suggestions/request for fsfe
paul at boddie.org.uk
Wed Jan 8 13:08:35 UTC 2020
On Tuesday 7. January 2020 15.17.12 Carmen Bianca Bakker wrote:
> On a grander scale, I think a better solution would be that relying on
> a server is not necessary. Imagine instead that a distribution might
> include a `spyware-dns-hosts` package that modifies `/etc/hosts` with
> the same kind of blacklist that pi-hole uses.
I didn't address the alternatives to just delegating responsibility to
services in my response, but it is certainly the case that localised solutions
should also be in a position to be considered viable and usable. If they
aren't then effort should be directed towards making them so.
I may have mentioned that I use a rather clumsy approach on a single-board
computer than I also use as a "workstation", extracting host details from
"excessive" Web sites and adding them to /etc/hosts. This could be improved
substantially, and maybe I could learn from what the pi-hole project does, but
it probably makes various Web sites usable for me on this fairly constained
Having a curated blacklist does involve a certain amount of effort and
collaboration, and it also brings certain responsibilities. Here, the FSFE
would probably act as some kind of guarantor that various providers do things
in acceptable ways, having clear policies and not just blocking stuff
arbitrarily, for instance.
> Or maybe browsers could ship with much stronger privacy protection. I
> believe that Firefox is flirting with the idea of blocking more ads by
> default, but I'm not extremely well-read on that topic.
The problem with the Web and its de-facto custodians is that various business
models rely on pervasive advertising, with some of that advert money being
ploughed back into Web platform development. Consequently, the attitude that
"amazing" things can now be done using Web technologies facilitates people
using those technologies to provide overcomplicated and surveillance-heavy Web
Of course, the people developing Web technology are always able to persuade
themselves that they are merely "enriching" the platform or "empowering" the
users. Never mind that what should be relatively simple online transactions
turn out to involve tens or hundreds of megabytes of traffic, multiple data
centres, and maximum CPU, for which the power has to come from somewhere.
Returning to the specific topic, there have been initiatives like FreedomBox
that seek to make systems - Debian, in that particular case - more appliance-
like and requiring less end-user maintenance. However, FreedomBox seems to
have taken a path where people do need to care about what it is doing,
arguably following the same path as some other router-like distributions.
Maybe pi-hole is more appliance-like, less prone to failure, and less
susceptible to burdening the user with maintenance by dressing it up as
But as I noted in my previous message, having a broad and coherent strategy
means providing "actionable" solutions, and if a solution such as pi-hole
isn't practical then organisations like the FSFE should be looking to
facilitate improvements in order to strengthen and deliver that strategy.
Saying "Free Software is great" and then "you're on your own" is not a
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