FSF-CHINA Activity Report

Loic Dachary loic at gnu.org
Sat Jun 23 15:37:17 UTC 2001

[ I send this report on behalf of Hong Feng (hongfeng at gnu.org) who is
  building FSF China and with his permission. I see as very important
  that Free Software Foundation friends that are expanding the Free
  Software Foundation in Germany, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Portugal,
  United Kingdom, France and Japan are aware of the work that is being
  done in China.

  FSF China does not yet have a web site but you'll find a lot of content
  related to current Free Software activities in http://www.rons.net.cn/. ]

FSF-CHINA Activity Report

THE FSF-CHINA, or in full name, "Free Software Foundation, China Academy"
was planned to establish on May 28, 2000 in Wuhan, China,  by 
Dr.  Richard Stallman, president of FSF, Inc. as well as the founder of 
the GNU Project, and Hong Feng, the president and CEO of 
RON's Datacom Co., Ltd.  

Since then, we have made a lot of feasibility study, mainly on the legality
in China to set up FSF-CHINA.  By the beginning of March 2001, our lawyer
informed us it is legal to adopt the FSF by-law terms as FSF-CHINA's.  So 
we have quickly draft the by-laws of FSF-CHINA in Chinese, and started the
registration process.

On March 05, 2001, I launched the MNM Project, stands for "MNM's Not Millions",
it includes three sub-projects: to establish the FSF, China Academy; to 
publish hundreds of free books; and organize hundreds of thousands programmers
and engineers to support free software movement in China. The mission of 
MNM Project is to support the free software community in China.

Many people asked me a question about the relation among FSF-CHINA, RONSNET,
and Ron's Datacom Co., Ltd.  Here I would give a clear explanation. FSF-CHINA
is a non-profitable organization, which systematically studies the free 
software philosophy, technologies, also it leads a group of free software
R&D projects (see section below).  RONSNET is a registered logo of 
RON's Datacom Co., Ltd. in China for the web site "www.rons.net.cn", with 
the only one mission to support the free software community in China, 
and RONSNET is supported by Ron's Datacom Co., Ltd. by money and volunteer
human labors. FSF-CHINA is completely independent with RON's Datacom Co., Ltd.,
though RON's Datacom Co, Ltd. has donated money and other resources to 
FSF-CHINA.  Eventually, FSF-CHINA will run another web site with domain 
"fsf.ac.cn" at the time of necessary.

FSF-CHINA is looking for members who are qualified to enter into the board
of directory.  At the present, there are three people, Hong Feng, Yan Feng 
(who is an assistant professor in a law department in a university), and 
Zheng YongGang from Shanghai, whom RMS accepted.  RMS is the honorable 
president of FSF-CHINA.

As there are so many misunderstandings in China about free software and its
philosophy, so FSF-CHINA has done a lot of works to broadcast the truth about
it, including why free software fight against proprietary software mechanism,
what is the difference between free software and open source software. We have
printed RMS's article "GNU Project and Free Software Movement" in thousands
paper copies (in English-Chinese bilingual form), and distributed it for free.
Our effort now has got some returns -- now most mass media in China have 
realized these difference, and the journalists become careful when they use
the related terms.

We also arranged a lot of speeches about free software.  Besides RMS's a chain
of speeches given in May-June, 2000, we also invited Mr. Robert Chassell 
visited  China last August, and he gave speeches in Beijing and Xi'an.

Other Activities

1. Chain schools.

We have started the work to set up a chain school in China, which has more 
than 10 sites under preparation.  The training courses include how to use
free software tools, like GNU Emacs, GCC, GDB, CVS, etc. I have put this
as the first step till our "Hackerdom Training" course series, and eventually
we will hold a sort of exam, the students who passed the exam could acquire
a "Hackerdom" certificate or a diploma. I believe this is a right way to 
organize the "hundreds of thousands of programmers" in China to develop more
free software, which is a part of MNM Project goals.

We will welcome other training organizations to join the chain schools,
as long as they agree to teach the free contents from us. However, if they
want to hold the exam of "Hackerdom" certificate in the future, then they
need to sign a franchise agreement with us, to get the permission to place
RONSNET logo, and get the technical support from RONSNET, including teacher's
training, textbooks with discount, web-based courseware, answers for students
from professors, etc. (a little bit like McDonald's fast food chain 
restaurants), 10% of the tuition per student will be paid as a collection
to support FSF-CHINA.

(FSF-CHINA accepts other incomes or donation, and use the money to develop
more free software or free documentations.) 

2. Hospital for Free Software Companies.

June 21, 2001,  We have set up a hospital on RONSNET for free software
companies. To run a business is not simple, to run a free software company 
in China at present may be more complicated, not every programmer has the 
talent to run a company to be successful, so they need help. If a company is 
a free software company, and want to get help,  they could ask help
from RONSNET Hospital; if a programmer has a good idea, and s/he is going 
to set up a firm to do free software business,  we welcome him/her to 
make an exam in our hospital before you doing that. 

RONSNET hospital is helping Center for Free Software companies or 
individuals in China, the service includes but not subject to the 
following items:

* Understanding Free Software 
* Business Planning
* Organizing a Company
* Leadership & Vision
* Directory Board
* Sales & Marketing
* Growing & Managing a Business
* Going Global Operations
* Tracking & Controlling Costs
* Forecasting Budgets
* Business Financing
* Analyzing Financial Statements
* Managing Investment

We will invite some experts for technology and management as doctors
in this hospital.  10% of the diagnose and exam income will be transfered
to FSF-CHINA to support its R&D.

3. Publishing

We have started the translation of GNU manuals from English into Chinese,
till the present, Programming in Emacs Lisp: An Introduction was published,
other main manuals are still under translating or proofreading, or final
editing.  We are going to publish the Chinese manual on RONSNET, and if
a local publisher wants to print them in paper copies, we welcome them do that,
and hope they could donate us some money, the donation will be fully transfered

Also we are preparing the Free Software Magazine.  On RONSNET, we have opened
a link dedicated to this online magazine, when the articles accumulated up,
we are going to publish it in paper copies.

I have discussed with Linux Journal, for the possibility to exchange the 
articles, and I got a positive result. Also I am talking with the former
president of SuSE Inc in States, who has a lot of experience of the journal
/magazine circulation services, he could help us for distribute the FSM
world widely.  At the present,  we have to invest money to FSM, as we have
no ads incomes yet. But I hope the time of ads incomes appears the sooner,
the better.

Also I have talked to a lot of authors, so that they could FDL their works,
and we could collect them into our MNM free book catalog. I think I have made
a limited progress, some authors agreed to do so, and some books planned to
publish as proprietary book were turned into free book after my wording (for
example, the Zope Book from www.zope.org is a free book now.), RMS helped
a lot on explanation to the authors about the terms of GNU FDL on this work.

Also we are looking for authors to create new free books. This will take 
more time, but we will keep on doing it. When China joins WTO by the end
of this year, it might be possible for us to register a publishing house,
by then we could print the books and sell them directly, all the incomes
will be transfered to FSF-CHINA.

FSF-CHINA Projects Overview

1. Free Chinese Fonts

As there is no free Chinese font to use, so I started a project to 
design a set of free fonts, both in Postscript and bitmap.  Till 
the beginning of June, we have finished 30% of the 27,484 Chinese
characters, and we expected it could put into use by the end of this
year. Adobe expressed they could help us to pack them in CIDs.

RON's Datacom Co., Ltd. financed the development. And all the fonts are
created by free software. The fonts will be free to use by any GPLed software,
due to many hardware manufacturers and open source vendors are hostile
for free software community, so the fonts are usable by them, but it 
requires additional agreement. Proprietary software must pay us an amount
to use the free font in the software, as we dont want to see our effort are
abused by the proprietary software publishers. As our Postscript fonts are
coded, so it could apply for copyright.

2. POD with free software

When the fonts are ready, we will start the successor project of POD service
network, means the print-on-demand services, we will set up a chain of
POD centers national wide, or world wide, help the centers to install our
free fonts on a devices connect to Internet, so that anyone over the Internet
could send his/her files in PS, PDF, DVI or SVG format to the POD center,
and ask the POD center print it our, bind it, pack it, and delivery it to the
user. The quantity of the copies could be any number greater and equal to 1.

POD is not a new concept, but all the POD equipments now are proprietary,
we need to change this situation, so that everyone could have the freedom
to share the information with the benefits of paper copies.

To reach this freedom, there are a lot of technical problems to work out,
most of them are coming from hardware side, not from software side. We will
seek the hardware manufacturers to cooperate. In this July, I will visit
Russia to talk with a laser R&D institute, to solve the drill problem
(which required after piling and before binding the pages). laser beams could
cut metals, so I think it works with paper, but need to control the time
interval of the laser pulse, so as to avoid the paper burned.  Once the
laser beams could be controlled by free software, then we will move a huge
step ahead.

3. MNM Office

As SGML/XML documents more and more appear, we started a project of
new office suite, that is not the same office suite like GNOME office,
but a new one.  RMS hopes to develop it with GTK+, and I agreed. It has
a couple of componenets, it will address to the enterprises customers or 
powerful individual users.

4. Meta-kernel and Scheme Machine

There was an idea of Lisp machine in 1970s-1980s, i.e. the programming
language works as the operating system. After some researches, we think
this idea could be coming back on stack based chip. 

Three months ago, I finished the proofreading on the book (which you have
received), I started my hacking on Scheme, as RMS told me Lisp is the most
powerful programming language, and Scheme is a modern dialect of Scheme.
(Scheme has a dozen of implementation since 1975, GNU Project has a Scheme
implementation called Guile)

As Pansystems Workshop has years of research since 1976, so there
are many results on system science. One of them is about the new approach
on how to design non-Von Neumann computer. Von Neumann architecture came
from the early thought of Turing, roughly speaking, that is a way of
"Tower of Babel", means, computer approaches infinity very quickly,
and it need more and more memory when more applications are under computing.
Also it needs an OS as a "business manager" to administrate the resources
on the computer.

When it comes to some embedded system, I think this approach does not work
very well.  These embedded system do not have the need to run an OS on

After our research from Pansystems theory, we drew a conclusion, that
we could just put the method to operate the relation into the embedded
system, and try to implement the method in a set of basic software procedures.
These software procedures like the basic bricks, which could be revoked
with each other, in recursive and dynamic hierarchical way.

The prototype came from a Pansystems expression, I could write it in TeX
here: $ B \subset A ^n \times W $, where B is software system, or the set of
software procedures, A is the hardware set, W is short for weight, which is
a set of relation built upon the hardware set's direct product.  In theory,
we could also construct the $W ^m$, which is a direct product of weight.
But in practical, I think just W is enough, and easy to implement on hardware.

The best chip architecture to implement the idea is neither register based
CISC, nor the RISC, but stack-based chips. As the stack is a very ideal data
structure to keep the software procedures. Also it is easy to implement
by the VLSI hardware technology today. As you know, Scheme or Lisp could be the
best programming language to handle the recursive list, which could be
represented by stack in hardware level.

I have worked for a time looking for the stack-based chip, and the
key requirement is about the low power consumption (some embedded systems
like PDA has very high requirement on the power consumption).

When the chip is eventually selected, then our team will start to port
a Scheme implementation, says, guile onto the chip from scratch, and finally
get a Scheme machine.  It is like the old idea of Lisp Machine, which
the programming language is stand for an OS. I would call our Scheme porting
as a "meta-kernel".  Our Pansystems research indicated, there are 33 operators
could be implemented to handle various relation transformation. So based
on these 33 operators, we could then build the software procedures, which
could be handled by the stack-based chip.

When the meta-kernel is ready, then by designing and organizing the software
procedures (that's the work about the W in the above formular), applications
like word processing, spreadsheeting, XML parsing, networking  etc. could
all be processed by the meta-kernel.  If the algorithms are well designed,
then the stack-based meta-kernel could be expected to reach high computing
speed, which could meet the requirement of some real-time applications
on embedded systems.

Actually , the stack-based computing is not a new conception, PostScript
is forth-like stack based programming language, and PostScript based
printers are working world widely already.  But the difference of meta-kernel
with the PostScript technology is: PostScript is a software implementation,
not at hardware level, also Postscript application is just one program
processed on the computer, while on the meta-kenerl, all applications will
be transformed and processed by the meta-kernel.

This project is open, anyone who are interested in it could join. And
we are looking for company to finance it.

Administration of FSF-CHINA

When the board of director has 3-5 people, we will hold the first
meeting of directory board. It is anticipated to hold in the second
half of this year.

1. Donations

RON's Datacom Co., Ltd. has donated RMB500,000 cash for FSF-CHINA (ca
USD60,240) since last May.  As FSF-CHINA is not tax deductible yet, so 
we need to work hard on this, so that more companies like RON's Datacom 
could make the donations. The money was used for covering misc costs to 
promote FSF-CHINA and support its projects. I have asked an independent 
accountant to record all the expenses.

In August-September, when the registration process finished, we will 
open an account officially to accept the donations and equipment.  All 
companies and individuals which donated to FSF-CHINA, will be published 
on RONSNET, as long as they agree to list them on.

2. Hardware

RONSNET donated a server (Zenit): K7, 128MB RAM, 9GB HDD which could be
served www.fsf.ac.cn soon.

Loic   Dachary         http://www.dachary.org/  loic at dachary.org
24 av Secretan         http://www.senga.org/      loic at senga.org
75019    Paris         Tel: 33 1 42 45 09 16        loic at gnu.org
        GPG Public Key: http://www.dachary.org/loic/gpg.txt

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