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You are here: Home Free Software Supporter 2020 Free Software Supporter - Issue 150, October 2020

Free Software Supporter - Issue 150, October 2020

by Free Software Foundation Contributions Published on Sep 04, 2020 12:50 PM

Welcome to the Free Software Supporter, the Free Software Foundation's (FSF) monthly news digest and action update -- being read by you and 229,049 other activists. That's 726 more than last month!

The FSF welcomes CivicActions and Purism to the FSF patron program!


  • GNU Taler is operational at Bern University of Applied Sciences
  • The pandemic is no excuse to surveil students
  • What's wrong with YouTube
  • Parabola GNU/Linux has been ported to the reMarkable tablet
  • The FSFE is looking for an office assistant
  • GNU Health contact tracing package being used to control COVID-19 in Diamante, Argentina
  • Companies can track your phone's movements to target ads
  • Amazon unveils drone that films inside your home. What could go wrong?
  • Make money contributing to GNU
  • Updates on the Tor Project's board
  • Fun and games with Exposure Notifications
  • Hello world from Eostre Emily Danne, intern with the FSF tech team
  • GNOME 3.38 released
  • LibreOffice 7.0.1 available for download
  • Blender 2.90 release
  • September GNU Emacs news
  • Join the FSF and friends in updating the Free Software Directory
  • LibrePlanet featured resource: Group: Hardware/research
  • GNU Spotlight with Mike Gerwitz: 12 new GNU releases!
  • FSF and other free software events
  • Thank GNUs!
  • GNU copyright contributions
  • Translations of the Free Software Supporter
  • Take action with the FSF!

View this issue online here:

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Want to read this newsletter translated into another language? Scroll to the end to read the Supporter in French, Spanish, or Portuguese.

GNU Taler is operational at Bern University of Applied Sciences

From September 1st by Taler Systems SA

The GNU Taler free software payment system was launched at the BFH in the presence of a representative of the Swiss National Bank. Students, staff, faculty and visitors can visit the cafeteria at Höheweg 80 to withdraw the electronic equivalent of Swiss Franks (CHF) onto the Taler Wallet app running on their mobile phones, and pay at a Taler-enabled snack machine. The system is expected to expand to allow payments at other places in the future.

The pandemic is no excuse to surveil students

From September 4th by Zeynep Tufekci

In Michigan, a small liberal arts college is requiring students to install an app called Aura, which tracks their location in real time, before they come to campus. Oakland University, also in Michigan, announced a mandatory wearable that would track symptoms, but, facing a student-led petition, then said it would be optional. The University of Missouri, too, has an app that tracks when students enter and exit classrooms. This practice is spreading: In an attempt to open during the pandemic, many universities and colleges around the country are forcing students to download location-tracking apps, sometimes as a condition of enrollment. Many of these apps function via Bluetooth sensors or Wi-Fi networks. When students enter a classroom, their phone informs a sensor that’s been installed in the room, or the app checks the Wi-Fi networks nearby to determine the phone’s location.

The FSF deplores this steady creep of mandatory surveillance into the lives of students, and the according violation of their rights to privacy and software freedom. Please join us in condemning these programs by signing our petition for freedom in the classroom, and let us know if we can help you fight these injustices in your own school.

What's wrong with YouTube

From September 20th by Richard Stallman

YouTube is a peculiar case. As of September 2020, it is possible to watch YouTube videos without running any nonfree software, even coming in via Tor, via some of the “Invidious” intermediary sites. This article details what the freedom-related issues with YouTube are, gives instructions for viewing YouTube videos without endangering your freedom, explains how to share videos without directing others to software that will violate their freedom, and cautions users about potential future issues.

Parabola GNU/Linux has been ported to the reMarkable tablet

From September 6th by Nate Hoffelder

Hacker Davis Remmel has ported the FSF-endorsed GNU/Linux distribution Parabola to the reMarkable tablet, greatly opening up what you can do on the device, which was previously limited to a tablet UI and a select number of applications. You can now apply the benefits of electronic paper to a wide range of computing tasks!

The FSFE is looking for an office assistant

From September 4th by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE)

The FSFE is looking for an office assistant to work 15-35 hours per week with their team in the Berlin, Germany office. Please see the link below to find out how to apply.

GNU Health contact tracing package being used to control COVID-19 in Diamante, Argentina

From September 18th by Sitio Web de la Municipalidad de Diamante

As noted in the Free Software Foundation Bulletin, GNU Health medical administration software is optimal for contact tracing, tracking a number of important factors while respecting the privacy of patients and the software freedom of organizations and administrators. So we're thrilled to hear that a municipality in Argentina is using this system to provide superb and ethical care for their residents! (The original link is in Spanish.)

Companies can track your phone's movements to target ads

From September 10th by Sidney Fussell

As the technology giants move to provide cosmetic "privacy protections" (which you can neither control nor verify, due to the proprietary nature of their software), companies are looking for even sneakier and creepier ways to categorize users and tailor content from their advertisers. "Contextual intelligence" startups infer user activity based on data from your smartphone's sensors: whether you're running or seated, near a park or museum, driving or riding a train.

Amazon unveils drone that films inside your home. What could go wrong?

From September 24th by Kellen Browning

When Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos, promised in 2013 that drones would soon be flying everywhere delivering packages, a miniature camera whirring through homes and recording video was probably not what people envisioned (although in retrospect, this seems obvious). But on Thursday, Amazon’s Ring division unveiled the $249 Ring Always Home Cam, a small drone that hums as it flies around houses filming everything, ostensibly for security purposes. Thankfully, it appears that the reception for this item has not been particularly warm. We hope you'll continue to warn your friends and family that "Internet of Things" connected home appliances are little more than spying devices brought into your home.

Make money contributing to GNU

From September 17th by Joshua Branson

GNU contributors Joshua and Jeremy have decided that they "hate having money," and have "decided to get rid of some of it" in the best way possible: by paying new free software contributors for their first contribution! It isn't a ton of money, but we can assure you that every contribution to the expansion of free software pays huge dividends in the satisfaction of knowing that you're part of a global movement of tremendous importance, and that your first step is a momentous one.

We're grateful to these two for their creative and amusing idea to attract more people to the free software movement, and if you also find that you hate having money and want to get rid of it, the FSF will gladly relieve you and will carry this unpleasant burden responsibly.

Updates on the Tor Project's board

From September 16th by Isabela Bagueros

The Tor Project is welcoming two new board members: Rabbi Rob, former board member, who is also the founder and CEO of Team Cymru; and Chelsea Komlo, cryptography and privacy researcher and engineer, and member of Tor core contributors community and the Tor Research Safety Board. Congratulations to Rob and Chelsea!

Fun and games with Exposure Notifications

From September 7th by Alyssa Rosenzweig

Alyssa Rosenzweig, former FSF intern and co-keynote speaker for LibrePlanet 2020, has written a GNU/Linux program to exchange Bluetooth signals using the Exposure Notifications protocol developed by Apple and Google for COVID-19.

Hello world from Eostre Emily Danne, intern with the FSF tech team

From September 14th

Greetings! I'm Eostre (they/she), one of the new interns here at the FSF. I'm primarily here to update systems, rebuild servers, configure Apache, and really anything else that involves coercing GNU/Linux until it does what I want. Prior to this, I've done GNU/Linux almost exclusively as a hobby; now I'm trying to turn my hobby into a career. At home, I run a bunch of weird little hobby distros/BSDs. Interning at the FSF, where we primarily use Trisquel, is giving me a healthy appreciation for Ubuntu-based systems too.

GNOME 3.38 released

From September 16th by The GNOME Project

The latest version of GNOME 3 has been released. Version 3.38 contains six months of work by the GNOME community and, as always, includes many new features and performance improvements. This release showcases a new Tour application, highlighting the main functionality of the desktop and providing first-time users a nice welcome to GNOME.

LibreOffice 7.0.1 available for download

From September 3rd by Italo Vignoli

LibreOffice 7.0.1, the first minor release of the LibreOffice 7.0 family, targeted at technology enthusiasts and power users, is now available for download from LibreOffice 7.0.1 includes around 80 bug fixes and improvements to document compatibility.

Blender 2.90 release

From August 31st by Pablo Vasquez

The first release of the 2.9 series is here! Building on the success of the 2.8 series, Blender 2.90 continues to polish the user experience, introducing improvements to EEVEE, Cycles, sculpt, VR, animation, modeling, UV editing and so much more. Blender integrates industry standard libraries such as Intel Embree, Intel OpenImageDenoise and NVidia Optix to provide a cutting-edge rendering experience.

September GNU Emacs news

From September 28th by Sacha Chua

In these issues: EmacsConf 2021 Call for Proposals; how to install packages; Org mode for beginners; and more!

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, October 2, 2020 from 12:00 to 15:00 EDT (16:00 to 19:00 UTC). Details here:

LibrePlanet featured resource: Group: Hardware/research

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

For this month, we are highlighting Group: Hardware/research, which provides information about specific hardware in the aim of being able to use only free software on such hardware or to document freedom issues. 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: 12 new GNU releases!

12 new GNU releases in the last month (as of September 28, 2020):

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.

This month, we welcome Amin Bandali as comaintainer of Jami and John Darrington as comaintainer of PSPP.

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

FSF and other 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:

  • Adam Van Ymeren
  • Frederic Barthelemy
  • Nicolas Guilbert
  • René Genz
  • Vikings GmbH

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 (and allowed public appreciation) in the past month:

  • Gerry Agbobada (Emacs)
  • Hugh Daschbach (Emacs)
  • Michael Weghorn (GCC)
  • Mykhailo Panarin (Emacs)
  • Nicholas Savage (Emacs)
  • Nicolas Graner (Emacs)
  • Ryan Jeffrey (Hurd)
  • Sergey Belyashov (GDB)
  • Sundeep Anand (gettext)
  • Zahra Sharbaf (Gnuastro)

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

Translations of the Free Software Supporter

El Free Software Supporter está disponible en español. Para ver la versión en español haz click aqui:

Para cambiar las preferencias de usuario y recibir los próximos números del Supporter en español, haz click aquí:{contact.contact_id}&{contact.checksum}

Le Free Software Supporter est disponible en français. Pour voir la version française cliquez ici:

Pour modifier vos préférences et recevoir les prochaines publications du Supporter en français, cliquez ici:{contact.contact_id}&{contact.checksum}

O Free Software Supporter está disponível em português. Para ver a versão em português, clique aqui:

Para alterar as preferências do usuário e receber as próximas edições do Supporter em português, clique aqui:{contact.contact_id}&{contact.checksum}

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 © 2020 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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