GNU and FSF News for April 2008

Posted 10 Apr 2008 at 19:33 UTC by robogato Share This

The combination of BusyBox, GPL, and SFLC proves itself unbeatable once again. The FSF has relaunched their website with a shiny new homepage. They've also set up a new free software job database. We have reports on rms speeches in Virginia and Berlin. Harald Welte and Groklaw win FSF awards. Gold goes Gold. Do I even need to mention that more software packages switched to GPLv3 this month? We have the latest news from the Free Software Foundation Europe and the Free Software Foundation India. We even have meta news this month; after more than a year of FSF news reports here at Advogato, the FSF itself seems to be getting into the swing of things by launching their own FSF newsletter.

FSF Launches their own FSF News

For the first time in years, the FSF is publishing their own news summaries. Picking up where the Brave GNU World newsletter left off in 2004, Joshua Gay has started a new FSF newsletter called Free Software Supporter. I'm pleased to note that it follows very closely the layout of our own monthly FSF news, though it leaves out coverage (so far) of the FSF High Priority software projects and non-US branches of the FSF. Unlike our own news, the Free Software Supporter is an official publication of the FSF. The similarity of formats probably makes further issues of this monthly report redundant. It will probably be more efficient to post or link to the official report.

BusyBox Developers Win Again

Verizon's lawyers were no match for the GPL. The Software Freedom Law Center announced that the BusyBox developers will be ending their case against Verzion for violation of the GPL. Verizon's contractor, Actiontec, gave in to all the SFLC demands and will appoint an Open Source compliance officer, publish source code for BusyBox, attempt to notify existing BusyBox users of their rights under the GPL, and pay an undisclosed sum to the BusyBox developers. Verizon used BusyBox in an Actiontec router which was distributed to FiOS customers without following the terms of the GPL license.

Richard Stallman, Live and Unplugged

Datamation published a review of the rms talk at Virginia Tech University last month. Nothing new and amazing but if you haven't been to an rms talk, this article offers a good three page summary of what they're like. It includes portions of the post talk Q&A as well as excerpts of an exchange between rms and an audience member opposed to free software. Reloaded (now in color!)

The FSF has launched a new and redesigned website. The index page has graphics, images, and looks like a modern website. They've retained the crude, hand-drawn FSF logo but perhaps that will receive an update from a graphic designer in the near future too. The redesign primarily affects the site's index page, though some of the higher level internal pages have minor updates as well, usually the addition of an image to the otherwise text-based pages.

Need a Free Software Job?

The FSF announced the creation of a free software jobs directory. While the software is free (as in speech), don't expect the ads to be free (as in beer) - they'll cost you $250/month/ad starting in May. The idea is that in addition to offering jobs that help promote free software, your ad money itself goes to support the FSF. Check it out, there are already a few jobs posted.

Harald Welte and Groklaw win annual free software awards

Every year at the FSF Annual Associate Members Meeting, two awards are given. Groklaw received this year's award for Projects of Social Benefit, while Harald Welte received the award for the Advancement of Free Software. Groklaw won for provided an "invaluable source of legal and technical information for software developers, lawyers, law professors, and historians.". Not surprisingly, Pamela Jones did not attend in person but someone else accepted the award on her behalf. Harald Welte won for his combination of work as Linux kernel hacker, his work on the OpenMoko mobile platform, and the founding of the website which helps "in safeguarding the freedom of free software users by successfully enforcing the GNU General Public License in over one hundred cases since the project began in 2004.".

FSF Europe

The latest FSFE newsletter is out. It includes coverage of Microsoft's "interoperability pledge" which excludes Microsoft's primary competitors. The FSFE has issued a call for Microsoft to release interoperability information. There's a short report on FOSDEM in Brussels, Belgium; and an account of the FSFE vice president participating in the SELF conference in Bulgaria. A report on document freedom day is also included. Another short article notes the good match between free software and the IT needs of churches in Europe. Finally there's a short account of the rms visit to Berlin, which was attended by about 200 people.

FSF India

The annual Free and Open Source conference, better known as FOSS Meet NITC, was held last month at National Institute of Technology, Calicut, India. At the meeting, they kicked off a year-long contest, called FOSSdev, designed to promote contributions to FOSS projects. Another result of FOSS Meet was a report on the use of free software in schools. In other FSF-India news this month, a meeting was planned to discuss putting pressure on BIS to reverse their OOXML vote. Students are planning a GNU/Linux installation festival in Bangalore on 26 April.

GNU License News

Palamida's GPLv3 Information site reports the number of projects known to have made the switch to GPLv3 at 2121 as of this writing.

GNU Hurd

With GNU Hurd set up as a separate project under the 2008 Google SoC, there has been a frenzy of activity on the mailing list as potential projects are discussed. Among the more interesting ideas being floated are virtualization using Hurd mechanisms, improving the Hurd translator concept with namespace-based translator selection, and updating the Hurd driver glue code layer to allow use of drivers from current versions of Linux or BSD. See the full list of Hurd project suggestions for more info.

How you can help: The number of developers working on the Hurd and GNU Mach continues to be small and they could use your help. Check in on the #hurd IRC channel or the bug-hurd mailing list. There should be no trouble finding interesting things to work on.


With GCC v4.3.0 out the door, developers are already busy working on v4.3.1 as scattered reports of regressions filter in. Meanwhile, GCC v4.4.0 is in Stage 1 development, which is mostly a planning and scheduling stage. Potential improvements being considered for GCC 4.4.0 including merging the tuples branch, LTO, incremental compiling improvements, selective scheduling, and YARA.

How you can help: if you're interested in working on compiler development, visit the Contributing to GCC to find out what you can do help with the development of the GNU GCC compiler.

Going for the GNU Gold

In GCC-related news, Ian Taylor of Google released Gold, the new ELF-only linker written in C++. Gold is now part of the GNU binutils and is designed to be much, much faster than ld. Early reports indicate it's as much as 3 times faster than ld. The new linker supports both incremental linking and concurrent linking. Gold only supports GNU/Linux and not windows. The developer says there is no expectation that Windows support will be added. While Gold only support x86 and x86_64 targets now, it is designed for portability and more hardware targets are expected in the future. However, since the primary focus is on performance, the developer notes that there is not much incentive to port it to smaller, embedded platforms where ld already does a satisfactory job.


The third GNOME Mobile summit will be held in Austin, Texas April 8-10. It is hoped the meeting will help accelerate the adoption of GNOME on mobile devices. Previously, work had centered on development of the code itself but as the code matures, "the next step is a roadmap which will systematically address the needs of consumers of the GNOME Mobile platform and ensure that the work is done in the community, and the creation of a mobile-specific release set of GNOME and GNOME-related projects.".

How you can help: GNOME needs your help. In addition to programmers, the GNOME team also needs people to assist with testing, translation, accessibility, documentation, website maintenance, graphics, and marketing. To find out what you can do and how to get started, visit the Join GNOME webpage.

FSF High Priority Free Software Projects

The Free Software Foundation maintains a list of what they believe are the highest priority projects at any given time. If you're looking for something fun to work on or just want to make the world a better place, this is a good place to start.

"There is a vital need to draw the free software community's attention to the ongoing development work on these particular projects. These projects are important because computer users are continually being seduced into using non-free software, because there is no adequate free replacement. Please support these projects."

Where's RMS This Month?

RMS will be will be speaking 17 April on Copyright vs Community at Saint Michael's College, Cheray Science Hall, room 101, One Winooski Park, Colchester, Vermont. The next day, he'll be in Burlington, Vermont speaking on the Free Software Movement. From there it's on to Boca del Rio, Veracruz, Mexico via videoconference on the 19th where he'll speak again on Copyright vs Community. He'll be presenting this talk again on 30 April in Cambridge, England. For the latest updates see the FSF upcoming events page.

This monthly news summary about the Free Software Foundation and GNU project was distilled down from FSF press releases, blogs, email lists, and website news pages. The idea is to provide a concise summary of FSF/GNU news from the past month for those who don't have the time or interest to find and read all the original news sources within that community. This is a news summary about the FSF but it is not produced by or associated with the FSF in any way.

again thanks!, posted 10 Apr 2008 at 21:24 UTC by atai » (Journeyer)

This is a high quality report that the community benefits greatly from!

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