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Updated: 13 hours 42 min ago

FSF and GNU

Monday 7th of October 2019 02:45:00 AM

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) and the GNU Project were both started by Richard M. Stallman (RMS), and he served until recently as the head of both. Because of that, the relationship between the FSF and GNU has been fluid.

As part of our commitment to supporting the development and distribution of fully free operating systems, the FSF provides GNU with services like fiscal sponsorship, technical infrastructure, promotion, copyright assignment, and volunteer management.

GNU decision-making has largely been in the hands of GNU leadership. Since RMS resigned as president of the FSF, but not as head of GNU ("Chief GNUisance"), the FSF is now working with GNU leadership on a shared understanding of the relationship for the future. As part of that, we invite comments from free software community members at fsf-and-gnu@fsf.org.

Update 2019-10-10: Messages sent to fsf-and-gnu@fsf.org and gnu-and-fsf@gnu.org will be privately shared between the FSF and GNU leadership as part of this process.

Update 2019-10-07: GNU leadership has also published a statement. The contact address for sending comments to GNU is gnu-and-fsf@gnu.org.

Free Software Wireless-N Mini Router v2 from ThinkPenguin, Inc. now FSF-certified to Respect Your Freedom

Wednesday 25th of September 2019 08:25:00 PM

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today awarded Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification to the Free Software Wireless-N Mini Router v2 (TPE-R1200) from ThinkPenguin, Inc. The RYF certification mark means that these products meet the FSF's standards in regard to users' freedom, control over the product, and privacy.

This is ThinkPenguin's fourteenth device to receive RYF certification in 2019. The FSF announced certification of seven devices from ThinkPenguin on March 21st, as well as announcing six additional certifications on May 16th. ThinkPenguin continues to expand their collection of RYF-certified devices, already the largest collection of any RYF retailer. This is the first wireless router to receive RYF certification since the Free Software Wireless-N Mini Router (TPE-R1100) in 2016. This latest addition offers users several improvements over previously certified devices.

"The TPE-R1200 is a more powerful version of a previously RYF-certified router and ships with some new features, including two external RP-SMA antennas that provide for a greater wireless range. For those looking to hack on the router, there is a new, more powerful CPU, as well as significantly more NAND, NOR, and RAM," said Christopher Waid, founder and CEO of ThinkPenguin.

As with previous routers from ThinkPenguin, the Free Software Wireless-N Mini Router v2 ships with an FSF-endorsed fully free embedded GNU/Linux distribution called libreCMC. It also comes with a custom flavor of the U-Boot boot loader, assembled by the maintainer of libreCMC and former FSF intern Robert Call. The router enables users to run multiple devices on a network through a VPN service, helping to simplify the process of keeping their communications secure and private. While ThinkPenguin offers a VPN service, users are not required to purchase a subscription, and the device comes with detailed instructions on how to use the router with a wide variety of VPN providers.

"Protecting privacy is more important than ever. It's exciting to have an updated option for users seeking to shield their networks and their personal data," said the FSF's executive director, John Sullivan.

The first Free Software Wireless-N Mini Router served as an example case study in excellent free software license compliance for devices in Copyleft and the GNU General Public License: A Comprehensive Tutorial and Guide.

"ThinkPenguin continues its tradition of exemplary work with the latest edition of the router. It's great to have an organization like ThinkPenguin showing the world what is possible when it comes to offering freedom-respecting devices. They continue to raise the bar in terms of their dedication to offering products that meet the stringent criteria of the Respects Your Freedom certification program," said the FSF's licensing and compliance manager, Donald Robertson, III.

To learn more about the Respects Your Freedom certification program, including details on the certification of these ThinkPenguin devices, please visit https://fsf.org/ryf.

Retailers interested in applying for certification can consult https://www.fsf.org/resources/hw/endorsement/criteria.

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.

About ThinkPenguin, Inc.

Started by Christopher Waid, founder and CEO, ThinkPenguin, Inc. is a consumer-driven company with a mission to bring free software to the masses. At the core of the company is a catalog of computers and accessories with broad support for GNU/Linux. The company provides technical support for end-users and works with the community, distributions, and upstream projects to make GNU/Linux all that it can be.

Media Contacts

Donald Robertson, III
Licensing and Compliance Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
licensing@fsf.org

ThinkPenguin, Inc.
+1 (888) 39 THINK (84465) x703
media@thinkpenguin.com

Richard M. Stallman resigns

Tuesday 17th of September 2019 02:10:00 AM

The board will be conducting a search for a new president, beginning immediately. Further details of the search will be published on fsf.org.

For questions, contact FSF executive director John Sullivan at johns@fsf.org.

International Day Against DRM (IDAD): Defending the right to read on Oct. 12

Thursday 12th of September 2019 03:40:00 PM

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, September 12th, 2019 -- A global community of students, teachers, and activists are taking part in the Defective by Design campaign's 13th annual International Day Against DRM. Though from different backgrounds, countries, and perspectives, participants in the campaign share the common cause of opposing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), a widespread technology that places heavy restrictions on how people access digital media.

On Saturday, October 12th, there will be two events held in Boston: a protest outside of the Pearson Education offices at 501 Boylston Street, followed by an evening "hackathon," or collaboration session, on unrestricted and truly shareable educational materials at the offices of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) at 51 Franklin Street.

Typically, DRM is used to restrict a user's access to music, films, and software. It is embedded in both physical and digital media, such as the "copy protection" on a Blu-ray disc or the mechanism that prevents recording (or even taking screenshots) from services like Netflix. Increasingly, however, it has been extending into the realm of education. Pearson Education and similar publishers' move to a "digital-first" method of textbook distribution is an example of this. This new method of educational publishing forces students away from the reliability of a paper book, moving them instead to a temporarily "rented" text that can only be accessed under strictly specific conditions and for a limited amount of time. In many cases systems like these also require a constant Internet connection for authentication purposes, to make sure the reader is authorized to access their book, and additionally collects telemetric data based on their reading habits.

"DRM is about more than just 'bad' file formats or streaming services. It is more than just an inconvenience. DRM is a concerted attack on free society," said Greg Farough, campaigns manager at the FSF. "It isn't just that DRM is an ineffective method of protecting copyright, or that it undermines historic preservation of digital media. It is fundamentally unethical and anti-education. The International Day Against DRM is one way we can empower people to take a strong stance against DRM, and educate others on its importance. I'm very glad that this year we will be able to voice our dissent against DRM, as well as demonstrate that it is possible to envision a world without it."

Now in its 13th year, Defective by Design has a long history of campaigning for a user's rights to control their media and the devices they use to interact with it. Likewise, being the anti-DRM campaign of the FSF, it is inspired by the spirit and community of the global movement for user freedom. This year, Defective by Design is not only encouraging people to protest against Pearson, but is also sponsoring local and remote "hackathons" on collaboratively edited and shareable textbooks like those produced by FLOSSManuals and Wikibooks.

The campaign is encouraging people to participate in a variety of online and in-person actions, coordinated through the Web site dedicated to the anti-DRM cause at DefectivebyDesign.org. To be part of Defective by Design's year-round anti-DRM campaigns, supporters can join the low-volume Action Alerts email list. Those interested in more active participation in the fight against DRM are invited to join the FSF's LibrePlanet wiki to document the new developments and threats DRM poses to user freedom worldwide.

Along with blockchain technologies, artificial intelligence, and algorithms, DRM has been a hot issue this year, and has been reported on widely in the press:

  • Reacting to Microsoft's announcement that they would be closing down their ebook store (and with it, the forcible deletion of many of its users ebook libraries), Wired wrote a popular article on the "ebook apocalypse" users of the service faced.

  • The MIT Press issued a landmark study on the use of DRM in streaming media services, analyzing both the technical and ethical implications of the popularity of Spotify and its ability to leverage DRM-restricted media to gather data and even psychologically manipulate its users. During their work on Spotify Teardown: Inside the Black Box of Streaming Music, the authors received a cease and desist notice from the company.

  • Writing for Locus Magazine, author and technologist Cory Doctorow wrote on the "broken promise" of DRM, calling the shift from a user's "owning" a piece of digital media to "licensing" it a return to feudalism.

  • An article addressing the shutdown of the digital video service UltraViolet appeared in Forbes, highlighting it as a Hollywood failure to control the flow of digital media.

The campaign is inviting other organizations to participate, by contacting info@defectivebydesign.org to have their names added to a list of supporters, and to discuss possible actions. In 2018, organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, iFixIt, and the Document Foundation were partners.

About Defective By Design

Defective by Design is the Free Software Foundation's campaign against Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). DRM is the practice of imposing technological restrictions that control what users can do with digital media, creating a product that is defective by design. DRM requires the use of proprietary software, and is a major threat to computer user freedom. It often spies on users as well. The campaign, based at https://defectivebydesign.org, organizes anti-DRM activists for in-person and online actions, and challenges powerful media and technology interests promoting DRM. Supporters can donate to the campaign at https://crm.fsf.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=40.

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.

Media Contact

Greg Farough
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
(617) 542-5942
campaigns@fsf.org

Early registration open for FSF's licensing seminar on Oct 16 in Raleigh, NC

Thursday 29th of August 2019 07:35:00 PM

The CLE seminar is a regular program from the FSF, where a select a group of experts and experienced instructors in the free software community provide a comprehensive overview of current affairs in GPL Enforcement and Legal Ethics. We invite legal professionals, law students, free software developers, and anyone interested in licensing and compliance topics to join. While registration is open to the public, this seminar is a special opportunity for legal professionals and law students who can potentially earn continuing legal education (CLE) credits for participating (approval pending). The program will be available shortly on the event page.

registration for this event is now closed.

Attendees of the full day seminar will learn about copyleft and other important concepts in the GNU family of licenses, best practices in the free software licensing enforcement process, ethical considerations important to any lawyer working with clients involved in free software, and other current topics in free software licensing.

We are also opening up the event for potential sponsorships; offering a unique opportunity to align with the FSF and the professional ethics considerations in free software. Sponsors will receive complimentary passes to this event, as well as additional benefits. For more information, you can contact us at zoe@fsf.org.

The sessions will be led by experts and respected leaders in the free software community, including:

  • John Sullivan, Free Software Foundation executive director;

  • Justin C. Colannino, JD, attorney at Microsoft;

  • Marc Jones, JD, in-house counsel and compliance engineer at CivicActions; and

  • Pamela Chestek, JD, principal of Chestek Legal.

  • Donald R. Robertson, III, JD, licensing and compliance manager of the Free Software Foundation.

FSF program manager will also be giving introductory and closing remarks.

A detailed agenda, as well as curriculum materials, will soon be posted on the event page. If you have any questions, or if you would like to sponsor this event, please contact licensing@fsf.org.

Thanks in advance for helping us spread the word, and we hope to see you at the event.

Registration for this event is now closed

Event page

Alexandre Oliva joins Free Software Foundation board of directors

Wednesday 28th of August 2019 04:38:57 PM

The full list of FSF board members can be found at https://www.fsf.org/about/staff-and-board.

A longtime free software activist and founder of FSF Latin America, Oliva brings decades of experience in the free software movement to the FSF board. In the community, he is held in especially high regard for being the chief developer of the GNU Linux-libre project, a version of the kernel Linux that removes all nonfree bits from the kernel's source code, enabling users around the world to run fully free versions of the GNU/Linux operating system, and is a program of vital importance in the cause for software freedom. For his deep commitment and tireless work in free software, Oliva was the recipient of the 2016 Advancement of Free Software award given annually by the FSF.

Aside from being a contributor to the GNU Project since 1993, Oliva is an accomplished public speaker and author on the importance of software freedom. He worked as a computer engineer at Red Hat from 2000 to 2019, making large contributions to crucial components of the GNU toolchain like GCC and the GNU C library. Most recently he has announced the founding of the 0G project, a vision for mobile phones that free users from the constant danger posed by bulk surveillance.

Upon his nomination to the board, Alexandre stated, "In 2017, I borrowed from Edward Snowden's 2016's LibrePlanet speech and qualified the FSF as the lighthouse of the free software movement, the reliable reference point that lights the path to software freedom. How exciting, and what a wonderful challenge it is to become part of a team that has to figure out what the path to be lighted is, and how to keep the lights shining through such dark times!"

Commenting on Oliva's nomination, FSF executive director John Sullivan said, "Alex's steadfast commitment to free software principles, along with his technical contributions aimed at helping others around the world live free lives, have inspired so many of us at the FSF and in the free software movement. This is great news for our members and supporters -- the FSF will benefit enormously from his increased involvement."

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.

Media Contact

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

More in Tux Machines

CentOS 8.0-1905

CentOS is a community-run project which builds its distribution from the source code of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The project's goal is to provide a binary compatible, nearly identical experience to Enterprise Linux, but without the commercial support provided by Red Hat. This makes CentOS an attractive option for people who want to have a distribution with long-term support and the same technology Red Hat provides, but feel they do not need vendor support. I reviewed Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 (RHEL 8), briefly covering the distribution's installer, software and settings management, several of its Workstation features, and a few of its server technologies, such as Cockpit. I ran into several issues during that experience - some of them relating to documentation, some dealing with permission problems, some due to missing applications in the official repositories - and I was curious to see if CentOS would provide the same experience, problems and all. One could assume so given CentOS uses the same source code, but CentOS has its own website and repositories so I thought it would be worth giving it a test run and seeing what differences, if any, I could spot. In particular, I planned to focus on the strengths and weaknesses I observed in the conclusion of my RHEL 8 review. Before I get to my experiences with CentOS 8.0.1905, I feel it is worth mentioning that CentOS is now available in two branches: CentOS Linux, the traditional, fixed release operating system based on RHEL; and CentOS Stream. The new Stream branch is described as a rolling release platform which will fit in somewhere between Fedora and RHEL. The idea appears to be that software and concepts will get their initial testing in Fedora. Then Red Hat will fork a version of Fedora to be the basis of a future RHEL release. Changes and improvements that would normally be made internally within Red Hat prior to the next RHEL will become available for the public to try and comment on in CentOS Stream. Ideally, the plan here seems to be that this will give a larger portion of the community a chance to try new ideas and report issues, giving Red Hat more feedback and a chance to polish their commercial offering. Read more

Docker, Podman and Kubernetes

Graphics: Radeon, Mesa and More

  • Open-Source C.A.S. Vulkan Layer - Similar to Radeon Image Sharpening But For Any GPU

    AMD's Radeon Image Sharpening feature is designed to improve image quality with minimal performance costs. However, it is only supported by Radeon Polaris / Vega / Navi graphics cards and only under Microsoft Windows 10. An independent open-source project has implemented contrast adaptive sharpening support for Vulkan that is similar to Radeon Image Sharpening but will work for any Vulkan-enabled GPU -- including NVIDIA GPUs.

  • MSM+Freedreno Driver Stack Adding Support For The Adreno 510 GPU

    While the MSM+Freedreno open-source graphics driver stack already supports the Adreno 500 and 600 series, one of the GPUs not seeing support until now was the basic Adreno 510. Kernel patches are pending for A510 enablement while the Mesa support was already merged. The Adreno 510 is the graphics processor within the Snapdragon 650, 652, and 653 models and used in lower-end devices. With the kernel and Mesa patches, the Adreno 510 is now working on the likes of the Sony Xperia X and X Compact smartphones.

  • AMD Lands Greater Direct State Access Support Within Mesa

    Landing this week in Mesa 19.3-devel were more functions being implemented around the big OpenGL EXT_direct_state_access extension. OpenGL's direct state access functions are intended to allow more OpenGL state to be accessed/updated directly aside form the selector commands. Using EXT_direct_state_access allows for various efficiency improvements.

Programming Leftovers

  • Codeplay Launches Open-Source 'SYCL Academy' To Learn This Increasingly Popular Standard

    While SYCL has been around for five years as a Khronos standard providing a single-source C++ programming model for exploiting OpenCL, it has yet to reach its prime but demand for it is picking up with Intel working to upstream their SYCL back-end in LLVM, SYCL becoming part of their programming model with oneAPI and Xe Graphics, and other vendors also jumping on the SYCL bandwagon. Codeplay has now provided an open-source SYCL learning code for those interested in this higher-level alternative to straight OpenCL programming.

  • Open-Source Build and Test Tool Bazel Reaches 1.0

    Derived from Google's internal build tool Blaze, Bazel is a build and test tool that offers a human-readable definition language and is particularly aimed at large, multi-language, multi-repositories projects. Originally open-sourced in 2015, Bazel has now reached 1.0. One of the major implications of reaching version 1.0 for Bazel is the promise of greater stability and backward-compatibility guarantees. This has been a historical pain point for Bazel users, who often found themselves in the situation of having to rewrite part of their build rules due to frequent breaking changes in Bazel or its ecosystem. Accordingly, the Bazel team has committed to following semantic versioning for future Bazel releases, meaning only major versions will be allowed to include breaking changes. Furthermore, the team committed to maintaining a minimum stability window of three months between major versions.

  • DevOps Deeper Dive: DevOps Accelerates Open Source Innovation Pace

    That rate of innovation has increased dramatically in the last few years. However, much of that innovation would not have been possible if large swaths of the open source community hadn’t been able to employ best DevOps practices to collaborate, said CloudBees CEO Sacha Labourey. [...] None of this shift has been lost on IT vendors. As the demand for proprietary code slackened, many found it profitable to offer support services for open source software. The more there is to consume, the more the support services contracts grew. Now every vendor from IBM to small IT services providers such as Fairwinds has launched open source projects that help drive demand for IT services expertise. “There’s pain around integrating a lot of disparate open source projects,” said Robert Brennan, director of open source software for Fairwinds. “Organizations may be getting software for free, but there’s usually not a lot of help around.” Now almost every IT vendor in the world is making software engineers available to work on open source projects. All that talent focused on open source projects has led to the development of new platforms such as Jenkins, GitHub, Kubernetes and, more recently, a raft of smaller projects. With the rise of containers and cloud-native applications, open source software projects are entering another era that will see many of those same software engineers leveraging DevOps practices more broadly to drive even more innovative projects at increasingly faster rates.

  • Find your next developer from open source communities

    Meanwhile, demand for data scientists is rising as companies seek AI-based solutions to stay competitive. Demand is reflected in salary offers. Companies competing to hire and retain data experts are offering on average more than US$100,000, making it one of the most highly paid professions in the States. For companies lacking the budget to hire or train in-house staff to fill the role, they may find themselves struggling with maintaining technological infrastructure or moving forward with plans for digitization. Therefore, open source learning and further development of communities could be the solution to this gap. An IBM grant to support open source communities such as Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization offering coding lessons for women in the US, is a step forward to filling in a shortage of software developers.