FSFE Newsletter - September 2013
F-Droid: Privacy aware software repository for Android
F-Droid is a project that
provides Free Software applications for Android via a repository system, much
like most package systems of the GNU/Linux distributions. This differs from
other mobile app markets, like Google Play or Apple's AppStore, since the
client and server side software respect your freedoms and do not force you to
register an account to use them. F-Droid's settings will value your privacy:
although you can choose to enable it, by default it does not show programs
which 1) show advertisement, 2) track and report your activity, promote 3)
non-free add-ons or 4) non-free network services, or 5) depend on other
non-free apps. That is why since the beginning of FSFE's "Free Your Android" campaign we
point people to F-Droid.
For the last two months Daniel
Martí, one of the F-Droid developers, was an intern in FSFE's Berlin office.
Beside participating in FSFE's day to day business, improving our newsletter
publishing process and some other nice tools for FSFE's work, he gave two
F-Droid workshops in Berlin. In the workshops he toughed others how to include
new programs into the F-Droid repository, and documented
what he learnt from the first two workshops. As you can see in FSFE's event section, Daniel already announced
general Free Your Android
workshops in Spain, and will also continue giving F-Droid workshops.
To promote F-Droid Torsten Grote and others from our android list
finalised a new F-Droid leaflet. So if you want to promote a Free Software
repository for Android, you can print the new
leaflets yourself, order them
from FSFE, or make a donation so FSFE can
continue to distribute our leaflets widely.
New Zealand bans software patents
As one of the organisations working
to get rid of software patents for over a decade now, and the recent success in
Germany, FSFE welcomes New
Zealand's decision to ban software patents. It also contains the
potentially troublesome "as such" wording, which some courts in the EU
interpreted to permit software patents. But in New Zealand they made clear how
to interpret this: you can only patent it if the inventive step is not merely
in the software. Besides, the law seems to get around the TRIPS requirement
that all inventions in all fields of technology have to be patentable by
stating that computer programs are not inventions, and therefore not
Something completely different
- Due to the revealed surveillance Groklaw founder PJ
announced that she does not see another way than to shut down the news
site. Groklaw helped to defend Free Software against FUD in the SCO
case, during the OOXML
fight, and followed the Microsoft
antitrust case that FSFE won together with Samba. As Fellow Paul Adams put it "The world of IT is just that
little bit less safe without Groklaw". In future it will be harder to
counter big IT companies spin-doctoring.
- As every month Guido Arnold gathered
all education related news. He also wrote about a
school in the southeast of England, which began switching its
student-facing computers to GNU/Linux. Stuart Jarvis interviewed the school's
Network Manager which is a good case study to refer to.
- FSFE was also active in giving talks: Karsten Gerloff's keynote at the
Euskalencounter festival in Bilbao received huge press attention in the
Spanish speaking media, for example in Tercera en
Linea (Spanish). In his talk "All watched over by machines of loving
grace" he talked about the question of who controls our machines.
- In a lightning talk at KDE's Akademy Matija explained FSFE's fiduciary programme. The
recording is now available.
- German Deputy coordinator Torsten Grote again spent a lot of his
volunteer time to give interviews for the German radio stations, including a
one hour discussion round about "securing your digital home - privacy in the
internet". You find all the interviews on FSFE's audio page.
- Joinup reports that the Valencia
region government (Spain) completed a switch to LibreOffice on all of the
120,000 desktop PCs of the administration, including schools and
courts. They also published a summary about France's
detailed use and plans for free software.
- DRM: Loosing all your e-books by going to Singapur? Jim
O'Donnell describes how that happened to him. To prevent that you can
- Besides, David Wheeler suggests to adopt the Free Software principles to IT
security. For the name he suggests Open
- and the Ada initiative published a history
of anti-harassment policies in the Free Software community. As it is
not mentioned in the article: For this year's libreplanet conference our
sister organisation also had anti harassment
- From the planet aggregation:
- Paul Boddie commented
the article Licensing in a Post Copyright World to clarify some
points, bringing some of the missing facts to the table.
- On privacy: Henri Bergius
wrote about GeoClue2, which offers better privacy controls than its
predecessor. The previous version of the library would provide the current
location to any application; with GeoClue2, GNOME will require the user to
confirm location requests from each application.
- Karl Beecher wrote about Free Software
alternatives for the post-PRISM era, suggesting GNU/Linux as
operating system, Kolab for e-mail, owncloud for storage. But he is looking
for VoIP solutions.
- Valentin Rusu wrote a GnuPG
backend for the KDE's password manager KDE Wallet, and
"Bruce Schneier and the Lords of the Cloud", Karl Beecher summarises
a talk by the crypto expert.
- Lucile was at the OHM festival. In her summary of the event she came to
the conclusion that advice to
activists, whose safety depends on digital security, is very
- Guido Arnold found a nice quote
which says that Free Software shares the values that underlie journalism
and democracy, and
- reports that the Fellowship group in Rhein-Main area
tries another tactic to spread out (German).
- Kevin wrote about the connection between his new bass strings and Free
Read about this connection and why this bass company moved away from
- If you want to help
raise Martin Gollowitzer's motivation, support his health, and support
Free Software all at once, please donate to FSFE using "Tracking for
Freedom" as the payment reference.
- On technical topics: Sam Tuke explains how to achieve reverse reverb
(echo) effect with GNU/Linux audio plugins,
- Isabel Drost
recommends not to switch from RDBMS to Apache Hadoop, and
- "IRL" is
dreaming of a secure browser.
Get active: Tell us which company benefits from Free Software!
As a non-profit organisation depending on donations, FSFE constantly has to
ask people to actually donate. Although more and more of FSFE's budget comes
from its supporting members -- the Fellows
-- FSFE also receives donations from several companies. Most of them
extensively use or write Free Software, use Free Software as a basis for their
business models, or want to enable social change.
Do you know a company which benefits a lot from Free Software and which is
not yet donating to us? If so please send
us an e-mail with the company's
name, if possible a contact name, e-mail, phone number, and a short note how
they benefit from Free Software or FSFE's work. This way we are able to contact
them and secure our funding.
Thanks to all the Fellows and
donors who enable our work,
Matthias Kirschner - FSFE
Free Software Foundation Europe
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