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You are here: Home Blogs Community A look at the FSF tech team's tireless work for user freedom

A look at the FSF tech team's tireless work for user freedom

by Georgia Young Contributions Published on Dec 29, 2015 04:24 PM
Our tech team keeps the FSF and the GNU Project running -- and in order to fulfill their goals for 2016, they need your support.

Throughout the year, the Free Software Foundation keeps you informed about our licensing and campaigns work. But one crucial part of our staff fly under the radar much of the time: the tech team. Our sysadmins and Web developer keep the FSF humming and provide resources and services that the GNU Project needs to write awesome code:

  • They enable the FSF to embody the free software philosophy by maintaining an infrastructure that runs exclusively on free software and includes about a dozen main servers, half of which are virtual machine (VM) hosts running 101 VMs, as well as many Web sites, including LibrePlanet, the community-driven wiki for free software activism, and the Free Software Directory. The FSF is living proof that all functions of a nonprofit organization can be performed using only free software, and we are proud to set this positive example for others.

  • They provide infrastructure for GNU developers, including web space ( has about 15 million unique visitors each year), software hosting, mailing lists that send about 500,000 emails per day, and, which averages 225 TB of bandwidth each year. They provide extra support and bug trackers for some GNU projects, including GNU Emacs and Coreutils.

  • They provide mirroring and buildservers for several free GNU/Linux distros, including Trisquel, Guix, and Parabola, plus hosting for Replicant, the fully free Android distribution.

  • At the annual LibrePlanet free software conference, the tech team works with volunteers to stream and record sessions using free software so that the community can participate even if they can't make it to Cambridge.

  • They maintain the FSF's Tor relay node.

  • They contribute code upstream to free software projects used in the FSF's work, and report bugs they encounter in order to help improve that software, including CiviCRM.

In the past two years, the team has devoted much energy to migrating and upgrading the FSF's membership system to CiviCRM. This change has brought a host of new benefits and challenges: the FSF can now accept funds for GNU projects, including GNU Mediagoblin, GNU Radio, GNU Mailman, and most recently, GNU Guix. It has also allowed the FSF to be much more efficient in our communications with the public.

Recently, the tech team has added new staff, including Trisquel GNU/Linux developer Ruben Rodriguez Perez as senior sysadmin and Kosa, a web developer.

In the coming year, the tech team has a big wish list they'd like to achieve, including:

  • growing and updating the FSF and the GNU Project's existing infrastructure in order to accommodate new GNU projects;

  • improving the FSF's development infrastructure to allow us to bring in more volunteers and community members working on FSF sysadmin and web development projects;

  • launching a new and improved;

  • improving email and other services for GNU developers and FSF members.

Our tech team keeps the FSF and the GNU Project running -- and in order to fulfill their goals for 2016, they need your support. In particular, each time the team replaces hardware, they must seek out computers that use libreboot or coreboot, and that avoid non-free video BIOS or other blobs. But the extra effort put into this work ensures that we can offer GNU projects and the free software community more resources powered exclusively by free software and freedom-respecting hardware.

Can you support free software community infrastructure by making a donation to the Free Software Foundation? Donating today is a fine way to give back in support of all the great free software you used this year. You can also make a long-term commitment to supporting the FSF, the GNU Project, and the free software community by becoming an associate member of the FSF for as little as $10/month (student memberships are further discounted). Membership offers many great benefits, too.

Do you want to learn more about volunteering with the FSF's tech team? Contact to learn more.

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