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You are here: Home Free Software Supporter 2019 Free Software Supporter - Issue 129, January 2019

Free Software Supporter - Issue 129, January 2019

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Dec 05, 2018 03:01 PM

Welcome to the Free Software Supporter, the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 195,394 other activists. That's 455 more than last month! And, an extra-special welcome to the 488 new members who joined us during our winter fundraiser! Thanks to all of you for making it such a success and putting us in a position to successfully take on the challenges to user freedom in 2019.


  • Free Software Foundation receives $1 million from Handshake
  • FSF adds Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre to list of endorsed GNU/Linux distributions
  • Register today for LibrePlanet 2019!
  • Small victories matter: The year in free software
  • Some losses from 2018
  • A message from Richard M. Stallman
  • FSF Licensing and Compliance Lab: 2018 and the future
  • New frontiers in freedom for a new year
  • Forging a DRM-free future with Defective by Design
  • 2018 DMCA anti-circumvention exemption process: Some progress, but not enough
  • Support software freedom: Shop the GNU Press
  • Support GNU Guix!
  • Visit the Libre Lounge, a new podcast by free software supporters
  • UK police tested facial recognition on holiday shoppers in London
  • Introducing Hrishikesh Barman, intern with the FSF tech team
  • Introducing Lei Zhao, intern with the FSF tech team
  • On ghost users and messaging backdoors
  • MPEG-G: The ugly
  • Join the FSF and friends in updating the Free Software Directory
  • LibrePlanet featured resource: Incoming distros
  • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 21 new GNU releases!
  • GNU Toolchain update: Support GNU Toolchain
  • Richard Stallman's speaking schedule and other FSF events
  • Thank GNUs!
  • GNU copyright contributions
  • Take action with the FSF!

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Free Software Foundation receives $1 million from Handshake

From December 3

The FSF announced it has received several earmarked charitable donations from Handshake, an organization developing an experimental peer-to-peer root domain naming system, totaling $1 million. These gifts will support the FSF's organizational capacity, including its advocacy, education, and licensing initiatives, as well as specific projects fiscally sponsored by the FSF.

However, the support of our associate members and donors in the community is still indispensable. Associate members provide the most long-term, stable financial support for the FSF. If you're not a a member yet, join today!

FSF adds Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre to list of endorsed GNU/Linux distributions

From December 6

The FSF's list showcases GNU/Linux operating system distributions whose developers have made a commitment to follow its Guidelines for Free System Distributions. Each one includes and endorses exclusively free "as in freedom" software. After a thorough vetting process, the FSF concluded that Hyperbola, a long-term support simplicity-focused distribution based on Arch GNU/Linux, meets these criteria.

Register today for LibrePlanet 2019!

From December 4

LibrePlanet 2019 is only three months away, on March 23-24, here in the Greater Boston area. We’re already in high gear here at the FSF: we’ve secured four amazing keynote speakers, and we’re hard at work putting together an exciting schedule.

Small victories matter: The year in free software

From December 24

The free software wins for 2018 haven’t made big headlines, but they reflect some important trends: greater public awareness of the importance of controlling the technology we use, and greater awareness of how to fight back. The FSF works hard every day for wins like these, and in this article, we're sharing some of the progress the digital rights community has made.

Some losses from 2018

From December 24

The work we need to do for freedom is far from over. I want to highlight just a few of the (many) losses from 2018. I think these make it clear why the work of organizations like the FSF is so important. The FSF sets a hard line for freedom -- uncompromising in our ideology and bringing it to everything we do. I look at this list and am reminded why the FSF exists, why we need to keep fighting, and why we can only succeed by rallying as a community.

A message from Richard M. Stallman

From December 30

This year's surprise one-time donations make it possible for us to hire additional staff and do more work, but we can't coast very long on them alone; we will need to continue paying the staff to keep doing the work. Most of our income, these donations aside, comes from individual donors giving less than $200 a year. To carry on with this work, we need your support. The increased operations, as we are planning them now, will still not do all that needs to be done to win freedom in computing. You can enable us to continue -- and to undertake the other work that we are still not doing -- by joining the Free Software Foundation or donating now. Even better, do both!

FSF Licensing and Compliance Lab: 2018 and the future

From December 12

The FSF Licensing and Compliance Lab handles all the free software licensing work for the FSF. Copyleft is the best legal tool we have for protecting the rights of users, and the Lab makes sure that tool is at full power by providing fundamental licensing education. From publishing articles and resources on free software licensing, to doing license compliance work for the GNU Project, to handling our certification programs like Respects Your Freedom, if there is a license involved, the Lab is on the case.

New frontiers in freedom for a new year

From December 26

In order to create the free world we need, free software must become a "kitchen table" issue. Making that happen is a large part of the FSF’s mission, and it takes the everyday advocacy and hard work of a huge community of supporters to make it possible. It also takes funds for campaigns, software development, and more -- freedom isn’t always gratis, unfortunately.

Forging a DRM-free future with Defective by Design

From December 19

The state of Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) is as bad as ever -- restricting your rights every day, whether you realize it or not. Intentionally or unintentionally, you are caught by these digital handcuffs. Looking back on 2018, we see new themes around DRM, largely concerning access: Apple created a new chip to limit repairs of Apple products; Amazon released their SPEKE API making it even easier to include DRM on Amazon Web Services servers; and we saw a year with Encrypted Media Extensions on the Web. These are just a few of the new ways DRM infiltrated our lives in 2018.

2018 DMCA anti-circumvention exemption process: Some progress, but not enough

From December 18

The anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) are still a threat. The latest round of its exemptions process showed some successes, and where the work needs to continue.

Support software freedom: Shop the GNU Press

From December 5

This winter is a great time to visit the GNU Press Shop, the online store that promotes software freedom with every T-shirt, every button, and every two socks. We are always busy improving and expanding our selection of documentation, cool stickers, and garments as attractive as they are useful. There can be little doubt that every hacker, coder, and software freedom enthusiast you know devoutly wishes for a gift from the GNU Press Shop to help them upgrade their skills and spread the word about software freedom far, wide, and often. In case you haven't visited since last year, here's what's brand new in 2018!

Support GNU Guix!

From December 18

A little over six years ago, the GNU Guix project was announced. Since that first email, the project and the community gathering around Guix have grown steadily. Around 265 people have collectively contributed tens of thousands of commits to the project. In the past year alone, we have received close to 11,000 commits. More than 8,700 packages are now available, and Guix is supported on five different CPU architectures. Guix has made inroads in the field of scientific computing, and we have been able to secure institutional support for parts of our build farm providing binary substitutes to users.

Help us bring Guix to its full potential by donating here. We appreciate any size donation you can make!

Visit the Libre Lounge, a new podcast by free software supporters

From November 20 by Chris Webber and Serge Wroclawski

Libre Lounge is a podcast by Chris Webber, co-editor of ActivityPub and co-founder of GNU MediaGoblin, and Serge Wroclawski, hacker and free culture advocate. They'll be discussing software freedom, free culture, digital privacy, and other topics, in a relaxed, fun format. The episodes so far address corporate control of free software, malware in free software, the roots and future of hacker culture, and more.

UK police tested facial recognition on holiday shoppers in London

From December 18 by James Vincent

The Orwellian nightmare begins: despite warnings of high error rates (as though this technology would be okay if it worked!), the London Metropolitan Police tested out facial recognition technology on holiday shoppers this December. Cameras are fixed to lampposts or deployed on vans, and use proprietary software developed by Japanese firm NEC to measure the structure of passing faces. This scan is then compared to a database of police mugshots. The Metropolitan Police say a match via the software will prompt officers to examine the individual and decide whether or not to stop them. Big Brother Watch has described the justification for using facial recognition as “misleading, incompetent, and authoritarian.”

Introducing Hrishikesh Barman, intern with the FSF tech team

From December 5

As a remote tech intern, I will be researching monitoring systems, alerting systems, and LibreJS. The main way of communication with the team so far is through IRC and emails. In my first week of the internship, and as an initial task, I was asked to write this blog post and start learning related technologies so as to draft my work plan. The monitoring and alerting system project is about making fewer alerts for issues that aren't important, and more alerts for issues that are more important. The FSF runs over 100 virtual machines and a dozen servers. It will be very interesting and informative to learn about the current setup of Nagios and Munin at the FSF, and explore Prometheus. This will enable the tech team to have better insights into the software they run and the hardware it runs on.

Introducing Lei Zhao, intern with the FSF tech team

From December 4

I first became aware of free software in the sense of freedom at the age of 19. I encountered free software even earlier, but it took some time to appreciate the free/libre aspect of free software. I learned my first programming language, Pascal, in high school. Then Python, Java, C/C++, Scala, JavaScript, SQL, and Lisp. The language I've used most often is Python, since it is the language I used for my past jobs. My primary editor is Emacs. I'm working on making changes to GitLab to improve the license selection for new projects.

On ghost users and messaging backdoors

From December 17 by Matthew Green

The past few years have been an amazing time for the deployment of encryption. In ten years, encrypted Web connections have gone from a novelty into a requirement for running a modern Web site. Smartphone manufacturers deployed default storage encryption to billions of phones. End-to-end encrypted messaging and phone calls are now deployed to billions of users. While this progress is exciting to cryptographers and privacy advocates, not everyone sees it this way. A few countries, like the UK.and Australia, have passed laws in an attempt to gain access to this data, and at least one US proposal has made it to Congress. The Department of Justice recently added its own branding to the mix, asking tech companies to deploy “responsible encryption.“ What, exactly, is “responsible encryption”? Well, that’s a bit of a problem.

MPEG-G: The ugly

From September 28 by James Bonfield

MPEG is developing a new format for genomic data, which will be patented, and thus probably off-limits in the free world for 20 years. The author thinks that some computational-idea patents might be legitimate. The reasons they are all harmful is that they create a form of gridlock -- and that they usually exclude free software, since the developer must pay a license fee per user. We should protect the entire software field from the threat of patents. This is not to say that we're in opposition to profiting from software, so long as it respects user freedom; however, nothing can justify a program that takes away freedom from whoever uses it.

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, January 4, from 12pm to 3pm EST (16:00 to 19:00 UTC). Details here:

LibrePlanet featured resource: Incoming distros

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 Incoming distros, which provides information about the process of reviewing and approving a distribution for the Free GNU/Linux distribution list. 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: 21 new GNU releases!

21 new GNU releases in the last month (as of December 25, 2018):

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.

GNU Toolchain update: Support GNU Toolchain

Donate to support the GNU Toolchain, a collection of foundational freely licensed software development tools including the GNU C Compiler collection (GCC), the GNU C Library (glibc), and the GNU Debugger (GDB).

Richard Stallman's speaking schedule

For event details, as well as to sign-up to be notified for future events in your area, please visit

So far, Richard Stallman has the following events coming up:

Other 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, a big Thank GNU to:

  • Arcanite Solutions
  • Bashar Al-Abdulhadi
  • Bdale Garbee
  • Ben Sturmfels
  • Brewster Kahle
  • Clifford Ireland
  • David Turner
  • Faran Jessani
  • Ganesan Srinivasan
  • Guus Sliepen
  • hiroo yamagata
  • Jean-Francois Blavier
  • Jelte van der Hoek
  • Julian Graham
  • Marcus Pemer
  • Mark Boenke
  • Markus Fischer
  • Morten Lind
  • Nikolay Ksenev
  • Nobias TaniaAhuja
  • Patrick Kennedy
  • Peter Kunze
  • raphael tremeaud
  • René Genz
  • Russell McManus
  • Shyama Mandal
  • Simon Josefsson
  • Steve Wickert
  • Terence O'Gorman
  • Thomas Saglio
  • Warren Knight

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 GPL and keep software free. The following individuals have assigned their copyright to the FSF in the past month:

  • Ampere Computing LLC (GCC) (glibc)
  • Clemens Radermacher (Emacs)
  • Damien Zammit (Mach) (Hurd) (GRUB) (glibc)
  • Denis Pruchkovsky (LibreDWG)
  • Edmund Kademan (Emacs)
  • Iku Iwasa (Emacs)
  • Jacob Bachmeyer (DejaGnu)
  • John Zaitseff (glibc) (Gnulib)
  • Joseph Mingrone (Emacs)
  • Mauro Osvaldo Aranda (Emacs)
  • Nicholas Drozd (Emacs)
  • Nicholas Krause (GCC)
  • Noah Peart (Emacs)
  • Rodney Allen Sparapani (Emacs)
  • Romain Naour (GCC) (glibc) (GDB) (Binutils)
  • Tom Honermann (GCC) (glibc)
  • William James Christie Ferguson (Emacs)

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, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), 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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