The Reddit effect: more orders in 24 hours than usually in 6 months

On 11 February I first thought that a spam bot found its way to order information materials from FSFE. Every minute we had several new orders for stickers and leaflets. Then I found out that FSFE’s order page was mentioned on Reddit; in the comments of a picture post.

In the end over 200 people ordered stickers, leaflets, and posters from us while in 2015 we had ~370 orders in total. After 24 hours we had more orders than usually in 6 months. Beside the "no cloud" stickers people mainly ordered our leaflet with basic information about Free Software, the GnuPG leaflets, and our F-Droid leaflets.

It took our Berlin office team a while to process all of the orders, but on Friday the task was completed. Below you see two pictures: one with the packages from Thursday afternoon (in the morning we already shipped another batch without taking a picture), and the other with the Friday batch.

Thursday afternoon batch of letters and packages with information materials

Friday batch of letters and packages of information materials

Now Italian European Parliament’s DSM report speaks about freedom not price

A translation mistake is fixed: before the Italian version of a report by the European Parliament talked about "gratis software" although the English version was about Free Software (aka Open Source Software).

On 19 January the European Parliament adopted its own-initiative report "Towards a Digital Single Market" in response to the European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy (see FSFE’s press release). The report includes this part:

  1. Calls on the Commission [...] the increased use of free and open source software, particularly in educational establishments and public administrations [...];

Paolo Dongilli realised that in the Italian version "Free Software" became "software gratuito" (gratis software) and informed Carlo Piana about it. This translation mistake is particularly strange because in the Italian law the official wording is "Software Libero e a sorgente aperto" which highlights the freedom aspect and has nothing todo with the costs.

As we did not have direct contacts with the publications office we asked MEP Julia Reda and her staff for help. A few days later they let us know that it is solved: Paragraph 125 is now corrected to "software liberi e con codice sorgente aperto (open source)".

Thanks to Paolo for spotting the problem, to Julia Reda’s staff for forwarding the bug report, and to MEP Kaja Kallas for actually fixing it.

The only thing left is to inform the translators that "software" is not a numerable word. Therefore it should never be used as plural but singular, which means it is "Software Libero" in Italian.

Update: I was told by Julia Reda that it was Kaja Kallas who fixed it. So I added her in my thank you notes.

Transportr – the public transport app

Today I want to thank Torsten Grote for his work on Transportr, a Free Software public transport program for Android. heart out of transpotr logos As there are so many amazing Free Software contributors out there, it is always difficult for me to decide what I want to write about on the “I love Free Software Day”. In the past I thanked GnuPG contributors, developers of programs I use for my music setup, a coreboot developer, and others. As I try to travel as much as possible with public transportation, Transportr is one of the most useful programs on my mobile phone. So here a short overview so you understand why I dedicated this post to Torsten.

First of all, Transportr gives you access to travel information for many different public transportation providers all over the world. You do not have to install and update several apps for all the public transport providers in different countries and cities.

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After you selected them once, you can afterwards switch between them easily.

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You can search for nearby stations. For example which stations are available around FSFE’s Berlin office.

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As well as display them with OpenStreetmap data.

You can have a look at all departures from a train stop.

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And of course find connections between two locations. For example from FSFE’s Berlin office to Brussels.

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When you decided which train you want to take, you can add the connection to your calendar with a click on the upper right, as well as regularly update the connection to see if there are any delays.

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If you like what you saw, you can install Transportr from F-Droid.

Thank you Torsten! Thank you for this wonderful piece of Free Software, which makes my life easier!

Use GNOME to cross the street

During my keynote at GUADEC this year I mentioned that we should not just look for people who can contribute on the same level as we do in the Free Software community. But that we need to find actions, with a low barrier to participate so our friends, parents, children can also take part.

Matthias Kirschner on stage at GUADEC, CC-By Garrett LeSage

This includes showing others that you support software freedom by using T-shirts, bags, pins, or stickers. I was mentioning that once in Berlin I saw a GNOME sticker over the button of a pelican crossing. But unfortunately I could not find that picture before the talk as I remembered it just the night before the talk, and could not find it on my laptop. Still, during GUADEC several people asked me about that picture again. All I could say was that it was during one of the Linuxtage in Berlin. On my way back I checked my laptops’s hard disk again, but still without success.

A few weeks ago while I was polishing up the notes for the speech about universal computing—so others can reuse them when talking about software freedom—I remembered the picture and I challenged myself to find it. So I spent some more time to dig through my backup disks. Finally I found it, and this week I was also able to find out who the author is.

Dear GNOME community, as a modest gift for the holiday season, here the picture from Linuxtag 2009 taken by Christoph Göhre (can be used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License):

Gnome sticker on a crosswalk button, above it says in German "please touch"

If you could not participate at GUADEC you missed meeting a lot of awesome Free Software contributors, but you can still watch the talk: The video from my keynote is now online. There is also a shorter version from Akademy, as well as a German recording from FrOSCon.

Podcast on non-military use clause in GNU GPL

Last week Tuesday I participated in a German podcast by CCC’s board member Peter Hecko about a non-military clause in the GNU GPL, or other usage restrictions in Free Software licenses. At the FSF 30 birthday party I talked with Peter about Thorsten Schröder’s talk “Free Software against our freedom” at the Chaos Communication Congress, and he invited me for this podcast.

A tank

If you understand German, you can now listen to the podcast. Else my main arguments in a nutshell were: “military” is really difficult to define, it is questionable if someone who kills people would stick to a copyright license, or if it would help anything if military is not allowed to use the Free Software. Furthermore I explained that in the Free Software movement—which is a worldwide movement—we have many different value systems. While some values are shared more widely, there are others people disagree on. We would end up with hundreds of licenses or license additions. We already have way too much licenses at the moment, but such usage restrictions would make it almost impossible to develop software together. By using such restrictions you would also make it hard for everybody who wants to do “good” things with software.

Most of the arguments from the podcast are covered in Richard’s article “Why programs must not limit the freedom to run them” which is translated into several languages.

Happy birthday to the Free Software Foundation

A cake with the FSF30 birthday logo on it On 4 October 1985 Harold Abelson, Robert J. Chassell, Richard M. Stallman, Garald Jay Sussman, and Leonard H. Tower, Jr. incorporated the Free Software Foundation, Inc. The application included also the GNU Emacs General Public License, the GNU Manifesto, a list of software which was already written (Bison, MIT Schema, Hack, plus a list of several Unix utility replacements). In the application they wrote:

We believe that a good citizen shares all generally useful information with his [!sig now Richard would write "her"] neighbors who need it. Our hope is to encourage members of the public to cooperate with each other by sharing software and other useful information.

One of the major influences currently discouraging such sharing is the pratice where information is “owned” by someone who permits a member of the public to have the information himself only on condition of refusing to share it with anyone else.

Our free software will provide the public with an alternative to agreeing to such conditions. By refusing the terms of commercial software and using our software instead, people will remain free to be good neighbors.

In addition, the virtues of self-reliance and independent initiative will be furthered because users of our software will have the plans with which to repair or change it.

The documents at that time still focused on non-commercial software. Later it was clarified that Free Software can also be commercial software.

But else the mission did not change much. What changed is that nowadays we have much more computers around us than people in 1985 could have imagined, and it is deeply involved in all aspects of our lives. It is even more important today than at that time that this technology empowers rather than restricts us.

Free Software gives every person the rights to use, study, share and improve software. During the years we realised that these rights also help to support other fundamental rights like freedom of speech, freedom of press and privacy.

Today computer owners are often not allowed to modify hard- and software of their computers anymore, and people often use other people’s computers for a lot of daily tasks, it is now more important than ever that we have organisations like the FSFs, who work for computer users’ right.

As the President of its European sister organisation I am happy to congratulate: Happy birthday dear Free Software Foundation!!! (Now we can sing that song again.)

And thanks to all of you out there who support the software freedom movement and thereby giving us the strength we need for our future challenges!

Birthday party in Berlin: 30 years Free Software Foundation

On 3 October 2015 Free Software Foundation Europe invites you for the 30th birthday party of the Free Software Foundation. While the main event will take place in Boston/USA, there will be several satellite birthday parties around the world to celebrate 30 years of empowering people to control technology, and one of them will be in Berlin.

FSF 30 year birthday graphic

The Free Software Foundation was founded in 1985 and since then promotes computer users’ rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. It also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software.

The birthday party in Berlin, organised by FSFE, will take place from 15:00 to 18:00 on 3 October 2015 at: Endocode AG, Brueckenstraße 5A, 10179 Berlin.

To make sure that FSFE’s donor Endocode can provide enough birthday cake and coffee, please register before 15 September 2015 for the event by sending us an e-mail with the subject “FSF30″.

Join us on 3 October, celebrating 30 years of working for software freedom!

Dissolving our association

When a group of dedicated hackers founded Free Software Foundation Europe there was no usable legal basis for establishing a European wide legal entity, and it is still difficult to do so. The founders came up with the following approach: create a European “Hub” organisation as an e.V. in Germany as the central legal body, the core of the Free Software Foundation Europe, where the members should be formed by representatives of local FSFE Chapter’s registered in the different European countries. They started to implement this, first the “Hub” and then a German Chapter.

Two man and a child cleaing a carpet

Chapters were meant to be “modular, local legal bodies of the FSFE, formed by the members of the FSFE from that country and sometimes guest members from other countries. Their main function would be to receive deductible donations, where possible.” They should be “integrated throughout the FSFE with their statutes, giving the national teams of FSFE the freedom and autonomy to address the local issues in the way appropriate for the cultural and social identity in those countries.”

In the years afterwards it turned out that for a lot of countries this structure is a problem. There were no benefits from a local association and also often you did not need it to act as a country team for FSFE. There is also additional bureaucracy you have to take care of; filing reports to different authorities, and have certain laws which regulate how you can work together which might not fit the group’s needs.

By the end of 2014, the only other association beside “FSFE e.V.” was “FSFE Chapter Germany e.V.” The members of FSFE e.V. decided on November 9th, 2014, to dissolve the chapter to get rid of bureaucratic tasks and concentrate on our mission.

But dissolving an association is not as easy as you might think it would be. It involved the following steps:

  • discussions with the bank how to transfer the bank account to FSFE e.V.
  • informing the register court about us dissolving. They replied that we have to send that information signed by a notary. We did that. Then they told us, we have to clarify a part, namely that “one liquidator decided alone, several liquidators decide together”. Yes, I think that is obvious, but they wanted it in written form and signed by a notary. The notary also could not believe it, but again we did it.
  • We had to send a notice to an official announcement paper to inform the public that we will dissolve ourselves (yes, you have to pay a fee for that). The liquidation of Chapter Germany was announced on 5 May 2015 in the “Amtlicher Anzeiger” (PDF, page 16) with the date of 13 April 2015.

Now we have to wait until next year April to see if anyone thinks we still owe them money. After this time we can again go to a notary, and then finally close down FSFE Chapter Germany e.V.

My interview for the keynote at Akademy published

I am invited to give a keynote at KDE’s Akademy on Saturday 25 July. In the preparation for the conference Devaja Shah interviewed me, and his questions made me look up some things in my old mail archives from the early 2000s.

The interview covers questions about my first GNU/Linux distribution, why I studied politics and management, how I got involved in FSFE, how Free Software is linked to the progress of society, my involvement in wilderness first aid seminars, as well as my favourite music. (Thanks to Victorhck who translated the interview into Spanish and also added corresponding videos.)

I am looking forward to interesting discussions with KDE contributors and the local organisers from GPUL during the weekend.