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Dangerous TLDs, Ballmer’s Linux Love & More…

FOSS Week in Review

Two big open source conferences are coming up next week, while this week an automaker said it doesn’t have to pay attention to the GPL and the man credited with inventing email passed.

Although Microsoft mainly succeeded in its attempts to hijack the FOSS news scene this week by spreading open source love — better than spreading FUD, I guess — there was plenty of FOSS news happening away from the Redmond campus. Even Microsoft with all its billions, it seems, isn’t large enough to monopolize all of the news in the big, wide and wonderful world of FOSS.

Edward Snowden LibrePlanet 2016
Edward Snowden will be the opening keynote speaker, with Daniel Kahn Gillmor, at LibrePlanet 2016.

For starters, it’s conference season. Well, except for a lull in the dog days of summer, Linux and open source conferences are always in season, but there are a couple of big ones on the slate for next week.

First up will be Great Wide Open, which is scheduled to take place in Atlanta on March 16 and 17, which is this coming Wednesday and Thursday, at the Georgia Tech Hotel and Conference Center in midtown Atlanta. Depending on how you look at it, this is something of a reboot for the conference…or not. The first Great Wide Open was held two years ago, in 2014, and by all estimations was an overwhelming success. Last year, however, the conference was cancelled so that IT-oLogy, its organizers, could concentrate on rebooting POSSCON, the Columbia, S.C. conference that had been cancelled the year before so they could concentrate on on launching Great Wide Open. This year, the Atlanta event is on and POSSCON is off. You might notice a pattern developing…

The good news for the folks in Atlanta who’ve been wishing for a world class open source conference to grace their city is that things are going swimingly. Tickets for the second day are already sold out, with only a few tickets left for day one. That’s bad news, of course, for those of you who’ve been planning on going but who’ve been putting off registering until the last minute. If you want to go to the first day, I’d suggest that you click to register now rather than later, when you might be SOL.

As usual, Todd Lewis and his team have put together a speakers’ roster that reads like a Who’s Who of enterprise level open source movers and shakers. Like all of IT-oLogy’s events, Great Wide Open is focused on the enterprise, so don’t expect to see much controversy or FOSS politics on the schedule. For that you’ll have to go to the Free Software Foundation’s LibrePlanet 2016, which will be opening for a two day run in Cambridge, Mass. just two days after the Atlanta event pulls down the tent.

This year’s LibrePlanet will open with Edward Snowden as the first day’s keynote speaker, brought to the MIT campus by way of a video hookup — and since this is FSF, you can bet it won’t be Skype beaming his image across the Atlantic, but something more…uh, open. Snowden will be joined by ACLU technologist Daniel Kahn Gillmor, and they’ll discuss “free software, surveillance, power, and control of the future.” Other keynote speakers include Karen Sandler, executive director of the Software Freedom Conservancy and once-upon-a-time director of the GNOME foundation, where she still serves as a board member, and Richard Stallman, who should need no introduction.

But wait, there’s more: Remember when I said that there’s a convention lull during the heat of the summer? Not so true this year. It seems that this year’s Texas Linux Fest will be in Austin, at the Austin Convention Center on July 8th and 9th. By the time it’s over, the good citizens of Austin will surely be going through something of an open source overdose. OSCON, don’t forget, will also be calling Austin home this year, on May 16-19. I’m taking bets and offering lopsided odds on which of these two conferences will have the more comfortable weather. Thank goodness for air conditioning, eh?

BMW Austrailia has trouble groking the GPL. On February 26, Duncan Bayne sent an email to the folks with BMW Australia that said in part, “In light of the fact that you’re using GPL-licensed code in your BMW i3-series firmware, … could you please let me know how customers can obtain the source code so licensed? Providing customers with the source code, along with any modifications, is a requirement of the GNU Public License….”

Did he get his link to the source code? Nope. What he did get was an email reply on March 1 that read:

Dear Duncan

Thank you for your email and for your interest in the BMW i3 features.

I have confirmed with our technical department who advised that to access the software download site the BMW Customer must provide the 7 digit VIN and accept the usage rights agreement. Part of the usage rights agreement states that the software is protected by copyright and BMW is the sole owner. So in this case it is not subject to the requirements of a “Public” licence.

I hope that provides more information in this case.

Kind Regards


I’m assuming that the fine folks with BMW Australia can expect a lawyer letter from some GPL enforcement folks in the near future.

Quote of the Week: This week’s quote is offered without comment and came from the mouth of Steve Ballmer who spoke on Wednesday night at a dinner hosted by Fortune magazine. After noting that the Linux threat was now “in the rearview mirror,” he added: “The company made a ton of money by fighting that battle very well.”

A ton of money, huh? As Jim Morrison once said, “Give the singer some.”

Another day, another distro: After three months of preparation, Manjaro 16.06’s first preview has been released with notable improvements to the settings manager and the graphical package manager. Shortly after that another Manjaro, Lxqt 16.03 was released… Sonar 2016.3 is an operating system for those who need “assistive technology.” This one comes with a lot of baked in features to help people overcome physical limitations. Included are Orca screen reader, screen magnification, on-screen keyboard to use with a mouse or trackpad, OpenDyslexic font designed especially for readers with dyslexia, and eViacam head and eye tracking software for mouse control.

Passing notes: Last Friday, 74-year-old Raymond Samuel Tomlinson died of suspected heart failure. According to the Internet Hall of Fame: “In 1971, he developed ARPANET’s first application for network email by combining the SNDMSG and CPYNET programs, allowing messages to be sent to users on other computers. He chose the @ sign to separate local from global emails in the mailing address. Person to person network email was born and user@host became the standard for email addresses, as it remains today.” He wasn’t responsible for spam, however.

Quick takes: Spamhaus has come out with a list of ten top level domains to stay away from if you don’t want to become infected with malware. So where should you not go? Start with .diet, with 74.1 percent of sites carrying malware, or .click which is 72.2 percent bad actors…. The Department of Defense has started a bounty program, hoping to get a few hackers on board to help them find holes in their systems. Unfortunately, their recruiting techniques might leave a little to be desired, as “participants will be required to register and submit to a background check.” … The Let’s Encrypt program, which began handing out absolutely free — both as in beer and as in speech — SSL/TLS certificates in December has already hit a major, major milestone. On March 8 they handed out their one millionth free certificate. Nice going guys and gals!

Parting shot: It’s all over but the crying in our 2016 Indiegogo fundraising campaign. Actually, in the end it wasn’t all that bad. Although the campaign ended far short of our goal of $3,700, we did raise $2,485, which to my way of thinking is a lot of community support. We still need to make up for the $1,215 we didn’t raise, however. If your PayPal account or credit card can afford it — and if you’re so inclined — go to our Support FOSS Force page and make a contribution. And whether you do or not: Thank you for visiting with us here on FOSS Force.

That does it for now. Until next time, may the FOSS be with you…


  1. Ernest Mann Ernest Mann March 12, 2016

    What open source software application, Operating System, or
    Other notable open source tool did Ed Snowden ever develop or make a meaningful contribution to further it’s development?

  2. Mike Mike March 12, 2016

    It’s not about tools, it’s about freedom.

    Snowden helped promote freedom for everyone by blowing the whistle on the NSA’s illegal actvities.

  3. Ernest Mann Ernest Mann March 12, 2016

    As Abbie Hoffman once said, “freedom is when you put on a dress!”. In Dallas, there is The Freeman bar.

    Snowden violated the trust of the American people, what else can he discuss? He’s not a very educated guy.

  4. tracyanne tracyanne March 13, 2016

    Ernest Mann doth protest too much, methinks.


    Stop disrespecting the man. It is something that has been changed in the world after some of those people.
    If you can not look at people beeing killed and torured and stuff, does that make you the traitor.
    Well, I am a on his side on this one. It is something else, which is beyound Ernest Mann and people like that. They are just not able to figure it out.

  6. Mike Mike March 13, 2016

    > “Snowden violated the trust of the American people”

    You have it backward.

    Snowden laid bare the NSA’s violation of the Amercian people’s trust.

    The greatest threats to American freedom right now are our own intelligence agencies – NSA, CIA, and FBI.

  7. tracyanne tracyanne March 13, 2016

    Ernest Mann might actually believe the lies the TLDs spread about Snowdon and their need to spy on us, in which case he is a fool.

    But I suspect he isn’t a fool.

  8. Ernest Mann Ernest Mann March 18, 2016

    Of course you have the NSA, but you also have America’s Putin – Trump; If Trump is elected, you will see in the USA the same level of freedom erosion that you now see in Russia. Trump is dangerous – #OpTrump.

  9. Tiao Tiao March 18, 2016

    Ernest Mann

    USA government(through its agencies) is guilty for what it have done by collecting people’s data. Don´t come with all that “murica wada wada” about trust. You can´t even trust your security agencies. Expand your mind for other perspectives.

    This Snowden guy is a hero of freedom. That is his contribution to mankind.

  10. Mike Mike March 18, 2016

    That I agree with.

    Trump is a very dangerous moron.

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