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
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,
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 www.gnu.org and heavily contributed
to savannah.gnu.org. As
you all know, contributing to something you don't use for
yourself often give bad results. We therefore based all the
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,
- 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
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.
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.
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
- 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
the GNU technical resources.
Volunteers: Pascal Desroche, Rodolphe Quiédeville.
- Web standards
Imagine, test, debug and use daily a standard to separate
web layout from content while preserving the constraints
of www.gnu.org. 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.
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 fsffrance.org 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.
The slashdot equivalent in France, linuxfr.org now responds
to the alias gnulinuxfr.org :-) 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 gnulinuxfr.org
and planetelibre.org, 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
Volunteers: Loïc Dachary, Olivier Berger,
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.