linux.conf.au is Like a Dream (The Software Freedom Conservancy)

A blog post from Software Freedom Conservancy.

Blog post by Karen Sandler. Please email any comments on this entry to <karen@sfconservancy.org>.

I’m writing this on my way to Campus Party Brasil, and I’m finally able to report about and reflect on linux.conf.au. I’m still buoyed by the enthusiasm and passion exhibited by the Linux Australia community.

I hit the ground running in Hobart. The organizers invited me to give a presentation in the opening plenary to introduce Outreachy. I explained why we need the program, how it works on a basic level and shared the metrics that show that the program is succeeding in its goals. Chris Neugebauer, lead organizer and emcee for the week, then surprised the crowd by announcing that Outreachy would be the designated charity for the conference. Every year, LCA picks a charity and sells raffle tickets to raise money for the selected charity. Usually this is a local charity, so this year LCA focused on raising money to support interns in Australia and New Zealand.

The first two days of the conference were mini-conference days, each organized by a volunteer to have a day-long track on a particular topic. I proposed a GPL enforcement feedback session for the Linux kernel miniconf—the third in our series. So far each session has been on a different continent to make sure that people have a chance to weigh in all over the world. The session wasn’t recorded, as we wanted to make sure that attendees felt comfortable speaking candidly. James Scheibner of the University of Tasmania volunteered to take notes to make sure we kept track of what was said. The session was well attended. I didn’t count how many people were there, but others told me that it was somewhere between 80 and 100 people. I expected the session to be like the one at Linux Plumbers, with an immediate flood of thoughts about enforcement and Conservancy’s activities in particular, but instead this session started out as a Q&A. About half way into the designated time, I stopped the Q&A and specifically asked for feedback. When no one volunteered to speak, I goaded the audience a bit, eventually saying that if no one had any feedback I was going to take it that they were happy with Conservancy’s work. The audience burst into applause, and there were shouts of “thank you!” The positive response was just fantastic. We continued with Q&A and also brainstorming about things that can be done in the future. I also facilitated a discussion in the Legal & Policy miniconf on Tuesday, which included a lot of interesting discussion too.

The keynotes were all really good, and I would be remiss if I didn’t point to r0ml’s talk “Keeping Linux Great”. There’s a full write-up of it on Rodger Donaldson’s blog. As always, r0ml’s talk was a roller coaster ride, densely packed with thoughts and observations. I was especially surprised to see he included a slide with Conservancy’s logo between pictures of me and Bradley! He said (thanks to Rodger for transcribing this):

If you think I’m a bozo, you need to join Software Freedom Conservancy, because they’re the vanguard of trying to push free and open software into the future and preventing people like me from ruining it. And if you think that I have an excellent point and that this might be the future, we still need free software to build it. We still need somebody to be the rearguard to prevent the barbarians from overrunning us while we build this future. So if you agree with me you should join Software Freedom Conservancy.

The pictures of us were huge on the giant screen in Plenary Hall—Bradley turned bright red, much to my amusement!

I also gave a talk in the same room, called “Surviving the Next 30 Years of Free Software”. I plan to write a separate post about it, but the video is already up. This deals with a lot of issues I’ve been wrestling with about how our community transitions when more of us become incapacitated and pass away. It’s heavy stuff, and a hard topic to talk and think about, but it’s important. I appreciate the fact that this topic was chosen by the conference and that many in the Linux Australia community are receptive to the ideas I proposed.

There were so many great talks and an engaging hallway track. I recommend reading Kathy Reid’s write-up of her highlights. (Also at the conference Kathy was elected to the post of president for Linux Australia.)

People run down to make last-minute cash donations to fund a third Outreachy intern. Picture from linux.conf.au 2017 video.

The conference wound down with fantastic lightning talks (check out Rusty Russell’s) and then I was surprised to be called to the stage by Chris. Chris, ever the showman, walked us through an ever-increasing amount of money raised for Outreachy. First, he told us that they sold many more raffle tickets than they had anticipated such that they had to get three batches of tickets and differentiate them. Then, Chris announced that two anonymous donors matched amounts and that they raised enough to fund two interns, and Kathy announced that Linux Australia was donating AU$7000! With three interns within reach, Martin Krafft ran down to the stage and called for people to donate the last amount on the spot. And then a lot of people ran down with their cash! In the end, the conference raised enough money for three interns, and the 2018 team announced that they’ll sponsor tickets for all three interns and their mentors to attend LCA 2018 (plus I got to pick the raffle winners). It was an amazing way to end an amazing conference!

Many thanks to the LCA organizing team and the Linux Australia community for keeping such a magical community alive.

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Software Freedom Conservancy Opposes U.S. Presidential Executive Order on Immigration (The Software Freedom Conservancy)

A news item from Software Freedom Conservancy.

The free software movement is, at its core, a social justice movement. Software freedom is essential for people to be confident their technology works in service to equality, justice, and democracy, and not as a tool for the privileged and the powerful to quash those values.

For this movement to succeed, it must welcome people from all nations and religions. If people are excluded from our work, what we build will fail to meet their needs. As much as we’re able, Conservancy strives to make free and open source software development accessible to people around the globe. We help our member projects organize conferences in many different countries. And our member project Outreachy provides internship and mentorship opportunities in countries that are thus far underrepresented in FOSS development.

Moreover, we house dozens of member projects that develop free and open source software and do so on a global scale. Their developers live around the world, collaborating thanks to licenses that give them equal rights to work on the software. In-person conferences are crucial to their work, providing important opportunities for focused development and community-building. Many of those developers have found employment in the U.S., enriching the economy and the world. Prohibiting arbitrary groups from traveling to the U.S. destroys these opportunities. It exacerbates the very inequalities that free software strives against.

Diversity and inclusion are core Conservancy values. The travel ban in President Trump’s recent executive order runs wholly counter to those values. We oppose it in its entirety, and support its full reversal.

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Sumana Harihareswara’s keynote will close LibrePlanet 2017 (FSF News)

The annual free software conference will close on the evening of March 26th with Harihareswara discussing her experiences within free software and the things she has learned over the years, in a talk tentatively titled "Lessons, Myths, and Lenses: What I Wish I'd Known in 1998."

Photo of Sumana Harihareswara speaking at LibrePlanet 2016. She is in front of a black board at the front of a lecture hall, gesturing as she speaks.
Photo of Sumana Harihareswara speaking at LibrePlanet 2016.

"Sumana's talk at LibrePlanet 2016 dealt with ways to make the free software community more welcoming, with humor, sharp insights, and deep conviction," said the FSF's Program Manager, Georgia Young. "We are very pleased to have her generous, thoughtful voice bring this year's conference to a close."

Sumana Harihareswara first started using GNU/Linux in the late 1990s. Since then, she has contributed to a number of projects (including GNOME, MediaWiki, Zulip, and GNU Mailman), and become a leader, speaker, and advocate for free software and communities. From 2014-2015, she served as a member of the Ada Initiative Board of Directors. Within the software industry, she has been a community manager, writer, and project manager, working with Collabora, GNOME, QuestionCopyright.org, Fog Creek Software, Behavior, and Salon.com.

Harihareswara is a veteran speaker, having delivered keynotes at Open Source Bridge, code4lib, and Wiki Conference USA. She has spoken at numerous conferences on a variety of topics, including PyCon and LibrePlanet, where, in 2016, she talked about the inessential weirdness in free software. Her stand-up comedy has been seen at AlterConf and science fiction conventions across America.

As a writer, her work appears on the website of her consultancy, Changeset Consulting, as well as her personal blog. She has written for numerous publications, including Crooked Timber, Geek Feminism, GNOME Journal, Linux World News, Model View Culture, Linux World News, GNOME Journal, The Recompiler, and Tor.com. In 2009, she co-edited and co-published the Thoughtcrime Experiments anthology with her spouse, who she met through Slashdot.

Harihareswara delivered a talk entitled "HTTP Can Do That?!" at PyCon2016 (you can download and watch this video without proprietary JavaScript using youtube-dl). At LibrePlanet 2016, she spoke on "The Inessential Weirdness in Free Software."

About LibrePlanet

LibrePlanet is the annual conference of the Free Software Foundation. Begun as a modest gathering of FSF members, the conference now is a large, vibrant gathering of free software enthusiasts, welcoming anyone interested in software freedom and digital rights. Registration is now open, and admission is gratis for FSF members and students.

For the fourth year in a row, LibrePlanet will be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Stata Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on March 25th and 26th, 2017. Co-presented by the Free Software Foundation and MIT's Student Information Processing Board (SIPB), the rest of the LibrePlanet program will be announced soon. The opening keynote at LibrePlanet 2016 was a conversation between US National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden and the American Civil Liberties Union's Daniel Kahn Gillmor.

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software — particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants — and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at https://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

More information about the FSF, as well as important information for journalists and publishers, is at https://www.fsf.org/press.

Media Contact

Georgia Young
Program Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
campaigns@fsf.org

The photo by Parker Higgins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, CC BY.

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Conservancy Receives Full $50,000 Match from Private Internet Access (The Software Freedom Conservancy)

A news item from Software Freedom Conservancy.

Thanks to 416 new and renewing Conservancy Supporters, we met the goal for the $50,000 match from Private Internet Access, and received the full amount. Thank you to everyone who contributed to make this possible, whether you signed up on the first day, the last day, or any time in between.

“Conservancy has never signed up this many Supporters this quickly before,” said Conservancy’s executive director Karen Sandler. “We still have a ways to go to become sustainably member-supported, but this tremendous show of support from the community sets us off in the right direction. I’m looking forward to sending t-shirts to all our new Supporters!”

If you have not already signed up as a Supporter, it’s still an excellent time to do so. Your donation will help sustain our work for our member projects and help us continue to take on the most critical issues facing software freedom today.

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