Free software is simply software that respects our freedom — our freedom to learn and understand the software we are using. Free software is designed to free the user from restrictions put in place by proprietary software, and so using free software lets you join a global community of people who are making the political and ethical assertion of our rights to learn and to share what we learn with others.
People will be able to customize and tinker with their Ford Motor vehicles using the automaker's OpenXC open source platform. OpenXC works like an application programming interface for cars and combines open source hardware and software in a way that will enable enthusiasts to extend their vehicles with custom applications and pluggable modules. OpenXC uses standard, well-known tools to open up a wealth of data from the vehicle. The idea is to make the car as easy to program as a smartphone. Ford engineer Zachary Nelson has used OpenXC to re-task the motor from a Microsoft Xbox 360 game controller to create a shift knob that vibrates to signal gear shifts in a standard-transmission Mustang. The prototype uses the OpenXC research platform to link devices to the car via Bluetooth, and shares vehicle data from the on-board diagnostics port. "We designed the platform such that people can have real-time access to the vehicle data and they can do whatever they want with that data," Nelson says. He also notes that people with smartphones can use OpenXC to connect with real-time vehicle data.
Without interoperability, consumer devices, electronic appliances, and sensor-equipped wearables will not recognize each other and communicate. Although there is no consumer electronics vendor large enough to force interoperability between all devices, there are vendors large enough to frustrate the path to it by building an Internet of Things mostly around their products. However, the open source industry believes it has the method, the process, and the influence to drive the electronics industry toward true interoperability. The Linux Foundation recently created the AllSeen Alliance, which combines the AllJoyn Framework with its open source network. The C++ code supports the major operating systems, chipsets, and embedded variants. Having the C++ code available will deliver the network effect and propel device interoperability, says Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin. However, what is missing in Linux Foundation's effort is the support of the mega-vendors such as Samsung and Apple, according to Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle. He says such dominant vendors typically frown on open source because it enables others to penetrate their markets. "Open source has an important role to play, and the earlier that's acknowledged and facilitated, I think that's better for everyone," says consultant Andrew Aitken.
It's only weeks until LibrePlanet, hosted by the Free Software Foundation and MIT's Student Information Processing Board (SIPB), and more people are registering every day (you could be one of them!). We've got some announcements to make:
We posted the complete schedule, so you can start thinking about which sessions you'd like to attend. This year's conference will be jam packed with great talks like "updating Mailman's UI," "fighting surveillance with free software," and "mapping for social justice." Make sure you check out the social events, including a Saturday night party and raffle.
We finalized the design for this year's t-shirt!Register online by March 5, 2014 to pick up a shirt, or buy one at the conference.
If you can't make it to Cambridge, you'll still be able to livestream the conference and watch recordings of the sessions afterwards. We encourage you to bookmark our streaming portal, libreplanet.org/2014/live. Participating remotely doesn't require any kind of registration.
Looking to coordinate travel with other LibrePlanet attendees? Brainstorm ideas for lightning talks? Organize a get-together after the conference? Join the libreplanet-discuss email list to connect with other LibrePlanet attendees. After LibrePlanet, the list will become a place for discussing the conference and sharing ideas for next year.
Issue 71, February 2014
Welcome to the Free Software Supporter, the Free Software Foundation's monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 76,457 other activists. That's 809 more than last month!
View this issue online here: https://www.fsf.org/free-software-supporter/2014/february
Encourage your friends to subscribe and help us build an audience by adding our subscriber widget to your web site.
FSF joins forces with SFLC and OSI to fight software patents in U.S. Supreme Court
From February 28th
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) joined the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and the Open Source Initiative (OSI) in filing a brief amici curiae in software patent case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank before the United States Supreme Court
One month until LibrePlanet! Schedule and t-shirt design announced!
From February 27th
It's only weeks until LibrePlanet, hosted by the Free Software Foundation and MIT's Student Information Processing Board (SIPB), and more people are registering every day (you could be one of them!)
GNU MediaGoblin campaign for federation and privacy in 2014!
By Chris Webber, from February 26th
GNU MediaGoblin has partnered up again with the Free Software Foundation for a crowd funding campaign to add new features like podcast support, wrapping up federation support and releasing 1.0, adding new privacy features, and making MediaGoblin even easier to run and deploy!
From February 11th
Every winter, we launch a fundraiser to sustain our work for the coming year. This time, we set out to raise $450,000, our highest ever goal. And because so many of you chipped in, we were able to reach it.
Free software fighting back against bulk surveillance
From February 11th
FSF joined a team of more than thirty organizations to rally against bulk surveillance, in a global event called The Day We Fight Back. Despite their diverse issue areas, each of these organizations recognizes that bulk surveillance is a direct threat to the freedom and security of their supporters and their ability to do work.
Thank you for the software that makes our work possible
From February 14th
At the FSF, we not only spend every day promoting, protecting, and building free software -- we also use exclusively free software for everything we do. From our servers to our desktop systems and laptops, from our accounting to our Web and print publications, everything is done using software that is available for everyone to use, share, and modify.
LulzBot TAZ 3 3D printer now FSF-certified to respect your freedom
From February 7th
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has awarded Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification to the TAZ 3, the fifth model in the LulzBot line of 3D printers by Aleph Objects, Inc. The RYF certification mark means that the product meets the FSF's standards in regard to users' freedom, control over the product, and privacy.
From February 5th
One of LibrePlanet's major goals is inspiring people to make things and share them with their communities. So we knew 2013's conference was going well when an attendee volunteered to create a video for 2014, using only free software tools.
February 2014 - Espoo and Helsinki, Finland - At Altoo University and at Haaga-Helia's Happy Hacking Day
From February 28th
RMS was in Finland, to give his speech "A free digital society", at Aalto University's Design Factory, in Espoo, on February 10, 2014, and then was at Happy Hacking Day, an event organized by Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, to give his speech "Free software, defending your digital freedom."
April launches membership campaign entitled "giving priority to free software"
By April, from February 19th
The French free software organization April is launching a membership campaign to increase its operational capacity, to prioritize free software, and help build a freer, more egalitarian, and more caring society.
SHU lectures offer different perspectives on the Internet
From February 11th
FSF executive director John Sullivan joined Frank Warren of Postsecret in a lecture series to discuss collaboration and community on the Web at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT.
Join the FSF and friends in updating the Free Software Directory
From February 27th
Tens of thousands of people visit directory.fsf.org each month to discover free software. Each entry in the Directory contains a wealth of useful information, from basic category and descriptions to version control, IRC channels, documentation, and licensing. The Free Software Directory has been a great resource to software users over the past decade, but it needs your help staying up-to-date with new and exciting free software projects.
To help, join our weekly IRC meetings on Fridays. Meetings take place in the #fsf channel on irc.gnu.org, and usually include a handful of regulars as well as newcomers. Everyone's welcome.
The next meeting is Friday, February 28 from 2pm to 5pm EST (19:00 to 22:00 UTC). Details here:
LibrePlanet featured resource: JS developers task force
Every month on LibrePlanet, we highlight one resource that is interesting and useful -- often one that could use your help.
From February 24th
The GNU toolchain refers to the part of the GNU system which is used for building programs. These components of GNU are together often on other systems and for compiling programs for other platforms. This month features multiple improvements to GCC and GDB.
Contributions from thousands of individual members enable the FSF's work. You can contribute by joining at https://www.fsf.org/join. If you're already a member, you can help refer new members (and earn some rewards) by adding a line with your member number to your email signature like:
I'm an FSF member -- Help us support software freedom! https://www.fsf.org/jf?referrer=2442
The FSF is also always looking for volunteers (https://www.fsf.org/volunteer). From rabble-rousing to hacking, from issue coordination to envelope stuffing -- there's something here for everybody to do. Also, head over to our campaign section (https://www.fsf.org/campaigns) and take action on software patents, DRM, free software adoption, OpenDocument, RIAA and more.
FSF joins forces with Software Freedom Law Center and Open Source Initiative to fight software patents in U.S. Supreme Court
BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Friday, February 28, 2014 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) joined the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and the Open Source Initiative (OSI) in filing a briefamici curiae in software patent case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank before the United States Supreme Court yesterday.
The jointly filed brief argues that the "machine or transformation" inquiry employed by the Court in Bilski v. Kappos is the correct, and exclusive, bright line test for patent eligibility of computer-implemented inventions. It says that not only do software idea patents fail established tests for patentability; they also violate the First Amendement.
On March 31, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in the case, in which the Court has granted certiorari, apparently to decide a question previously reserved: under what circumstances patents may be granted for inventions implemented in computer programs. A decision is expected by summer.
FSF executive director John Sullivan added, "We are proud to be a party to SFLC's brief, along with OSI. Software patents should be opposed not just by all computer programmers and users; they should be opposed by anyone who values freedom of expression. We've seen many recent proposals to make software idea patents 'better,' or to fight trolls, but they miss the fundamental point. We do not want these restrictions on free speech and human creative expression to be of higher quality -- we want software idea patents gone."
The FSF has been campaigning for decades to abolish software idea patents. Its End Software Patents campaign filed a brief in the Bilski case, and released a documentary film detailing the problem. The campaign's wiki has continued to grow as a preeminent source of legislative, judicial, and philosophical information in the area.
FSF president Richard M. Stallman regularly speaks out against software patents, often highlighting their absurdity by imagining how we would feel about similar patents on literature.
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.