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Reporting back from day one of LibrePlanet: Cultivating Community

by Miriam Bastian Contributions Published on May 04, 2024 06:37 PM
Volunteers and speakers at LibrePlanet 2024.

Today marked the first day of the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) annual LibrePlanet conference, now in its sixteenth year. The LibrePlanet theme this year is "Cultivating Community," and the event is being held at the Wentworth Institute of Technology (WIT) as well as online. Here are some of the day's highlights.

Opening keynote

David Wilson at LibrePlanet 2024.

This year's opening keynote, titled "Cultivating a welcoming free software community that lasts" was held by free software developer and video creator David Wilson. In his talk, Wilson shared the insights he's learned over the years from building the System Crafters community. He provided a helpful framework for how we can build a friendly, thriving community around a free software project. Basically, Wilson recommended four steps: first, be a role model and welcome everybody in the community. Second, preserve the good vibes, remind people that this is a welcoming community. Third, ignite collaboration and celebrate contributions, no matter how small they are, because they are a sign of personal involvement. And last but not least, make yourself replaceable. The fourth step, Wilson explained, is important, because "the only way a project can survive long-term is by becoming a collective activity."

Wilson's talk focused on the importance of attracting positive and encouraging people to ensure the health of the community. Doing this is key to getting a new free software project off the ground. Of course, one option is "paying for a huge billboard to advertise your community," but for most projects, a user's first experience with the project is a website. Creating a good first impression and using a website to say "what your project is and what you value" is important.

Wilson also spoke on how to highlight core members of your community and promote their work. He gave examples of "helpful people" he had promoted in the System Crafters community, giving them a larger role in the project and encouraging them to do more. Similarly, Wilson said that a good goal for a new project was enabling the contribution of one user, then ten, then one hundred.

The morning

Christina Haralanova at LibrePlanet 2024..

The keynote was followed by a behind-the-scenes tour with the Savannah hacker Corwin Brust, a presentation on how to liberate the boot firmware of a Raspberry Pi by Johannes Åsgård (dolphinana), and a workshop by academic researcher and activist Christina Haralanova about connecting community organizations and technological activists for software freedom.

In the workshop, participants brainstormed solutions to bring more software freedom and collaborative practices into the community sector. Haralanova cultivated the idea that by being active in other communities and movements we can share our experience with software freedom and help them move on to free software.

Wensheng Xie shared his story of how he started contributing to the GNU System and Marco Calegaro presented how he built a coreXY meditation table by modifying a 3D printer with free software.

Throughout the morning, in-person attendees could free their computer by replacing their BIOS with GNU Boot at the GNU Boot install party.

As has become tradition, FSF associate members held their annual meeting to discuss where the free software movement is going and come up with recommendations for the FSF.

The afternoon

The afternoon had a special surprise, cake included. Conference attendees celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Trisquel GNU/Linux project with its founder Rubén Rodríguez Pérez, who gave a developer preview of a new major release planned for later this year. In parallel, the three students Michael Brodskiy, Amit Shenoy, and Olivia Gallucci discussed the difficulties free software enthusiasts face at universities these days, both while they're in school and also when they go to search for jobs at companies that use and develop proprietary software.

Afterwards, Open Forum Europe senior policy advisor Ciarán O'Riordan enlightened the audience on how we can influence legislation for the benefit of software freedom. He shared his insights from previous legislation processes like the drafting of the Cyber Resilience Act. O'Riordan described the CRA as a marked difference between the old style of free software as analogous to literature, where one is "free to publish," versus the new legislative landscape, where applying criteria to software publication equates to "you're free to publish if..." O'Riordan also highlighted the ambiguous meaning of putting software "on the market" in the European Union an earlier draft of the CRA, stating that each time a patch is pushed to a free software project, it is a new act of publication in the EU. The free software movement needs not only people who are familiar with free software, but people who are familiar with legislation.

The day concluded with a keynote by FSF's executive director Zoë Kooyman. Kooyman spoke about recent FSF initiatives like its participating the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST)'s consortium on AI safety to ensure the free software perspective is represented, the FSF's desire to expand its outreach to free software in education through speaking engagements, developments in the FSF board's governance process, and other ways the organization defends free software.

Kooyman then proceeded to present the 2023 Free Software Awards This year's recipients are Bruno Haible, Nick Logozzo, and the Free Software Unit of the French government, code.gouv.fr. Haible and Bastien Guerry of the Unit accepted their respective awards in pre-recorded announcements. Logozzo sent a written acceptance that FSF campaigns manager Greg Farough read during the ceremony.

Coming Sunday

Sunday, we will continue the GNU Boot install party and we have many more talks by many more fantastic speakers! The lineup includes a keynote by Hayley Tsukayama, associate director of legislative activism at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on cross-disciplinary free software advocacy, and the closing keynote will be held by Alyssa Rosenzweig, who spearheaded the reverse-engineering of Apple's GPU.

We hope that you enjoyed the first day of this year's LibrePlanet as much as we have. It's fantastic to see so many people from all over the world participate. Of the countries represented, we heard from: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and the United States.

We are looking forward to seeing you again tomorrow. If you missed a talk you would like to see keep an eye on the LibrePlanet website and Mediagoblin instance for the publication of the videos after the event.

Images Copyright © 2024 Free Software Foundation, Inc., licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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