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FSF France activity report
The FSF Europe
presence in France exists since April 12 2001, and
produced an activity
report covering April and May 2001. This report covers
June, July and August 2001. If some subjects are obscure, you
can get back to the previous report to better understand
them. We took care to keep the same headlines to ease cross
During those three months we established many contacts,
informally or on actual actions, with Free Software
organization or individuals around the world. All of them were
possible thanks to APRIL (national), FSF (international) and
FSF Europe (European). Our actions can now extend to Portugal,
Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany,
Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, South Africa, Japan, China,
Hungary, Czech Republic, India, Korea, Mexico, United States
We attended to events, the most important being LSM and produced a sustained
advocacy effort coordinated with other organizations. Actions
previously engaged (Savannah, Savannah and Europe, freedoms,
GPL translation, GNU information, Technopole Logiciel Libre)
made significant progress. New actions were also started
(patents, education, science, electronic voting, press review,
GNU and Debian), most of them mainly undertaken by associate
Our involvement in the GNU project grew with
contributions to the web standards, the fact that the machine
is now used as a secondary DNS for the gnu.org domain,
evaluation of candidate GNU packages and heavy contribution
to the maintainance and evolution of Savannah. We also benefit
from the infrastructure of the GNU project since our domain,
mailing lists, CVS tree etc. are hosted on other GNU machines.
Political and legal actions are also doing fine since we
had opportunities to stress the importance of legal protection
of Free Software, met with government officials
occasionally. To be completely honest we cannot really claim a
noteworthy achievement on this front.
Last but not least, it is now established that FSF France
activity is ruled by a steady flow of volunteers, contributing
their time in occasional burst and happy enthusiasm. Around
ten volunteers motivated themselves to fight for Free Software
with us in the past three months. This may seem very few
people and yet we achieved to do a significant amount of
work. Nowadays every good will counts and your action can
really make the difference, as long as you can spare some
time to drink a beer or relax between two sessions. We want
to keep going in the long term and this requires a bit of fun
from time to time.
The collaborative spirit described in the previous report is
certainly our most pro-eminent achievement. Our motto could be
that we don't undertake actions alone. It is better not to
undertake an action if we fail to actually cooperate with Free
Software movement people and organizations already involved.
Although this spirit makes sense in writing it requires a
significant amount of effort. The syndrome of replicating
effort does not only apply to software. Organizations also
have a natural tendency to undertake new projects before
searching for similar efforts, before actually engaging a
dialog with people involved, before trying everything to
The bandwidth of the brain is significantly higher than
the bandwidth of the mail. If all the dialog needed to start
a new project occurs in the brain of a single person, the
project will take off rapidly, the first version will be available
fast and bring some results within days. When you extend the
dialog to other people and organizations, it gets significantly
slower at first. Only later does it become faster and stronger.
Yes, union is a force but it works slower and is not fit for
A fairly good example is our involvement in the
infrastructure of the GNU project. From the beginning we
started with the idea that all our technical infrastructure
should use and contribute to the infrastructure of the GNU
project. The advantages are pretty obvious: why run and
maintain Mailman, exim, ftp server, web server, CVS when those
are already available and maintained by the GNU project ?
The drawbacks are also pretty obvious: understanding the
infrastructure of the GNU project, contribute to it so that
it fits our needs introduces a significant bootstrap delay.
The machine we installed in France is now fully
integrated to the GNU project, meaning that it is monitored
and maintained by the GNU project. This a win for us. It also
runs the secondary DNS for gnu.org domains. This is a win for
the GNU project. Mailing lists and web site for FSF Europe are
managed by machines in Boston. This is win for us. People
involved in the system administration of the machine in France
know the infrastructure of the GNU project and can contribute
to the maintainance of other machines. This a win for the GNU
This may seem an example that is of no great consequence
but in our eyes it reflects the essence of cooperation. It's
slower but it makes us stronger. This example is also chosen
on purpose because we believe that technical heterogeneity is
often the first obstacle to cooperation on non technical
matters. Say, for instance, that two Free Software
organizations want to share their calendars to coordinate
their political actions. If they use technical tools that are
significantly different it may prove inconvenient for them to
actually do it. We are not saying that it is a major
problem, we are not saying that everybody should use the exact
same tools or nothing. We only acknowledge that cooperation
on a technical infrastructure is a win/win situation that
also removes an obstacle for cooperation on non technical
matters. Given the fact that we have scarce resources at
all time, there is no reason to discard this advantage.
Translation of the GNU GPL in French (previous report).
Interviews of Mélanie
(french, 19 May 2001), and Benjamin
Drieu (french, 17
May 2001) about the translation of the GNU GPL were conducted to
keep people informed of the progress made so far.
Till Jaeger and Axel Metzger, two German lawyers in
contact with the FSF Europe are also following and
participating to this project. They are working on launching a
similar effort in their country.
During the Libre
Software Meeting in Bordeaux, Eben Moglen came to
express his vision of the future of the GPL. A workshop
involving Mélanie Clément Fontaine, Eben Moglen, Bradley
M. Kuhn, Anne Østergaard and around twenty people
interested in the subject allowed to clarify very
important points. Eben Moglen stressed the fact that it
is important that the translation matches the following
Volunteers: Mélanie Clément-Fontaine, Benjamin
Drieu, Frédéric Couchet, Olivier Berger, Sebastien
Blondeel, Loïc Dachary, Till Jaeger, Axel Metzger.
- It must not be used as a legally binding license, it must
remain informative, the English version being the only one
that has a legal force.
- It must not be bound to contract law
APRIL (FSF Europe associate organization) launched a call for action to encourage people to act against
patents. They propose specific actions and provide all the
material needed to strongly react against the report given
to the french government that is in favor of software patents.
Late June, Richard M. Stallman was in Paris and
proposed an idea for a program against
On the subject of patents we follow the lead of APRIL
Volunteers: Frédéric Couchet, Jérôme Dominguez.
The four freedoms (previous report)
A steady flow of people are participating.
Volunteers: Raphaël Rousseau, Loïc Dachary.
Hilaire Fernandes and other volunteers joined the GNU project
and created the education
section of the GNU project. They established contact with
Canadian and Chinese activists involved in providing Free Software
for educational purposes.
Hilaire published an essay
(in french) about Free Software and education. Verbatim copy is
permitted and encouraged. It also contains a detailed history
of the Free Software movement.
On the subject of education we follow the lead of
OFSET. Many people are involved and their actions
deserves an independent activity report.
Volunteers: savannah list
Joris Van der Hoven initiated an APRIL working group to
support Free Software in science. He works for a french
university himself and advocates that software made while
conducting a research financed by the government should
be released as Free Software. The very spirit of research
does not fit well with the restrictions imposed by
proprietary licenses. Besides, citizens are not too happy
when they have to finance the research and buy the product
when it is released.
A list was created (firstname.lastname@example.org)
to discuss this subject.
Volunteers: Joris Van der Hoven, Gilles Veillon, Jeremy Nestel, Jérôme Pansanel
Community Positioning System (Coposys).
Olivier Berger proposed
a project to visualize Free Software friends around
the globe. Cyril Bouthors implemented
and installed a first version and hundreds of people registered
from all over the world.
Volunteers: Cyril Bouthors, Olivier Berger.
- Electronic Voting
An information page on electronic voting issues was produced to
highlight the importance of Free Software in these matter. We
do not have the ambition to spend time to try to solve this
enormous problem at present. We merely keep in touch with
french people interested in the subject and store information.
Volunteers: Olivier Berger, Loïc Dachary.
- Press Review
Nicole Ciry and Gilles Veillon launched the project of
gathering french articles about Free Software. They
produced a methodology, explained it in a web page and
gather a copy of the first articles. Those articles are
sent once a month to the FSF in Boston and the first shipment
was made early July.
Volunteers: Nicole Ciry, Gilles Veillon.
GNU project information relay (was GNU help desk) (previous report)
In the previous report this was listed as GNU help desk which
was kind of inaccurate. The proximity of french people involved
in the GNU project makes it easier for other french people to
get involved in the GNU project, in a way or another. Some
developers come to us for various points related to the GNU
We had many contacts are related to these points. Here
are the two most pro-eminent.
Loïc Dachary got involved in the evaluation of a
software that wanted to become part of the GNU project (phpGroupWare). It
was the occasion for him to get practical experience of
this process in order to better answer questions.
A pretty long
thread regarding the rationale of the evaluation
process and other issues related to GNU was launched by
Denis Barbier. His critic views and comparisons with the
Debian process are very valuable, specially since he is
not a member of the GNU project. To be completely honest no
visible modifications of the GNU project are a direct
consequence of this discussion. Mainly because Loïc
Dachary is postponing this for no other reason than lack
Volunteers: Loïc Dachary.
- A software they wrote is being evaluated for inclusion
in the GNU project. These requests are handled thru
the email@example.com mailing list.
- They wrote a software and wonder what it means to become
part of the GNU project.
- They would like to help in the system
administration of the GNU project.
- They have an idea to improve the infrastructure of
the GNU project.
- GNU and Debian
French people involved in the GNU, Debian and FreeBSD
to drink a beer and share their experiences. This was
a chance to know each other and discover possible
cooperation grounds. No report of this meeting is
We had another opportunity to meet and discuss during
the LSM since the Debian
conference 1 was hosted by LSM.
As a direct consequence of these talks, some concrete things
happened. That may not be all, but that is what we are aware of.
Of course we discussed a lot about the philosophical
issues that keep the GNU and Debian organizations
apart. The GNU project would like to see the explicit
support of non free software removed from the Debian
social contract and identification of the software
packages in the main part of Debian that do not
qualify as Free Software according to GNU. Solving these
issues is an on-going effort on both sides. The Debian
community also has some claims for the GNU project and Denis
Barbier voiced some of them.
Volunteers: Raphaël Rousseau, Loïc Dachary,
Technopole Logiciel Libre (previous report)
Frédéric Couchet maintains good relationships with the
Technopole Logiciel Libre. A result of this cooperation
was the interview of Philippe Carpentier on Internet actu
video newspaper. The Technopole Logiciel Libre was also
invited to LSM where
Philippe Carpentier made a speech to explain the goals and
philosophy of the project.
Philippe Carpentier proposed to launch a European
contest for Free Software and is working on this idea with
Volunteers: Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary,
Philippe Carpentier, Pierre Jarret
Savannah and Europe: CoopX (previous report)
The contacts we had with hosting platforms similar to Savannah in France
triggered the creation of a working group called CoopX.
The goal of this working group is to define an
interchange format between hosting platforms. SourceForge, phpGroupWare joined
the working group shortly after its creation. CoopX was
also pleased to welcome TuxFamily, a
cooperatively run hosting facility run by french
Although we are a founding member of CoopX, the
project itself is neither hosted nor ruled by us. It is
a strictly cooperative effort and every group willing to
participate actively is welcome. Even non free software
groups, as long as the format is decided cooperatively and
released under a license that has the same qualities as the
Volunteers: Loïc Dachary, Christian Bac,
Samuel Tardieu, Dan Kuykendall, Tim Perdue and many
Links with Free Software organizations
In the network of Free Software organizations we actively
worked to establish contacts in order to be able to actually
do things in a coordinated way. The ideal situation would be
that each organization in a given geographical location is
able quickly establish contact with any other organization over
the world for a given action related to education, software
development or political issues. The following list is a map
of the network involving at least one person from FSF France
At present we cannot claim any world wide coordinated
action but we sincerely hope it will happen, on the subject of
patents for instance. Do you want to take the lead ?-)
FSF France is tightly bound to APRIL and we had four meetings
in the past three months. Two meeting reports are available.
A Free Software organization (AGIL)
is being created in Portugal. A lot of discussions with APRIL
were engaged to share their experience. A similar dialog is being
established with Masayuki Ida to create a Free Software organization
in Japan. Masayuki Ida will be visiting France in October and he
wants to meet with APRIL activists on this subject.
Matthias Saou, former president of the french organization
ALDIL moved to Spain recently and agreed to act as a liaison
with Jose Marchesi and GNU Spain.
- Usenix award
During the 2001 Usenix conference in Boston, Robert Chassel
received an award in the name of all the contributors to the
GNU project. We are proud to broadcast this award to all the
people who contributed to the GNU project thru FSF France
recently, by installing the first machine of the GNU project
outside the US (fr.fsf.org) or by contributing to the hardware
upgrade of Savannah (savannah.gnu.org).
- Sysadmin fr.fsf.org
Rodolphe Quiedeville, Cedric Valignat and Jean-Louis
Bergamot are also doing occasional system administration
on the GNU machine in France and were very efficient when
handling a minor security alert. Cedric is now taking care
of the Internet connection of the GNU machine in France and
is in contact with Joel N Weber II for this purpose.
Volunteers: Rodolphe Quiedeville, Cedric
Valignat, Jean-Louis Bergamot, Loïc Dachary, Joel
N. Weber II, Frédéric Couchet.
Savannah (previous report)
of the new hardware allowed Savannah to grow. It is now
serving more than 200 projects and around 1 500 members joined
The most important event is that Savannah is now open
to Free Software projects that do not (yet ;-) joined the GNU
project. This allows candidate packages to the GNU project to
develop and grow while going thru the application process. At
present 87 such projects are hosted on Savannah.
Now that phpGroupWare is dubbed a GNU package, the
perspective of migrating the software used to run Savannah
under phpGroupWare is more likely to become a reality. At
present, there is no concrete plan in this direction but it
is actively discussed.
Volunteers: Loïc Dachary, Jaime Villate,
Guillaume Morin, Joel N. Weber II, Mark H. Weaver.
- GNU Search
As of today the GNU
search team was created to maintain and improve the
search facility of the GNU project. Cyril Bouthors, Igor
Genibel and Helios de Creisquer launched this
project. They started as volunteer system administrators
of the GNU machine in France (fr.fsf.org). By doing
simple tasks in this context they became familiar with the
GNU project and proposed to become more commited to the
Volunteers: Loïc Dachary, Cyril Bouthors, Igor
Genibel, Helios de Creisquer.
- GNU DNS
Joel N. Weber II monitored the fr.fsf.org machine during a
few weeks and found that it could do a reasonable
secondary name server for the gnu.org domain. He installed it
about a month ago and it's running fine. Should the north American
continent disappear the domain will still be resolved :-}
Volunteers: Joel N. Weber II, Loïc Dachary, Cyril Bouthors.
Events and advocacy
We would like to acknowledge the countless advocacy
efforts made by people tuned on the FSF
France mailing list. All of them would deserve an entry in
this report, laziness is the only reason why they do not show.
We miss some bits such as interviews (Europe II Bordeaux for
instance) we never had a chance to listen. If you heard about
them, please send us a note.
Microsoft FUD (previous report)
We relayed press releases. RMS speech was translated and
broadcasted. We did not do anything significant at the
Unisys studies Free Software (previous report)
Unisys politely dismissed our help proposal to write the
report, although they invited us to feed them with
data. That was not what we wanted.
Richard M. Stallman suggested that the best course of
action would be to publish an article explaining why the
study conducted by Unisys could be biased. Nobody took the
task and the report is probably finished by now. We failed
on this advocacy issue.
- BBC World
BBC World wanted to interview a Free Software advocate for
a television show in London. We proposed that Phil Hands
speak in our name. A short time frame did not leave much
room for cooperation and it turned out that the journalist
really wanted a confrontation between the proprietary
world and the Free Software world. At present it is still
unclear what the result will be. If you ever see the show,
let us know.
Volunteers: Phil Hands, Richard M. Stallman,
Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary.
Le Journal du Net (previous report)
This well known french online newspaper changed their category
entitled Open Source to Logiciel Libre. We are
not entirely happy about the accuracy of their articles but they
show a good will that we find remarkable.
- FAQ hardware producers
Marc-Aurèle Darche and Philippe Coulonges wrote a FAQ
to inform hardware producers about the advantages of Free
Software drivers. This is the first work that involves a
cooperation between APRIL, AFUL and FSF France. Marc-Aurèle
Darche deserves all the credit for making this
joint effort a reality. Although FSF France will not endorse
the document produced because it partially advocates for the
Open Source movement, working on it allowed us to contribute
to the ideas related to Free Software.
We will keep the draft directory alive even after the
release of the FAQ to show how it evolved. In my
eyes it is a nice example of the fundamental difference
between the Open Source movement and the Free Software
movement. Some people claim Free Software and Open Source
are two words on top of the same movement ? Check the first version of the document, rather Open
Source style and the second version
proposed, more Free Software style. You will see a visible
difference in the spirit and very few differences in the
Volunteers: Marc-Aurèle Darche, Philippe
- DCSSI and GNU PG
The french government defines a list of software accredited to
provide encryption. During LSM Werner Koch asked for volunteers
to register GNUPG. Some people show interest to do that but
the action did not start yet.
Sebastien Blondeel is attending CEENET in Hungaria (August
20). He will bring goodies from APRIL and FSF Europe and spread the
word in our name. He will meet Shooby Ban who is potentially interested
in launching a Free Software dedicated organization. People attending
CEENET are not specifically interested in Free Software, that makes
his mission even more interesting.
Volunteers: Sebastien Blondeel.
We engaged a discussion with Unesco on the subject of their Free
Software portal because we feel that its content is problematic
in many ways. The people are responsive and we sent them
a proposal to replace the license page.
Volunteers: Loïc Dachary.
- SourceForge and VA Linux
We are helping VA Linux to produce a copyright assignment
form for SourceForge authors. The experience of the FSF in
this matter is valuable.
Volunteers: Loïc Dachary.
- Propriété intellectuelle , Copyright, Brevets, logiciels libres
A special issue of the french magazine MULTITUDE was
published on the subject of copyright, patents and free
software. It features articles from Richard M. Stallman
and Eben Moglen and many other Free Software
advocates. Frédéric Couchet and Benjamin Drieu were very
involved in making this special issue a reality.
Volunteers: Frédéric Couchet, Benjamin Drieu.
- Libre Software Meeting
The event was far too rich to summarize in this report. To
our knowledge it is the only event in the world
exclusively dedicated to Free Software and organized only
by volunteers. Hundreds of users and developers from all
around the world attended this event. When compared to
events like LinuxWord where at least half the people and
organizations present are indeed interested or involved in
non free software, it makes a huge difference. Some pictures
were taken for the record. Next year event will be
organized together with the FSF France, with technical
help from the GNU project.
We had the opportunity to meet
people involved in Free Software organizations from
all over the world.
Frédéric Couchet and Carl W. Vilbrandt organized and
participated to the
Law, Economy, Politic and libre software session.
Frédéric Couchet introduced the FSF Europe to the
audience in a one hour speech.
Loïc Dachary was an informal spoke-person of the AFSM during the AAUL
Loïc Dachary shortly spoke about Savannah during the
Libre Software for Communication session.
The FSF France actively participated to the
discussions of the
APRIL members Convention. Jaime Villate and Ruben
Leote Mendes also attended the event in the name of the
future Free Software organization (ANSOL will be the
name) that is being created in Portugal.
launching courses for administrations and non profit
organizations in France. These courses are co-financed by
the government and cost 500 F for one day. Benjamin Drieu
and Jeremy Nestel did some work on a three days course on
Free Software at the initiation level. Although not
certain yet, this can lead to a cheap way for people to be
introduced to the Free Software tools. This project is at
a very early stage and volunteers are very needed.
Volunteers: Jeremy Nestel, Benjamin Drieu,
FSF Europe migration
Europe web was migrated to the fsffrance.org
machine. This was mainly done to ease the maintainance
process of the web and increase the page generation rate
without risking to overload the gnudist.gnu.org machine
which is already hosting the GNU web site.
Volunteers: Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary
Contact Database (previous report)
This area was rather neglected and did not progress much. The
situation improved a little since Bradley M. Kuhn explained in
detail what we would need and made contacts with Dan Kuykendall
on this subject. We also discovered that XML Vcard was published
earlier this year by W3C and this will definitely be the
format on which we will be working.
Volunteers: Bradley M. Kuhn, Loïc Dachary.
- Web standards
A script repository was created so that directories on various
GNU machines handling web sites can use them. The first
script to enter the arena is a symbolic link builder for CVS
The task of improving the web standards is
enormous. However, it is a very rewarding since it brings
A rather unexpected improvement comes from the hardware FAQ. The authors use the
technical infrastructure of the GNU project to publish
their drafts. Since the source format is DocBook, we had
some interesting exchanges on formating issues. It
appears that the machine fr.fsf.org now has a proper set
of software to produce output from DocBook
sources. Since there also exist a translator from
DocBook to texinfo, one might be tempted to write
DocBook documents from now on. This is food for thought,
there are many issues to consider, one of which being
the relatively immature state of the Free Software
DocBook formating tools.
Volunteers: Jaime Villate, Paul Vischer, Loïc Dachary,
Richard M. Stallman, Marc-Aurèle Darche
- Audio and video repository
A large audio and video repository was created. The
primary purpose is to store the FSF Award 2000 video file
(1.2Gb) and 400Mb audio files. There is a total of 22Gb
Volunteers: Loïc Dachary
- News channel
The RSS based news channel of FSF France is available
on FSF Europe.
Olivier Berger enhanced it to display only the latest news
on the front page and all the archives in the news subdirectory.
They are now dispatched on a
daily basis by mail on the firstname.lastname@example.org
and email@example.com mailing-lists (resp. in english, and in french). This allows people interested in Free Software
movement to keep informed of FSF France activity. To subscribe
to this mailing-list, send
a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject
Volunteers: Olivier Berger, Loïc Dachary
Donations (previous report)
We did not chase donations and (what a surprise ;-) nobody sent
a cent to FSF France in the past months. The good news is that
we did not spend any money either.
Cyril Bouthors and Noémie Roche worked hard on the tax deductibility issue.
The papers were sent to the administration and we are waiting for
Volunteers: Olivier Berger, Raphaël Rousseau,
Frédéric Couchet, Loïc Dachary, Noémie Roche, Cyril Bouthors.
- Business Cards
A new set of 200 business cards was produced for future events.
Volunteers: Frédéric Couchet