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FSF France activity report

The FSF Europe presence in France started its activity on April 12, a little more than a month ago. We worked hard to launch the core activities that will allow us to implement the goals of the FSF and the FSF Europe : provide Free Software for everything and everyone and protect its existence when it is threatened. Building the administrative and informational infrastructure came first. It's an endless task but we had to create something to begin with: a machine located in France that is integrated to the GNU project and a French non profit organization.

Then it was necessary to establish working relationships with the French association acting since years for the Free Software movement in France: APRIL. Cooperation between organizations requires some amount of magic. After two brainstormings, an exhibition, a fiesta and many GNU project related activities the magic apparently worked. APRIL members feel they belong to the french chapter of FSF Europe (FSF France) and FSF France members feel they belong to APRIL. A French association dedicated to Free Software in education (OFSET) recently united to FSF Europe and we expect the same symbiosis. The first step is always the harder, following a good example is easier.

Cooperation with APRIL and OFSET was not enough: we had to be accepted by the GNU project to Do The Right Thing and have a collaborative spirit. Since the GNU project is made of many people and is not an organization as such, that was a challenge. However it was simpler than establishing good social relationships with organizations. As long as you give and take technical resources (software, system administration, web editing) without breaking anything, you can become a new GNU ;-) We built a standard to create web sites based on XSLT and XHTML in such a way that it can be used on and heavily contributed to As you all know, contributing to something you don't use for yourself often give bad results. We therefore based all the infrastructure for France related activities on GNU resources, using CVS for sources and HTML, DNS and Savannah on a daily basis. At this point we could not do without the GNU project and will therefore always help it grow and keep up to date.

I believe we did reasonably well on this delicate subject. A newcomer can easily be rejected if he starts to act in a way that existing players do not like. Although FSF Europe borrows part of the fame of the FSF from its name, it is without any doubt a new player in Europe. Since our greatest strength is to be united, being rejected by the Free Software community in France would have been a major failure. I see the cooperative attitude and enthusiasm that enlights projects common to APRIL, OFSET, FSF Europe and GNU as the major achievement of this first month. Of course some people may not be content but they did not express themselves until now ;-)

Demonstrating a cooperative attitude cannot be done by talking. It can only be done by acting. Only afterwards is it possible to rationalize actions and conclude that they were conducted in a cooperative way or not. The rest of this document is a dry report of actions impulsed or revived by the FSF Europe in France. I do not forget the numerous actors of Free Software who live in France (Debian developers at large, TeXmacs author, GNU philosophy translator to French and countless others). The FSF Europe is not involved with each of them and they did not wait for the FSF Europe to build their own garden in the Free Software universe. The FSF Europe is now there, in France, if they need it. But I sincerely hope the Free Software movement will always be so lively that the FSF Europe will never be able to count its cells.


Translation of the GNU GPL in French.
Lead by Mélanie who started the work early 2001 when RMS asked her for an official translation of the GPL in French. She now receives support from APRIL/FSF Europe/CNRS under the coordination of Frédéric. Discussions started with Georg & CNRS to launch a similar effort in Germany and other European countries.

Volunteers: Mélanie Clément-Fontaine, Benjamin Drieu, Frédéric Couchet, Olivier Berger, Sebastien Blondeel, Loïc Dachary, Till Jaeger, Axel Metzger, Jan Polcher.

The four freedoms
One question quiz where people who cite the four fundamental freedoms of Free Software are listed on the pages of FSF Europe. After the initial flood 84 persons are listed. Good and simple concept, entertaining during exhibitions and designed to make everyone talk about freedom and philosophy.

Volunteers: Raphaël Rousseau, Loïc Dachary.

GNU help desk
Provide help to GNU (or future GNU) with various issues related to integration in the GNU project, mailing list handling, customs, getting accounts etc. So far 3 developers spontaneously approached us for this purpose. We expect to organize meetings in bars so that we can talk about it and create a proximity community.

Volunteers: Loïc Dachary.

Technopole Logiciel Libre
A place where companies dedicated to Free Software will be helped to grow. Mostly financed by the French government we have a good contact with them and will help them to integrate the Free Software movement. The goal is that at some point the FSF Europe will not have to provide assistance and companies created in the Technopole are philosophically and technically integrated in the Free Software movement from the beginning of their life.

Volunteers: Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary

Savannah and Europe
We got in touch with two projects (PeCoVall, pure/source) who are launching an effort similar to Savannah with slight differences. The first contact only happened last week but we already had a long talk on how to share efforts and resources. That would save a lot of time and energy to everyone while giving a much bigger dimension to a cooperatively managed development platform. Be it Savannah or known under another name, as long as it's implementing a cooperative work methodology and is dedicated to Free Software, that will change to world we know in the same way as SourceForge did when it appeared.

Volunteers: Loïc Dachary, Raphaël Rousseau, Christian Bac.

GNU project

A SourceForge clone dedicated to the GNU project and all Free Software projects. This project started a year ago and the first usable version was available around January 2001. The most active developers of Savannah as of now are in France and Portugal. The dynamics of Savannah with FSF Europe has a great potential.

APRIL members responded to the need for new hardware. Joining efforts with APRIL, FSF Europe was able to provide a brand new set of equipment (2U machine, switch, ups) to the GNU project. The machine is being installed this week.

Volunteers: Loïc Dachary, Jaime Villate, Guillaume Morin, Jeff Bailey, Gordon Matzigkeit, Richard M. Stallman.

Events and advocacy

Microsoft FUD
The Microsoft spokes person did a followup to the declarations of Craig Mundie. We replied vigorously in french online newspapers.

Unisys studies Free Software
Unisys was asked to produce a report about Free Software, costs and benefits by the European Commission. The study lacks participation of people involved in the Free Software movement and the FSF Europe offers help to fix this.

Borland Mistake
Borland wrongfully listed the Free Software Foundation as a partner of the Kylix software. The mistake was fixed in three hours time. An interesting thread followed on the Borland Free Software policy. It's continuing and more people enter the game.

Le Journal du Net
The FSF Europe interviewed a journalist while being interviewed. Although surprising the journalist was pleased by the result. He sent us the text to review immediately after publication and fixed all the mistakes we pointed out. The Open Source section of the online publication was promised to be changed for Logiciel Libre (Free Software) ... today.

Libre et Vie Locale
Last week FSF Europe and APRIL had a booth and spoke at a conference during the Libre et Vie Locale exhibition in Brest. Our presence at this event was organized by APRIL, as always.

Libre en Fête
Four days and three nights to celebrate freedom and Free Software in March 2002. The FSF Europe will be there, of course. Since this is an APRIL project, it uses the GNU technical resources.

Volunteers: Pascal Desroche, Rodolphe Quiédeville.

Information infrastructure

Web standards
Imagine, test, debug and use daily a standard to separate web layout from content while preserving the constraints of After a few weeks of usage it works well, is easy enough to understand so that newcomers don't have to read the documentation before doing anything and most importantly it's intuitive. There is not identified pitfall that should be fixed but is not.

Volunteers: Jaime Villate, Paul Vischer, Loïc Dachary, Richard M. Stallman

Follow the GNU system administration guidelines to setup the France machine so that it can be accepted as a new GNU machine. It is going to be used as a secondary name server for GNU domains. The accounts on the machine are handled using a Savannah project dedicated for this purpose which simplifies account management a great deal. The volunteers handling accounts on the GNU machines started to use a similar method shortly afterwards.

Volunteers: Rodolphe Quiédeville, Joel N. Weber II, Vincent Archer, Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary.

Contact Database
Sharing the same storage format for contacts database is necessary. There is no doubt about that. FSF, FSF Europe and APRIL more or less decided to use vCard for the storage format of their contact database. There was a lot of discussions on this subject and vCard seems to win the consensus. At present we are all trying to find out which tools we would like to use to handle contacts. Some like pure ASCII, others use emacs + gnus and a few like web interfaces. This is progressing slowly and will have to be solved before the next occasion to share contacts (the FSF Awards 2001 organization was painful in that respect.

A web interface called Newt is being installed on to allow experimenting. That could even be the seed of our secured intranet. One thing at a time ;-)

Volunteers: Bradley M. Kuhn, Florent Duval, Yan Babilliot, Cedric Valignat, Loïc Dachary.

SomeNews &
The slashdot equivalent in France, now responds to the alias :-) More important it replaced the section Open Source of SomeNews by a Free Software section.

The news of FSF Europe in France are displayed in SomeNews. We have the agreement to re-use the GNU section of and, this needs to be done ASAP. We are using RSS 0.91 for news syndication but this recently disappeared from the netscape web site and we will either have to switch to 1.00 and its RDF mixture or try the IPTC XML format.

Volunteers: Loïc Dachary, Olivier Berger, Florent Duval.


Donations from French people to FSF Europe or relayed by FSF Europe to FSF reaches a total of 50 000 FF. We did not craft a specific strategy to get more donations. Everyone can see what we are doing, we made pretty obvious that we are accepting donations. If someone wants to help FSF Europe financially it's fairly obvious.

The tax deductibility status is being worked on but is not in effect at present. That may take some time.

Volunteers: Olivier Berger, Raphaël Rousseau, Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary, Noémie, Cyril Bouthors.

Hardware & services donation
Although we did not make a specific page for this purpose we received numerous donation in hardware and services (hosting, counseling etc.). In short the assets of FSF Europe in France at present is a server (PIII500, 512Mb RAM, 30Gb disk), three UPS (APC 1000), a laptop (PII350, 128Mb RAM, 6Gb disk), lifelong office hosting by Lolix and lifelong machine hosting by Nevrax.

Volunteers: Rodolphe Quiedeville, Olivier Lejade, Cyril Bouthors, Raphaël Rousseau , Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary, Vincent Archer.

Loïc Dachary

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Copyright (C) 2003-2011, FSF France, 12 boulevard Magenta, 75010 Paris, France
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Updated: $Date: 2003-02-28 16:16:22 +0100 (Fri, 28 Feb 2003) $ $Author: loic $