Libre et Vie Locale
Here is the first report by Loïc Dachary for may 16thYesterday night three APRIL members (Rodolphe Quiédeville, Benjamin Drieu and Pascal Desroche) and two FSF Europe members (Frédéric Couchet and Loïc Dachary) arrived at Brest for the Libre and Vie Locale conference (Freedom and life in the region is a fuzzy translation that can give you an idea of the subject). The web site of the conference for further information is at http://libre.enst-bretagne.fr/LibreEtVieLocale/. It needs to be remembered as the first coordinated action between the FSF Europe and an associated organization. A booth was organized with APRIL and FSF Europe written all over the place. APRIL took care of the actual organization of the conference since they had all the contacts and know-how, FSF Europe was there to present itself, the Free Software movement goals and actions. When the FSF Europe talked about the GNU project we could not miss the fact that most active APRIL members are also active contributors to the GNU project and organizers of the FSF exhibitions in France since 1996. When the subject of software patents was raised APRIL provided the knowledge and background that FSF Europe could not claim after one month of existence. The link between FSF Europe and APRIL worked well, was obvious to everyone and was beneficial to both. Three speeches caught my attention during this day. First a talk from David Mentré (INRIA - AFUL - Gulliver) that explained clearly what is Free Software and in which domains it's usable. The conference was well prepared, easy to understand and well spoken. David Mentré is an advocate the Free Software movement who weight his words and find colorful examples with great care. Later in the night we had a long discussion on Free Software, its goals, the licenses, the techniques to advocate for freedom, the drifts of the Open Source movement, the GNU LGPL. One interesting thing David advocated is that, although he always advocates for the use of a GNU GPL licenses, using a BSD license in some rare cases may be useful. He acknowledged the fact that a BSD does not give any protection to the author regarding the extension with non Free Software programs and that it's a drawback. However, the BSD license could be used to quickly spread a technology designed to replace a patented software. I advocated that the GNU LGPL would very well allow to achieve the same goal. Mélanie Fontaine who is working on the translation of the GNU GPL in French gave a talk that was not focused on this subject but raised some interesting points. After the conference I spent about an hour talking with Mélanie on the translation of the GNU GPL and this interview will be published in the next few days. This effort is mainly a joint effort between Benjamin Drieu (APRIL) who is in charge of the translation of technical parts, Mélanie Clément-Fontaine (Alcôve / RNTL) who provides and coordinates the legal expertise and Frédéric Couchet (FSF Europe) who coordinates and organizes the efforts. Working sessions will be organized soon and the resulting work will be presented by all the actors and Eben Möglen during the Libre Software Meeting in Bordeaux this summer. The last talk caught my attention to a very high degree. The GET (ENST, INT Evry and ENST Bretagne) is building a server that provides the same facilities as Savannah. The URL of the project is http://serveur-libre.enst-bretagne.fr/ About 7 persons involved in this effort were present. Eric Cousin and Gérald Ouvradou. The goal of this server is to provide a technical tool to the students and a way to learn how to work cooperatively. I immediately suggested that they could use and contribute to Savannah instead of re-building their own server. That would teach the students how to actually cooperate on a large and international scale while providing a ready-to-run solution. Although that may seem a highly desirable way to integrate the GET in the Free Software movement, there is a blocking point. Savannah will only accept Free Software projects, that's a fact. When a teachers assign a two month project to 30 students, working in groups of four. What happens if one of the group does not want its project to be Free Software ? He won't be able to use Savannah and the school cannot force them to publish their work under a Free Software license. I've been thinking on how to solve this so that the GET and Savannah can share resources and task force but could not come to a solution, yet. Help is very welcome ;-) I also learned that pure/source is a project accepted by RNTL (French research financed by the government) and involving INRIA and Linbox. The goal is to build ... a server that provides the same facilities as Savannah. This project was submitted to RNTL last year and will start real soon now. Bernard Lang, who is the INRIA contact for this project, was there and we had an opportunity to talk with him and the GET. It looks like our destiny was to meet each other during this conference. The GET project is the older since it started two years ago. The pure/source and Savannah only started a year ago. Despite the fact that we all live in the same country, we discovered the existence of each other today. So much for our communication skills. The GET organizes a meeting near Paris (May 29) and invited me so that we can figure out how the Savannah and GET can work together. I'm not sure if pure/source will be able to attend this meeting. I will contact Jean-Pierre Laisné of Linbox to invite him, Bernard Lang is far too busy at that time. This was a rich day. Stéphane Bortzmeyer asked for information on the status of the Emacs contribution mode. He says that one can only contribute to the Emacs core if he assigns the copyright of his code to the Free Software Foundation. Stéphane says that this obligation triggered endless disputes and that it is a real problem. I'm absolutely not aware of this and will have to dig the Emacs history to find out and give an appropriate answer. It's not something I can do currently because the student room in which I'm typing the report is not connected to the outside world. Good night all ;-) Loïc Dachary
Now, the report by Pascal Desroche for may 17th :
In the morning - well, someone needs to feed this part. I was not awake, due to the evening concert follow-ups ;-)
In the afternoon was a so called "round table" to gather all the participants around general conclusions. The lack of participants was mentionned (and evident) but no public debate about this point and a little accusation to the Free Software community was pointed out, for not making enough efforts to communicate "outside it's world". It mostly sounded like the speaker didn't understand the work being done by the Free Software movement.
Bernard Lang reminded that there is now a more official fight between proprietary software publishers and Free Software, but it seemed that people didn't care much about software patents... More precisely the organizers didn't know how to talk about the subject without looking like an aktivist so they didn't talk publicly about it. Wednesday afternoon during the FSF Europe speech, Frédéric said that the publication of the results of the European Commission study on that matter should be published real soon (May).
Some people also heard talking about some 4 days party next spring in France. Information can be found at http://www.libre-en-fete.net(french only).
ENST is trying to launch (buying services from) young companies providing software services. One had a booth on the place : Inqual. They are developing a web log analyser and decided to put it under GNU GPL because it seemed to be the most popular thing nowadays. They are developing everything from scratch and show results (referers and keywords ranking) that did not convince me instead of adding modifications to software such as webalyzer.
Local logistic was nice, people were kind, food was good, shower was warm, and the net connexion was ok. This is a nice place for seting up events but they all need to work on what's already done instead of trying to make it 'again'. Plus : there is a real need of communication supports and actions to gather not only Free Software developers/users but also the people in charge of the decision for governmental agencies. They were only a few (5 maybe, including some organizers...) although this event was set up for them.
We should talk about concrete projects instead of focusing on some general concerns. But sometimes it goes this way. Especially when the main speakers are scared about things getting away from them.Pascal Desroche