Lisp enthusiast. Below, he shares his impressions of the recent European Lisp Symposium.

In April, I attended the 8th European Lisp Symposium in London. It was good to be there and I'm proud to have played a part by giving a talk about unwanted memory retention.


More than anything, I was struck by the professionalism of the performance-oriented Lisp programmers giving talks. The Lisp community has moved beyond fighting with their compilers and settling for a couple useless microoptimizations. At a modern Lisp conference like this one, the same terms used at any other performance computing conference rain down upon the audience. There isn't a generic "probably didn't fit the cache" -- now we talk specific caches and line counts. We don't say "swapping" -- we give specific counts of major and minor page faults and recognize the relative cost of each. We have a deep awareness of what will end up being a system call, and which ones are cheap in which OS.  I had a lot of interest at the 2006 European Common Lisp Meeting by describing how ITA uses Lisp only at compile time and gets full performance at runtime. In 2015, that’s just normal.


There’s still work to do, however. It’s not there yet, but I think Lisp should become the ideal language for both SIMD computing (via new primitives allowing the programmer to tell the compiler instead of relying on arbitrarily smart compilers) and for speculative execution (allow the programmer to make promises and crash if they turn out untrue). I'm always hoping somebody (else) will kick off that effort.


The second thing that struck me was how much people at this conference leverage two of Lisp’s major advantages:


  • compile time computing (having the full runtime language at compile time to expand your compiled code from whatever abstraction is most suitable)
  • and the "commandline", the REPL, inside a high performance language


Several presenters combined those features to construct 3D objects, and even built a bridge between computed 3D objects and interactively built objects (in a graphical editor). One of those sessions was Dave Cooper’s tutorial. Both could create sets of 3D objects that mixed computed objects and interactive building at an astonishing rate.


Breanndán Ó Nualláin’s talk, "Executable Pseudocode for Graph Algorithms", was useful to me because it gave a digestible example of more complex compile time computing. It’s difficult to illustrate the concept, but Breanndán used Lisp’s power as a "programmable programming language" to make a frontend that expresses pseudocode for algorithms in an optimized s-expression syntax. The result is readable, executable, and fast. In addition, you can easily create a backend that targets LaTeX so that you could put your running algorithm in a textbook. This is so useful when trying to understand what the power of a "programmable programming language" really means. Now your LaTex for the algorithms paper is derived from proven working code.


To me, the most jaw-dropping talk of the conference was Christian E. Schafmeister’s "Clasp - A Common Lisp that Interoperates with C++ and Uses the LLVM Backend". The title is the understatement of the year. What is going on here is building tiny 3-nanometer protein-like structures to do useful things like cure cancer and destroy sarin. Although many C++ libraries exist for building such structures, it would be too painful to glue them all together in C++. Instead of feeding C++ through a layer of C and back into some object representation (like the rest of us, cough) Christian presented a Common Lisp implementation running in LLVM, using the LLVM runtime libraries that provide introspection to directly interface to C++. He was kind enough to give the talk again at our Google Cambridge office where it was recorded.


At large scale, Lisp exposes some rough spots. A lot of Googlers like really clean modularization, but Common Lisp packages don't quite provide it. This used to be a big problem for CMUCL, reducing the number of people who could build it. Robert Strandh talked about “First-class Global Environments in Common Lisp”. I am sure people would love to see that in SBCL. I also liked Paul van der Walt's talk, bringing forward ideas to improve restricted runtime environments (such as mobile devices) while keeping them easy to describe in their dependencies.


In my own talk on “Unwanted Memory Retention”, I didn’t just limit the discussion to Lisp, SBCL, and its garbage collector. I addressed group culture and perception bias: how imbalanced performance tradeoffs come about in long-running software projects, how they mix with rapid changes in the computing environment around your Lisp, and how Lisp is just a bit more flexible dealing with them.


This conference was an enlightening experience and I hope slides and videos will become available. For now, many of the topics covered are also discussed in the Symposium’s peer-reviewed papers (16MB PDF). But honestly, just reading doesn't do justice to the conference. People there were great presenters, too, and attending it was inspirational.


by Martin Cracauer, Travel team

2015-06-24 Edited to clarify the subject of Martin's 2006 talk.

June 22, 2015

Are Indian FOSS communities closed-source ?

Hi all, This will hopefully be a short read as how Indian communities specially product-based communities are opaque in functioning. I have been re-reading a book called ‘Microtrends‘ I bought few years ago. The book starts with a bow to another best-seller sold several years ago called Megatrends . I haven’t read the former though […]

June 21, 2015

Happy Summer Solstice!

SunEdit: Happy Summer Solstice to everyone in the Northern Hemisphere! And Happy Winter Solstice to everyone in the Southern Hemishpere. And to those in the tropics, Happy Just Another Day Pretty Much Like All The Rest.

 

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June 16, 2015

I’ve moved from Google back to Jabber

Yesterday I finally did what I had been planning for some time – moved from Google (Talk) back to Jabber. I started using Gtalk many years ago because at that time it was the most reliable XMPP service around and it had online history.

But Google has moved to closed Hangouts and recently announced that they would discontinue the XMPP compatibility. It hasn’t taken place yet, but the compatibility is getting worse and worse. I can’t add contacts from other Jabber servers, don’t receive their requests. If they send me a message, it’s not delivered to the mobile app etc. I have had enough.

Because I’m running Google services on my own domain, the move was pretty simple. I just changed DNS records and moved my contact list. I sometimes really regret that Jabber has not been widely adopted. I really love the idea of just moving your account to a different provider if you’re not satisfied with the current one. Almost zero vendor lockin. If I disappeared from your contact list, you may need to add me again. My account is jiri [] eischmann [] cz. It’s hosted by my friend who runs aerohosting.cz and offers Jabber as an additional service as well as e.g. OwnCloud.

Although I use Jabber, I really like Telegram and I now consider it as my primary instant messaging. It’s the only service from the new wave of IM networks which has a fully open protocol and it’s pretty secure. And I do think it’s also in other aspects better than other IMs such as Messenger, Hangouts, or Whatsapp.

I have also been planning to move my email from Gmail. It won’t be so simple there because I’ve got two more accounts there. I will have to move tens of thousands of emails, and I also will have to disable the accounts somehow internally because otherwise Gmail would keep delivering emails to my old account, I suppose.


The FSF is hiring: Seeking a full-time outreach and communication coordinator

The Free Software Foundation (FSF), a Boston-based 501(c)(3) charity with a world wide mission to protect freedoms critical to the computer-using public, seeks a motivated and organized tech-friendly Boston-based individual to be its full-time outreach and communication coordinator.

This position, reporting to the executive director, works closely with our campaigns, licensing, and technical staff, as well as our board of directors, to edit, publish, and promote high-quality, effective materials both digital and printed.

These materials are a critical part of advancing the FSF's work to support the GNU Project, free software adoption, free media formats, and freedom on the Internet; and to oppose DRM, software patents, and proprietary software.

Some of the position's more important responsibilities include:

  • stewarding the online publication and editing process for all outreach staff; including copyediting, formatting, posting, and maintaining material on our Web sites; and sending out e-mail messages to our lists;

  • producing and improving our monthly e-mail newsletter the Free Software Supporter;

  • improving the effectiveness of our audio and video materials use;

  • editing and building our biannual printed Bulletin;

  • promoting our work and the work of others in the area of computing freedom on social networking sites;

  • helping to produce fundraising materials and assisting with our fundraising drives;

  • cultivating the community around the LibrePlanet wiki and network, including the annual conference;

  • working with and encouraging volunteers; and

  • being an approachable, humble, and friendly representative of the FSF to our worldwide community of existing supporters and the broader public, both in person and online.

A successful candidate will have strong editing skills, especially in the area of copyediting, and will take pride in working with a team to create consistently polished and effective materials.

While this is a job for a person who is passionate about technology and its social impact, it is not primarily a technical position. The main technical requirement is a willingness to learn to use many new and possibly unfamiliar pieces of software, with a positive attitude. That being said, experience with CiviCRM and GNU/Linux will be considered a big plus, and experience with any of the following technologies should be mentioned: Plone, Drupal, Ikiwiki, Subversion, Git, CVS, Ssh, JavaScript, CSS, HTML, Emacs, LaTeX, Inkscape, GIMP, Markdown, or MediaWiki.

Because the FSF works globally and seeks to have our materials distributed in as many languages as possible, multilingual candidates will be noticed. English, German, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Malagasy, and a smattering of Japanese are represented among current FSF staff.

With our small staff of twelve, each person makes a clear contribution. We work hard, but offer a humane and fun work environment.

Benefits and salary

The job must be worked on-site at the FSF's office in downtown Boston.

This is a union position. The salary is fixed at $51,646.40 and is non-negotiable. Other benefits include:

  • full family health coverage through Blue Cross/Blue Shield's HMO Blue program,
  • subsidized dental plan,
  • four weeks of paid vacation annually,
  • seventeen paid holidays annually,
  • public transit commuting cost reimbursement,
  • 403(b) program through TIAA-CREF,
  • yearly cost-of-living pay increases, and
  • potential for an annual performance bonus.

Application instructions

Applications must be submitted via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The email must contain the subject line, "Outreach and Communications Coordinator". A complete application should include:

  • resume,
  • cover letter,
  • writing sample (1000 words or less),
  • links to published work online, and
  • three or more edits you would suggest to this job posting.

All materials must be in a free format (such as plain text, PDF, or OpenDocument, and not Microsoft Word). Email submissions that do not follow these instructions will probably be overlooked. No phone calls, please.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the position is filled. To ensure consideration, apply before 10:00am EST on Wednesday, July 1st.

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

Linode turns 12! Here’s some KVM!

Happy 12th birthday to us!

Welp, time keeps on slippin’ into the future, and we find ourselves turning 12 years old today. To celebrate, we’re kicking off the next phase of Linode’s transition from Xen to KVM by making KVM Linodes generally available, starting today.

Better performance, versatility, and faster booting

Using identical hardware, KVM Linodes are much faster compared to Xen. For example, in our UnixBench testing a KVM Linode scored 3x better than a Xen Linode. During a kernel compile, a KVM Linode completed 28% faster compared to a Xen Linode. KVM has much less overhead than Xen, so now you will get the most out of our investment in high-end processors.

KVM Linodes are, by default, paravirtualized, supporting the Virtio disk and network drivers. However, we also now support fully virtualized guests – which means you can run alternative operating systems like FreeBSD, BSD, Plan 9, or even Windows – using emulated hardware (PIIX IDE and e1000). We’re also working on a graphical console (GISH?) which should be out in the next few weeks.

In a recent study of VM creation and SSH accessibility times performed by Cloud 66, Linode did well. The average Linode ‘create, boot, and SSH availability’ time was 57 seconds. KVM Linodes boot much faster – we’re seeing them take just a few seconds.

How do I upgrade a Linode from Xen to KVM?

On a Xen Linode’s dashboard, you will see an “Upgrade to KVM” link on the right sidebar. It’s a one-click migration to upgrade your Linode to KVM from there. Essentially, our KVM upgrade means you get a much faster Linode just by clicking a button.

How do I set my account to default to KVM for new stuff?

In your Account Settings you can set ‘Hypervisor Preference’ to KVM. After that, any new Linodes you create will be KVM.

What will happen to Xen Linodes?

New customers and new Linodes will, by default, still get Xen. Xen will cease being the default in the next few weeks. Eventually we will transition all Xen Linodes over to KVM, however this is likely to take quite a while. Don’t sweat it.

On behalf of the entire Linode team, thank you for the past 12 years and here’s to another 12! Enjoy!

-Chris

June 15, 2015

FSFE welcomes adoption of copyright report in EP's JURI committee

FSFE welcomes adoption of copyright report in EP's JURI committee

In an important step towards modernising the EU's copyright laws, the Legal Affairs committee of the European Parliament on Tuesday adopted a report on the Copyright Directive by MEP Julia Reda.

By adopting the report with 23 votes in favour and 2 against, the committee asks the European Commission to consider a number of important updates to copyright as it works towards a revision of the EU Copyright Directive.

"In a world built on information, copyright law is important in shaping the ways in which we live and work," says Karsten Gerloff, FSFE's president. "We hope that MEPs will further strengthen the rights of users as the report moves towards a plenary vote."

FSFE, which provided input to the MEPs on the Legal Affairs committe ahead of the vote, views the adopted report as largely positive. The committee generally supported the idea that copyright exceptions and limitations should apply equally both on- and offline. The MEPs also voted in favour of allowing authors to dedicate their works directly to the public domain.

The JURI commmitte adopted language stating that technological measures such as Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) should not stop users from enjoying copyright exceptions and limitations. However, the adopted report leaves out concrete measures to ensure that people can actually enjoy the full use of works that they have acquired.

On the negative side, the text adopted today is lacking in some important respects. It does not contain an explicit statement that hyperlinks do not require a copyright license, so that this essential building block of the web remains in danger.

Reda's proposal for an "open norm" akin to the "fair use" concept in the US was significantly weakened. The adopted wording on text and data mining is regrettably ambiguous. FSFE also regrets the deletion of language that made a clear distinction between physical and "intellectual property".

MEPs can still submit amendments to the report. The European Parliament is scheduled to hold a plenary vote on July 9.

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Linoleum cut printimation

Death9

These are some lousy test prints (I have no skill as a printer plus I used cheap water-based ink and cheap thin waste paper) I made of some linoleum print plates I designed and “cut” with the laser engraver at the local Fab Lab. The plates are to be part of a larger project with many artist participants, organized in Germany; I’ll write about it when it’s properly printed and officially released. My understanding is it’s about how the advent of the printing press led to the explosion of  a unique kind of illustration: the wood-cut. Since I think the internet is in many ways analogous to the printing press, I saw a parallel in its own new kind of illustration: the animated gif. So my (linoleum) “wood-cuts” were designed to end up as animated gifs.  When the project is done I will use the final, better prints to make better versions of these loops. But patience is not one of my virtues and I am excited about the test animated gifs I made from my lousy test prints, and when I make an animated gif I can’t wait to post it, so I didn’t wait, so here:

DeathCut movie1

Here’s a phenakistoscope from another print, using the same all-purpose goat in our Chad Gadya embroidermation:

GoatCutPhenakistoscope

GoatCut closeup1

Some photos of the linoleum plates themselves:

GoatLinoleum

 

The plate on the right is of the “Death” animation; on the left is my test plate, which I used to gauge the laser engraver. I also did some hand-gouging on it, confirming I’d rather use a machine.DeathLinoleum

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June 07, 2015

Dramas and a buggy world

This post would be about a few bugs that I was able to get help and get them fixed, and some which are in process and some which may take a long time to resolve. I probably might have mentioned it quite a few times, I moved to GNU/Linux because at the time I was […]

June 04, 2015

FSFE Newsletter - June 2015

FSFE Newsletter – June 2015 For whom the bell tolls?

On the first Wednesday of May, a coalition of digital liberties organizations, including FSFE, and a multitude of individual activists held the International Day Against DRM 2015 to raise awareness about digital restrictions management, a pervasive and deeply entrenched mechanism designed to plunder the citizenry of the concept of ownership.

Along with numerous other defenders of consumer rights and digital liberties we published a statement asking legislators to guarantee the traditional right to tinker with our property. This was necessitated by both the prior steady erosion of the rights to repair and modify our belongings and the renewed push by various manufacturing companies, like John Deere, one of the largest manufacturers of agricultural equipment, to deny their customers the right to modify their own property in whatever way the customers wish, using bad laws like the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which forbid consumers to circumvent or remove certain defects from their purchases.

FSFE is looking for a systems architect

Due to sustained growth we have experienced in the last few years, our infrastructure has developed into a state where it is no longer able to fulfil our needs. Therefore, we are looking for a systems architect to help us document our existing infrastructure dependencies, develop this into a maintainable architecture, and help our system administrators migrate our services to the new architecture.

If you have a good grasp of Free Software, creating technical documentation, virtualization, MTAs, database servers, and web services and you wish to help us ensure scalability and continued availability of both Fellowship services and our internal tools, then you are welcome to apply by contacting our Executive Director, Jonas Öberg. This is your chance to gain a deeper understanding of the technical challenges faced by our volunteers and staff, and help us overcome these hurdles!

Something completely different Guido Arnold, FSFE's edu-team coordinator, held a keynote at DORS/CLUC in Zagreb about Free Software adoption in education throughout Europe and wrote a short post about it. Our President Karsten Gerloff has written a blog post explaining why Facebook's new option to encrypt e-mail notifications using the OpenPGP standard is useless. The bottom line is that on Facebook you are the product and the new “feature” will neither guard your data from overreaching law enforcement nor advertisers willing to pay. Our associate Fundaţia Ceata is organizing a conference called Coliberator '15 from June 6th to 7th in Bucharest, Romania. The conference has featured our president Karsten Gerloff and the founder of the Free Software movement, Richard M. Stallman, as keynote speakers during previous editions. From the planet aggregation: Our Fellow Kevin Keijzer writes about liberating a Thinkpad T60p for another Fellow, André, who reviews the experience. Daniel Pocock is showing people how to use Blender for video editing. Max Mehl, a former intern, is writing about his current volunteering experience in Africa. Max offers a rather strange, but eye-opening perspective on the way Tanzanians perceive technology. Get active: call on legislators to oppose TTIP, CETA

This newsletter started with DRM; it will also end with DRM: unscrupulous actors are attempting to use secretly negotiated trade agreements TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and CETA (Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) to make it extremely difficult for future governments to get rid of current bans on circumventing digital restrictions mechanisms. Instead, they would force governments to impose ever-harsher penalties on anyone who dares to tinker with their property.

We at FSFE would rather avoid that future. Hence, we are asking you to contact your elected representatives both in the European parliament and various legislative bodies throughout Europe and let them know that you wish European laws to remain the province of European legislators. Ask them to oppose secretly negotiated treaties; ask them to demand transparency and openness; and, most importantly, do it now and tell your legislators about the things you like to do with your possessions.

It would also be nice if you could tell them what you would be unable to do if those secretive trade agreements were ratified, but you cannot: we do not know the current state of the negotiations. This is quite annoying, but despair not: most of our elected representatives are also in the dark, and they are unlikely to enjoy it. This offers us a unique opportunity to tune them against the deals before they are finalized and presented for ratification: let us get our representatives to oppose these deals while they can make a decision based on democratic principles and need not yet decide whether the economic perks outweigh the proposed harm to a free society.

Thanks to all the volunteers, Fellows and corporate donors who enable our work, Heiki Lõhmus, FSFE

Support FSFE, join the Fellowship
Make a one time donation

May 28, 2015

Fedora 22

Fedora 22 was released publicly Tuesday, and is now available for deployment in the Linode Manager! Fedora 22 boasts several improvements over the previous version including:

– Improved built-in Docker and Vagrant support
– Python 3 as  the default implementation
– Django 1.8, now available from the repositories
– Ruby 2.2 and Rails 4.2
– DNF package manager, a replacement for yum (yum is still available). You can read more about DNF here or here.

The full release notes are available here. Fedora 21 will continue to receive updates, while Fedora 20 will reach EOL on June 26th.

To deploy Fedora 22 on a new Linode, simply select it from the drop down menu under “Image.” You can also upgrade your existing Linodes running Fedora 21 to the newest version using the fedora-upgrade tool.

May 25, 2015

Vivid release party in Terrassa

Catalan LoCo Team celebrated on May 9th release party of the next Ubuntu version, in this case, 15.04 Vivid Vervet. Sorry abaout the delay reporting.

This time, we went to Terrassa, near Barcelona, thanks to our friends of the Nicolau Copèrnic School.

As always, we started explaining what Ubuntu is and how it adapts to new times and devices, along with speeches from the school director and a Terrassa Councillor really understanding the Ubuntu meaning.

 

 

Quite a lot of people registering for the party.

 

Raspberry Pi and Open Source Hardware on Ubuntu were both present at the party.

 

And in another room, LibreOffice.

 

And, of course, Ubuntu Phone as well.

 

A lot of time passed since we offered a speech on Gimp.

 

Local TV came and made a report for the evening news.

May 24, 2015

New committer: Bernard Spil (ports)

May 19, 2015

Pushing fast forward: Roundcube Next.

If you are a user of Roundcube, you want to contribute to roundcu.be/next. If you are a provider of services, you definitely want to get engaged and join the advisory group. Here is why.

Free Software has won. Or has it? Linux is certainly dominant on the internet. Every activated Android device is another Linux kernel running. At the same time we see a shift towards “dumber” devices which are in many ways more like thin clients of the past. Only they are not connected to your own infrastructure.

Alerted by the success of Google Apps, Microsoft has launched Office 365 to drive its own transformation from a software vendor into a cloud provider. Amazon and others have also joined the race to provide your collaboration platform. The pull of these providers is already enormous. Thanks to networking effects, economies of scale, and ability to leverage deliberate technical incompatibilities to their advantage, the drawing power of these providers is only going to increase.

Open Source has managed to catch up to the large providers in most functions, bypassing them in some, being slightly behind in others. Kolab has been essential in providing this alternative especially where cloud based services are concerned. Its web application is on par with Office 365 and Google Apps in usability, attractiveness and most functions. Its web application is the only fully Open Source alternative that offers scalability to millions of users and allows sharing of all data types in ways that are superior to what the proprietary competition has to offer.

Collaborative editing, chat, voice, video – all the forms of synchronous collaboration – are next and will be added incrementally. Just as Kolab Systems will keep driving the commercial ecosystem around the solution, allowing application service providers (ASP), institutions and users to run their own services with full professional support. And all parts of Kolab will remain Free and Open, as well as committed to the upstream, according to best Free Software principles. If you want to know what that means, please take a look at Thomas Brüderlis account of how Kolab Systems contributes to Roundcube.

TL;DR: Around 2009, Roundcube founder Thomas Brüderli got contacted by Kolab at a time when his day job left him so little time to work on Roundcube that he had played with the thought of just stepping back. Kolab Systems hired the primary developers of Roundcube to finish the project, contributing in the area of 95% of all code in all releases since 0.6, driving it its 1.0 release and beyond. At the same time, Kolab Systems carefully avoided to impose itself on the Roundcube project itself.

From a Kolab perspective, Roundcube is the web mail component of its web application.

The way we pursued its development made sure that it could be used by any other service provider or ISV. And it was. Roundcube has an enormous adoption rate with millions of downloads, hundreds of thousands of sites and an uncounted number beyond the tens of millions. According to cPanel, 62% of their users choose Roundcube as their web mail application. It’s been used in a wide number of other applications, including several service providers that offer mail services that are more robust against commercial and governmental spying. Everyone at Kolab considers this a great success, and finds it rewarding to see our technology contribute essential value to society in so many different ways.

But while adoption sky-rocketed, contribution did not grow in the same way. It’s still Kolab Systems driving the vast majority of all code development in Roundcube along with a small number of occasional contributors. And as a direct result of the Snowden revelations the development of web collaboration solutions fragmented further. There are a number of proprietary approaches, which should be self-evidently disqualified from being taken serious based on what we have learned about how solutions get compromised. But there are also Open Source solutions.

The Free Software community has largely responded in one of two ways. Many people felt re-enforced in their opinion that people just “should not use the cloud.” Many others declared self-hosting the universal answer to everything, and started to focus on developing solutions for the crypto-hermit.

The problem with that is that it takes an all or nothing approach to privacy and security. It also requires users to become more technical than most of them ever wanted to be, and give up features, convenience and ease of use as a price for privacy and security. In my view that ignores the most fundamental lesson we have learned about security throughout the past decades. People will work around security when they consider it necessary in order to get the job done. So the adoption rate of such technologies will necessarily remain limited to a very small group of users whose concerns are unusually strong.

These groups are often more exposed, more endangered, and more in need of protection and contribute to society in an unusually large way. So developing technology they can use is clearly a good thing.

It just won’t solve the problem at scale.

To do that we would need a generic web application geared towards all of tomorrow’s form factors and devices. It should be collaboration centric and allow deployment in environments from a single to hundreds of millions of users. It should enable meshed collaboration between sites, be fun to use, elegant, beautiful and provide security in a way that does not get into the users face.

Fully Free Software, that solution should be the generic collaboration application that could become in parts or as a whole the basis for solutions such as mailpile, which focus on local machine installations using extensive cryptography, intermediate solutions such as Mail-in-a-Box, all the way to generic cloud services by providers such as cPanel or Tucows. It should integrate all forms of on-line collaboration, make use of all the advances in usability for encryption, and be able to grow as technology advances further.

That, in short, is the goal Kolab Systems has set out to achieve with its plans for Roundcube Next.

While we can and of course will pursue that goal independently in incremental steps we believe that would be missing two rather major opportunities. Such as the opportunity to tackle this together, as a community. We have a lot of experience, a great UI/UX designer excited about the project, and many good ideas.

But we are not omniscient and we also want to use this opportunity to achieve what Roundcube 1.0 has not quite managed to accomplish: To build an active, multi-vendor community around a base technology that will be fully Open Source/Free Software and will address the collaborative web application need so well that it puts Google Apps and Office 365 to shame and provides that solution to everyone. And secondly, while incremental improvements are immensely powerful, sometimes leapfrogging innovation is what you really want.

All of that is what Roundcube Next really represents: The invitation to leapfrog all existing applications, as a community.

So if you are a user that has appreciated Roundcube in the past, or a user who would like to be able to choose fully featured services that leave nothing to be desired but do not compromise your privacy and security, please contribute to pushing the fast forward button on Roundcube Next.

And if you are an Application Service Provider, but your name is not Google, Microsoft, Amazon or Apple, Roundcube Next represents the small, strategic investment that might just put you in a position to remain competitive in the future. Become part of the advisory group and join the ongoing discussion about where to take that application, and how to make it reality, together.

 

May 13, 2015

Free Software Foundation announces deputy director search

This new position would work closely in support of the executive director to coordinate and amplify the work of an expanding, 12-person staff; represent the FSF to conference, supporter, and donor audiences internationally; and play a key role in improving the FSF's overall effectiveness by driving initiative prioritization, fundraising, resource allocation, hiring, and internal process development.

Now is an especially exciting time to join the FSF team, since this year is our 30th anniversary. We are taking the opportunity to both reflect on the past and plan ahead for the next 30 years.

In addition to being a talented general manager and project coordinator, the right candidate will bring significant expertise to at least one of the FSF's major work areas -- technology infrastructure and software development, licensing and compliance, public advocacy and engagement, fundraising, or operations.

This role is for someone who:

  • is a dedicated free software user;
  • cares deeply about the impact of control over technology on the exercise of individual freedoms;
  • stays highly organized, even during high-stress situations,
  • inspires and motivates others;
  • is a reliably rational, diplomatic, and productive voice in discussions, both online and offline;
  • loves puzzles and problem-solving; and
  • enjoys the challenges of working in the public eye, including fielding and responding to criticisms.

Because of financial control duties, the position must be worked from the FSF's headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. Relocation assistance is available. Candidates currently located outside the US may apply; we have sponsored visas in the past.

Salary would be commensurate with experience. Benefits include:

  • full family health coverage through Blue Cross/Blue Shield's HMO Blue program,
  • subsidized dental plan,
  • four weeks of paid vacation annually,
  • seventeen paid holidays annually,
  • public transit commuting cost reimbursement,
  • 403(b) program through TIAA-CREF,
  • a shiny silver Deputy star,
  • yearly cost-of-living pay increases, and
  • potential for an annual performance bonus.

Applications must be submitted via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The email must contain the subject line "Deputy Director". A complete application should include:

  • resume or CV,
  • cover letter,
  • writing sample (1000 words or less), and
  • links to published work online, such as articles, code contributions, or conference presentation videos.

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

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis.

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

About the Free Software Foundation

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

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

Ubuntu Security Update on VENOM (CVE-2015-3456) [UPDATED]

A buffer overflow in the virtual floppy disk controller of QEMU has been discovered. An attacker could use this issue to cause QEMU to crash or execute arbitrary code in the host’s QEMU process.

This issue is mitigated in a couple ways on Ubuntu when using libvirt to manage QEMU virtual machines, which includes OpenStack’s use of QEMU. The QEMU process in the host environment is owned by a special libvirt-qemu user which helps to limit access to resources in the host environment. Additionally, the QEMU process is confined by an AppArmor profile that significantly lessens the impact of a vulnerability such as VENOM by reducing the host environment’s attack surface.

A fix for this issue has been committed in the upstream QEMU source code tracker. Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, Ubuntu 14.10, and Ubuntu 15.04 are affected. To address the issue, ensure that qemu-kvm 1.0+noroms-0ubuntu14.22 (Ubuntu 12.04 LTS), qemu 2.0.0+dfsg-2ubuntu1.11 (Ubuntu 14.04 LTS), qemu 2.1+dfsg-4ubuntu6.6 (Ubuntu 14.10), qemu 1:2.2+dfsg-5expubuntu9.1 (Ubuntu 15.04) are installed.

For reference, the Ubuntu Security Notices website is the best place to find information on security updates and the affected supported releases of Ubuntu.  Users can get notifications via email and RSS feeds from the USN site, as well as access the Ubuntu CVE Tracker.

May 11, 2015

Upcoming opportunities to talk MySQL/MariaDB in May 2015

May is quickly shaping up to be a month filled with activity in the MySQL/MariaDB space. Just a quick note to talk about where I’ll be; looking forward to meet folk to talk shop. 

  1. The London MySQL Meetup GroupMay 13 2015 – organized by former colleague & friend Ivan Zoratti, we will be doing a wrap up of recent announcements at Percona Live Santa Clara, and I’ll be showing off some of the spiffy new features we are building into MariaDB 10. 
  2. MariaDB Roadshow London – May 19 2015 – I’m going to give an overview of our roadmap, and there will be many excellent talks by colleagues there. I believe MariaDB Corporation CEO Patrik Sallner and Stu Schmidt, President at Zend will also be there. Should be a fun filled day. 
  3. Internet Society (ISOC) Hong Kong World Internet Developer Summit – May 21-22 2015 – I’ll be giving a keynote about MariaDB and how we are trying to make it important Internet infrastructure as well as making it developer friendly. 
  4. O’Reilly Velocity 2015 – May 27-29 2015 – I will in 90 minutes attempt to give a tutorial to attendees (over a 100 have already pre-registered) an overview of MySQL High Availability options and what their choices are in 2015. Expect a lot of talk on replication improvements from both MySQL & MariaDB, Galera Cluster, as well as tools around the ecosystem. 

April 28, 2015

Sharing multiple links on Android

Did you try to share several URLs at once on Android before? Until now I copied and pasted each one of the links step-by-step into an e-mail or a text. While checking F-Droid for new programs last month, I discovered bulkshare, which offers an easier way to achieve this task.

First you share each of the links with bulkshare through Android’s share menu. Then you open bulkshare and re-share it with another program. In this step you can choose which of the links you want to share (by default all).

Screenshot of bulkshare with multiple links open

After sharing several links to bulkshare you can re-share all or a selection of them

This way you can share the link list for example with K-9 mail or other programs, edit the text around it and send it out.

Thanks to the author Alex Gherghișan for this nice program.

April 23, 2015

Event about Copyright in Águeda (Portugal), next May

A workshop about Copyright and Digital Rights Management and a monkey on the poster? Are you lost? Here's an explanation... this famous monkey is a pro in taking selfies. If you want to know more, the rest of the story will be told next 9th of May!

I'll be talking about DRM on an event next to Paula Simões (Portuguese Education Freedom Association) who's going to talk about copyright levies, and Teresa Nobre (Creative Commons) who's going to talk about free culture.

It promises to be a great afternoon, I hope you'll be able to join us!

Kokori news

A consequence from the fact that I almost stopped blogging is that those of you who still read this blog and were used to follow my musical endeavors through it were left in the dark.

I did refer at some point that I am 1/2 of a post-cyberpunk industrial duo named kokori. But from then until now, kokori has released three EPs and one single, besides participating on several compilations. Here's one of the tracks from our "Release Candid Hate" EP, so you know what I'm talking about:
But the flow never stops, and we are at this moment on an ambitious project - a crowdfunded compilation.
With your help, Kokori is going to be part of an awesome 3 tapes compilation. Metaphysical Circuits, a tape label from our good friend Christian of The Beard Of Snails Records (R.I.P.), is aiming to release "400/100", a three-hour, 43 track triple cassette compilation. An epic, eclectic statement, spanning ambient excursions, techno textures, slick synths, cinematic guitars, song-craft, improvisation, wyrld jamz, and no-fi noise melodies, this project has everything to be a must-have compilation, and we're proud to be a part of it with one new, exclusive track. Alongside with Kokori will be musical projects like Palm Era, TAKAHIRO MUKAI, Vejgaard Ambient, Northville Tunnels, The Child of a Creek, Stephen Connolly, Strange Mountain, cryptic scenery, Geoff, Les Bicyclettes de Belize and more. But why with your help? Well, because this endeavour needs you as much as you need it: your funding and pre-order will make it happen, and in the process you can even get some extra goodies. Find all about it on its campaign page!

Final PDFreaders advertisement squashing

We currently wrap-up the PDFreaders campaign, and we need your help to measure our success.

Started in 2009 FSFE’s goal with the campaign was to get rid of advertisement for proprietary PDF readers. We focused on the websites of public administrations, and many people helped us gather contact details for over 2000 public websites which advertised non-free software. Many people helped us to contact the public administrations, governments were made aware of it and published guidelines. Until now we know that 772 of the 2110 bugs were fixed, which is a 36% success rate.

A highway without any advertisement

A highway without any claims by the government which cars you need to drive there, or advertisemt for those cars

But for most countries we did not check the status for several months now. That’s why we need your help now to make one final round. We are looking for volunteers who can help us checking websites in their native language.

Here a step by step guide:

  1. Check the etherpad to see if someone is already working on your country list
    • If yes, please coordinate directly who takes care about what, so you do not waste your time
    • If no, please indicate in the pad that you start to work on it.
  2. For each web page listed on the page or the xml file, go to the web page and search if there is still an advertisement for non-free PDFreaders
    • If yes, keep the bug open.
    • If no, use your favourite search engine with a query like: “site:DomainNameOfOrganiation.TLD adobe acrobat pdf reader
      • If you have no results, close the bug by adding the current date in the “closed” field in the xml file
      • If you have some results and there is still advertisment without also listing Free Software PDF readers, let the bug open and change the link in the “institution-url” field to one from the results you just found.
    • If the link is broken, use the query from the point above
      • If you have some results and there is just advertisement for non-free PDF readers, change the broken url with a new one in the “institution-url” field.
      • If you have no result close the bug by adding the current date in the “closed” field.
    • When you have finished to update, please inform others by updating the status on the public pad and sent the xml file to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
    • Now, you have all our gratitude. Thank you very much!

Afterwards we will send an update about how many institutions removed the advertisement, and what else we achieved together with you in the campaign.

April 13, 2015

Presentation – Crash Course Cloud 2.0

Presentation on the current state of cloud computing and the role that open source, containers and microservices are playing in the cloud.

Presented to Florida Linux Users Exchange on April 9th, 2015

[Link in case embed doesn’t work].

 

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March 31, 2015

OpenSource.com – Open source and DevOps aren’t mandatory, but neither is survival

I recently wrote an article for OpenSource.com – Open source and DevOps aren’t mandatory, but neither is survival This article is part of the Easy DevOps column coordinated by Greg Dekoenigsberg, VP of Community at Ansible. Share your stories and advice that helps to make DevOps practical—along with the tools, processes, culture, successes and glorious/inglorious failures from your experience by contacting us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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February 01, 2015

MariaDB turns 5!

I stopped working on MySQL at Sun Microsystems in late 2009 (after a lengthy period of garden leave), to join Monty Program Ab, and was greatly anticipating a MariaDB release that we could take to market. The first GA release of MariaDB came out February 1 2010 – MariaDB 5.1.42. Today is MariaDB Server’s 5th birthday!

We didn’t even want to call it GA back then — we referred to it as a “stable” release. We didn’t make our own builds because we figured source code tarballs were good enough; so builds were made and hosted at OurDelta. It took some months (around August 2010) when we moved release notes to the Knowledgebase (which you’ll notice has moved from kb.askmonty.org to its current location) from the old front page wiki install that we had at askmonty.org.

I didn’t go to the first company meeting in Malaga due to having the chickenpox, so my first meeting was the one we did in Reykjavik, Iceland. We did it towards the end of February 2010, and planned it literally in a month – maybe a celebration that we brought 5.1 to market on time, and also to plan 5.2.

Speaking of companies, we were Monty Program Ab (professionally this quickly became MariaDB Services Ab), then SkySQL Ab (via merger), and finally MariaDB Corporation Ab (via re-branding). Shortly before the SkySQL Ab merger, we even have the MariaDB Foundation appear.

Anyway, what have we released? MariaDB 5.1, MariaDB 5.2, MariaDB 5.3, MariaDB 5.5, MariaDB 10.0, MariaDB Galera Cluster 5.5 & 10.0, a special MariaDB 5.5 with TokuDB build and a special MariaDB with FusionIO improvements build. To boot, we also have three client libraries (connectors, if you must): C, Java, and ODBC.

So 5 major server releases (7 if you count the Galera series), and we’re now working on MariaDB 10.1. I count 88 releases of the server across various versions (with breakdowns: 9 alphas, 11 betas, 7 release candidates and 61 GAs). We’ve had 23 Galera releases and 15 releases for the various client libraries.

We are shipping in all major Linux and BSD distributions. In many, we are even the default

This birthday is a nice time to look back at our achievements, but also to remind ourselves to not rest on our laurels and continue to focus on growth. The last sanctioned press release talks of over 2 million users globally. 

Thank you to all our users. Thank you to all the contributors and developers. Here’s to a lot more adoption, growth, releases and technology improvements!

January 22, 2015

FLOSSK mbështetë Wiki Academy Kukës

FLOSSK do të mbështesë Wiki Academy-n e cila mbahet më 22 dhe 23 mars në Kukës. Akademia e Wikipedia-s përfshinë trajnimin e të rinjëve për të kontribuar në Wikipedia duke përfunduar me një vikend të plotë dedikuar shkrimit të artikujve në Enciklopedinë e Lirë Wikipedia.

January 20, 2015

Smart things powered by snappy Ubuntu Core on ARM and x86

“Smart, connected things” are redefining our home, work and play, with brilliant innovation built on standard processors that have shrunk in power and price to the point where it makes sense to turn almost every “thing” into a smart thing. I’m inspired by the inventors and innovators who are creating incredible machines – from robots that might clean or move things around the house, to drones that follow us at play, to smarter homes which use energy more efficiently or more insightful security systems. Prooving the power of open source to unleash innovation, most of this stuff runs on Linux – but it’s a hugely fragmented and insecure kind of Linux. Every device has custom “firmware” that lumps together the OS and drivers and devices-specific software, and that firmware is almost never updated. So let’s fix that!

Ubuntu is right at the heart of the “internet thing” revolution, and so we are in a good position to raise the bar for security and consistency across the whole ecosystem. Ubuntu is already pervasive on devices – you’ve probably seen lots of “Ubuntu in the wild” stories, from self-driving cars to space programs and robots and the occasional airport display. I’m excited that we can help underpin the next wave of innovation while also thoughtful about the responsibility that entails. So today we’re launching snappy Ubuntu Core on a wide range of boards, chips and chipsets, because the snappy system and Ubuntu Core are perfect for distributed, connected devices that need security updates for the OS and applications but also need to be completely reliable and self-healing. Snappy is much better than package dependencies for robust, distributed devices.

Transactional updates. App store. A huge range of hardware. Branding for device manufacturers.

In this release of Ubuntu Core we’ve added a hardware abstraction layer where platform-specific kernels live. We’re working commercially with the major silicon providers to guarantee free updates to every device built on their chips and boards. We’ve added a web device manager (“webdm”) that handles first-boot and app store access through the web consistently on every device. And we’ve preserved perfect compatibility with the snappy images of Ubuntu Core available on every major cloud today. So you can start your kickstarter project with a VM on your favourite cloud and pick your processor when you’re ready to finalise the device.

If you are an inventor or a developer of apps that might run on devices, then Ubuntu Core is for you. We’re launching it with a wide range of partners on a huge range of devices. From the pervasive Beaglebone Black to the $35 Odroid-C1 (1Ghz processor, 1 GB RAM), all the way up to the biggest Xeon servers, snappy Ubuntu Core gives you a crisp, ultra-reliable base platform, with all the goodness of Ubuntu at your fingertips and total control over the way you deliver your app to your users and devices. With an app store (well, a “snapp” store) built in and access to the amazing work of thousands of communities collaborating on Github and other forums, with code for robotics and autopilots and a million other things instantly accessible, I can’t wait to see what people build.

I for one welcome the ability to install AI on my next camera-toting drone, and am glad to be able to do it in a way that will get patched automatically with fixes for future heartbleeds!

Education Freedom Day registration launched!

efd-banner

We have just opened Education Freedom Day registration, scheduled on March 21st, 2015. For its second edition EFD has been moved to March to facilitate its celebration in both the south of the planet and China (at least…) and we hope to cater to more events this year.

As usual for all our Freedom celebrations the process is similar, you get together and decide to organize an event, then create a page in our wiki and register your team. As the date approaches you get to put more information in your wiki page (or on your organization website which is linked from the wiki) such as the date and time, the location and what people can expect to see.

Education Freedom Day is really the opportunity to review all the available Free Educational Resources available, how they have improved since last year and what you should start planning to implement to deploy in the coming months. More importantly it is the celebration of what is available and letting people aware of it!

So prepare well and see you all in two months to celebrate Education Freedom Day!

Celebrate EFD with us on March 21, 2015!

Education Freedom Day registration launched!

And to continue this busy week in announcements we have just opened Education Freedom Day registration, scheduled on March 21st, 2015. For its second edition EFD has been moved to March to facilitate its celebration in both the south of the planet and China (at least...) and we hope to cater to more events this year.

As usual for all our Freedom celebrations the process is similar, you get together and decide to organize an event, then create a page in our wiki and register your team. As the date approaches you get to put more information in your wiki page (or on your organization website which is linked from the wiki) such as the date and time, the location and what people can expect to see.

Education Freedom Day is really the opportunity to review all the available Free Educational Resources available, how they have improved since last year and what you should start planning to implement to deploy in the coming months. More importantly it is the celebration of what is available and letting people aware of it!

So prepare well and see you all in two months to celebrate Education Freedom Day!

January 19, 2015

Komentet e FLOSSK-ut ndaj ligjit për përgjimin e komunikimeve elektronike në Kosovë

Më 19 janar, përmes një letre dërguar Komisionit Parlamentar për Integrime Evropiane, FLOSSK-u ka reaguar ndaj Projektligjit për përgjimin e komunikimeve elektronike në Kosovë. Në këtë letër numërohet arsyet pse ky Projektligj në formën e tanishme është i dëmshëm për privatësinë e qytetarëve të Kosovës dhe si rrjedhojë i papranueshëm për ne.
 

30 years of FSF

After an exciting weekend celebrating Hardware Freedom Day what could possibly be better than going back to the very inspiring video made to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Free Software Foundation? Indeed it’s been made using Free Software only and goes through the work of the foundation for the past thirty years. It’s actually nice to look at, positive and very well animated. We will definitely encourage all our software freedom day teams to use it during their events. But let us say no more and let you enjoy it if you’ve missed it so far:

And then, for the ones into this kind of work, and blender in particular, you can find a detailed explanation of the challenges that the makers of the work went through and how they fixed them right here. Definitely a great read into the whole process from design to finish. Great job guys! And of course a happy 30th anniversary to the FSF from the Digital Freedom Foundation and all its members!

30 years of FSF

After an exciting weekend celebrating Hardware Freedom Day what could possibly be better than going back to the very inspiring video made to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Free Software Foundation? Indeed it's been made using Free Software only and goes through the work of the foundation for the past thirty years. It's actually nice to look at, positive and very well animated. We will definitely encourage all our software freedom day teams to use it during their events. But let us say no more and let you enjoy it if you've missed it so far:

And then, for the ones into this kind of work, and blender in particular, you can find a detailed explaination of the challenges that the makers of the work went through and how they fixed them right here. Definitely a great read into the whole process from design to finish. Great job guys! And of course a happy 30th anniversary to the FSF from the Digital Freedom Foundation and all its members!

December 23, 2014

GNOME Builder copr now for Rawhide only

GNOME Builder is under heavy development. This usually implies that such an application might require very new versions of its dependencies.

Upstream recently bumped their dependencies, and now require things that are only in Rawhide.

I have no intention to provide development builds of Gtk3 (among other things) in a Fedora 21 copr, as that might imply either breaking half of the distro, or having to rebuild it.

As a result, the GNOME Builder copr will from now on be Rawhide-only.

I have dropped the Fedora 21 repos, they won't be updated any more.

If you were using it on Fedora 21, please delete it:

# rm -f /etc/yum.repos.d/_copr_bochecha-gnome-builder.repo

If you still want to try GNOME Builder on Fedora 21, you'll now have to go the jhbuild route.

November 27, 2014

Lollipopp’d

I successfully updated my Nexus devices with Android 5.0 aka Lollipop earlier this week. Finally. After 3 tries with the download failing the first time, the install failing the next time and then it finally going through. Here is what I’m impressed with: * Look and feel polish – the visual change using new material […]

November 22, 2014

Release party in Barcelona

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Another time, and there has been 16, ubuntaires celebrated the release party of the next Ubuntu version, in this case, 14.10 Utopic Unicorn.

This time, we went to Barcelona, at Raval, at the very centre, thanks to our friends of the TEB.

As always, we started with explaining what Ubuntu is and how our Catalan LoCo Team works and later Núria Alonso from the TEB explained the Ubuntu migration done at the Xarxa Òmnia.

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The installations room was plenty from the very first moment.

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There also was a very profitable auto-learning workshop on how to do an Ubuntu metadistribution.

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And in another room, there were two Arduino workshops.

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And, of course, ubuntaires love to eat well.

 

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Pictures by Martina Mayrhofer and Walter García, all rights reserved.

 
 

November 08, 2014

OpenStack on a diet, redux

Subhu writes that OpenStack’s blossoming project list comes at a cost to quality. I’d like to follow up with an even leaner approach based on an outline drafted during the OpenStack Core discussions after ODS Hong Kong, a year ago.

The key ideas in that draft are:

Only call services “core” if the user can detect them.

How the cloud is deployed or operated makes no difference to a user. We want app developers to

Define both “core” and “common” services, but require only “core” services for a cloud that calls itself OpenStack compatible.

Separation of core and common lets us recognise common practice today, while also acknowledging that many ideas we’ve had in the past year or three are just 1.0 iterations, we don’t know which of them will stick any more than one could predict which services on any major public cloud will thrive and which will vanish over time. Signalling that something is “core” means it is something we commit to keeping around a long time. Signalling something is “common” means it’s widespread practice for it to be available in an OpenStack environment, but not a requirement.

Require that “common” services can be self-deployed.

Just as you can install a library or a binary in your home directory, you can run services for yourself in a cloud. Services do not have to be provided by the cloud infrastructure provider, they can usually be run by a user themselves, under their own account, as a series of VMs providing network services. Making it a requirement that users can self-provide a service before designating it common means that users can build on it; if a particular cloud doesn’t offer it, their users can self-provide it. All this means is that the common service itself builds on core services, though it might also depend on other common services which could be self-deployed in advance of it.

Require that “common” services have a public integration test suite that can be run by any user of a cloud to evaluate conformance of a particular implementation of the service.

For example, a user might point the test suite at HP Cloud to verify that the common service there actually conforms to the service test standard. Alternatively, the user who self-provides a common service in a cloud which does not provide it can verify that their self-deployed common service is functioning correctly. This also serves to expand the test suite for the core: we can self-deploy common services and run their test suites to exercise the core more thoroughly than Tempest could.

Keep the whole set as small as possible.

We know that small is beautiful; small is cleaner, leaner, more comprehensible, more secure, easier to test, likely to be more efficiently implemented, easier to attract developer participation. In general, if something can be cut from the core specification it should. “Common” should reflect common practice and can be arbitrarily large, and also arbitrarily changed.

In the light of those ideas, I would designate the following items from Subhu’s list as core OpenStack services:

  • Keystone (without identity, nothing)
  • Nova (the basis for any other service is the ability to run processes somewhere)
    • Glance (hard to use Nova without it)
  • Neutron (where those services run)
    • Designate (DNS is a core aspect of the network)
  • Cinder (where they persist data)

I would consider these to be common OpenStack services:

  • SWIFT (widely deployed, can be self-provisioned with Cinder block backends)
  • Ceph RADOS-GW object storage (widely deployed as an implementation choice, common because it could be self-provided on Cinder block)
  • Horizon (widely deployed, but we want to encourage innovation in the dashboard)

And these I would consider neither core nor common, though some of them are clearly on track there:

  • Barbican (not widely implemented)
  • Ceilometer (internal implementation detail, can’t be common because it requires access to other parts)
  • Juju (not widely implemented)
  • Kite (not widely implemented)
  • HEAT (on track to become common if it can be self-deployed, besides, I eat controversy for breakfast)
  • MAAS (who cares how the cloud was built?)
  • Manila (not widely implemented, possibly core once solid, otherwise common once, err, common)
  • Sahara (not widely implemented, weird that we would want to hardcode one way of doing this in the project)
  • Triple-O (user doesn’t care how the cloud was deployed)
  • Trove (not widely implemented, might make it to “common” if widely deployed)
  • Tuskar (see Ironic)
  • Zaqar (not widely implemented)

In the current DefCore discussions, the “layer” idea has been introduced. My concern is simple: how many layers make sense? End users don’t want to have to figure out what lots of layers mean. If we had “OpenStack HPC” and “OpenStack Scientific” and “OpenStack Genomics” layers, that would just be confusing. Let’s keep it simple – use “common” as a layer, but be explicit that it will change to reflect common practice (of course, anything in common is self-reinforcing in that new players will defer to norms and implement common services, thereby entrenching common unless new ideas make services obsolete).

October 23, 2014

Ten years of Ubuntu

Today marks 10 years of Ubuntu and the release of the 21st version. That is an incredible milestone and one which is worthy of reflection and celebration. I am fortunate enough to be spending the day at our devices sprint with 200+ of the folks that have helped make this possible. There are of course hundreds of others in Canonical and thousands in the community who have helped as well. The atmosphere here includes a lot of reminiscing about the early days and re-telling of the funny stories, and there is a palpable excitement in the air about the future. That same excitement was present at a Canonical Cloud Summit in Brussels last week.

The team here is closing in on shipping our first phone, marking a new era in Ubuntu’s history. There has been excellent work recently to close bugs and improve quality, and our partner BQ is as pleased with the results as we are. We are on the home stretch to this milestone, and are still on track to have Ubuntu phones in the market this year. Further, there is an impressive array of further announcements and phones lined up for 2015.

But of course that’s not all we do – the Ubuntu team and community continue to put out rock solid, high quality Ubuntu desktop releases like clockwork – the 21st of which will be released today. And with the same precision, our PC OEM team continues to make that great work available on a pre-installed basis on millions of PCs across hundreds of machine configurations. That’s an unparalleled achievement, and we really have changed the landscape of Linux and open source over the last decade. The impact of Ubuntu can be seen in countless ways – from the individuals, schools, and enterprises who now use Ubuntu; to proliferation of Codes of Conduct in open source communities; to the acceptance of faster (and near continuous) release cycles for operating systems; to the unique company/community collaboration that makes Ubuntu possible; to the vast number of developers who have now grown up with Ubuntu and in an open source world; to the many, many, many technical innovations to come out of Ubuntu, from single-CD installation in years past to the more recent work on image-based updates.

Ubuntu Server also sprang from our early desktop roots, and has now grown into the leading solution for scale out computing. Ubuntu and our suite of cloud products and services is the premier choice for any customer or partner looking to operate at scale, and it is indeed a “scale-out” world. From easy to consume Ubuntu images on public clouds; to managed cloud infrastructure via BootStack; to standard on-premise, self-managed clouds via Ubuntu OpenStack; to instant solutions delivered on any substrate via Juju, we are the leaders in a highly competitive, dynamic space. The agility, reliability and superior execution that have brought us to today’s milestone remains a critical competency for our cloud team. And as we release Ubuntu 14.10 today, which includes the latest OpenStack, new versions of our tooling such as MaaS and Juju, and initial versions of scale-out solutions for big data and Cloud Foundry, we build on a ten year history of “firsts”.

All Ubuntu releases seem to have their own personality, and Utopic is a fitting way to commemorate the realisation of a decade of vision, hard work and collaboration. We are poised on the edge of a very different decade in Canonical’s history, one in which we’ll carry forward the applicable successes and patterns, but will also forge a new path in the twin worlds of converged devices and scale-out computing. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the journey thus far. Now, on to Vivid and the next ten years!

September 18, 2014

TL;DW for Clojure Data Science

Edmund Jackson talked at the 2012 Clojure/Conj, and you can see his talk here.

I took these notes as I watched it:
  1. What is "data science"?
    1. "That realm of endeavor that requires, simultaneously, advanced computational and statistical methods."
    2. Some people aren't sure whether "data science" is a thing, or just data analysis dressed up with a fancy name. That question amuses me.
  2. What's new, such that everybody suddenly cares about data science?
    1. widely available computing resources, open source tools such as R, and large amounts of data available in private companies and in public
    2. Compares to early days of Linux, when there was a bunch of new stuff that everybody could hack on
  3. Interactive tools aren't enough; you're not taking some data, analyzing it, and coming back with the answer. You need platform features like native language speed, data structures, language constructs, connectivity, and QC in order to embed your analysis in business processes.
  4. The tools with better analysis features (e.g., R, Mathematica) lack the platform features, and the tools with better platform features (he focuses primarily on C++ as his example here) lack the analysis features.
  5. Python is in the sweet spot, with platform features and (via numpy, scipy, and pandas) analysis features. But:
    1. It's full of mutable data!
    2. The mode of expression in imperative languages poorly matches the content of expression when you're dealing with maths.
  6. F#, Scala, and Clojure are all functional, and therefore (immutable data, more natural expression of maths) better alternatives than Python.
  7. Clojure yay! points:
    1. Native: Incanter, Storm, Cascalog, Datomic
    2. JVM: Mahout (ML on Hadoop), jBLAS, Weka (Java lib with many ML algorithms)
    3. Interop: Rincanter (call out to R), JNI
  8. From here he goes into calculating the entropy of a distribution, and the relative entropy of different distributions.
  9. Demonstrates using relative entropy fns in Datomic queries

September 11, 2014

Mozilla Webmaker at Olivarez College Tagaytay a success

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The Mozilla webmaker party at Olivarez College Tagaytay is a success last September 5, 2014. Which was attended by different department from Olivarez College Tagaytay at Computer Laboratory 2.  Since they only have 20 system units on their laboratory they created a two batches of participants, one in the morning and the other is in the afternoon. The event discussion is about Introduction Mozilla which was discuss by Me, The second lecturer discussed and demo “Thimble” by Mr. Ian Mark Martin and lastly Mr. Leo Caisip which  discussed  about “Popcorn Maker“, Both  attended the Mozilla PH orientation for web maker mentor last August 16, 2014  at Mozilla Community Space Manila. The event ended at exactly 4:00pm as mostly in afternoon participated by the nursing department.

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We also distributed some Mozilla Swag (Bollard, Mozilla Sticker, Mozilla Tatoos and Mozilla Pins) for participants after the event. As part of the successfull event, based on their survey they are requesting for another event semilar to this.  but internet on the school is not that stable during that day but still we managed to make the event successfull.

 

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Pictures can be found here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/83515207@N04/sets/72157646987948838/

September 04, 2014

TL;DW for "How To Design A Good API and Why it Matters"

Josh Bloch's Google Tech Talk video How To Design A Good API and Why it Matters is about an hour long, and well worth your time. It's focused on OOP, but has lots of good principles that can be followed elsewhere.

In case you don't have an hour right now, here's a summary/index kind of thing that points out the bits I thought were most important.
  1. 6:27: Characteristics of a good API:
    1. Easy to learn
    2. Easy to use, even without documentation
    3. Hard to misuse
    4. Easy to read and maintain code that uses it
    5. Sufficiently powerful to satisfy requirements
    6. Easy to evolve
    7. Appropriate to audience
  2. 7:52: Gather requirements, but differentiate between true requirements (which should take the form of use cases) and proposed solutions.
  3. 10:02: Start with a short spec; one page is ideal.
    1. Agility trumps completeness at this point.
    2. Get as many spec reviews from as many audiences as possible, modify according to feedback.
    3. Flesh the spec out as you gain confidence.
  4. 15:10: Write to your API early and often
    1. Start writing to your API before you've implemented it, or even specified it properly.
    2. Continue writing to your API as you flesh it out.
    3. Your code will live on in examples and unit tests.
  5. 17:32: Write to SPI [Service Provider Interface]
    1. Write at least three plugins before your release.
    2. Application in Clojure-land: Not sure...
  6. 19:35: Maintain realistic expectations.
    1. You won't please everyone.
    2. Aim to displease everyone equally.
    3. Expect to make mistakes and evolve the API in the future.
  7. 22:01: API should do one thing and do it well.
    1. Functionality should be easy to explain.
    2. If it's hard to name, that's a bad sign.
      1. Example of bad name that I can't leave out of this summary: OMGVMCID
  8. 24:32: API should be as small as possible but no smaller
    1. "When in doubt, leave it out." You can always add stuff, but you can't ever remove anything you've included. (The speaker calls this out as his most important point.)
  9. 26:27: Implementation should not impact API.
    1. Do not over-specify. For example, nobody needs to know how your hash function works, unless the hashes are persistent.
    2. Don't leak implementation details such as SQL exceptions!
  10. 29:36: Minimize accessibility of everything.
    1. Don't let API callers see stuff you don't want to be public, and that includes anything you might want to change in the future.
  11. 30:39: Names matter: API is a little language.
    1. Make names self-explanatory.
    2. Be consistent.
    3. Strive for symmetry. (If you can GET a monkey-uncle, make sure you can PUT a monkey-uncle, too.)
  12. 32:32: Documentation matters.
    1. Document parameter units! ("Length of banana in centimeters")
  13. 35:41: Consider performance consequences of API design decisions.
    1. Bad decisions can limit performance -- and this is permanent.
    2. Do not warp your API to gain performance -- the slow thing you avoided can be fixed and get faster, but your warped API will be permanent.
    3. Good design usually coincides with good performance.
  14. 40:00: Minimize mutability
    1. Make everything immutable unless there's a reason to do otherwise.
  15. 45:31: Don't make the caller do anything your code should do.
    1. If there are common use cases that require stringing a bunch of your stuff together in a boilerplate way, that's a bad sign.
  16. 48:36: Don't violate the principle of least astonishment
    1. Make sure your API callers are never surprised by what the API does.
  17. 50:03: Report errors as soon as possible after they occur.
  18. 52:00: Provide programmatic access to all data that is available in string form.
    1. Rich Hickey makes a similar point here.
  19. 56:15: Use consistent parameter ordering across methods.
    1. Here's a bad example:
      1. char *strncpy (char *dst, char *src, size_t n);
      2. void bcopy (void *src, void *dst, size_t n);
  20. 57:15: Avoid long parameter lists.
  21. 58:21: Avoid return values that demand exceptional processing.
    1. Example: return an empty list instead of nil/null.

August 22, 2014

GNU hackers unmask massive HACIENDA surveillance program and design a countermeasure

After making key discoveries about the details of HACIENDA, Julian Kirsch, Dr. Christian Grothoff, Jacob Appelbaum, and Dr. Holger Kenn designed the TCP Stealth system to protect unadvertised servers from port scanning.

According to Heise Online, the intelligence agencies of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are involved in HACIENDA. The agencies share the data they collect. The HACIENDA system also hijacks civilian computers, allowing it to leach computing resources and cover its tracks.

Some of the creators of TCP Stealth are also prominent contributors to the GNU Project, a major facet of the free software community and a hub for political and technological action against bulk surveillance. Free software is safer because it is very hard to hide malicious code in a program anyone can read. In proprietary software, there is no way to guarantee that programs don't hide backdoors and other vulnerabilities. The team revealed their work on August 15, 2014 at the annual GNU Hackers' Meeting in Germany, and Julian Kirsch published about it in his master's degree thesis.

Maintainers of Parabola, an FSF-endorsed GNU/Linux distribution, have already implemented TCP Stealth, making Parabola users safer from surveillance. The FSF encourages other operating systems to follow Parabola's lead.

The Free Software Foundation supports and sponsors the GNU Project. FSF campaigns manager Zak Rogoff said, "Every time you use a free software program, you benefit from the work of free software developers inspired by the values of transparency and bottom-up collaboration. But on occassions like these, when our civil liberties are threatened with technological tools, the deep importance of these values becomes obvious. The FSF is proud to support the free software community in its contributions to the resistance against bulk surveillance."

The Free Software Foundation works politically for an end to mass surveillance. Simultaneously, the Foundation advocates for individuals of all technical skill levels to take a variety of actions against bulk surveillance.

About Julian Kirsch, Christian Grothoff, Jacob Appelbaum, and Holger Kenn

Julian Kirsch is the author of "Improved Kernel-Based Port-Knocking in Linux", his Master's Thesis in Informatics at Technische Universitat Munchen.

Dr. Christian Grothoff is the Emmy-Noether research group leader in Computer Science at Technische Universitat Munchen.

Jacob Appelbaum is an American independent computer security researcher and hacker. He was employed by the University of Washington, and is a core member of the Tor project, a free software network designed to provide online anonymity.

Dr. Holger Kenn is a computer scientist specializing in wearable computing, especially software architectures, context sensor systems, human machine interfaces, and wearable-mediated human robot cooperation.

About the Free Software Foundation

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

About the GNU Operating System and Linux

Richard Stallman announced in September 1983 the plan to develop a free software Unix-like operating system called GNU. GNU is the only operating system developed specifically for the sake of users' freedom. See https://www.gnu.org/gnu/the-gnu-project.

In 1992, the essential components of GNU were complete, except for one, the kernel. When in 1992 the kernel Linux was re-released under the GNU GPL, making it free software, the combination of GNU and Linux formed a complete free operating system, which made it possible for the first time to run a PC without non-free software. This combination is the GNU/Linux system. For more explanation, see https://www.gnu.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.

Media Contacts

Zak Rogoff
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1-617-542-5942
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

"Knocking down the HACIENDA" by Julian Kirsch, produced by GNU, the GNUnet team, and edited on short notice by Carlo von Lynx from #youbroketheinternet is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.

August 13, 2014

SFD Tagaytay 2014 at Olivarez College

I am now again an official organizer for SFD 2014, but this time I will organized the event in Tagaytay City which will be hosted by Olivarez College in Tagaytay. The said event is scheduled on September 27, 2014.

SFD2014

The venue is on their “AMPITHEATER” where it can hold more than 500 participants. Here are some pictures of the exact venue.

cpdc-20140804131542221  cpdc-20140804131124356We also launch the online registration feel free to register using the this URL : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/software-freedom-day-2014-at-olivarez-college-tagaytay-tickets-12455543867

August 12, 2014

websites on this server

June 30, 2014

Scancation - Scanning the Standing Stones of the Outer Hebrides

I just came back from a vacation where Kio and I went and visited most of the megalithic monuments on the islands of the Outer Hebrides in Scotland. Stone circles are all over the place on these islands and the biggest one is the Callanish Stone Circle. One of the cool things about these places is that there is very little history known about them and so all you can know about them is from your experience of being around them. Most of them all taller than me and you get the sense that these places were the sacred spaces of 5000 years ago.

One of the things I say a lot at MakerBot is that they really make the most sense when you connect your MakerBot to your passion. Since I'm into rocks. I scanned a few of my favorite stones and ran them through 123D Catch which makes a 3D model from up to 70 photos of the object. It’s pretty cool to think that yesterday I was walking among these stones and today I’m printing them out on the MakerBots in my office. 

It’s interesting to note that this feels a lot like the old days of vacation film photography. The process of processing the photos into a 3D model feels a lot like when I used to develop celluloid film after a vacation.

Someday, printing 3D models will be normal for everyone, for now, it’s just normal for all the MakerBot operators in the world.

If you decide to go on your own scanning vacation, aka scancation, here’s my process and tips for acquiring models. I use a Canon S110 camera and then upload my photos later to the 123D Catch site and then upload all the models and a zip file of all the photos to Thingiverse because the photogrammetry software will get better someday and I want to have an archive of the photos so I can make better models later.

 

  • Lighting conditions matter. A cloudy sky is much better than a sunny one so that you can get all the details of your subject. 
  • Fill the frame, but make sure to leave some area around the object in the picture. 123D Catch uses reference points in the object to make everything fit together. 
  • Use all 70 pictures allowed by the software. The more pictures, the better the scan. 
  • Scan weird things. Sometimes the most iconic stuff of a location isn’t the most obvious. Some friends of mine scanned all of Canal St. in NYC and said the interesting parts were the giant piles of trash bags which are one of the local overlooked pieces of landscape art.
  • Don’t forget the top view. If you are capturing a subject that is tall, do your best to get above it and take a picture. A quadcopter could be handy for that
  • Fix it up with Netfabb. After I upload the photos into the 123D Catch online portal, then I use Netfabb basic to slice off all the weird parts and cut a flat bottom onto the object.
  • Make sure to upload your scans to Thingiverse. We can all make models of your SCANCATION. 

 

Do you have any other scanning tips for those that would like to experiment with vacation scanning? Leave them in the comments!

June 22, 2014

the meaning of a word

i learned the word "feminist" at my first job. I was 15 and a trainee engineer in a hydro power scheme. I recall one young man I worked with asking me urgently if i was a feminist. I asked what that was. he said, "women who hate men". oh.. i'm not one of them....

why would i get a job as the only woman deep in a power station if i hated men? It was a long long time before i heard any other definition of feminist.

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