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You are here: Home Free Software Supporter 2009 January


by Matt Lee Contributions Published on Dec 06, 2011 05:15 PM

Issue 11, December/January 2009

Welcome to the Free Software Supporter, the Free Software Foundation's monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 15,508 other activists.

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DON'T MISS... the first ever...

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CONFERENCE. MARCH 21/22nd 2009. CAMBRIDGE, MA. 02138 | FSF | High-Priority-Projects | GNU

  • LibrePlanet Conference 2009!
  • FSF files suit against Cisco for GPL violations
  • BadVista: We hardly knew ye
  • GCC libraries get updated license exception
  • An open response to Chris Frey regarding GFDL 1.3
  • Updating the Free Software Definition
  • More background about the Cisco case
  • The bootable membership cards are (finally) here!
  • 3D graphics are 100% free software
  • Freedom Walk: A walk to claim, ensure and preserve freedom
  • Psst! Pass it on!
  • New FSF microblogging communities
  • PlayOgg: Theora 1.0 is released!
  • 35 Days Against DRM (In 35 paragraphs)
  • Apple iTunes goes DRM free on music
  • Microsoft defends DRM. Badly.
  • GNU spotlight with Karl Berry
  • Richard Stallman's speaking schedule
  • Take action!

LibrePlanet Conference 2009!

Our annual meeting has now officially morphed into the LibrePlanet event. The date is set. March 21st and 22nd -- that's right, two whole days! LibrePlanet will be at the Harvard Science Center in Cambridge, MA -- right in Harvard Square on the MBTA's red line.

LibrePlanet will cover a range of free software activism topics, with an Open Space style effort to make progress on engineering for Free Network Services and the High Priority Software Projects.

FSF files suit against Cisco for GPL violations

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) announced that it has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Cisco. The FSF's complaint alleges that in the course of distributing various products under the Linksys brand, Cisco has violated the licenses of many programs on which the FSF holds copyright, including GCC, binutils, and the GNU C Library. In doing so, Cisco has denied its users their right to share and modify the software.

"Our licenses are designed to ensure that everyone who uses the software can change it," said Richard Stallman, president and founder of the FSF. "In order to exercise that right, people need the source code, and that's why our licenses require distributors to provide it. We are enforcing our licenses to protect the rights that everyone should have with all software: to use it, share it, and modify it as they see fit."

BadVista: We hardly knew ye

"The fact that Microsoft has repeatedly extended XP cutoff deadlines and is releasing a public beta of Windows 7 today is proof of Vista's failure"

On December 15, 2006, the FSF launched its campaign to advocate for the freedom of computer users, opposing adoption of Microsoft Windows Vista and promoting free -- as in freedom -- software alternatives. Two years later, the campaign has 7,000 registered activists, the name Vista is synonymous in the public eye with failure, and we are declaring victory.

GCC libraries get updated license exception

A new license exception will allow the entire GCC codebase to be upgraded to GPLv3, and enable the development of a plugin framework for GCC. The Free Software Foundation (FSF), together with the GCC Steering Committee and the Software Freedom Law Center, has announced the release of a new GCC Runtime Library Exception.

The new exception is built on top of GPLv3, so the libraries can be upgraded to the latest version of the license. It also paves the way for GCC to add a plugin architecture, by adding new protections against extending GCC with proprietary software.

The text of the exception is available. The FSF has also published a rationale document and FAQ to help users understand the exception better.

An open response to Chris Frey regarding GFDL 1.3

Dear Mr. Frey,

Your letter about our recent change to the GFDL, which lets operators of some GFDL-covered wiki sites relicense their contents under Creative Commons BY-SA license, raises the important questions of whether this change and the way we made it were proper, and what they imply in regard to trusting the FSF's stewardship of our licenses in the future.

Updating the Free Software Definition

Recently, we made some changes to the Free Software Definition to help clarify a few points that had been confusing for people in the past.

Because this definition is the benchmark we use to decide whether or not a license is free, we want it to be as easy as possible for people to understand, and over the years we've regularly made changes to the text that do that.

In order to help people understand the purpose of these changes, we also added a History section to the document, with a brief summary of every substantial change made since 2001.

More background about the Cisco case

Back in 2003, we learned that the Linksys WRT54G, a popular wireless router, used a GNU/Linux system in its firmware, but customers weren't receiving all the source code they were entitled to under our licenses. You might remember that case--a lot of developers were interested in it and it was discussed in several different forums.

Despite our best efforts, Cisco seems unwilling to take the steps that are necessary to come into compliance and stay in compliance. We asked them to notify customers about previous violations and inform them about how they can now obtain complete source code; they have refused to do this, along with the other reasonable demands we have made to consider this case settled.

The bootable membership cards are (finally) here!

Take a look! The new ultra slim credit card-sized FSF membership USB cards have arrived. Loaded with gNewSense Live!, they were shipped out to members at the beginning of January.

3D graphics are 100% free software

A few months ago, SGI released a new version of the SGI Free License B. With that change, a lot of code used to provide 3D graphics on GNU/Linux systems was now free software. To make sure that all the code was free software, however, a few developers who worked on code released under a related license, the GLX Public License, needed to grant us permission to release their work under the new terms.

Last month, we got great news from the project that they've obtained that permission from all the necessary developers. With that done, all of the code for 3D graphics originally released under one of SGI's licenses is now free software. Pretty soon you'll see this code in free system distributions like gNewSense.

Freedom Walk: A walk to claim, ensure and preserve freedom

Free software had remained a technological and an economic issue in the state of Kerala and it had been very successful in being so. A team of four people decided to take the fundamental principle of the freedom behind free software and take this message of freedom to the masses in Kerala. They decided to project free software as an empowering agent to change the lives of people and in solving social, environmental and technological issues. They wanted to take free software and the freedom behind it to the common man in Kerala.

New FSF microblogging communities

Several of us at the FSF have been using and enjoying the free software "microblogging" service Users of the service swap short messages, conveniently using either the web interface, text messaging, or Jabber/XMPP. distributes the source code used to power the site under the Affero GNU General Public License, and is following the free network service principles that the working group has been developing.

You can join FSF groups for campaigns and projects:

PlayOgg: Theora 1.0 is released!

The Foundation has announced the release of Theora 1.0. As a patent- and royalty-free video codec, Theora is an excellent choice for artists, producers and developers who want to help make a world in which everyone can safely and easily use free software. Theora has been standardized since 2004 but this mature and stable release is an important milestone.

Upcoming releases of Mozilla Firefox will support Theora natively with the new HTML5 video tag, which means that all of the other free software web browsers derived from the Firefox code base, like Iceweasel and GNU IceCat, will be able to do the same.

Congratulations to on the release! It's great to see it getting easier and easier for people to Play Ogg.

35 days against DRM

Starting on Black Friday and over the following 35 days leading up to the end of 2008, we asked for your help in promoting a consumer boycott of Digital Restrictions Management.

Each day we be published your stories -- about a product, company, service, executive or politician that has has inflicted the nightmare of Digital Restrictions Management on you and our society, reminding us all why this holiday season we needed an all-out boycott.

Thanks to everyone who sent in ideas and suggestions.

Apple iTunes goes DRM-free on music

As you've no doubt heard, Apple, the last major retailer of DRM-encumbered music announced, live at MacWorld, that all iTunes music will be going DRM-free. Today, some 8 million songs and music videos are already available DRM-free, via iTunes Plus.

Of course, what this really makes clear is that this was never about the record companies withholding DRM-free music from Apple, but rather that Apple was unwilling to concede a tiered pricing structure to the recording companies. So to all those who kept sending us messages about how Apple were the wrong target, I hope now you will see that Apple really were forced into this concession.

Microsoft defends DRM. Badly.

While others are waking up to the problems with DRM and moving away from it, Microsoft is embracing and defending it.

Do they think we forgot about MSN Music already?

GNU Spotlight with Karl Berry

Here is the complete list of GNU software releases since the last Supporter installment:

anubis-4.1.1 autogen-5.9.7 automake-1.10.2 bash-3.2.48 bison-2.4.1 ccaudio2-1.0.0 ccrtp-1.7.0 ccscript-4.0.3 commoncpp2-1.7.0 ddrescue-1.9 fdisk-1.1 ferret-0.7 freedink-1.08.20090109 freefont-ttf-20090104 global-5.7.4 glpk-4.35 gnubik-2.3 gnun-0.1 gnutls-2.6.3 groff-1.20.1 gsl-1.12 guile-1.8.6 hello-2.4 icecat-3.0.5-g1 inetutils-1.6 libjit-0.1.2 libmicrohttpd-0.4.0pre1 libtasn1-1.7 libzrtpcpp-1.4.1 mailutils-2.0 maverik-6.4 moe-1.0 radius-1.6.1 sipwitch-0.3.8 solfege-3.12.0 source-highlight-2.11.1 sovix- swbis-1.2 tar-1.21 ucommon-2.0.2 zile-2.3.0

See the packages' announcements, web pages ( or the distributions themselves for details. Nearly all are available from, or preferably one of its mirrors (

To get announcements of most new GNU packages, subscribe to the info-gnu mailing list (, which is publicly archived (

I'd like to give a warm welcome to the newly-dubbed (co-)maintainers Andras Pal (pexec), Yavor Doganov (gnun), Ben Elliston (dejagnu), Sergey Poznyakoff (gdbm, rush), Ludovic Courtes (guile), and Christian Brunello (fdisk).

Several GNU packages are looking for maintainers and other assistance. Please see if you'd like to help. The general page on how to help GNU is at To submit new packages to GNU, see

As always, please feel free to write to me,, with any GNUish questions or suggestions for future installments.

Richard Stallman's speaking schedule and other FSF events

  • 2009-02-05 | Copyright vs. Community

    Edmonton, Canada. Law Centre. McLennan Ross Hall (Room 231/237), University of Alberta.

  • 2009-02-06 | Free Software in Ethics and in Practice

    Vancouver, BC, Canada. Room 101/102/201, George F. Curtis Law Building, 1822 East Mall.

  • 2009-02-06 | Copyright vs. Community

    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph Street.

  • 2009-02-07 | The Free Software Movement

    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Hall 2 of the Woodward Instructional Resources Center, University of British Columbia.

  • 2009-02-19 | The Free Software Movement

    Bergen, Norway. Auditorium 1, Dragefjellet, University of Bergen (number 44 on the map at ).

  • 2009-02-23 | Copyright vs. Community - Free Software and Beyond

    Oslo, Norway. Department of Informatics, University of Oslo. Detailed location to be announced.

  • 2009-03-12 | El Peligro de las Patentes de Software

    Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Hotel AC Palau de Bellavista, Pujada Polvorins, 1, Girona.

  • 2009-03-19 | Copyright vs. Community: supporting artists while respecting freedom and society

    Boston, MA. C. Walsh Theatre, 55 Temple St., Suffolk University.

  • 2009-03-21 and 2009-03-22 | LibrePlanet conference, Cambridge, MA

Catch up with all the latest events from the FSF and GNU at:

Take Action with the FSF

Contributions from thousands of individual members enable the FSF's work. You can contribute by joining at If you're already a member, you can help refer new members by adding a line with your member number to your email signature like:

I'm an FSF member -- Help us support software freedom!

The FSF is also always looking for volunteers ( 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 ( and take action on software patents, DRM, Vista, Opendocument, RIAA and more.


Copyright © 2009 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article are permitted worldwide, without royalty, in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.

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