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You are here: Home Free Software Supporter 2019 Free Software Supporter - Issue 136, August 2019

Free Software Supporter - Issue 136, August 2019

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Jul 02, 2019 02:06 PM
Welcome to the *Free Software Supporter*, the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 210,274 other activists. That's 1,831 more than last month!


  • Thank you for advancing free software: Read FSF spring news in the latest Bulletin
  • Strengthen free software by telling the US Congress to reject the STRONGER Patents Act
  • Microsoft's ebook apocalypse shows the dark side of DRM
  • Doctorow's novella "Unauthorized Bread" explains why we have to fight DRM today to avoid a grim future
  • Fall internships at the FSF! Apply by September 2
  • June 2019: Photos from RMS talks in Brno
  • GNU Linux-libre 5.2 kernel released for those seeking 100% freedom for their PCs
  • gNewSense needs a new maintainer
  • Job listing: GNU/Linux system administrator for Aleph Objects
  • Net Neutrality Defense Guide: Summer 2019 edition
  • Adblocking: How about nah?
  • Discovering whether your iPhone has been hijacked is nearly impossible thanks to Apple's walled garden
  • Gnuastro 0.9 released, goal defined for 1.0
  • FaceApp makes today's privacy laws look antiquated
  • I found your data. It's for sale.
  • Pearson shifts to Netflix-style subscription model for textbooks
  • EmacsConf 2019 opens call for proposals
  • Call for GUADEC 2020 bid proposals
  • Join the FSF and friends in updating the Free Software Directory
  • LibrePlanet featured resource: Free Software Foundation/Ideas
  • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 16 new GNU releases!
  • Upcoming FSF and free software events
  • Thank GNUs!
  • GNU copyright contributions
  • Take action with the FSF!

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Thank you for advancing free software: Read FSF spring news in the latest Bulletin

From July 8

In the beginning of June, we sent a physical copy of our biannual spring Free Software Foundation (FSF) Bulletin to 11,715 of our most active free software supporters around the globe. Our Bulletin is written by FSF staff and free software activists, and it is now also available online.

Strengthen free software by telling the US Congress to reject the STRONGER Patents Act

From July 25

Despite its failure to pass in 2017, a bill with the appropriately Orwellian title of "Support Technology and Research of Our Nation's Growth and Economic Resilience" (STRONGER) Patents Act was reintroduced into the US Congress on July 10th, 2019. If passed, the Act would make software idea patents much more easily claimed and enforceable against developers in the free software community. Whatever its effects on other types of patents may be, the fact that it will prop up software idea patents is reason enough to reject it.

Microsoft's ebook apocalypse shows the dark side of DRM

From June 30 by Brian Barrett

Of course, there isn't really a "light" side to Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) -- but this article in Wired gave FSF executive director John Sullivan a chance to talk about the dangers of DRM on a wider stage: because of DRM, you don't really own the ebooks you buy, which enabled Microsoft to effectively burn millions of books when they shuttered their ebook store this summer.

Doctorow's novella "Unauthorized Bread" explains why we have to fight DRM today to avoid a grim future

From July 18

Salima has a problem: her Boulangism toaster is locked down with software that ensures that it will only toast bread sold to her by the Boulangism company… and as Boulangism has gone out of business, there's no way to buy authorized bread. Thus, Salima can no longer have toast.

This sneakily familiar scenario sends our resourceful heroine down a rabbit hole into the world of hacking appliances, but it also puts her in danger of losing her home -- and prosecution under the draconian terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Her story, told in the novella “Unauthorized Bread,” which opens Cory Doctorow’s recent book Radicalized, guides readers through a process of discovering what Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) is, and how the future can look mightily grim if we don’t join forces to stop DRM now.

Fall internships at the FSF! Apply by September 2

From July 25

The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is looking for interns to contribute to our campaigns, licensing, or technical team. These positions are unpaid, educational opportunities, and the FSF will provide any appropriate documentation you might need to receive funding and school credit from outside sources. We place an emphasis on providing hands-on educational opportunities for interns, in which they work closely with staff mentors on projects that match their skills and interests. The deadline to apply is September 2. See the link below to learn how to apply.

June 2019: Photos from RMS talks in Brno

From July 5

Free Software Foundation president Richard Stallman (RMS) was in Brno, Czech Republic on June 6, 2019, to give two speeches. In the morning, he took part in the URBIS Smart City Fair, at the Brno Fair Grounds, giving his speech "Computing, freedom, and privacy." In the afternoon, at the Masaryk University's University Cinema Scala, he gave his speech "The free software movement and the GNU/Linux operating system," to about three hundred people.

GNU Linux-libre 5.2 kernel released for those seeking 100% freedom for their PCs

From July 9 by Marius Nestor

The GNU Linux-libre project has released the GNU Linux-libre 5.2 kernel, a 100% free version of the Linux kernel that doesn't include any proprietary drivers, firmware, or code.

Based on the recently released Linux 5.2 kernel series, which introduces the Sound Open Firmware support for DSP audio devices, the GNU Linux-libre 5.2 kernel also ships with the free firmware, which wasn't included in previous versions of the GNU Linux-libre kernel because it was overlooked.

gNewSense needs a new maintainer

From July 29

One of our earliest recommended, fully free distributions of GNU/Linux is seeking a new maintainer. If you'd like to help out with gNewSense, please get in touch with its development community at the link below.

Job listing: GNU/Linux system administrator for Aleph Objects

From July 24

This is a unique opportunity in the growing field of 3D printing, in one of the world's only IT environments running exclusively free software. As a GNU/Linux system administrator, you will be responsible for planning, deploying, and maintaining a variety of GNU/Linux servers running services such as Postfix, Asterisk, NextCloud, OpenNebula, Matomo, and more. A four-year degree in a related technical field and two to five years of GNU/Linux system administration experience are required. Help the Aleph Objects team prove that you can do more with "free as in freedom" tools!

Net Neutrality Defense Guide: Summer 2019 edition

From July 2019 by EFF

Net neutrality is in an interesting place. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed the 2015 Open Internet Order in 2017, and had to defend its decision in court. That case is still pending. In 2018, the Senate voted to overturn the FCC’s repeal, but the House of Representatives did not. In 2019, the House of Representatives voted for the Save the Internet Act, which would make the 2015 Open Internet Order a law that the FCC cannot repeal. So now, once again, it is up to the Senate to stand up for net neutrality.

To that end, EFF has prepared a toolkit designed to help local groups and individuals take advantage of the fact that senators will be home while Congress is on recess.

Adblocking: How about nah?

From July 25 by Cory Doctorow

The rise and rise of ad-blockers (and ad-blocker-blocker-blockers) is without parallel: 26% of Internet users are now blocking ads, and the figure is rising. It’s been called the biggest boycott in human history. However, the adoption of Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) by the World Wide Web Consortium is the first crack in the wall that protected browsers from those who would thwart adversarial operability and take "how about nah?" off the table, leaving us with the kind of take-it-or-leave-it Web that the marketing industry has been striving for since the first pop-up ad.

Discovering whether your iPhone has been hijacked is nearly impossible thanks to Apple's walled garden

From May 15 by Cory Doctorow

Apple has received a lot of praise for the security of its iOS devices, which are said to be so secure in part because of Apple's walled garden strategy, which prevents iPhone owners from running third-party software unless it comes through Apple's App Store; and which limits who can repair Apple devices, and whether they can use third-party replacement parts. All of this control is said to produce a much more limited attack surface, with fewer bugs, which are corrected more quickly.

However, this same security model treats owners of Apple devices as potential attackers and goes to enormous lengths to prevent someone who owns an Apple device from ever learning exactly how it works, so that some processes can run in areas that users can't inspect or control. If a hijacker sneaks into those areas, they can attack you without you knowing what they're doing and reconfiguring your device to kick them out. You're left almost completely defenseless.

Apple's censorship of apps is an attack on the user, and would be inexcusable even if it didn't lead to insecurity against other attackers. You can read more about why to avoid Apple, and what alternatives are available so far, here.

Gnuastro 0.9 released, goal defined for 1.0

From April 17 by Mohammad Akhlaghi

The GNU Astronomy Utilities (Gnuastro) is an official GNU package consisting of various programs and library functions for the manipulation and analysis of astronomical data. All the programs share the same basic command line user interface for the comfort of both the users and developers. Gnuastro is written to comply fully with GNU coding standards, so it integrates finely with the GNU/Linux operating system. This also enables astronomers to expect a fully familiar experience in the source code, building, installing and command line user interaction that they have seen in all the other GNU software that they use.

The current stable release is Gnuastro 0.9. Use a mirror if possible. New releases are announced in info-gnuastro. To stay up to date, please subscribe.

FaceApp makes today's privacy laws look antiquated

From July 20 by Tiffany C. Li

Yes, you should stop using FaceApp, because there are few controls on how your data, including your face data, will be used. But the problems that FaceApp poses aren’t unique. Walking around anywhere can get your face included in facial-recognition databases. How that information can be mined, manipulated, bought, or sold is minimally regulated -- in the United States and elsewhere. Militaries, law enforcement agencies, and commercial interests alike envision far-reaching uses of AI and facial recognition, but legal and regulatory controls lag far behind the pace of technology.

For most people, never going outside is not an option. So laws in the United States and elsewhere need to be tuned up quickly -- and not just because of FaceApp.

One deeper problem with this app, and other similar apps, is that they send photos to a remote server to edit it. We call that "service as a software substitute," because in order to get the job done, you have to relinquish control over your photo by sending it far away, where people can do whatever they like to it. We maintain that any manipulation of your photos ought to be done by a program you install on your own computer -- a free program, in order to respect your freedom and autonomy -- and never sent anywhere.

I found your data. It's for sale.

From July 18 by Geoffrey A. Fowler

Working with an independent security researcher, the author of this article found that as many as 4 million people have been leaking personal and corporate secrets through browser extensions on Chrome and Firefox. Of course, these leaks are only one of myriad examples of nonfree software acting as malware, performing actions you don't control and might not even know about as you browse the Internet.

Pearson shifts to Netflix-style subscription model for textbooks

From July 16 by Jim Waterson

Pearson is switching to a "Netflix-style subscription-based model." Which is to say: students will be pressured to rent textbooks on subscription, readable only with proprietary malware with DRM.

EmacsConf 2019 opens call for proposals

From July 29 by Amin Bandali

EmacsConf 2019 has issued its call for proposals! The conference will be held virtually on November 2. They're also looking for suggestions on how to run this year's conference using 100% free software, so please have a look!

Call for GUADEC 2020 bid proposals

From July 19 by the GNOME Foundation

The GNOME Foundation would like to invite bids for hosting GUADEC 2020. GUADEC is the biggest gathering of GNOME users and developers, which takes place every year, and you could make it happen next year!

If you are interested in submitting a bid to host GUADEC 2020 in your city, please send an intention to bid by end of the day on Friday, August 16th. Bids will be due on September 13th, and you can talk to the Foundation Board and previous GUADEC organizers to find out more about what is involved.

Join the FSF and friends in updating the Free Software Directory

Tens of thousands of people visit 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, and usually include a handful of regulars as well as newcomers. Freenode is accessible from any IRC client -- Everyone's welcome!

The next meeting is Friday, August 2, from 12pm to 3pm EDT (16:00 to 19:00 UTC). Details here:

LibrePlanet featured resource: Free Software Foundation/Ideas

Every month on LibrePlanet, we highlight one resource that is interesting and useful -- often one that could use your help.

For this month, we are highlighting Free Software Foundation/Ideas, which provides a space for you to post and discuss ideas for the FSF. You are invited to adopt, spread and improve this important resource.

Do you have a suggestion for next month's featured resource? Let us know at

GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 16 new GNU releases!

16 new GNU releases in the last month (as of July 25, 2019):

For announcements of most new GNU releases, subscribe to the info-gnu mailing list:

To download: nearly all GNU software is available from, or preferably one of its mirrors from You can use the URL to be automatically redirected to a (hopefully) nearby and up-to-date mirror.

A number of GNU packages, as well as the GNU operating system as a whole, 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

If you have a working or partly working program that you'd like to offer to the GNU project as a GNU package, see

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

Upcoming FSF and free software events

Thank GNUs!

We appreciate everyone who donates to the Free Software Foundation, and we'd like to give special recognition to the folks who have donated $500 or more in the last month. This month's list includes some donors who we neglected to thank in 2018 -- we're so sorry we overlooked you, and grateful for your continued support!

This month, a big Thank GNU to:

  • Alexandre BLANC
  • Balta Katei
  • Blue Systems
  • Bret Fisher
  • Brian Strand
  • Bruno Dantas
  • Christoph Reichenbach
  • Donald Craig
  • Eric Culp
  • Eric Herman
  • François Badier
  • Harry Mangalam
  • Jerome Quinn
  • joerg kunze
  • John Owen
  • Julio Claudio Matus Ramirez
  • Kevin McCarthy
  • Li-Cheng Tai
  • Mark Wielaard
  • Martin Jansche
  • Martin Krafft
  • Masaru KIMURA
  • Michael Cornelius
  • Michael Henderson
  • Michael Mauger
  • Nicolas Pottier
  • Olivier Warin
  • Paul Reiber
  • Mr. Pete Batard
  • Peter Mastren
  • Philipp Weis
  • Reed Loden
  • René Genz
  • Scott Anecito
  • Sebastian Gfeller
  • Stefan Hagen
  • Steven Hay
  • Tegonal GmbH
  • Thomas Saglio
  • Tyler Romeo
  • William Bolella
  • Yidong Chong

You can add your name to this list by donating at

GNU copyright contributions

Assigning your copyright to the Free Software Foundation helps us defend the GNU GPL and keep software free. The following individuals have assigned their copyright to the FSF in the past month:

  • Elizabeth Han (GNU Gzip)
  • Hengda Shi (GNU Gzip)
  • Valve Corporation (glibc)
  • Will Fehrnstrom (GNU Gzip)

Want to see your name on this list? Contribute to GNU and assign your copyright to the FSF.

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 (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!

The FSF is 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 campaigns section ( and take action on software patents, Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), free software adoption, OpenDocument, and more.

Copyright © 2019 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

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