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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CopyLeft Conf's Call for Presentations is Open!

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

FSF statement on Microsoft joining the Open Invention Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media Contact

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

About the Free Software Foundation

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

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

FSF job opportunity: program manager

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits and Salary

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

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

Application Instructions

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

  • Cover letter
  • Resume
  • Two recent writing samples

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

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

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

About the Free Software Foundation

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

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

Richard Stallman - "Can we defend freedom and privacy from computing?" (Chicago, IL)

This speech by Richard Stallman will be nontechnical, admission is gratis, and the public is encouraged to attend.

Location: Hermann Hall Auditorium, 3241 S Federal St. (CTA Red and Green Line trains, and number 1 and 29 buses), Chicago, IL

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

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

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

Digital-O-Mat: Wie stehen die Parteien in Hessen zu Freier Software?

Digital-O-Mat: Wie stehen die Parteien in Hessen zu Freier Software?

Die Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) hat im Vorfeld der kommenden Landtagswahl in Hessen mit Hilfe eines "Digital-O-Mat" die Positionen der Parteien zu Freier Software unter die Lupe genommen. Auffällig sind vor allem gravierende Unterschiede bei den aktuellen Koalitionspartnern. Während die CDU sich für den Status quo ausspricht präsentiert sich die Partei Bündnis 90/Die Grünen als Unterstützer Freier Software und spricht sich explizit für den von der FSFE propagierten Grundsatz "Public Money, Public Code!" der gleichnamigen Kampagne aus.

Gemeinsam mit der Koalition Freies Wissen hat die FSFE einen "Digital-O-Mat" gestaltet, ein Online-Tool zur Information der WählerInnen zur Wahl des Hessischen Landtags 2018. Die zur Wahl antretenden Parteien mussten darin Stellung zum Einsatz Freier Software sowie der Veröffentlichung von mit steuergeldern finanzierter Software unter freien Lizenzen beziehen.

Neben dem eingangs erwähnten Bündnis 90/Die Grünen begrüßt auch Die Linke einen schrittweisen Umstieg der IT des Landes Hessen auf Freie und Open-Source-Software sowie eine gesetzliche Vorgabe, dass alle aus Landesmitteln finanzierte oder ko-finanzierte Software-Entwicklungen unter freien Lizenzen zu veröffentlichen sind.

Auch die Sozialdemokraten sprechen sich grundsätzlich für eine stärkere Nutzung von freier Software aus, insbesondere in der Verwaltung und öffentlichen Bildungseinrichtungen. Dies jedoch ohne zugleich eine entsprechende gesetzliche Grundlage zu fordern. Unklar hingegen verbleibt die Position der FDP, die sich zwar für eine Digitalisierung von Verwaltungsprozessen einsetzt, sich dabei aber nicht eindeutig zum Einsatz Freier Software bekennt.

Wenig überzeugend ist die Position der AfD, die sich mit einer wenn und aber Position versucht hinter den Einsatz Freie Software zu stellen, diesen aber gleichzeitig grundlegend kritisiert und damit zuweilen sogar hinter die konservative Position der CDU zurückfällt.

Fazit

In Hinblick auf die anstehende Landtagswahl ist davon auszugehen, dass sich in der kommenden Koalition mindestens ein Partner stärker für Freie Software einsetzten möchte. In einem neuen Koalitonsvertrag erwarten wir daher mindestens ein klares Bekenntnis zum verstärkten Einsatz Freier Software um Innovationen zu fördern, Grundrechte zu stärken und Steuergelder sinnvoll auszugeben.

Mehr zu der aktuellen FSFE Kampagne "Public Money? Public Code!", die von über 150 Organisationen, darunter die Stadt Barcelona, und mehr als 18.000 Einzelpersonen unterstützt wird, finden sie unter https://publiccode.eu/de/.

Den Digital-O-Mat gibt es auch für die Landtagswahl in Bayern 2018.

Was ist der Digital-O-Mat?

Der Digital-O-Mat macht die jeweiligen Parteipositionen zu netzpolitisch relevanten Themen sichtbar und erleichtert es den WählerInnen, auf dieser Grundlage eine für sie passende Partei zur Landtagswahl in Hessen zu finden. Sein Aufbau basiert auf dem bekannten Wahl-O-Mat. BenutzerInnen des Digital-O-Mat können insgesamt vierzehn Fragen beantworten und im Anschluss ihre eigene Position mit denen der beteiligten Parteien vergleichen. Themen des Digital-O-Mat sind unter anderem Transparenz, Überwachung, digitale Bürgerrechte und natürlich Freie Software. Befragt wurden AfD, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen, CDU, FDP, Die Linke und die SPD. Der Digital-O-Mat ist Freie Software.

Über die Koalition Freies Wissen

Die Koalition Freies Wissen ist ein Zusammenschluss aus mehreren zivilgesellschaftlichen Organisationen, namentlich des Bündnis Freie Bildung, dem Chaos Computer Club e.V., dem Digitale Gesellschaft e.V., dem Förderverein freie Netzwerke e.V., der Open Knowledge Foundation Deutschland e.V., Wikimedia Deutschland e.V. und der Free Software Foundation Europe.

Gemeinsames Ziel der Koalition Freies Wissen ist es, die politische Bildung zu den Themen Digital- und Netzpolitik voranzutreiben sowie digitale Bürgerrechte in Gesellschaft und Politik zu verankern und zu beleuchten.

Support FSFE, join the Fellowship
Make a one time donation

Conservancy Visiting the US South — Twice in October!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Location: Theatre, Seattle Central College, Seattle, WA

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

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