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News Archive

FreedomBox 0.9 Images Available

July 15th, 2016

A week ago we have completed building FreedomBox images for 0.9 as 0.9-rc2 and made them available for release testing. No major issues have been found in the images and they are now the 0.9 final release images.

Transition to Debian testing:

With this release, we have completed the transition to Debian "testing" from Debian "unstable". From now on, for regular users, images will be based on "testing". When using these images, upgrades will happen to only packages that end up in Debian "testing".

If you are already using FreedomBox, you are advised to switch to "testing" distribution manually for higher stability. This can done by replacing "unstable" with "testing" in /etc/apt/sources.list and waiting for a few weeks for all packages to settle down or by freshly setting up using "testing" images.

Images based on Debian "unstable" will still be built and available as "nightly" images so that contributors can test early and prevent the regular users from facing issues. If you wish to contribute to FreedomBox by finding and reporting early problems, please stick with "unstable" images.

Posted Fri Jul 15 14:46:02 2016

FreedomBox 0.9 Released

April 25th, 2016

We're pleased to announce that FreedomBox 0.9 has been released! This release comes 9 weeks after the previous release (0.8).

The FreedomBox packages are available in Debian testing: freedombox-setup 0.9 and plinth 0.9.1-1.

We are planning to build new images for this release. However, there is an issue with building images for armel/armhf boards at the moment. We should have a workaround for this issue soon, and then the images will be built and uploaded.

More information on this release is available on the wiki:

Major FreedomBox 0.9 Changes:

  • Fixed Wi-Fi AP setup.
  • Prevent lockout of users in 'sudo' group after setup is complete.
  • Improved setup mechanism for Plinth modules. Allows users to see what a module is useful for, before doing the setup and package install. Also allows essential modules to be setup by default during FreedomBox install.
  • Added HTTPS certificates to Monkeysphere page. Reorganized so that multiple domains can be added to a key.
  • Added Radicale, a CalDAV and CardDAV server.
  • Added Minetest Server, a multiplayer infinite-world block sandbox.
  • Added Tiny Tiny RSS, a news feed reader.

Known Issues:

  • ownCloud has been removed from Debian testing, and is not installable through Plinth.
    • If you are using ownCloud on FreedomBox, please know that it will not be maintained.
    • We are looking for applications to replace the main functionality that was provided by ownCloud.
    • Radicale is an alternative for the contact and calendar sync features.
    • We still need to find and integrate a good alternative for the file sync feature.

Thanks to all who helped to put this release together!

Please feel free to join us to discuss this release on the mailing list, IRC, or on the monthly progress calls:

Posted Mon Apr 25 14:14:23 2016

FreedomBox 0.8 Released

January 20th, 2016

I'm pleased to announce that FreedomBox 0.8 has been released! This release comes 9 weeks after the previous release (0.7).

We did not build new images for this release. However it is available in Debian (unstable) as 2 packages, freedombox-setup 0.8 and plinth 0.8.1-1.

If you are using Freedombox 0.7, you can upgrade to 0.8. (If you have automatic upgrades enabled, this should have happened already!) But first, please read the "Known Issues" section below.

More information on this release is available on the wiki:

Major FreedomBox 0.8 Changes:

  • Added Quassel, an IRC client that stays connected to IRC networks and can synchronize multiple frontends.
  • Improved first boot user interface.
  • Fixed Transmission RPC whitelist issue.
  • Added translations for Turkish, Chinese, and Russian. Fixed and updated translations in other languages.
  • Added Monkeysphere, which uses PGP web of trust for SSH host key verification.
  • Added Let's Encrypt, to obtain certificates for domains, so that browser certificate warnings can be avoided.
  • Added repro, a SIP server for audio and video calls.
  • Allow users to set their SSH public keys, so they can login over SSH without a password.

Known Issues:

There is an issue in Plinth 0.7.x that can affect those trying to upgrade to 0.8.1. The issue happens when the manual upgrade is started (by clicking the "Upgrade now" button) and it tries to upgrade Plinth. The Plinth upgrade can fail during this manual upgrade process started through Plinth.

There are 2 workarounds for those trying to upgrade from 0.7.x: - Turn on Automatic Upgrades, and wait (up to 24 hours). Plinth will be automatically upgraded to 0.8.1, and the issue is avoided. - Or, you can SSH into the box, and run "sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade".

Thanks to all who helped to put this release together. There were several new contributors for this release. The wiki has a full list of contributors to the project:

Please feel free to join us to discuss this release on the mailing list, IRC, or on the monthly progress calls:

Posted Mon Feb 22 15:19:30 2016

Video of Freedombox Demo v0.6 posted

December 23, 2015

You can find video of Sunil's demo of the 0.6 release of the FreedomBox software at the Software Freedom Law Center's video archive.

We have released a newer version of FreedomBox since then that primarily focused on internationalization. If you are interested in downloading the newest versi on you can find the official images here.

Posted Wed Dec 23 16:57:53 2015

FreedomBox 0.7 Released!

December 19, 2015

I'm pleased to announce that FreedomBox 0.7 has been released! This release comes 7 weeks after the previous release (0.6).

FreedomBox version 0.7 is available here:

Before using, you should verify the image's signature. See for further instructions.

Thanks to all who helped to put this release together.

More information on this release is available on the wiki:

Major FreedomBox 0.7 Changes:

  • Translations! Full translations of the interface in Danish, Dutch, French, German and Norwegian Bokmål, and partial Telugu.
  • Support for OLinuXino A20 MICRO and LIME2
  • New Plinth applications: OpenVPN, reStore (currently disabled in Plinth config, until Debian package is uploaded)
  • Improved first-boot experience
  • Many bugfixes and cleanups

Known Bugs:

  • When Transmission page is accessed after install, it will show "403: Forbidden". Here is a workaround for this issue:

  • Log into your FreedomBox using the console or SSH.

  • Edit the Transmission configuration: $ sudo vi /etc/transmission-daemon/settings.json Change "rpc-whitelist-enabled" to false. Save and quit.

  • Reload the Transmission server. $ sudo invoke-rc.d transmission-daemon reload Important: Make sure you reload instead of restart* the service. Otherwise your changes to the configuration will get overwritten.

  • Access the Transmission page at https://freedombox.local/transmission or similar.

Please feel free to join us to discuss this release on the mailing list, IRC, or on the monthly progress calls:

  • List:

  • IRC: irc://

  • Calls:

Posted Sun Dec 20 16:32:45 2015

Freedombox 0.6 Released!

October 31, 2015


I'm pleased to announce that FreedomBox version 0.6 has been released! This release comes 2 months after the previous, 0.5 release.

Please feel free to join us to discuss this release on the mailing list, IRC, or on the monthly progress calls:

  • List:

  • IRC: irc://

  • Calls:

The FreedomBox version 0.6 is available here:

Before using, you should verify the image's signature, see for further instructions:

$ gpg --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 0x36C361440C9BC971

$ gpg --fingerprint 0x36C361440C9BC971

pub   4096R/0C9BC971 2011-11-12
      Key fingerprint = BCBE BD57 A11F 70B2 3782
                        BC57 36C3 6144 0C9B C971
uid                  Sunil Mohan Adapa <>
sub   4096R/4C1D4B57 2011-11-12

$ gpg --verify freedombox-unstable_2015-10-18_raspberry-armel-card.tar.bz2.sig freedombox-unstable_2015-10-18_raspberry-armel-card.tar.bz2

(Replace the file names with the version you download.)

Thanks to all who helped put this release together.

More information on this release is available on the wiki:

Major FreedomBox 0.6 Changes:

  • New supported hardware target: Raspberry Pi 2
  • New modules in Plinth:
    • Shaarli: Web application to manage and share bookmarks.
    • Date & Time: Configure time zone and NTP service.
    • Service Discovery: Configure Avahi service.
    • Debian packages can be download over Tor.
  • Switched from mod_ssl to mod_gnutls.
  • Documentation Revamp:
    • Get latest FreedomBox user manual from wiki.
    • Manual is focused on using FreedomBox, with a section on developing Plinth modules.
  • Wi-Fi configuration now in general network configuration.

Known Bugs:

  • DreamPlugs do not boot the 0.6 image. Please upgrade your previous Dreamplug by manually upgrading Plinth to 0.6.


Posted Mon Nov 2 20:26:57 2015

FreedomBox Halloween Hack-a-thon

Saturday October 31st, 2015

The FreedomBox Foundation is hosting a Halloween hack-a-thon on Saturday October 31st at the offices of the Software Freedom Law Center from 10 am to 6 pm, near Lincoln Center in New York City. New and existing contributors will be getting together to work on our Debian-based privacy-respecting self-hosting software suite and wireless router.

Members of the FreedomBox core development team will be on hand to help new contributors get involved and to get some actual work done! We are going to be talking about:

  • how to use a FreedomBox as a secure home router;
  • using existing Debian packages to integrate them into FreedomBoxes;
  • integrating in a secure decentralized social network;
  • replacing passwords with an integrated authentication system based on PGP;

We live in a world where our use of the network is mediated by organizations that often do not have our best interests at heart. To regain control of our privacy, the FreedomBox project is building an integrated suite of software that does not rely on centralized services. Of course much of this software already exists. We are hacking, tweaking, and molding it into a easy to use software suite so everyone can regain control of their privacy by running a FreedomBox at home.

Bring yourselves, your ideas, your PGP keys, and your Raspberry Pis (or other device you want to try FreedomBox on!) We will bring the pizza, over-caffeinated soda, and Halloween candy.

Time: 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, October 31st, 2015 Location: Software Freedom Law Center, 1995 Broadway, 17th Floor, New York, NY

Email us at hackathon at to let us know you are coming so we can be sure to order enough food and caffeine email.

Posted Mon Oct 19 16:06:44 2015

FreedomBox 0.6 Presentation

October 19, 2015

Sunil is doing a presentation at the Software Freedom Law Center's annual conference on October 30th. He will be showing off the forth coming 0.6 release. (Look for the 0.6 release any day now)

The Conference is at the Columbia Law School on Friday October 30th. Sunil's presentation will start at around 2:45 pm. The Conference is free. You can find out more information about it at the Software Freedom Law Center's website

Posted Mon Oct 19 16:03:10 2015

Freedombox 0.5 Released!

August 7, 2015

We are pleased to announce that FreedomBox version 0.5 has been released! This release comes 7 months after the previous, 0.3 release.

The FreedomBox version 0.5 is available here:

Before using, you should verify the image's signature, see for further instructions:

$ gpg --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 0x36C361440C9BC971

$ gpg --fingerprint 0x36C361440C9BC971

pub   4096R/0C9BC971 2011-11-12
      Key fingerprint = BCBE BD57 A11F 70B2 3782
                        BC57 36C3 6144 0C9B C971
uid                  Sunil Mohan Adapa <>
sub   4096R/4C1D4B57 2011-11-12

$ gpg --verify freedombox-unstable_2015-08-06_raspberry-armel-card.tar.bz2.sig freedombox-unstable_2015-08-06_raspberry-armel-card.tar.bz2

(Replace the file names with the version you download.)

Thanks to all who helped put this release together.

More information on this release is available on the wiki:

Major FreedomBox 0.5 Changes:

  • New targets: CubieTruck, i386, amd64

  • New apps in Plinth: Transmission, Dynamic DNS, Mumble, ikiwiki, Deluge, Roundcube, Privoxy

  • NetworkManager handles network configuration and can be manipulated through Plinth.

  • Software Upgrades (unattended-upgrades) module can upgrade the system, and enable automatic upgrades.

  • Plinth is now capable of installing ejabberd, jwchat, and privoxy, so they are not included in image but can be installed when needed.

  • User authentication through LDAP for SSH, XMPP (ejabberd), and ikiwiki.

  • Unit test suite is automatically run on Plinth upstream. This helps us catch at least some code errors before they are discovered by users!

  • New, simpler look for Plinth.

  • Performance improvements for Plinth.

Please feel free to join us to discuss this release on the mailing list, IRC, or on the monthly progress calls:

  • List:

  • IRC: irc://

  • Calls:

Posted Tue Aug 11 03:13:57 2015

FreedomBox v0.3 Released!

January 21, 2015

Hi folks, I'm proud to announce that FreedomBox version 0.3 has been released! This release comes ten months after the previous, 0.2 release.

The FreedomBox version 0.3 is available here:

Before using, you should verify the image's signature, see for further instructions:

$ gpg --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys 0x36C361440C9BC971

$ gpg --fingerprint 0x36C361440C9BC971

pub   4096R/0C9BC971 2011-11-12
      Key fingerprint = BCBE BD57 A11F 70B2 3782
                        BC57 36C3 6144 0C9B C971
uid                  Sunil Mohan Adapa <sunil@...>
sub   4096R/4C1D4B57 2011-11-12

$ gpg --verify freedombox-unstable_2015-01-15_beaglebone-armhf-card.tar.bz2.sig freedombox-unstable_2015-01-15_beaglebone-armhf-card.tar.bz2

(Replace the file names with the version you download.)

Thanks to the many folks who helped put this release together and especially Sunil and Petter who are regularly building and publishing updated images.

More information on this release is available on the wiki:

Major FreedomBox 0.3 Changes:

  • Add BeagleBone support. We now have images for BeagleBone, RaspberryPi, VirtualBox i386/amd64, and DreamPlug.

  • Ability to enable and use Tor Hidden Services. Works with Ejabberd/JWChat and ownCloud services.

  • Enable Tor obfsproxy with scramblesuit.

  • Drop well-known root password (an account with sudo capabilities still exists for now but will be removed soon).

  • Switch to unstable as suite of choice for easier development.

  • Newer images are built with systemd by default (due to Debian change).

  • Install and operate firewall automatically (uses firewalld).

  • Major restructuring of Plinth UI using Python3, Django web development framework and Bootstrap3. Code quality is much better and UI is more polished.

  • Introduced packaging framework in Plinth UI for on-demand application installation.

  • Documentation updates.

  • Many bug fixes and cleanups.

Unfortunately, some known issues do exist:

  • ownCloud requires removing /etc/owncloud/config.php after installation for Plinth to enable it properly.

However, other known issues have already been fixed upstream:

  • etckeeper commit doesn't work during first-run.

  • Wi-Fi AP isn't automatically available on Dreamplug. The interface needs to be created manually.

Please discuss, test, and enjoy. Please also join us on the mailing list, IRC, or on the monthly progress calls:

  • List:

  • IRC: irc://

  • Calls:

Happy hacking, Nick

Posted Mon Feb 2 18:36:14 2015

FreedomBox version 0.2

For those of you who have not heard through the mailing list or in the project's IRC channel (#freedombox on, FreedomBox has reached the 0.2 release. This second release is still intended for developers but represents a significant maturation of the components we have discussed here in the past and a big step forward for the project as a whole.

0.2 features

Plinth, our user interface tool, is now connected to a number of running systems on the box including PageKite, an XMPP chat server, local network administration if you want to use the FreedomBox as a home router, and some diagnostic and general system configuration tools. Plinth also has support for downloading and installing ownCloud.

Additionally, the 0.2 release installs Tor and configures it as a bridge. This default configuration does not actually send any of your traffic through Tor or allow those sending traffic over Tor to enter the public net using your connection. Acting as a bridge simply moves data around within the Tor network, much like adding an additional participant to a game of telephone. The more bridges there are in the Tor network, the harder it is to track where that traffic actually comes from.

Availability and reach

As discussed previously, one of the ways we are working to improve privacy and security for computer users is by making the tools we include in FreedomBox available outside of particular FreedomBox images or hardware. We are working towards that goal by adding the software we use to the Debian community Linux distribution upon which the FreedomBox is built. I am happy to say that Plinth, PageKite, ownCloud, as well as our internal box configuration tool freedombox-setup are now all available in the Jessie version of Debian.

In addition to expanding the list of tools available in Debian we have also expanded the range of Freedom-maker, the tool that builds full images of FreedomBox to deploy directly onto machines like our initial hardware target the DreamPlug. Freedom-maker can now build images for DreamPlug, the VirtualBox blend of virtual machines, and the RaspberryPi. Now developers can test and contribute to FreedomBox using anything from a virtual machine to one of the more than two million RaspberryPis out there in the world.

The future

Work has really been speeding up on the FreedomBox in 2014 and significant work has been done on new cryptographic security tools for a 0.3 release. As always, the best places to find out more are the wiki, the mailing list and the IRC channel.

Posted Mon May 12 20:45:51 2014

I am pleased to announce our first FreedomBox software release. The FreedomBox 0.1 image is available here (.torrent) (sha512sum: 867f5bf462102daef82a34165017b9e67ed8e09116fe46edd67730541bbfb731083850ab5e28ee40bdbc5054cb64e4d0e46a201797f27e0b8f0d2881ef083b40).

This 0.1 version is primarily a developer release, which means that it focuses on architecture and infrastructure rather than finish work. The exception to this is privoxy-freedombox, the web proxy discussed in previous updates, which people can begin using right now to make their web browsing more secure and private and which will very soon be available on non-FreedomBox systems. More information on that tool at the end of this post.

  • What have we accomplished? This first release completes a number of important milestones for the project.

    • Full hardware support in Debian A big part of the vision for the FreedomBox project revolves around the "Boxs", tiny plug servers that are capable of running full size computing loads cheaply and with little use of electricity. In many respects these are wireless routers given the brains of a smart phone. If you want to change the software on a router or smart phone today you normally need to worry about bootloader images, custom roms, and a whole collection of specialized build and install tools. We wanted to the FreedomBox to move beyond this fragmented environment and, with the help of some embedded device experts, we have managed to make our development hardware into a fully supported Debian platform. That means that anyone with a device can install Debian on it just like a laptop or desktop computer. This support is very important for ensuring that the work we do on the FreedomBox is as portable and reusable as possible.
    • Basic software tools selected There is a lot of great free software out there to choose from and we put a lot of thought into which elements would be included in our basic tool kit. This includes the user interface system "plinth" that I outlined in a recent kickstarter update as well as basic cryptography tools like gpg and a one named "monkeysphere" that leverages gpg as an authentication tool. All of these are now bundled together and installed on the release image. This common working environment will simplify development going forward.
    • Box-to-box communication design Some goals of the FreedomBox can be accomplished with one user and one FreedomBox but many, like helping someone route around repressive government firewalls, will require groups of people and groups of boxes working together. One of our greatest architectural challenges has been finding a way for boxes to communicate securely without so slowing down or breaking network access as to make the system unpleasant to use. We have now outlined and built the first version of our proposed solution: Freedom-buddy. Freedom-buddy uses the world class TOR network so that boxes can find each other regardless of location or restrictive firewall and then allows the boxes to negotiate secure direct connections to each other for actually sending large or time sensitive data. We believe this blended approach will be most effective at improving the security and usability of personal-server communications and all the services we plan to build into those servers.
    • Web cleaning Our first service, a piece of software you can use today to start making your web browsing more secure and private, is called "privoxy-freedombox". This software combines the functionality of the Adblock Plus ad blocker, the Easy Privacy filtering list, and the (HTTPS Everywhere]( website redirection plugin into a single piece of software to run on your FreedomBox. Combining these different plugins into software for your FreedomBox means that you can use them with almost any browser or mobile device using a standard web proxy connection. Because of our focus on building the FreedomBox as part of Debian this software will soon be available to anyone running a Debian system regardless of whether you are using our target DreamPlug hardware, a laptop, or a large rack server somewhere. As you read this packages should already be available in the Raspbian repositories, which is the optimized version of Debian used on the Raspberry Pi hardware. Hopefully we will get that onto the main Debian mirrors over the next month; if you are interested in building it for yourself in the meantime, the source is available from gitorious. As we build additional components for the FreedomBox we will continue to work on making them widely available.
  • What is next? As you may have seen, our Project Lead, Bdale Garbee, is about to begin a well earned early retirement from his long time role as Open Source & Linux Chief Technologist at Hewlett-Packard. Over the coming month Bdale and the rest of the Foundation team will be putting together plans for the next stage of FreedomBox development and the road to a 1.0 release. News and updates will follow at (rss).
Posted Mon Aug 27 23:19:34 2012

Wow. Thanks to everybody who showed up in New York to hack on the FreedomBox and other projects. This event was a bit of an experiment. Instead of doing a FreedomBox Hackfest, we opened the event to other projects that share our goals of private, free communication. We were lucky enough to get developers who work on Guardian, Access, Tor, CryptoCat, Commotion Wireless, EFF, TrackMeNot and other initiatives. The resulting cross-pollination of skills and ideas pushed all of these projects forward with speed and focus!

While all the projects hit impressive milestones this week, it was FreedomBox that had the most activity. Here's what we did:

  • Boruch Baum, Daniel Howe and James Vasile worked on validating the regexes in freedombox-privoxy. That package is much closer to stable now. Boruch and Daniel did the heavy lifting. They took a problem that had, frankly, stymied us, and put in the attention and research to get it moving again.

  • Ariel and James brainstormed the user experience on first boot. Ariel made a series of slides detailing requirements in this area, which means we now have a roadmap for first boot.

  • Bryan Newbold hacked a configuration management solution into Plinth so now the front end can talk to the system. He and James are making a demo module for documentation.

  • Nick Daly added a command-line interface to FreedomBuddy. This interface can be used to query the FreedomBuddy service, and will be pushed to the public repository by the end of the week, with the next weekly image. The interface currently depends on the HTTP(S) interface, which is a limitation that will soon be removed.

  • Nick and Simo Sorce began implementing a self-configuring OpenVPN system using the FreedomBuddy's command-line interface. That will also be available by the end of the week.

  • Nick internationalized the FreedomBox UI with help from several other folks. Work will be completed in the next few weeks to support Python's standard approach to internationalization, GetText.

  • Pablo Arcuri started internationalizing FreedomBuddy to include a Spanish translation. It may soon also have a Farsi translation.

  • Nick and Nadim Kobeissi considered, and ultimately rejected, including CryptoCat on the default FreedomBox image, because of its reliance on PHP. Nadim is building a CryptoCat 2.0 that will be based on XMPP. When that is ready, we'll integrate it as FreedomBox's secure chat solution.

  • James explored browser fingerprint munging in freedombox-privoxy using advice from Eva Galperin. He concluded that this is a task better left to a browser plugin and might start speccing that plugin.

  • James discussed thread modeling methodologies with Matt Hollingsworth and started nudging FreedomBuddy toward a more defined and explicit threat model.

This hackfest was an unqualified success. Big thanks to our partners, ISC (especially Ray Short), OpenITP and ISOC-NY for pooling resources to pull it off! Thanks also to Elizabeth Boylan, who managed logistics and never once complained about our disorganization. Ian Sullivan worked his usual behind-the-scenes magic. Dragana Kaurin organized the people and the reporting and stipends. And Willie Theaker provided key support in arranging for people, food and supplies to always be in the right place at the right time.

Posted Thu Jul 12 15:22:22 2012

FreedomBox, OpenITP, InformSec and ISOC-NY have partnered up to host a circumvention tools hackfest in NYC right before HOPE. We've got four days to plan, code and learn! If you want to hack on anti-censorship or anti-surveillance tools, bring your project, bring your skills and bring your friends. This event will be focused on writing code and solving design problems. We won't have any long presentations (there will be enough of those at HOPE), though we will have lightning talks and will give away a door prize or two.

Where: Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall, 116th and Amsterdam

When: July 9 - 12, 10 am

Who: Privacy and free communication hackers like you

Please RSVP to kaurin at and tell us what you plan to work on, what kind of projects and people you hope to meet, and which days you will join us.

Feel free to repost this invite or to link to it.

Some modest travel stipends are available for amazing projects. Email James Vasile (james at about those.

Some projects we know will attend: Commotion Wireless, Cryptocat, Guardian Project, the Lantern Project, and Access.

If you are looking for lodging, take a look at this list of nearby hotels. If you want a hostel, there's one on 103rd and Amsterdam.

Big thanks to our partners, all of whom are contributing crucial support and resources.

Posted Sat Jun 30 16:55:26 2012

Hackfest Report

The FreedomBox Hackfest at Columbia University was a huge success. We hosted 25 people of diverse talents and interests. Some folks came to learn, acquire DreamPlugs and do a guided install of Bdale Garbee's FreedomMaker. Others took up parts of the (task list)[]. We learned a lot about the boxes, ideas for routing, data modeling, and security concerns. Lots of people pitched in on the tasks list, and descriptions of that work are below. Most importantly, we had a lot of fun meeting each other and collaborating. If you are interested in any of it, please ask about it on the discussion list, especially if you want to help!

Huge thanks to everybody that participated. Many people came by just to learn about the FreedomBox, talk about their use cases and offer encouragement. That activity is very helpful, and we appreciated the fresh perspective.

We intend to do more hackfests, perhaps in more cities in the near future. This weekend was a great success in progress, bug squashing, design, and first-draft implementation of key FreedomBox infrastructure.

Thanks again to everybody and especially to Columbia University, Elizabeth Boylan, and ISOC-NY for logistical and material support.

Progress and Activities

  • Nick Daly, Issac Wilder, Ian Sullivan and I fleshed out my earlier, nascent Port Santiago work (more about that below) and implemented some basic FreedomBox discovery and connection functionality. Nick and Issac also sketched out a DHT scheme (codenamed Neruda) for finding boxes. Nick and Issac each did presentations on the routing issue. Joly Macfie from ISOC-NY took video of those presentations and will get them online this week.

  • Nick and Ian iterated hard on paired boxes (a dedicated, hard-coded, factory-set proxy server and client connection) as a way to roll out freedom to small numbers of people stuck behind national firewalls. We now have paired boxes that locate each other on the network and proxy for each other!

  • Barbara Mack came to us with expertise in data model-ling, and she spent her time doing deep thinking on the person model and how it connects to the rest of the FreedomBox.

  • BoxySean installed FreedomBox on a GuruPlug and updated the Wiki with details on how to do that more easily. There are a lot of GuruPlugs out there, and his work is a big help.

  • BoxySean and Brian Newbold started work on configuring the FreedomBox as a wifi router and connecting that up to Plinth for UI. They identified some FreedomMaker bugs. BoxySean updated the list on those bugs and we've been following up on closing them.

  • A team of people (most notably Marcus and Tyrone) from the FreedomTower project explored ways the FreedomBox can be added to their mobile internet stations to provide Free communication services to people connecting to the net via those stations.

  • Sean O'Brien familiarized himself with Plinth and intends to contributing to the router front-end setup effort.

  • David Garson dropped knowledge on configuration systems and virtual machines as test beds.

  • I updated Plinth with a new template featuring some design work by Robert Martinez (about which I will say more in a separate update).

  • I updated Plinth with a new template and chased down some bugs. Boxysean explored Plinth's bugs as well, albeit involuntarily. We'll have patches on those shortly.

Port Santiago

There is a problem we have been referring to as the "magic routing problem". It is the question of how two FreedomBoxes find each other on the internet and establish communication, even if one or both boxes are firewalled and neither is findable via DNS. We called it "magic routing" because we hadn't started to design the routing system and so we had to assume it happened by magic.

Our solution to this problem is to piggyback on the Tor network. Hidden services rely on Tor for routing and discoverability. The system works quite well and the Tor project does excellent work at maintaining that system and strengthening it against attack.

Nick Daly and Ian Sullivan built a simple server that listens on a local port and is reachable from the outside world by a Tor hidden service. It accepts authenticated queries and responds with information. For example, it can give your IP address to friends you trust.

To avoid burdening the Tor network and also to avoid the delays associated with using Tor, Port Santiago will allow two FreedomBoxes to decide on a faster (though less anonymous) method of communication. Subsequent communication will happen on that channel.

Right now, we are using Santiago to discover a FreedomBox's IP address for the creation of encrypted proxy tunnels. This will allow a FreedomBox to provide uncensored, unmonitored internet access to a friend who is stuck behind a national or corporate firewall.

Nick did the heavy lifting on this work with help from Ian Sullivan and in consultation with many of the Hackfest participants. Nick's documentation and code will be up on github soon.


Port Santiago lets FreedomBoxes provide some basic information via a Tor hidden service, but users need a way to find out the onion addresses of their friend's services. The most obvious way to do this is with distributed hash tables (we also considered less obvious methods that piggyback on existing infrastructure, like links). Issac and I planned out the DHT, how to access it, the data structures, and API. We are calling this system Neruda.

Neruda will allow users to take a GPG key and look up a user's Santiago onion address. Issac Wilder is speccing this out and coding it.

One benefit of reaching Santiago via a Tor onion address is that FreedomBoxes do not need to update Neruda very often. Even if your IP address changes, your onion address shouldn't. Updating your Neruda record is a rare event and it is acceptable to refresh Neruda's tables relatively infrequently. This might allow us to devote fewer resources to it.

Key Signing

FreedomBoxes are going to make a lot of use of GPG to authenticate identity and sometimes to encrypt data as well. To strengthen the web of trust, we did some key signing and also introduced some participants to gpg, generated keys and taught key management.

Posted Wed Feb 22 15:03:02 2012

FreedomBox Hackfest in NYC on Presidents' Day Weekend

We're having a hackfest and you should join us!

It's in New York on February 18th, 19th and 20th. There are a lot of places we might make progress. Some easy ideas:

  • streamline the install process
  • improve documentation
  • turn the box into a wireless router
  • setup monkeysphere for proxies/VPN/tunnels
  • finalize the privoxy settings
  • work on building a central communications system around tor hidden services

This will be fun for people of all skills and experience. A day of pizza, beer and throwing bits against the box will make for great progress.

If you would like to help (or even if you just want to come by to say hi), please email If you have ideas for discrete tasks that might be tackled with a couple days of cooperation, please do join us.

Posted Wed Jan 25 20:36:02 2012

Enhanced Privacy and Security for Web Browsing

One thing many people agree the FreedomBox should do is web filtering for privacy and ad-removal. Toward that end, the FreedomBox will act as a web proxy to clean up and protect web traffic.

We have a first draft version of privoxy up on git. It upgrades your web traffic to prefer ssl encryption whereever it can. It also strips tracking software from web pages to give you greater privacy and anonymity as you surf.

If you are a privoxy user, please do give this package a test run and report any problems on the issue tracker. We are working on upstreaming these changes to the privoxy project, and in the mean time, you can make a debian package quite easily from the git repository.

Further work will include writing a script to test all the https-everywhere rules and discard the ones that are broken. As well as one to periodically check for new regexes. Anybody who wants to contribute to writing that is welcome to jump on in!

More details about this part of FreedomBox can be found on our code page.

Posted Tue Jan 17 15:00:29 2012

FreedomBox Wins Ashoka Changemakers Competition

The FreedomBox Foundation has won the Ashoka Changemakers Competition in the "Citizen Media" Category! This event was decided by a public vote, which means it was your help that pushed us over the top. Thank you to everybody who voted and helped spread the word. This community continues to work together in amazing ways.

Ashoka will award us $5,000, which we will use to fund further development of the FreedomBox. One of our goals is raising awareness of the need for privacy-respecting technology, and participating in the competition allowed us to present the FreedomBox to a lot of people who had never heard of it before. On that basis alone, this competition was worthwhile for the FreedomBox.

Congratulations to all the other winners and finalists. Ashoka spotlighted many good projects working toward freedom and open access to communications technology. FreedomBox will surely cross paths with those projects again.

Posted Tue Nov 29 15:07:02 2011

Vote for FreedomBox in Ashoka Changemaker's Competition

The FreedomBox has made it to the final round in Ashoka's Changemakers competition and now things will come down to a public vote! We already won the Early Entrant's prize when we first put in our application. And a strong showing in the voting would put the project in a strong position for a Fellowship that would fund significant project work. Please take a moment to [vote for us](! (Scroll all the way down.) Signup might be required, though they've assured me they won't spam you. If you're on Facebook, You can also [vote via your Facebook account](, which is easier, faster and fraught with privacy implications. And please spread the word. A few moments of help could mean a lot to moving this project forward.
Posted Mon Nov 14 19:09:50 2011

What Is A Distributed Social Network?

J David Eisenberg made an excellent comic introduction to distributed social networks. For anybody who isn't quite sure why the FreedomBox is important, that's a fun and non-technical way to explain it.

Posted Mon Nov 7 00:58:30 2011

Elevate and ContactCon

James Vasile attended Douglas Rushkoff's ContactCon to promote the FreedomBox. Thanks to Douglas Rushkoff and Venessa Miemis for inviting us to present and producing the event! My talk there was The FreedomBox in 4 Minutes. He didn't just go to talk, the FreedomBox project won a prize at ContactCon, too! We'll have a full announcement about that soon.

James headed straight from ContactCon to Austria's Elevate festival. While there, he hopped over to MAMA/Hacklab in Zagreb and also presented the FreedomBox in Ljubljana. Elevate was packed with great technology, media and arts events. Many thanks to Daniel Erlacher for the invitation and to Elevate for their donation to the FreedomBox Foundation. James's Elevate talk was called Freedom Out of the Box.

Posted Fri Nov 4 18:44:37 2011

FreedomBox at LinuxConf North America

FreedomBox Foundation's founder Eben Moglen and Tech Leader Bdale Garbee will be attending the next Linux Conference North America in Vancouver, Aug 17-19. This year's edition marks the 20th anniversary of Linux kernel, a major milestone for the community.

Bdale Garbee will speak on Wed Aug 17th at 3pm in Plaza B.

  • Freedom, Out of the Box! by Bdale Garbee
    a status update on the development of "FreedomBox", a personal server running a free software operating system and free applications, designed to create and preserve personal privacy by providing a secure platform upon which federated social networks can be constructed.

Prof. Eben Moglen will speak at the panel 20 years of Linux right after Bdale's speech and he will available also during other social events. Follow us on to get last minute announcements.

Posted Tue Aug 16 00:42:51 2011

IRC Chatlog 2011-08-15 15:00UTC

<vasile> Welcome, everybody, to the scheduled Q&A with Bdale Garbee and me. We're here for an hour to answer questions and discuss the FreedomBox. So pipe up with questions and we'll try to give the best answers we have.

<bdale> naif:

<vasile> I'll start with a question of my own for bdale: How are things going with the first release?

<vasile> Goldstein: I've asked Eben's external human memory storage (aka Ian Sullivan) and hope to have an answer for you shortly.

<reed> naif, and

<bdale> we're on the cusp of putting out a "developer image" for the DreamPlug that is a relatively simple Debian base image with essential build tools .. I had hoped to have it out by this morning but unfortunately day job and family reduced my available time the last few days

<naif> subscribed!

<vasile> Goldstein: @eben> It's a class of Comp Priv Const at Columbia on the death of the fourth amendment. Audio should be available at the CPC website. Ian is with me at the moment, but we can find it for you shortly.

<laziac> has the required u-boot code been merged upstream yet?

<bdale> the initial dev image can be installed and used with the factory-provided u-boot

<gbastien> bdale: will this image require specific hardware to run?

<bdale> the two features we "want" that aren't in that image are the ability to boot from an ext filesystem, so you have to maintain a small fat partition for the kernel .. and the ability to execute a script read from the filesystem so that we don't have to hard-code versioned filenames in the flash or maintain symlinks on the filesystem, but neither are immediate needs for dev work

<bdale> gbastien: the image in question is specifically for the Globalscale DreamPlug .. however, note that *any* Debian system can be used for development work other than assessing performance on a plug computer or working on hardware-specific enablement code

<vasile> bdale: You, Eben and I have talked about a first feature release. Any ideas on what that might look like and how we get from here to there?

<bdale> the plan is that we'll add additional software packages and configuration, re-spinning the install images as we add functionality

<bdale> there are three major areas I think we need to focus effort on soon

<bdale> the first is deciding on an approach for a configuration user interface .. we're more or less in concensus that the user interface should be a web ui, and we'd like to use as much of the existing Debian package configuration mechanics as we can on the bottom

<Knygar> bdale: Web UI and XMPP chat?

<bdale> the second is fleshing out the connections between openpgp keys and the identity and trust elements of the software we want to use .. starting with monkeysphere and growing out from there

<jdeisenberg> Will I be able to run the software on a normal desktop/netbook from a USB stick?

<bdale> the third is building a core XMPP stack .. as Knygar says, the likely starting place there is XMPP chat, though once we have a base in place, a fairly rich set of connectivity services open up quickly

<reed> jdeisenberg, with all software in FreedomBox packaged for Debian, I guess you will

<bdale> jdeisenberg: our focus to date has been on getting a reference implementation together for ARM-based plug servers, but turning that into an x86 virtualization image or a Debian Live cd/dvd/usbstick image featuring a similar package set wouldn't be hard for someone to do

<silver_hook> Is there a list (e.g. on a EtherPad or Wiki) of things that are to be decided upon?

<bdale> the work liw did on vmdebootstrap should be easy to fold into our freedom-maker tool, for example, to emit x86 virtualization images at the same time we emit dreamplug bits

<bdale> silver_hook: there's an evolving set of pages in the wiki, but I don't think there's anything so crisp as a "list of things to be decided upon" right now

<silver_hook> bdale: I was thinking more in lines of the agenda for today's meeting.

* silver_hook is now known as hook

<bdale> vasile: so back to your original question, I think the first 'feature release' will be the addition of an XMPP server and web-oriented XMPP chat client

<vasile> bdale: Excellent. And are you still leaning toward ejabberd?

<bdale> hook: oic, the plan for today's meeting was "town hall" style Q&A

* hook changes his nick ...much better now :]

<bdale> vasile: probably .. jonas was in the lead on that at Debconf, I don't see him on channel this morning, though

<hook> bdale: OK, got it :)

* HerraBRE is now known as BjarniRunar

<jdeisenberg> At the moment, I have a Sheevaplug; will the software work on that? and, in regards to the dreamplug, have the people who make it solved the overheating problem?

<laziac> is the dreamplug hardware completely supported by debian? i received mine last weekend and lots of stuff by default is done outside the package management system (firmware, custom kernel, etc.)

<bdale> vasile and I have talked about the idea that we should do this from time to time, just as another way to help folks know what we're thinking and working on, as sometimes chat like this is less stressful than trying to prepare "official announcements" and the like

<vasile> jdeisenberg: I can report tha tthe overheating has been solved.

<jdeisenberg> vasile: good to know; I am afraid to use my Sheevaplug because I don't want to burn my house down.

<bdale> jdeisenberg: I also have a Sheevaplug .. our bits should work fine, modulo choice of an adequately sized root filesystem device

<vasile> jdeisenberg: And the hardware is very much the same. Sullivan can speak to any minor differences, and he'll be in channel later. At any rate, I hope to test the image on a Sheeva at some point.

<BjarniRunar> bdale: I for one like this initiative, direct chat is nice. I also enjoyed the recording of your DebConf talk :)

<bdale> laziac: as I reported after our work at Debconf, we're now very close to having all the right stuff for the dreamplug upstreamed .. stock Debian doesn't quite cut it yet, you'll want a different kernel

<vasile> jdeisenberg: I've had a sheeva running continuously for months. It throws heat but no flames yet!

<Knygar> @bdale regarding chat -- we are working in XCCC for a concurrent chat "FBX edition" with voting system, should be cool, we are planning to release it for a next this kind of chat.. personally, i don't like IRC, at all

<bdale> BjarniRunar: thanks .. fwiw, I'll also be giving a FreedomBox talk at the Linux Foundation's LinuxCon event in Vancouver this Wed afternoon. I do not expect it to be recorded or streamed, however.

<Knygar> @bdale XMPP chat :)

<bdale> Knygar: sounds interesting .. I'm more likely to be found on irc than anywhere else right now, but that may change over time

<Knygar> @bdale it would be at least fun, i promise

<bdale> speaking of which, anyone here who has questions even when we're not holding a meeting like this should feel free to poke me about them here on this channel. I "lurk" here most of the time I'm at a keyboard, and I log the channel even when I'm not around.

<Knygar> @bdale for FNF i mean @all: are there any upcoming mega-infrastructure that would lead all the Freedom Networking projects? That may be compared with FSF, GNU etc.

<Knygar> ?

<vasile> bdale: Could you talk a little more about the config system? So far we have: A web layer on top, config scripts on the bottom (possibly dpkg pre/post scripts). What's in the middle? Where does the box store state? Is it in /etc as per usual or do you envision a separate db holding the user choices from the web layer?

<bdale> the biggest differences between the Sheeva and Dream plugs from our perspective are that the Dream has an internal 2gb microsd (can be replaced with a screwdriver for access) that we can use for the root filesystem, and it has two gigE ports

<bdale> my personal objective would be to keep the "database" layer as thin as possible

<bdale> I'm also not really interested in a huge+heavy web app

<dogstar> Can/will email be done via XMPP?

<bdale> to be brutally honest, this is an area I have not spent much time on yet

<vasile> bdale: The challenge in my mind will be to prevent bad states.

<hook> Knygar: You're asking for a foundation to lead the FreedomBox Foundtion?

<bdale> originally, I hoped we'd have a UI specialist on board who would help us define what the infrastructure requirements are

<bdale> more recently, it just hasn't made it to the top of my list yet

<vasile> bdale: Yes, we're still looking for that person.

<Knygar> @hook kind of

<hook> Knygar: Why?

<hook> (that's a serious question)

<Knygar> @hook it is more like coordinate

<imw> (hello all, sorry I'm late)

<hook> bdale: Have you asked the OpenUsability guys for help yet?


<Knygar> i'v thought FNF is kind of

<imw> whoa... what about the FNF?

<vasile> hook: No, I haven't. That's a good idea.

<vasile> Thanks.

<bdale> dogstar: to me, 'email' means smtp, et al .. however, vasile will attest that I've mentioned several times that to do something truly distributed and secure, we need to think more in terms of messaging other than smtp

<vasile> Agreed.

<Francois_April> what do you plan for a sync solution? From my point of view, dvcs-autosync (git) is the best for text files and webdav (or similar) for others (music, pictures...) [owncloud?]. I believe it is an important feature

<imw> yeah... xmpp can handle messaging

<imw> what about rsync?

<hook> vasile: Sure thing :)

<reed> bdale, API for the configuration would be good to have, so that the UI can be designed more freely

<Knygar> @hook @imw -- FNF to lead the industries coordination (freely, openly etc.) and software stacks.. ?

<BjarniRunar> Francois_April: keep in mind that the reference box won't really have any storage space, so anything that implies the FBX is storing lots of data problably is an addon of some sort.

<bdale> Francois_April: what do you mean by 'sync'?

<vasile> reed: Agreed.

<Knygar> @hook yes, very serious, are we mature enough to make something globally and non-profit

<Francois_April> bdale, something like "dropbox"

<fauno> are you planning on collaborate with other free networks that are already working around the world?

<Francois_April> BjarniRunar, I agree

<imw> @knygar FNF just wants to help people build their own infrastructure, and sees this as a vehicle

<Goldstein> appears to be fresh as of April 2006

<hook> Francois_April: There's ownCloud and SparkleShare.

<guillemin> Hi, new here. Do you think that freedombox can succeed without a physical device with it installed and with a big (so expensive) hard drive to stock personnal data ?

<reed> the network part is only one bit of the FreedomBox project... the idea is to collaborate with other projects that are already doing it, no need for FBX to replicate their work

<bdale> reed: I think a good step would be to try and flesh out a list of configuration elements that we think we'll need for the first service or three, which will let us get an idea of just how much infrastructure/api we really need

<vasile> fauno: Generally speaking, yes. Do you have a specific one in mind?

<Knygar> @imw good idea, since you list many projects and there would be more, progress, it is a nice variant i guess

<bdale> there was some work done at Debconf on this, but I wasn't in the middle of it

<hook> Knygar: I still don't get why you're already having a foundation and would like another one....

<hook> Could you clarify that please?

<Francois_April> hook, SparkleShare is in mono and not enough stable from my point of view

<hook> ...then maybe I can get an idea.

<reed> hook, the FreedomBox Foundation already exists

<vasile> guillemin: I'm afraid I don't quite understand your question. Could you rephrase or expand on it?

<Knygar> @hook FBX is working on FBX's but there are FreedomNodes etc.

<hook> reed: I know, that's what confuses me...

<imw> is Jonas here?

<fauno> vasile: well, i belong to one in buenos aires. there's also a coordination group of latinamerican free networks...

<joncamfield> why not just a decent rsync setup for syncing?

<hook> Francois_April: Good point. OwnCloud sounds promising though.

<Knygar> @hook all is very big and custom projects, even so they may use FBX as a base

<vasile> fauno: If Debian can talk to it, then so can the FreedomBox.

<imw> fauno: redeslibres is great

>hook< knygar is probably talking about another foundation that he's working on or something, the freedom network foundation

<imw> fauno:plus funkfeuer and freifunk

<Knygar> @hook it is not an hierarchy question for me, it is coordination

<hook> Knygar: Oooooh, so a wider foundation then the Freedombox Foundation. OK, I get it now.

<Knygar> @hook FBX doesn't have enough people and probably won't have as far as the goal is FBX's for example

<imw> @hook @knygar yeah, FNF fills that role a bit, but the FNF is basically just me an Charles Wyble, for the moment

<Francois_April> hook, yes. However, owncloud could not handle automatic syncs and offline usage. dvcs-autosync could but a nice GUI is missing

<bdale> Knygar: my take on this is that coordination is best handled by talking about protocols and software .. coordination above that level is great talk over beer, but doesn't get any work done

<jdeisenberg> imw: I saw that Wyble was going to release freedomnode a few days ago; has that happened?

<Knygar> @imw who cares :) the basic need is for coordination and since you could help in it and actually - helping, that is what i mean

<reed> bdale, you mentioned buddycloud on your report from DebConf: what's the status of their development? did anybody contact them?

<bdale> jdeisenberg: not that I'm aware of

<hook> Francois_April: If that's so, you could file a wish "bug" to the ownCloud. That's the best idea I have right now (that has a GUI)

<bdale> reed: I haven't (yet)

<imw> @jdeisenberg nah. he's hard at work though.

<Francois_April> hook, OK. i'll do

<bdale> my impression is that jonas was sitting with some of them at CCC last week, though

<fiftyfour> bdale, My mom only uses email. Has email been ruled out as an FBX app?

<Knygar> "OwnCloud sounds promising though" +1

<guillemin> vasile: sorry, I wanted to ask if you think freedombox can provide an alternative to cloud apps without requiring a big hard driver to record heavy personal data (photos, videos) and without being distributed in dedicated devices.

<imw> reed: I talked with the buddycloud folks at CCC

<Knygar> bdale: yes, BTW, there are possibly popular BrowserID that relies on mailing

<bdale> imw: right .. anything interesting to report?

<imw> fiftyfour: email could be integrated through forward, to make the transition to a new messaging protocol such as xmpp

<hook> Has anyone signed up already to provide pre-installed FBX's=

<hook> ?

<hook> (FBX = FreedomBox, right?)

<Knygar> bdale: it would be very nice if email would be a basic service of FBX's

<reed> Knygar, that should be easy to do. Do you volunteer to do that?

<imw> bdale: yeah, he's got everything that's in his 'data ownership stack' deployed on a redhat machine

<Knygar> @imw brave idea

<fauno> imw, vasile: there are this regional conferences down here, there's so much interest that three were organized in less than a year... maybe you're interested on participating in the next one?

<Knygar> @hook yes

<vasile> guillemin: Obviously we need storage for heavy files. That's going to be either local or somewhere "in the cloud". Maybe that's a friend's box or maybe that's a third praty hosted solution protected with encryption.

<fiftyfour> hook , Yes FBX = Freedombox

<imw> badle: that's as far as I know, but I talked to him briefly yesterday, and he said that he'd made progress before we cut out

<reed> fauno, where is 'down here'?

<Goldstein> Knygar: you address ppl like so on irc

<Knygar> @imw that is for XMPP

<vasile> fauno: Ping me after this chat and we can talk about it. I have limited travel, but I'm always willing to see if I can make it work.

<fauno> reed: south americe

<fiftyfour> imw, what is forward?

<bdale> imw: any interesting news from the buddycloud folks?

<Knygar> Goldstein: that is why i don't like it:))

<fauno> vasile: ok, the date is yet to be confirmed :)

<hook> As for distributed encrypted storage (e.g. for backups) this is something the ownCloud guys are trying to implement.

<fauno> reed: south america*

<imw> fiftyfour: meant to say forwarding, for which there are various methods

<vasile> fauno: Fair enough. You can email me when you have specifics.

<dogstar> vasile: What is the state of funding for the foundation?

<bdale> fauno: I plan to be in Brazil for the LF Linuxcon event later this year, it would be interesting if some other meeting(s) might line up on the schedule around then

<Knygar> @hook and Tahoe and Camlistore and etc. in various degree

<jdeisenberg> imw: also interested in knowing status of buddycloud

* hook is not affiliated with ownCloud, he just follows a bit of stuff and many topics here were relevant to those solutions

<Goldstein> Ugh

<Goldstein> ok, /ignore time

<fauno> bdale: that's good, we have even more limited traveling, but there's a group forming in brazil

<hook> Knygar: Right, but without a webGUI and direct desktop access AFAIK.

<guillemin> vasile: thanks for clarification.

<Knygar> Goldstein: i'm sorry, strong habit, i didn't want to ignore your opinion

<Francois_April> When do you think you will need non-developpers but quite experienced users? Specific tasks in mind?

<imw> fauno: bdale: vasile: so folks at CCC asked me to come down to Brasil to talk about the FNF as well, not sure the timing, might be the same event

<vasile> dogstar: That's a good question. We have our original kickstarter funding, and about five thousand in paypal donations since then. Of that, we have about 60K left, after fees, dream plugs, paying stefano, some printing costs (stickers, flyers, etc.). We are talking to some potential donors and making foundatio nappeals.

<vasile> guillemin: My pleasure.

<fiftyfour> imw, will FBX forward the email for me or is it some other service

<Knygar> @hook yes, but they evolve , maybe WebDAV

<bdale> imw: I'm failing to decode "FNF" .. help me out, please?

<Knygar> :hook at least

<BjarniRunar> bdale: Free Network Foundation, I think.

<imw> fiftyfour: your fbx could fetch your messages from your old mailserver

<imw> bdale: Free Network Foundation, sorry bout that

<imw> can we all talk about identity management, or did I miss that part?

<Knygar> :vasile are there another platforms, besides Changemakers?

<hook> Having migrators on the FBX IMHO should be a must.

<Knygar> :vasile planned

<bdale> fiftyfour: configuring an smtp+imap email service could be done in lots of ways, none of which directly align with or promote many of the desired attributes of a freedombox. so, exactly what additional value we can or should add to the email experience of a given user is a topic where I think some research and discussion would be good

<imw> knygar: the colon goes at the end, silly

<Knygar> :hook +1

<vasile> Knygar: I'm currently finishing up an proposal.

<Knygar> :hook for migrators

<hook> If we really want people to easily switch, they need to have a simple "Migrate from FaceBook" button.

<imw> bdale: totally agree re:mail

<hook> and s/FaceBook/any_cloud_service

<reed> Knygar, do you know other foundations or groups that may be able to sponsor FBX development? send us a list

<vasile> hook: That's an excellent suggestion. We'd need to have the identity management layer done first, but it's a great idea.

<Knygar> :bdale +1 for research

<laziac> hook: could be useful for that

<hook> ...which would pull all their data, (optionally) delete it there *and* inform their contacts that the person migrated to his own free solution and how they can a) contact him/her now; and b) how they can free themselves as well.

<vasile> Goldstein: I'm told that audio of the speech you seek exists but is in a queue to be processed and won't be ready any time soon.

<Knygar> :bdale i have even proposed Mozilla to make a secure hosting or kind.. for a next betafarm of community .. that is a very important task, i think

<vasile> hook: sounds like a hackfest idea

<hook> laziac: I was just thinking about suggesting that as one of the tools ;)

<bdale> it's also interesting to note that while I, and Eben, and many of our parent's generation live and die by email, it seems to be a much lower priority communications mechanism for most people these days .. [shrug]

<Knygar> bdale: so many years and not a one serious floss web-mail package, am i wrong?

<imw> hook: nice idea

<vasile> bdale: I think it's still high priority in the workplace, even for people who don't use it much personally.

<reed> bdale, agreed, email can be bad

<BjarniRunar> One thing that the FBX could do for e-mail would be to opportunistically encrypt/decrypt mail when GPG keys are available for the recipient. This would be in line with the project's goals.

<hook> Does FBX already have a groupware solution?

<fauno> BjarniRunar: gnu anubis can do that iirc

<hook> That'd be a must for NGOs, civil groups etc.

<reed> vasile, only because of legacy ... but this is off topic :)

<Knygar> :bdale as i say - BrowserID is likely to make it important

<imw> bjarnirunar: keys should be present by default on the box, imho

<hook> Maybe Kolab + Roundcube ( we're working on making that a reality)

<imw> hook: what do you mean by groupware?

<Knygar> :bdale also - registrations with necessary mail would be here for years, i'm afraid

<reed> hook, great job! not sure it fits the FBX needs, but good nonetheless

<bdale> BjarniRunar: it depends on what problem you're trying to solve .. smtp daemons can choose to opportunistically encrypt content in flight, but if the point of encryption is personal privacy, that's much better handled in the email client

<imw> we need to talk about naming, as well

<hook> imw: E-mail. Calendar, ToDos, Notes server (via IMAP in Kolab's case), etc. that can be shared between users, made public, you can delegate tasks etc.

<Knygar> hook: maybe

<imw> did folks get the e-mail i sent this morning?

<joncamfield> Beyond the tech, how will FBX really get the scale it needs for security and the mesh level networking?

<BjarniRunar> bdale: of course, but most of the things the FBX is supposed to help with would actually be better done in the client :)

<Knygar> imw: yes

<imw> hook: that seems outside of the initial spec, to me, but would be good later

<imw> I think we should focus on core functionality, for now

<bdale> imw: yes .. I'm not ignoring you. as I mentioned earlier, working out how we get from openpgp keys to useful identity and trust elements for configuring and using apps is a high priority for me

<hook> imw, reed: It depends on what FBX is there for. If it's to empower groups like NGOs and civil initiatives as well, then it's a must.

<imw> bdale: cool. sorry I missed the beginning of the chat.

<guillemin> There is already some work done on desktop to import data from clouds (facebook for example). Some desktops (gnome for example) or mobile phones already provide a way to get contacts, chat etc. from cloud. May be the user should not ask freedombox to import facebook data. Rather the user connect his device to freedombox and freedombox gather information from configured online services.

<vasile> joncamfield: Scaling mesh is hard. Interlinking them is hard too. My hope is that the dedicated mesh projects keep making progress. Right now, though, there are meshes running at the level of 5000 nodes, which is pretty good.

<imw> bdale: there seems to be a critical interplay between naming and identity management

* hook should be working on that blasted BSD question :\

<reed> hook, afaik FBX is more of a personal device, at least in its current incarnation

<bdale> a good shared calendar service is highly desired, but it seems far enough from ready that I'm thinking of writing it up as a challenge in my blog

<Knygar> imw: interplay, yes

<imw> vasile: the key is not to scale, but to federate

<Seniorexpat> Is anyone else besides me and Jonas coming to Brussels for this?

<Knygar> imw: and between social networking

<imw> vasile: 2.4 for the home, 5ghz for the neighborhood, 3650mhz for the region could work

<vasile> imw: Yes, I include federation in the term scale, perhaps inappropriately. That's what I mean by interlinking them.

<hook> bdale: I'm pretty happy with how Kolab works (at least from the end-user perspective).

<imw> vasile: gotcha. well, it's especially hard when everything at the top of the stack is still centralized, and the mesh is being used to hop to a gateway

<Knygar> imw: what is the worst frequency for human beings, environment - among these?

<hook> bdale: But that might be a bit bloated if you only need it for the calendar

<imw> vasile: but as soon as you introduce decentralized services, it takes a load off, because local traffic stays local

<imw> knygar: it's really only bad for you if you hold it 2mm from your brain

<Knygar> imw: or from other parts..

<imw> knygar: delivered energy is an inverse square to distance,

<bdale> I've been looking at radicale .. going from that to a useful fbx service isn't trivial, though, I think

<vasile> imw: Yes, eliminating some of the roundtrip would reduce the hops. I wonder how big the gain would be.

<imw> bdale: whats radicale?

<imw> vasile: a topic for research, certainly

<vasile> imw:

<bdale> a simple calendar server using caldav

<imw> i love this!

<vasile> imw: Certainly.

<imw> bdale: thanks

<bdale> the idea of individuals having calendars and deciding what portion of them to be able to share is a good basis

<hook> vasile: Radicale seems cute'n'nifty :]

<vasile> Everybody: this chat has been scrolling fast. If you tried to say something and it was missed, please try again.

<vasile> We are at the close of our scheduled hour, so get those questions in. Bdale and I will be lurking, but I like the intensity of having people focused on things all at once.

<hook> Is there a (preferably distributed) search engine planned as well?

<Seniorexpat> Is anyone else besides me and Jonas coming to Brussels for this?

<imw> vasile: I think the chokepoint project might have some info on how much traffic is actually local traffic, but if not we need to get it

<hook> e.g. Seeks seems promising and YaCy is also an option.

<vasile> hook: in all our meetings, we've never seriously considered including search. In fact, we've explicitly excluded it a few time, at least when sketching assumptions.

<imw> vasile: why is that?

<bdale> hook: depends on what you want to search .. I don't have any thoughts about "google on fbx", or anything like that .. but at the other end of the continuum xapian and things that use it like notmuch rock my world

<fiftyfour> Is email excluded?

<bdale> Seniorexpat: I'm not, can't speak for others

<vasile> I'm not saying it can't happen, just that in the constellation of possibilities, I wouldn't consider it the bright star by which we steer this ship.

<imw> seniorexpat: i'd love to, but I can't

<hook> vasile, bdale: That's too bad, but I can see why.

<reed> hook, look at the archives of the list, the problems IIRC are storage needs and processing power

<gbastien> So when (or how) can we start actually playing with the FBX software stack to see what is or should be in it?

<imw> hook: I'll fight to have search included, I think it's important

<bdale> hook: the idea that we may want some search-like location finding mechanism seems reasonable, but I currently think that's more in line with application-level functionality, like some of what the buddycloud folks and other groups like that are working on than a totally generic "searc"

<vasile> hook: Search is expensive.

<imw> gbastien: we've got to build it before we can play with it

<vasile> imw: If you build it and it can fit, there's always a chance.

<imw> bdale: vasile: do y'all have dreamplug lying around?

<imw> *dreamplugs

<vasile> imw: We have dreamplugs, yes. And more on order.

<hook> imw: Hehe, I'd love one too ;)

<bdale> gbastien: the best starting point today is to grab some hardware that can run Debian, and start playing with the daemons mentioned in and/or here

<imw> vasile: is there any chance that I (or others) could come play with them, or that you could distributed them?

<fiftyfour> bdale, is Email excluded?

<reed> hook, and around that

<imw> vasile: also, does the foundation have an office where I can come bug you/ give you a high five?

<hook> reed: Thanks :)

<imw> *distribute

<BjarniRunar> Search is not just expensive, it is a problem which is not trivially distributable. You can have distributed search, but the quality will be abysmal compared with what the Googles can do. It is a theoretically hard problem which benefits dramatically from centralization.

<vasile> imw: I, Eben, Ian Sullivan and Clint Adams all work our of SFLC's office in New York City.

<hook> I would ask, would there be GNU/Hurd variation as well, but I already know the answer ;)

<gbastien> bdale: Thanks, I've been following the project for a while now but can't see how I can fit in, as a software developer

<bdale> fiftyfour: I'm not sure what 'excluded' means, exactly .. I do not personally have any plans to work on an smtp+imap config for our reference implementation, but if you or someone else have a solid proposal, I'm happy to hear it

<vasile> imw: You're welcome any time you're in town.

<imw> vasile: cool. =)

<hook> ...I'd still love to see it one day. I think Hurd's might be more suited for such stuff.

<bdale> I work from a home office in the woods in Colorado .. easiest to find me at a conference sometime, I suspect

<vasile> As for getting a dream plug, I imagine we'll be selling some. And if you're doing serious work on the hardware, we can work something out too.

<imw> bjarnirunar: true. we've got to get work.

<bdale> hook: if/when Debian actually releases a hurd variant .. ;-)

<vasile> bdale: When I imagine somebody showing up at your place unannounced, I picture them riding an ATV and wearing snow shoes.

<imw> bdale: swell

<hook> bdale: AFAIK it will in the next release. But the bigger problem is that Hurd is not yet ported to ARM :P

<BjarniRunar> imw: Well, when I say 'hard problem', I mean that it may be impossible in practical terms to get anywhere close to what one would consider acceptable quality. It's not just about elbow grease. :-)

<laziac> i think more than anything this project needs focus. we need a list of critical features and we need to be able to tell people with other ideas to come back when those critical features are done. it would also make it easier to know the best way to contribute, since for me it's been very unclear how i can help. thoughts?

<Goldstein> Does the FreedomBox Community have recommended software alternatives to Twitter and Facebook?

<imw> bjarnirunar: I know. It was a bit tounge-in-cheek. we need uncrackable encryption, too.

<bdale> when it was new, I thought the Hurd was pretty cool .. I have to admit that I haven't been able to stir up much excitement in myself about whether it makes it into Debian Wheezy or not...

<vasile> laziac: I agree. We're inching our way toward that.

<reed> Goldstein, statusNet is a good start

<BjarniRunar> imw: ok :) Uncrackable encryption is easy though, just throw away the keys. ;)

<imw> bjarnirunar: =)

<bdale> laziac: I'm happy to see other people (you?) add things to the wiki pages, including lists of unanswered questions that need attention

<Goldstein> I'd probably recommend giving GnuSocial a look

<bing> gnu social is based on statusnet, no?

<fauno> bing: yes

<imw> have people considered the overlap between fbx and the torouter project

<Goldstein> Dunno

<vasile> imw: Yes

<imw> I was talking to ioerror, and he seems to basically consider them the same deal

<reed> look at statusnet 1.0, very different from previous versions

<BjarniRunar> imw: Jacob Applebaum is on the TAC, he's one of the drivers of the torouter project IIRC.

<imw> right, that's sort of my concern

<bdale> right now, we're all volunteers, and so as is always true in this context, we work on the things that interest us the most and where we see how to make some forward progress .. more help, whether on the technical bits, or how to find some large donors so that we can hire people to work on the bits that aren't very fun, would be great!

<BjarniRunar> (Jacob == ioerror, for those who don't know)

<Goldstein> And StatusNet is a FB replacement, yes?

<imw> do people see the box including tor by default?

<imw> I think it should do encryption by default, but not anonymization

<reed> Goldstein, nothing can replace facebook, with its 700Million users... statustnet has some of its features though

<Goldstein> or both?

<BjarniRunar> imw: For a certain set of problems, routing around censorship or filters becomes the same problem as anonymization.

<imw> and possible include the facilities for anonymization, if a user wants to start an anonymous session, but that should be very clearly defined

<vasile> imw: I see this box as capable of anonymity, but not necessarily running all your traffic through tor by default.

<imw> vasile: cool. exactly.

<Knygar> excuse me - tor problems.. are there a logs of this chat>?

<Goldstein> reed: Well I disagree, but I think that does answer my immediate question :D

<imw> haha

<vasile> imw: But by the time we get where we are going, who knows what the state of Tor will be?

<imw> vasile: true. things have been improving rapidly.

<vasile> yep.

<reed> Knygar, we'll publish the logs later today

<Knygar> reed: thank you

<bdale> I think it highly likely that an fbx reference implementation will include tor packages. it's not yet entirely clear to me how much of the functionality is turned on by default, etc

<imw> this all leads back to persistent names

<vasile> right

<Knygar> bdale: and voting

<imw> I don't think we should expect folks to maintain a dns record

<Knygar> voting for tor or not, i mean..)

<imw> the interplay between naming, identity, authentication and social is at the heart of the backend, if you ask me

<Knygar> imw: oh, maybe ExpertBox's?

<vasile> imw: Yes, that's the FreedomStack

<Knygar> imw: +1

<ioerror> .onions are perfect for an easy to use name that cannot be censored easily, has no overhead for the user, etc

<bdale> imw: agreed

<imw> ioerror: but you've got to be running tor

<ioerror> yep

<ioerror> as a *client*

<BjarniRunar> ioerror: User unfriendliness of md5sumnames is overhead :)

<fauno> imw: mdns can do name resolution without a dns server, but it seems the performance is awful on medium sized networks :s

<Knygar> tor as a node would be reasonable

<reed> I believe that we marked the hour allocated to the meeting, some of us may need to go to work :)

<Knygar> in that case

<bdale> dkg's talk from Debconf has good material on this topic area for those who haven't listened to it yet

<imw> ioerror: sure, but you've still got to be running it

<ioerror> BjarniRunar:'s_triangle

<vasile> OK, friends, that was our hour. Bdale, any final thoughts?

<BjarniRunar> ioerror: I know :)

<joncamfield> Some of this is very reminiscent of Freenet's distributed architecture, has any of that code or thoughtwork been incorporated?

<imw> ioerror: that means that for anyone to access a service hosted on a fbx, they would have to run tor or navigate to a tor-to-web site that was set up, no?

<ioerror> imw: and how does any other solution solve this problkem?

<ioerror> imw: no

<imw> ioerror: I'm suggesting that it's not a solved problem

<reed> BTW, all the talks of DebConf that are somewhat related to FreedomBox are linked from

<joncamfield> (sorry, was also in multiple overlapping twisty meetings, all different)

<ioerror> imw: i do not think anyone has proposed a protocol for interacting with names

<ioerror> imw: i am suggesting that the naming system is however complete with .onions

<bdale> great to see the interest/enthusiasm here .. I sincerely home that some of it translates into contributions to the wiki content, and/or more specific proposals of software and configuration that we should consider for fbx .. as much as I love "just talking about things", we need to focus as much energy as we can on protocols and bits to make real progress

<bdale> s/home/hope

<guillemin> Is there a place to share links about design (relevant Art), discuss purpose etc ?

<Knygar> bdale: vasile: final question - when there would be Working Groups and how they would be..

<vasile> My final thought: THANKS to everybody for participating. We'll do it again soon. I am, once again, impressed by this community's expertise and dedication to freedom.

Posted Mon Aug 15 18:36:04 2011

FreedomBox IRC meeting on Aug 15

FreedomBox Foundation will host a one hour meeting on IRC with executive director James Vasile and tech leader Bdale Garbee on August 15th.

You'll be able to ask questions about the advancement of the project, the challenges it is facing and the opportunities that are being tapped.

Join the channel #freedombox on OFTC network on Monday the 15th at 9AM UTC-6. If you're not familiar with IRC you can use this web-based IRC client.

Update: read the log of the conversation here.

Posted Fri Aug 12 16:36:32 2011

FreedomBox Update After DebConf

Many hackers involved in FreedomBox had the chance to meet in Banja Luka at DebConf11. Bdale Garbee gave a speech highlighting the status of the development. The full recording of the session is available on Debian's site. If you already know the basic of FreedomBox project, skip to minute 33 to hear the latest development and the next steps.

Posted Fri Aug 5 00:31:54 2011

Interesting talks for FreedomBox at DebConf

There are going to be lots of interesting occasions to learn about FreedomBox and start hacking on the system during Debian's DebConf 2011, starting officially on July 24th.

We have selected a few talks related directly or indirectly to FreedomBox from the full agenda:

All the talks will be streamed live and there will always be an IRC channel live to ask questions to the speakers. Stay tuned for more details, follow @freedomboxfndn on

Posted Thu Jul 21 23:00:16 2011

FreedomBox Update

A lot of people have been asking for an update, which is a good indication that we need to update folks more often.

Bdale Garbee will be at DebConf11. He and Clint Adams will be running a hackfest. If you are going to be there (a lot of FreedomBoxers are also Debian devs), please track him down and ask him any question you have about the box. His answers will be thoughtful and perhaps surprising.

I will be at ContactCon. If you are going, please let me know so we can connect!

I'm told the smart phone high five has been the subject of some fevered hacking. Stefano Maffulli organized hacking on that in small community events and it is starting to produce useful work. Now to get that code in to a gittable place!

The need for a roadmap is clear. Everywhere I go people want a framework into which they can start putting their work. The TAC is pondering that and I hope we will have it shortly. In the short term, Bdale and the TAC are working on a build release. This will be a basic build system on top of which we can start putting packages. It will give us all a common reference point to hack from.

The mailing list is a hotbed of development discussion. Jonas Smedegaard is a one-man packaging machine (I hear he'll be at DebConf too!), and that's a huge step. Others projects, like PageKite are building pieces that we hope can be integrated into FreedomBox soon. Debian-style development is chaotic. There are too many ideas to take them all, but before this is through, I think we'll have considered every possible combination of software. I hope that shortly some of those discussions will result in meta-packages that configure combinations of software to work nicely together.

Speaking of configuration, we are thinking hard about a configuration process and model. With the many possible package configurations, each with its own method of storing configuration and state, handling conflicts (as well as expert-user tweaks made outside the normal interface) will be difficult. We have some design ideas for that structure, but I sense this is an area where we will adopt somebody else's design rather than invent anything new.

Administratively, we've assembled the Foundation pieces. We have a board. Yesterday, the board converted me from a presumptuous volunteer into the executive director. I don't think that changes what I will do except it allows me to do more of it and I can feel a little more comfortable making statements about what the Foundation is up to.

We have done a lot of work with Marvell and Global Scale. Helping the box manufacturers streamline license compliance is a big task, but we've been making real progress. Clint identified some parts of the Dream Plug that didn't build properly or for which the true source wasn't available. After some dialog with upstream, we're getting all that source. The next step is helping upstream publish that code in a routine way.

Stefano and I have been searching for UX and human interface designers who might help us with one of the most difficult parts of this project. Eben Moglen, Ian Sullivan, Bdale and I have had many phone conversations about how the user configures the box. We agree it needs as few buttons as possible. We agree it needs sane defaults as well as expert modes. We agree it listens on port 80 but also talks to your phone. Beyond that, we agree we need expert help.

We have had offers of help from hacker spaces in California and Texas! We would like to connect with as many hacker spaces as possible. Stefano and I are trying to make a hackfest-in-a-box kit and hack spaces are the perfect place to deploy those kits. If you are involved in a hack space and can pull some awesome geeks together for a night of fun, I want to talk to you.

Finally, I have ordered stickers and t-shirts so we will finally get those to our Kickstarter funders. And now that we know we can distribute GPL-compliant boxes we can get those out too!

That's the update. More soon.

Best regards, James Vasile

Posted Wed Jul 13 00:46:27 2011

Scholar and Internet Guru Yochai Benkler Joins FreedomBox Board

FreedomBox Foundation is pleased to announce the latest addition to its Board of Directors, Harvard University law professor Yochai Benkler. The notable scholar and social scientist is the author of the influential works Coase's Penguin and The Wealth of Networks, as well as his newest book, The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs over Self-Interest.

"We're excited to have Yochai on board. He will provide insight into the most important challenge of the FreedomBox, that is, understanding how this technology can fit seamlessly into the daily lives of people," said Eben Moglen, president of the foundation.

FreedomBox Foundation is a non-profit project with the mission of developing a network device and open source software that protects privacy, anonymity and security on the Internet, a cause to which Benkler is personally and professionally dedicated. "The FreedomBox will change the way people talk to each other on the Internet," he said. "We are giving people control over their digital lives by protecting these basic human rights." The long-range goal of the project is to make "Freedom Boxes" available to the average consumer.

Benkler is the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard, and co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Since the 1990s, he has enlightened the world about innovation and collaboration in the digital commons as well as information production and freedom in the networked economy and society.

Benkler's forward-thinking books and other socially-engaged works have earned him many awards, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Pioneer Award, the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award, the Public Knowledge's IP3 Award and the Donald McGannon Award for Social and Ethical Relevance in Communications Policy Research. The Financial Times has cited his work as "perhaps the best work yet about the fast moving, enthusiast-driven Internet."

Benkler joins a growing board of well-respected free and open source software veterans, which boasts the help of former Debian Project Leader Bdale Garbee in addition to Moglen, founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center. Board members, all volunteers, play an active role in technical development, administration and fundraising. Benkler has advised a range of national and international communications and intellectual property regulators and policy makers, and his work can be freely accessed at

FreedomBox Foundation was started by Moglen and staff from the Software Freedom Law Center as an organizational home for the various community development efforts that are already building freedom box systems. "Freedom boxes, smart devices whose engineered purpose is to work together to facilitate free communication among people safely and securely beyond the ambition of the strongest power to penetrate, can make freedom of thought and information a permanent, ineradicable feature of the net that holds our souls," said Moglen.

Press Details

Source: FreedomBox Foundation

For immediate release
July 5, 2011
Contact: James Vasile, 212-461-1906,

Posted Thu Jul 7 16:14:37 2011

Eben Moglen video at Internet Evolution

While at Personal Democracy Forum last week, Eben was interviewed by Nicole Ferraro of Internet Evolution. The first part of that video, focusing on defining what the FreedomBox is, has now been put online here: Internet Evolution.

Further videos still to come next week.

Posted Fri Jun 10 21:15:19 2011

Introducing the Technical Advisory Committee

As the community continues to push the FreedomBox from idea towards reality, it is time to expand our technical leadership team. We are happy to announce the formation of a technical advisory committee to help coordinate and guide the development efforts of this project. This advisory committee is already underway, with an initial membership of industry leaders including:

  • Bdale Garbee, Open Source & Linux Chief Technologist at Hewlett-Packard,

  • Jacob Appelbaum from the Tor project,

  • Sam Hartman, former Chief Technologist at the MIT Kerberos Consortium and IETF Security Area Director,

  • Sascha Meinrath, Director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative,

  • Rob Savoye, long-time GNU hacker, Gnash lead developer, and winner of the 2010 award for the Advancement of Free Software

  • Matt Zimmerman, former Canonical CTO

We'll be hearing more from the TAC over the coming weeks and months. Anyone interested in following the activity of the advisory committee as it happens is welcome to check out the public archives of their email list at (the list is for TAC members, so please do not attempt to subscribe). If you want to talk to the TAC in real time, they can be found in #freedombox-tac on

Posted Wed May 25 21:49:52 2011

How We're Going To Do This

I want to thank all the generous and dedicated contributors who made our Kickstarter "0 to 60 in 30 days" campaign a resounding success. More than 1,000 contributors took us from 0 to almost 90 in those 30 days, and we are grateful to each of your for your support. We will do our best to justify your confidence.

Your donations will allow us to begin to coordinate contributions by volunteers from every corner of the Free World. Together, we will work to make our shared vision a reality.

Ours is a large undertaking with many moving parts. We at the FreedomBox Foundation are here to help communicate, facilitate, and spread the FreedomBox project around the world. We plan to administer the effort based on four organizational pillars:

  1. Functional software development and integration;
  2. User experience design, implementation and integration;
  3. Communications and fund-raising; and
  4. Industry relations

Each of these pillars will be led by an advisory committee, with all activities coordinated by a small full-time staff at the FreedomBox Foundation.

Advisory Committee membership will evolve, as developers and others who commit themselves heavily to the project step up. Initial nominations reflecting early commitments by leaders in our community will be announced shortly. Bdale and I have begun contacting initial members of the Technical Advisory Committee that Bdale will chair. Once assembled, that Committee's first activity will be to lead the public development of an initial road-map.

More announcements concerning process and schedule will appear here soon. In addition to our financial contributors, I want to thank also the wiki editors and mailing list writers who have contributed so many good ideas and so much positive energy to launch us on this adventure together.

Eben Moglen

Posted Fri Apr 1 22:18:58 2011

After Kickstarter

We've completed our Community Angel round of Kickstarter funding, and I want to thank everybody who donated, spread the word, evangelized and joined the discussion. It is amazing to see a worldwide community coalesce around supporting Freedom and developing this technology.

Current Activity and Plans

We are still searching for a community relations facilitator. We have a number of resumes and are starting to do some interviews. It's a slow process, and more great people apply every day.

We continue to seek further funding to fill out the rest of our budget.

We've started to brainstorm a roadmap at I took the results of that page and am boiling it down to essential project goals. That will be published for a round of community hacking, which will help us define exactly what this project intends to do within the broad mandate of FreedomBox possibilities.

Bdale Garbee is slowly enfolding the large amount of technical work ahead of us into his grasp. As the technical advisory committee gets up to steam and a roadmap coheres, we will start to make real progress.

I attended Libre Planet and spent a weekend waving the FreedomBox flag and inviting people to join our growing effort. It was a wonderful weekend. I encourage anybody attending conferences to do lightning talks about the project. There's a lot to talk about and the response will be terrific.

Our translation team is now over 50-strong and making short work of our existing media page. It has been a great deal of effort undertaken with grace and good humor. Thanks to all who have helped! If you want to join the fun, sign up to the translation list and introduce yourself.

We plan to form further teams around non-technical aspects of this project. These teams will manage documentation, user support, public outreach, conferences and the like.

T-Shirt Designs

One of the things we offered Kickstarter donors was a T-shirt. We are thus soliciting T-shirt designs. The theme of the shirt is Community Angels. It would be good to involve our logo, which was designed by Luka Marčetić.

The chosen design will be printed on t-shirts that we will give to donors. Of course, if your design is chosen, we will cover you in thanks and make sure you get a shirt too. I will also buy you a beer next time we meet.

Send designs in a free file format to before April 15. Vector graphics preferred.

Get Involved!

Thanks again to everybody involved and interested in this project! Your support is what makes this work. If you want a more interactive discussion than this announcement, sign up to our development list. or join us in #freedombox on

Best regards, James

Posted Thu Mar 24 17:20:39 2011

Libre Planet Followup

I attended Libre Planet in Boston this weekend with a goal of talking about the FreedomBox to anybody who would listen. I gave a lightning talk to let people know it exists and was deluged with interest afterwards in the hallway. As expected, the FSF crowd has a lot of great ideas, not just about how to implement the FreedomBox, but about how to organize a project of this scope.

Scores of people expressed interest in further volunteering. I hope to see them in IRC and the email discussion soon. Rob Savoy, in particular, is a fascinating individual who could teach us all a thing or two about development.

I made some headway in arranging for teleconference facilities for the FreedomBox Foundation. IRC is great, but we're going to need some group voice calls at various points. I've added to my todo list an item to make sure we can record calls so we have logs where appropriate.

I talked specifically to some old free software experts, the hard core hackers who have track records of pulling off ambitious projects. I believe I convinced some that this project is a place to put their energy and that we'll see them active soon.

I invited a woman to the project who has a long history of improving the communities she's in. She is over committed for the next several months, but I've scheduled a note to follow up with her.

I talked to several people who worked on OLPC or OpenMoko, other large projects with some commonalities with the FreedomBox. I received some interesting and frank views about what went right and what went wrong in those efforts. Some opinions are most worth passing on:

  • First, OLPC did not test its interface with end users early enough. I talked to multiple people who thought this should have been done sooner. FreedomBox should put the target end user into the design process early.

  • Second, OLPC had some incredibly ambitious requirements that spilled over from one part of the project to another. The requirement that the interface be usable by non-literate users drove a lot of the innovative design, but it made some tasks quite hard.

  • Third, OpenMoko folks spent a lot of time making a distribution-- packaging and recompiling all those Debian packages for their platform. It used a lot of resources and the repos were never complete. FreedomBox should not be a Debian-based distribution so much as a a Debian-based project that relies on a lot of already-existing packages.

Meshing is hard. Nobody I met knows anybody who is nailing mesh networks. I'm going to get all the mesh heads together soon for a real conversation to see if we can work towards a recommendation on the most promising avenue.

Michael Stone pointed me to Heilmeyer's Catechism. Those are some good questions.

Big thanks to Matt Lee at FSF for throwing a great conference. And to Deb Nicholson for hosting me and towing me around town. She has great ideas about how to include more people in FreedomBox.

Posted Mon Mar 21 01:53:03 2011

Open Source Veteran Bdale Garbee Joins FreedomBox Foundation Board

NEW YORK, March 10, 2011-- The FreedomBox Foundation, based here, today announced that Bdale Garbee has agreed to join the Foundation's board of directors and chair its technical advisory committee. In that role, he will coordinate development of the FreedomBox and its software.

Garbee is a longtime leader and developer in the free software community. He serves as Chief Technologist for Open Source and Linux at Hewlett Packard, is chairman of the Debian Technical Committee, and is President of Software in the Public Interest, the non-profit organization that provides fiscal sponsorship for the Debian GNU/Linux distribution and other projects. In 2002, he served as Debian Project Leader.

"Bdale has excelled as a developer and leader in the free software community. He is exactly the right person to guide the technical architecture of the FreedomBox," said Eben Moglen, director of the FreedomBox Foundation.

"I'm excited to work on this project with such an enthusiastic community," said Garbee. "In the long-term, this may prove to be most important thing I'm doing right now."

The Foundation's formation was announced in Brussels on February 4, and it is actively seeking funds; it recently raised more than $80,000 in less than fifteen days on Kickstarter.

About the FreedomBox Foundation

The FreedomBox project is a free software effort that will distribute computers that allow users to seize control of their privacy, anonymity and security in the face of government censorship, commercial tracking, and intrusive internet service providers.

Eben Moglen is Professor of Law at Columbia University Law School and the Founding Director of the FreedomBox Foundation, a new non-profit incorporated in Delaware. It is in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) status. Its mission is to support the creation and worldwide distribution of FreedomBoxes.

For further information, contact Ian Sullivan at or see

Posted Thu Mar 10 20:04:10 2011

The FreedomBox Foundation is just at the beginning of our efforts to collaborate with a worldwide community. We need to speak to everybody, everywhere, in their native language. That's why we're building translation into the project from the beginning.

Since most of our materials start out as video, the first step towards translation is transcription. If you speak English and want to help spread the message to a wider audience, please stop by the subtitle page to see what material needs transcription.

If you speak any other languages in addition to English, we need your help on our translation team. We are organizing language-based groups to collaborate on high quality translations of project materials, both the transcribed videos and the various web pages and news items on the foundation's site. If you are interested, please email or stop by the translate page for more details.

We'll provide mailing lists and other communication tools to help make collaboration as easy as possible but we can't do this without your help.

So email the FreedomBox Foundation at Tell us what languages you can help with. We'll put together teams.

Posted Wed Mar 9 16:48:16 2011

The FreedomBox Foundation is taking steps to put this project firmly on its feet. Step One is fostering the community conversation that will steer this project to success. Toward that end, we're hiring a community relations facilitator. Please make sure this ad reaches the right people.

The FreedomBox Foundation seeks a motivated, talented, freedom-obsessed individual to facilitate community and press relations for the FreedomBox project. Responsibilities will include coordinating public and press outreach, organizing project events, managing our social networking presences, and consistent messaging.

Prior experience in community relations, journalism, or PR is great, especially in the free software community. Previous experience with social media is strongly preferred and we encourage you to submit profile or other account names so we can see your previous work in the medium and your facility with the current tools. If the FreedomBox is the most important thing you want to be doing with your time right now, you are the person we want to talk to.

To maximize efficiency and financial resources, a successful candidate will work with (and be paid by) both the FreedomBox Foundation and the Software Freedom Law Center.

Please send resumes in an open file format (plain text preferred) to Salary will depend on experience and time commitment.

Posted Tue Mar 8 21:04:52 2011

We've launched a new FAQ with answers to the most common questions we've been fielding over the past week. If you have been wondering how the foundation fits into the larger Freedom Box project or what our immediate plans for the Kickstarter please check it out.

Posted Thu Feb 24 19:10:47 2011

I am excited to announce that our Kickstarter fund raising page "Push the FreedomBox Foundation from 0 to 60 in 30 days" has just hit $60,000 25 days early! The donation that pushed us over the edge came from Blaine Cook, the former lead architect for twitter, which is a nice vote of confidence, but we would like to take a moment and send our thanks out to all of the people who have helped contribute to this great drive, and encourage everyone else to take a look.

We have been honored by the level of support for the project and the interest expressed by people from communities around the world. There is a lot of work ahead and it is a great feeling to know how many people there are pushing along with us. On that point, keep your eyes here for more information about the project's organization and immediate plans. That and other FAQs should be up on the foundation's site later today.

Posted Tue Feb 22 16:09:43 2011

The process of getting from idea to an organization and from organization to living, breathing, functioning reality can be long and difficult. It has taken the foundation almost a full year to move from idea to organization and events around the world are making it clear we can't wait another year before getting freedom boxes off of the technical design board and into people's lives. So we're making a break for it and trying to get off the ground in one big push via Kickstarter.

We're calling it "Push the FreedomBox Foundation from 0 to 60 in 30 days" and we're asking for your help to do just that.

Eben has estimated that the work of pulling all the software components necessary for a freedom box together and building them into one system can be done with $500,000. We're not trying to raise all of that money here. We just need enough funds to get off the ground and to demonstrate the size and determination of our community. That is the best motivator for everyone involved with the project, and the kickstarter pledge rewards are pretty cool too, so please do check it out.

Posted Thu Feb 17 20:19:59 2011

Today has been a big day for press coverage of the foundation and a spreading awareness of our project. We started the day in the NY Times with a piece by Jim Dwyer (Decentralizing the Internet So Big Brother Can’t Find You). By afternoon there were also pieces in:

  • The Wall Street Journal (Freedom Box Needs A Good User Interface)
  • ZDNet (Freedom Box: Freeing the Internet one Server at a time)
  • techPresident (Egypt, Off Switches, and Internet Fragility)
  • The New York Observer (Debate: Will Americans Ever Own Their Own Servers?)
  • New Europe (Eben Moglen: A free world needs free software)
  • and even the ABA Journal (Law Prof Urges Work on ‘Freedom Box’ to Decentralize the Internet), a legal industry publication.

All these press pieces, and the many related twitter and posts, raise some great points about the work we have ahead. We hope to address many of these points over the coming weeks and months as we continue to build the foundation and expand our public activities. All of you who are interested, please stay tuned!

Posted Wed Feb 16 20:15:36 2011