Free Software Foundation Europe - Chapter France activity report

loic at loic at
Sun May 27 20:17:13 UTC 2001

[Bernhard suggested that the original mail was probably lost.
 Here is another post of the report I wrote Sunday 20 May.]

lynx --dump

     The [1]FSF Europe presence in France started its activity on April
     12, a little more than a month ago. We worked hard to launch the
     core activities that will allow us to implement the goals of the
     [2]FSF and the [3]FSF Europe : provide Free Software for everything
     and everyone and protect its existence when it is threatened.
     Building the [4]administrative and [5]informational infrastructure
     came first. It's an endless task but we had to create something to
     begin with: a [6]machine located in France that is integrated to
     the [7]GNU project and a [8]French non profit organization.
     Then it was necessary to establish working relationships with the
     French association acting since years for the Free Software
     movement in France: [9]APRIL. Cooperation between organizations
     requires some amount of magic. After two [10]brainstormings, an
     [11]exhibition, a [12]fiesta and many GNU project related
     activities the magic apparently worked. [13]APRIL members feel they
     belong to [14]the french chapter of FSF Europe (FSF France) and
     [15]FSF France members feel they belong to [16]APRIL. A French
     association dedicated to Free Software in education ([17]OFSET)
     recently united to [18]FSF Europe and we expect the same symbiosis.
     The first step is always the harder, following a good example is
     Cooperation with [19]APRIL and [20]OFSET was not enough: we had to
     be accepted by the [21]GNU project to Do The Right Thing and have a
     collaborative spirit. Since the [22]GNU project  is made of
     many people and is not an organization as such, that was a
     challenge. However it was simpler than establishing good social
     relationships with organizations. As long as you give and take
     technical resources (software, system administration, web editing)
     without breaking anything, you can become a new GNU ;-) We built a
     standard to create [23]web sites based on XSLT and XHTML in such a
     way that it can be used on and heavily [24]contributed
     to [25] As you all know, contributing to something
     you don't use for yourself often give bad results. We therefore
     based all the [26]infrastructure for France related activities on
     GNU resources, using CVS for sources and HTML, DNS and Savannah on
     a daily basis. At this point we could not do without the [27]GNU
     project and will therefore always help it grow and keep up to date.
     I believe we did reasonably well on this delicate subject. A
     newcomer can easily be rejected if he starts to act in a way that
     existing players do not like. Although [28]FSF Europe borrows part
     of the fame of the [29]FSF from its name, it is without any doubt a
     new player in Europe. Since our greatest strength is to be united,
     being rejected by the Free Software community in France would have
     been a major failure. I see the cooperative attitude and enthusiasm
     that enlights projects common to [30]APRIL, [31]OFSET, [32]FSF
     Europe and [33]GNU as the major achievement of this first month. Of
     course some people may not be content but they did not express
     themselves until now ;-)
     Demonstrating a cooperative attitude cannot be done by talking. It
     can only be done by acting. Only afterwards is it possible to
     rationalize actions and conclude that they were conducted in a
     cooperative way or not. The rest of this document is a dry report
     of actions impulsed or revived by the [34]FSF Europe in France. I
     do not forget the numerous actors of Free Software who live in
     France ([35]Debian developers at large, [36]TeXmacs author, [37]GNU
     philosophy translator to French and countless others). The [38]FSF
     Europe is not involved with each of them and they did not wait for
     the [39]FSF Europe to build their own garden in the Free Software
     universe. The [40]FSF Europe is now there, in France, if they need
     it. But I sincerely hope the Free Software movement will always be
     so lively that the [41]FSF Europe will never be able to count its

   [42]Translation of the GNU GPL in French.
          Lead by Mélanie who started the work early 2001 when RMS asked
          her for an official translation of the GPL in French. She now
          receives support from APRIL/FSF Europe/CNRS under the
          coordination of Frédéric. Discussions started with Georg & CNRS
          to launch a similar effort in Germany and other European
          Volunteers: Mélanie Clément-Fontaine, Benjamin Drieu, Frédéric
          Couchet, Olivier Berger, Sebastien Blondeel, Loïc Dachary, Till
          Jaeger, Axel Metzger, Jan Polcher.
   [43]The four freedoms
          One question quiz where people who cite the four fundamental
          freedoms of Free Software are listed on the pages of FSF
          Europe. After the initial flood 84 persons are listed. Good and
          simple concept, entertaining during exhibitions and designed to
          make everyone talk about freedom and philosophy.
          Volunteers: Raphaël Rousseau, Loïc Dachary.
   GNU help desk
          Provide help to GNU (or future GNU) with various issues related
          to integration in the GNU project, mailing list handling,
          customs, getting accounts etc. So far 3 developers
          spontaneously approached us for this purpose. We expect to
          organize meetings in bars so that we can talk about it and
          create a proximity community.
          Volunteers: Loïc Dachary.
   [44]Technopole Logiciel Libre
          A place where companies dedicated to Free Software will be
          helped to grow. Mostly financed by the French government we
          have a good contact with them and will help them to integrate
          the Free Software movement. The goal is that at some point the
          FSF Europe will not have to provide assistance and companies
          created in the Technopole are philosophically and technically
          integrated in the Free Software movement from the beginning of
          their life.
          Volunteers: Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary
   [45]Savannah and Europe
          We got in touch with two projects (PeCoVall, pure/source) who
          are launching an effort similar to Savannah with slight
          differences. The first contact only happened last week but we
          already had a long talk on how to share efforts and resources.
          That would save a lot of time and energy to everyone while
          giving a much bigger dimension to a cooperatively managed
          development platform. Be it Savannah or known under another
          name, as long as it's implementing a cooperative work
          methodology and is dedicated to Free Software, that will change
          to world we know in the same way as SourceForge did when it
          Volunteers: Loïc Dachary, Raphaël Rousseau, Christian Bac.
GNU project

          A SourceForge clone dedicated to the GNU project and all Free
          Software projects. This project started a year ago and the
          first usable version was available around January 2001. The
          most active developers of Savannah as of now are in France and
          Portugal. The dynamics of Savannah with FSF Europe has a great
          APRIL members responded to the need for new hardware. Joining
          efforts with APRIL, FSF Europe was able to provide a brand new
          set of equipment (2U machine, switch, ups) to the GNU project.
          The machine is being installed this week.
          Volunteers: Loïc Dachary, Jaime Villate, Guillaume Morin, Jeff
          Bailey, Gordon Matzigkeit, Richard M. Stallman.
Events and advocacy

   [47]Microsoft FUD
          The Microsoft spokes person did a followup to the declarations
          of Craig Mundie. The FSF Europe replied vigorously.
   Unisys studies Free Software
          Unisys was asked to produce a report about Free Software, costs
          and benefits by the European Commission. The study lacks
          participation of people involved in the Free Software movement
          and the FSF Europe offers help to fix this.
   Borland Mistake
          Borland wrongfully listed the Free Software Foundation as a
          partner of the Kylix software. The mistake was fixed in three
          hours time. An interesting thread followed on the Borland Free
          Software policy. It's continuing and more people enter the
   [48]Le Journal du Net
          The FSF Europe interviewed a journalist while being
          interviewed. Although surprising the journalist was pleased by
          the result. He sent us the text to review immediately after
          publication and fixed all the mistakes we pointed out. The Open
          Source section of the online publication was promised to be
          changed for Logiciel Libre (Free Software) ... today.
   [49]Libre et Vie Locale
          Last week FSF Europe and APRIL had a booth and spoke at a
          conference during the Libre et Vie Locale exhibition in Brest.
          Our presence at this event was organized by APRIL, as always.
   [50]Libre en Fête
          Four days and three nights to celebrate freedom and Free
          Software in March 2002. The FSF Europe will be there, of
          course. Since this is an APRIL project, it [51]uses the GNU
          technical resources.
          Volunteers: Pascal Desroche, Rodolphe Quiédeville.
Information infrastructure

   [52]Web standards
          Imagine, test, debug and use daily a standard to separate web
          layout from content while preserving the constraints of
 After a few weeks of usage it works well, is easy
          enough to understand so that newcomers don't have to read the
          documentation before doing anything and most importantly it's
          intuitive. There is not identified pitfall that should be fixed
          but is not.
          Volunteers: Jaime Villate, Paul Vischer, Loïc Dachary, Richard
          M. Stallman
          Follow the GNU system administration guidelines to setup the
          France machine so that it can be accepted as a new GNU machine.
          It is going to be used as a secondary name server for GNU
          domains. The accounts on the machine are handled using a
          [54]Savannah project dedicated for this purpose which
          simplifies account management a great deal. The volunteers
          handling [55]accounts on the GNU machines started to use a
          similar method shortly afterwards.
          Volunteers: Rodolphe Quiédeville, Joel N. Weber II, Vincent
          Archer, Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary.
   Contact Database
          Sharing the same storage format for contacts database is
          necessary. There is no doubt about that. FSF, FSF Europe and
          APRIL more or less decided to use vCard for the storage format
          of their contact database. There was a lot of discussions on
          this subject and vCard seems to win the consensus. At present
          we are all trying to find out which tools we would like to use
          to handle contacts. Some like pure ASCII, others use emacs +
          gnus and a few like web interfaces. This is progressing slowly
          and will have to be solved before the next occasion to share
          contacts (the FSF Awards 2001 organization was painful in that
          A web interface called [56]Newt is being installed on
 to allow experimenting. That could even be
          the seed of our secured intranet. One thing at a time ;-)
          Volunteers: Bradley M. Kuhn, Florent Duval, Yan Babilliot,
          Cedric Valignat, Loïc Dachary.
   [57]SomeNews & [58]
          The slashdot equivalent in France, now responds to
          the alias :-) More important it replaced the
          section Open Source of SomeNews by a Free Software section.
          The news of FSF Europe in France are displayed in SomeNews. We
          have the agreement to re-use the GNU section of
          and, this needs to be done ASAP. We are using
          RSS 0.91 for news syndication but this recently disappeared
          from the netscape web site and we will either have to switch to
          1.00 and its RDF mixture or try the IPTC XML format.
          Volunteers: Loïc Dachary, Olivier Berger, Florent Duval.

          Donations from French people to FSF Europe or relayed by FSF
          Europe to FSF reaches a total of 50 000 FF. We did not craft a
          specific strategy to get more donations. Everyone can see what
          we are doing, we made pretty obvious that we are accepting
          donations. If someone wants to help FSF Europe financially it's
          fairly obvious.
          The tax deductibility status is being worked on but is not in
          effect at present. That may take some time.
          Volunteers: Olivier Berger, Raphaël Rousseau, Frédéric Couchet,
          Loïc Dachary, Noémie, Cyril Bouthors.
   Hardware & services donation
          Although we did not make a specific page for this purpose we
          received numerous donation in hardware and services (hosting,
          counseling etc.). In short the assets of FSF Europe in France
          at present is a server (PIII500, 512Mb RAM, 30Gb disk), three
          UPS (APC 1000), a laptop (PII350, 128Mb RAM, 6Gb disk),
          lifelong office hosting by [60]Lolix and lifelong machine
          hosting by [61]Nevrax.
          Volunteers: Rodolphe Quiedeville, Olivier Lejade, Cyril
          Bouthors, Raphaël Rousseau , Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary,
          Vincent Archer.
     [62]Loïc Dachary
   Updated: $Date: 2001/05/24 02:02:56 $ $Author: loic $


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