COVID-19 +++ Global cooperation +++ Remote working

press at press at
Mon Apr 6 20:26:28 UTC 2020

 = COVID-19 +++ Global cooperation +++ Remote working =

[ Read online: ]

With the spreading of COVID-19 we are facing a global pandemic that
requires a lot of coordinated efforts and asks for new global solutions.
Our extraordinary newsletter concentrates on software freedom for global
solutions, on Free Software solutions for remote connections and on how
the FSFE handles the whole situation. As usual, we highlight our
community activities and give tips on what you can do to edutain
yourself while staying home. Enjoy the read, stay healthy, and protect

 == Global problems need global solutions and local adaption ==

The global spread of the new Corona virus is said to be still in its
beginning and any serious estimations on the impact that countermeasures
will have on our daily lives and social organisation are far too early.
But there are already some conclusions that we can take from the
previous development and current arrangements of our political, social,
and economical life. One is that humanity is facing a global problem and
so we need global solutions.

This can be the time that more people understand the global potential of
Free Software because it is only Free Software that enables global code
development, cooperation, and sharing in any jurisdiction. Solutions
developed in one country can be reused and adapted in another one.
International development agencies and humanitarian movements can help
to contain the spread of COVID-19 in any country around the world with
Free Software solutions. At the same time only Free Software allows them
to adapt a solution to any local needs around the world, for example by
translating it into local languages. Any proprietary and privative
solution instead will inevitably lead to countless isolated solutions,
communication overhead, useless competition about our health desires and
creation of problems in our daily work arising from non-

Not to forget that a majority of investments in the current crisis and a
lot of actors in the medical sector are state-funded. It is a waste of
energy and important time to re-invent the same solutions again and
again instead of cooperating. It is now even more important than ever to
demand, what over 27000 people already ask for [1], that publicly
financed software developed for the public sector must be made publicly
available under Free Software licences [2].

 === COVID19 apps: They should be Free Software ===

Free Software is the only solution to offer full transparency and trust
in its implementation. More and more people ask about the use and
development of apps that aim at helping to contain the corona virus by
tracking new infections and their contact persons. The Free Software
Foundation Europe demands [3] that any such app may only be introduced
on a voluntary basis and the software must be published under a Free
Software / Open Source Software licence. Only Free Software offers
enough transparency to validate a complete data protection and a
compliant use; thus trust can be established.

 === How the FSFE's work is affected ===

As always, we keep our eyes open on the well-being of the Free Sofware
ecosystem and keep running our activities like REUSE [4], Router Freedom
[5] or the Next Generation Internet [6] project. We will even intensify
the communication with the public via established and new channels

But the Corona pandemic also reduces our resources. As you can read in
our cancelled events section [7] below, we and other Free Software
organisations suffer financially from the physical-distance-ordering and
we need your help to get through this phase reasonably well! If you can,
please consider joining us as a supporter [8], by increasing your
contribution or by making a one-time donation [9]. Please help us in
this important time to help others establishing digital infrastructures
based on Free Software. Thank you!


Support our work with a donation [10]


 == Free Software For Remote Work ==

Since more and more people are working remotely now, we wrote a
checklist on what you should look for when looking for Free Software
[11]. To help people find the right tool for their particular needs that
also respects their freedom we also started to publish the setup that
the staffers of the FSFE have been used to work with [12] for many years
already. Some of our FSFE supporters took the chance to collectively
write up a comprehensive list of freedom respecting tools for remote
working in our wiki [13].

Also a lot of individual FSFE supporters made up their mind in the last
weeks and started sharing their experiences with tools they use for
remote working. Tobias Diekershoff wrote about the experience the Berlin
group had with their first online-meeting [14] comparing Jitsi and Big
Blue Button (DE), Matthias Kirschner wrote about "Jitsi and the power of
shortcuts" [15], Björn Schießle published his introduction to Nextcloud
Talk [16] and Vanitas Vitae explains how to Install Jitsi-Meet alongside
ejabberd [17].

 == Cancelled: upcoming events with the FSFE ==

It will be to no surprise to you that our own events and the events we
were supposed to take part in during the next weeks and months [18] have
been cancelled. This puts the Free Software community into difficult
times. Real-life meetings now and then are essential for many people
inside our vibrant community to keep in touch and are a good chance to
breed creativity and inspiring ideas.

For us at the FSFE, booths and talks are among the main channels [19]
over which we inform people about Free Software and the FSFE’s work. Our
European community is creative in putting information booths on street
festivals, hacker camps, vegan gatherings and many occasions more. Now
losing the ability to directly contact people does heavily limit the
visibility of our organisation and our mission, which naturally comes
with a loss in new supporters and donors for our mutual cause. In the
case of our own events - like the annual Legal and Licensing Workshop
[20] or the “Public Money? Public Code!” conference [21], it is an even
more direct financial burden due to already invested work and non-
refundable costs.

If you like to support us and our work and you are saving some costs
this year because you are not going to an event that has been cancelled,
please consider donating a part of your costs to the organisers that
struggle hard and another part to NGOs like the FSFE who struggle as
well. And since we cannot spread our word anymore at various events,
help us to spread the word. The material we used to send [22] out is
also available as downloads. Tell people about Free Software and the
FSFE and why we need your help now.

 == What have we done? Inside and Outside the FSFE ==

- Max Mehl and Lucas Lasota moved within Germany and individually wanted
  to connect to the Internet through our own routers. They reported
  about various hard and soft barriers [23], to share their experience
  and help you to take back your rights! Router Freedom [24] concerns
  all of us and you can find all necessary information to get active
  against the disruption of Router Freedom and to raise awareness among
  your community and political representatives on our wiki page [25].

- Our Policy Expert Brochure "Public Money Public Code – Modernising
  Public Infrastructure with Free Software" is now available in three
  more languages [26]: German, Czech, and Brazilian Portuguese

- Nothing new in the proprietary world: new security issues around
  WhatsApp show the need for decentralised messengers and digital
  sovereignty [27].

- One of our last meetings before the shutdown was the FSFE's system
  hackers meetings. The System Hackers [28] are responsible for the
  maintenance and development of a large number of services. From the website’s deployment to the mail servers and blogs, from Git
  to internal services like DNS and so on. The report from Max Mehl
  reads as a big success [29] and as if they would have known they
  already prepared to switch between real-meetings and virtual online
  meetings in the future.

- Back on February 25, our French coordinators organised a debate
  between candidates for the municipal elections in Paris about their
  digital program at Sciences Po Paris university. This event was co-
  organised with student association Espace Numérique and masters
  association Innovation and Digital Transformation. We'll come in with
  a full report so long you can watch the full debate ( here [30] ).

- Gabriel Ku Wei Bin gave a talk about Making Free Software Licensing
  Easier For All with REUSE at foss north ( video [31] ), which happened
  to be held as an online event this year.

- At the Winterkongress Digitale Gesellschaft Matthias Kirschner talked
  about the ethics of Free Software [32] ( video [33], DE) and Max Mehl
  about security and Free Software [34] ( video [35], DE).

- Erik Albers was invited as part of an expert panel to give input on
  the current AI strategy of the German government and its impact on
  climate change.

- Matthias Kirschner gave a keynote at FOSS Backstage about "The core
  values of software freedom" [36] ( video [37] )

 == Stories from the Planet ==

- Henri Bergius writes about how to use Free Software for Cruising
  sailboat electronics setup with Signal K [38].

- Matija Šukle writes about How and why to properly write copyright
  statements in your code [39].

- Vanitas Vitae reports about the OMEMO Specification Sprint [40]

- Evaggelos Balaskas gives insights about Using LibreDNS with dnscrypt-
  proxy [41]

 == Edutain yourself while staying at home ==

In many countries around the world, people are asked to stay home after
work, over weekends and also during vacation periods. If you are looking
for some edutainment, the FSFE offers a lot for you. Our Software
Freedom Podcast [42] regularly features inspiring people and topics
ranging from political questions to community developments to legal
issues around Free Software. On our Peertube [43] and Youtube [44] video
channels we collect talks by the FSFE and our community members and
otherwise thrilling material for hours of binge watching. Our Planet
[45] is a collection of individual blogs by our community and the "Our
Work" section [46] on the homepage offers hours of reading about
insights and backgrounds on the political side of software freedom.

 == Get Active ==

In times like now, in that our lives, work and relationships move more
and more into digital realms, it becomes fundamental to tell others
about software and users' freedom. Try to see a chance in the crisis.
Use the time to help people understand how Free Software can help us to
find global solutions that can help everyone no matter their background
or the jurisdiction they happen to be in. Inspire them about why it is
so important for a free society to build its digital infrastructure on
free and decentralized solutions. Note down your thoughts in a blog post
or write in social media, maybe share and offer your experience or know-
how. Also consider to sharing your thoughts with us [47] so we can
reflect them in the next Newsletter.

 == Contribute to our newsletter ==

If you would like to share any thoughts, pictures, or news, send them to
us. As always, the address is newsletter at We're looking forward
to hearing from you!

If you also want to support us and our work, join our community and
support us with a donation or a monthly contribution [48].

Thanks to our community, all the volunteers [49], supporters [50] and
donors [51] who make our work possible. And thanks to our translators
[52], who enable you to read this newsletter in your native languages.

Stay safe,

Erik Albers


Support us with your donation [53]


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