GNU and FSF News for May 2008

Posted 8 May 2008 at 21:24 UTC by robogato Share This

Skype fought the GPL and the GPL won. The OLPC XO project abandons free software just as RMS switches to an XO; RMS not happy. New monthly newsletters from the FSF and FSFE. GNOME and KDE want to have a joint development conference in 2009. GNOME and GCC conferences coming up later this year. Plus all the usual news: more GPL v3 conversions, HURD news, GNOME news, GCC news, and more.

Skype Takes on the GPL in German Court. GPL Wins

In July of 2007 Harald Welte of successfully won an injunction against Skype for their violation of the GPL in the distribution of the WSKP100 VOIP handset. It initially appeared that Skype might follow the court's ruling but then they appealed, asserting that the GPL violated German anti-trust regulations and was invalid. The judge was not impressed with their argument and hinted that any rulings made would not be in Skype's favor. To quote from Harald's blog:

The lawyer representing Skype still continued to argue for a bit into that direction, which resulted one of the judges making up an interesting analogy of something like: "If a publisher wants to publish a book of an author that wants his book only to be published in a green envelope, then that might seem odd to you, but still you will have to do it as long as you want to publish the book and have no other agreement in place".
Eventually the Skype lawyers gave up and accepted the court's original ruling for full GPL compliance.

RMS Laments OLPC's Decision to switch to Windows

The bizarre changes in the OLPC project have been heavily covered in the new media. President Walter Bender is out. GNU/Linux is out. The XO as a path to teaching children about computers by letting them tinker with the software is out. Instead the XO will be cheap advertising for MS Windows in the developing world. Nicholas Negroponte accused free software advocates of being "open source fundamentalists" and said open source software "hampered usability" and "scared developers". Ironically, what wasn't covered in the news is that RMS was in the process of switching to an OLPC XO from the IBM T23 he'd used for years. He recently posted to the FSF blog on the issue. Like others in the FOSS community, RMS is extremely disappointed by the changes. But he believes the OLPC changes are not final and that the free software community may still be able to salvage the OLPC project. If you want to help, he suggests contributing code to Sugar, the free software interface used on the XO. But he points out that desirable contributions are those that improve Sugar as an interface for free operating systems. Helping with a port of Sugar to Windows would not be a helpful or good thing to do.

FSF Official News

Issue 2 of the Free Software Supporter is out. This is the official FSF monthly news summary written by Joshua Gay. I may eventually drop my own news in favor of syndicating the official newsletter but, in the meantime, I'll at least summarize their summary here. This month's issue covers the Free Software Awards to Harald Welte and Groklaw, an amicus brief filed by the End Software Patents campaign for the rehearing of the Bilski case, and Karl Berry on GNU projects within the Google Summer of Code program.

Free Software Foundation Europe

The latest issue of the FSFE Newsletter is out too. In includes info on FSFE concerns about the ISO's standardisation process, prompted by their approval of MS-OOXML and a summary of a recent FSFE briefing on interoperability problems with MS-OOXML. It also notes that Shane Coughlan, the coordinator of FSFE's Freedom Task Force, delivered the keynote speech at Chemnitzer Linux-Tagen. Shane is coming to the US soon to deliver a speech entitled 'Analysing Whether GPLv3 Has Improved Free Software Licensing' at OSiM USA on Tuesday the 12th of March in San Francisco. The FSFE has helped co-launch the Open Parliament initiative designed to create a review of European Parliaments policies regarding internal software use and file formats for published information. Reinhard Müller will be giving two speeches on open standards and free document formats at the Linuxwochen event at the Danube University Krems and at the Linuxwochen event at the University of Applied Sciences "Johanneum" in Graz

GNU License News

Palamida's GPLv3 Information site reports the number of projects known to have made the switch to GPLv3 at 2285 as of this writing.

GNU Hurd

There has been continued discussion of the GNU Hurd GSoC projects this month. One of the subjects covered is the issue of copyright assignments by the contributors. Sergiu Ivanov announced the availability of an extension module that allows retrieving the uptime of the system and the load averages from Python scripts

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.


Plans for GCC 4.4.0 are beginning to firm up with a number of specific improvements listed on the feature page already including support for the ISO C++ standard, C++0x. There will also support for two features on Intel x86 targets; Intel AES and Intel PCLMUL code generation. Potential improvements being considered for GCC 4.4.0 including merging the tuples branch, LTO, incremental compiling improvements, selective scheduling, and YARA. No major merges have occurred yet so they development team has decided to extend the Stage 1 development period until after the upcoming GCC summit. The latest GCC development status report is online. The 2008 GCC Developers' Summit is planned for 17-19 June at the University of Ottawa in Canada. There are lots of interesting presentations on the schedule as well as BoFs and tutorials.

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.


The GNOME Foundation, together with the KDE e.V., have called for co-hosting Akademy and GUADEC together in the summer of 2009. This would be the main KDE and GNOME conferences together under one roof for the first time. The idea of the joint conference drew praise from representatives of,, and the Linux Foundation. Both the official GNOME announcement and the KDE e.V. announcement are available on their respective websites. GUADEC 2008 is scheduled for 7-12 July in Istanbul, Turkey. Also upcoming is the GNOME.Asia Summit 2008 on 17-18 October in Beijing, China.

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 9 May at Salone dei Cinquecento, Palazzo Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, Florence, Italy on the goals and philosophy of the Free Software Foundation. He will also talk about the history and status of the GNU operating system. 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.

I'm looking for a volunteer to take over writing this news summary each month. It's a minimal amount of work, taking no more than a few hours per month.

News of OLPC's death has been greatly exaggerated..., posted 9 May 2008 at 15:36 UTC by mako » (Master)

Let's not declare OLPC enemy of freedom until they actually become one.

The reason that RMS wrote his essay on the FSF website -- and the reason I wrote mine on my blog and on OLPC News, was to try to convince the OLPC management and Nicholas in particular to not embrace Windows, proprietary software, or to otherwise make a backtrack from freedom.

No deal is done, nothing is announced. That's why we were writing. Negroponte made some very unfortunate comments to the press -- which I am quite sure he believes. Even if he gets his way though, I'm not sure it would be correct to describe any proposed situation as an abandonment of free software or free software principles.

Let's stay calm and keep the constructive dialog open and not declare anyone dead -- or victim of the proprietary forces -- until they actually are. Taking premature action like this may just create a self-fufilling prophesy that none of us want to see.

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!

Share this page