News Archive

This page contains a complete archive of all the news items we have posted to this website.

You can also find all of these items in our RSS and Atom feeds.

Publishing a Report of the 2019 FreedomBox Summit

November 22nd, 2019

The FreedomBox Foundation is pleased to announce that we have published a report of our second annual FreedomBox Summit, which was held on Friday, November 15th, 2019 in New York City. The members of the FreedomBox core team — Sunil Mohan Adapa (Lead Developer), Joseph Nuthalapati (DevOps Engineer), and James Valleroy (Release Manager) — joined the Foundation’s staff for a full day of discussions about the project's future. Our report provides a summary of the Summit’s proceedings. You can download the full report here.

Eben Moglen, President of the FreedomBox Foundation, opened the 2019 Summit by commenting on the many meanings of the term “summit.” He observed one sense in which “summit” can be used to describe our gathering: the summit of a mountain is the best position from which to see the long view. Our objective, he said, was to make short-term decisions with a long view. In the ICT industry, companies are trying to oligopolize web services. Meanwhile, networks of activists and even the European Commission are trying to restore some equality to the internet by federating web services. FreedomBox, at this moment in history, has an opportunity to rise to the occasion.

At the 2018 Summit, we agreed that the project had so much breadth that it was time to improve what we already had. In the year since, we have kept our word and improved many of our features, like updating our user interface’s “Apps” page, improving the Backups module, and more. In addition, we also successfully patched several issues in time for the Debian Buster freeze and Buster’s subsequent release in July 2019, which has made the FreedomBox Buster release our most reliable release yet. The Buster release notably includes support for stable-backports, which enables the FreedomBox team to push feature updates to the stable branch on a biweekly basis. In April 2019, we launched a product with Olimex, fulfilling a long-held goal for the FreedomBox project. And in the summer after the product launch, the FreedomBox core team discussed, drafted, and ratified a code of conduct and a set of community governance principles for the first time since our project’s founding. 2019 was FreedomBox’s best year yet.

Now that the FreedomBox project has entered the product phase of its existence, expectations are higher. It is, therefore, more important than ever that our core team members operate as a cohesive unit. One of the chief goals of the inaugural Summit in 2018 was to unify the core team under a shared vision. At the 2019 Summit, discussions were noticeably more focused and linear than the previous year’s, which we took as a sign that we had achieved our goal of unifying the team. Unity is a precondition of collective action. And the Summit is our annual opportunity to create unity. This report represents our best efforts.

Thanks

Thanks to the three members of the core team for making the time to participate in the 2019 FreedomBox Summit: Sunil Mohan Adapa, Joseph Nuthalapati, and James Valleroy. Additional thanks to the members of the FreedomBox community who contributed items to our Summit's agenda and to those who participated in our virtual Q&A session during the Summit.

Summary of the FreedomBox Turns 10 Hackathon

November 19th, 2019

On Saturday, November 16th, the FreedomBox Foundation co-hosted a hackathon with the Software Freedom Law Center at Columbia Law School to commemorate the upcoming ten-year anniversary of the FreedomBox project's founding. The hackathon attracted 15 participants, who spent a Saturday learning the ins and outs of FreedomBox. Though more time was spent learning than hacking, we were thrilled to see so many newcomers excited about FreedomBox.

Summary of the Hackathon

The hackathon began with a morning discussion session for members of the FreedomBox community. In this session, participants discussed development plans, new ideas for the user interface, and personal wish-list items for FreedomBox. Mock-ups for user interface changes were drawn on a blackboard, alternative development ideas were debated, and some actionable plans emerged. The morning session succeeded in fostering productive discourse and giving everyone a voice.

After the morning session, Eben Moglen delivered a speech titled, "FreedomBox Turns Ten," in which he reflected on the past ten years of FreedomBox and its future. As our readers may know, the FreedomBox project was founded on February 5th, 2010, in a speech by Eben Moglen titled, "Freedom in the Cloud". The FreedomBox community continues to draw inspiration from Moglen's 2010 speech.

In Moglen's speech at the hackathon, he reflected on the original reasons for launching the FreedomBox project, what has happened since 2010, and where we must go next. Referring to the Pioneer Edition FreedomBox placed on top of the lectern in front of him, Moglen explained the role that FreedomBox plays in the machinery of social change:

“We need a lever and a place to stand, otherwise the whole Archimedean thing doesn’t work and we don’t change the world. So this [FreedomBox] is designed to be the fulcrum. It’s just a tool. And the abandonment of the unsafe ideas that ‘this isn’t really about me, and privacy is over’ — that’s the lever. We have to change people’s minds about that. I actually think the machinery is no more complicated than the world’s simplest machine: lever plus fulcrum plus the desire to move the earth. That’s sufficient. You only need a place to stand.”

Video of Eben Moglen's "FreedomBox Turns Ten" speech is available here:

After Moglen's speech, the installfest began. Participants were split into three groups and were taught how to install FreedomBox on a single-board computer. After installing FreedomBox, participants watched one of our developers demonstrate the first boot and initial setup process.

After the installfest, some participants stayed to learn how to set up their development environments and contribute code to FreedomBox. Thanks to the hackathon, we have already begun seeing new activity in GitLab.

Thanks

The hackathon succeeded in bringing people together and spreading knowledge about technology, privacy, and freedom. FreedomBox has always been powered by an "each one teach one" ethos, and the hackathon embodied that philosophy. The hackathon was, thus, a fitting way to end a successful year for the project. To everyone who attended the hackathon, we thank you for giving up a big part of your Saturday and listening to our ideas. To the FreedomBox core team members who helped organize and lead the hackathon, we thank you for making this event possible.

Running Your Own Hackathon

Do you want to run your own FreedomBox hackathon? If so, you might be interested in using our material as a blueprint. Below, please find links to each session's instructions:

Feel free to ask us for advice in the community section of our forum.

Announcing a Manual for New Developers

November 8th, 2019

We are pleased to announce a new resource for the FreedomBox community: a manual that teaches new developers how to contribute code to FreedomBox. The manual is available at https://docs.freedombox.org/. The inaugural edition of the manual includes a tutorial about how to develop apps for FreedomBox.

The FreedomBox server system is developed by a global community of volunteers, although a number of contributors are sponsored by their employers to work on FreedomBox. Because our development community is open, we regularly welcome new contributors into our team. But in the past, new developers have had some trouble learning how to contribute code to FreedomBox, making it harder for less experienced developers to contribute. We hope that the manual for new developers will lower barriers for newcomers and make it easier for them to begin contributing code.

Current Contents of the Manual

The manual launches with a detailed guide titled, "Tutorial: Writing Apps for FreedomBox," which is divided into eight sections:

  1. Beginning
  2. Skeleton
  3. View
  4. Components
  5. Customizing
  6. Setup
  7. Other Changes
  8. Finishing

The core content of this tutorial is complete and ready for new developers to use. Please read the tutorial here: https://docs.freedombox.org/.

Thanks

This manual is a community-driven effort. We thank the contributors who wrote this material!

FreedomBox Summit 2019

October 24th, 2019

The FreedomBox Foundation is pleased to announce that we will hold our second consecutive FreedomBox Summit on Friday, November 15th, 2019 in New York City. Invited members of the FreedomBox Core Team will join the FreedomBox Foundation's staff for a full day of discussions about our progress since last year's Summit and our plans for the year ahead.

Since our Core Team will be in New York City for the Summit, we will also have a hackathon on the following day. Read more about it here.

Summit Schedule

The 2019 Summit will be divided into three sessions:

Though we have an idea of what we want to discuss during Session I, we want community members to have their voices heard. Just like last year, we will assemble an agenda with the community's suggestions. Community members should post their suggestions to our forum topic.

Conference Call during Session II

We strongly encourage FreedomBox community members to join the conference call during Session II. This virtual Q&A session will take place at 20:00 UTC - 21:00 UTC (one hour) on the FreedomBox Foundation's Mumble server. It will be a great opportunity to have your voice heard and contribute to our agenda for the next year. You will also be able to speak directly with Foundation President Eben Moglen and the rest of the core team. To connect to the conference call on your Mumble client, please connect to server <fbx.freedomboxfoundation.org> using port 64738. During the Q&A session, please use push-to-talk, and a headset if possible. We want to minimize echoes.

Reflections on 2018 Summit

Last year, our Summit paved the way for a memorably successful 2019. Using the groundwork we laid in 2018's Summit, we launched a product with Olimex, introduced support for stable-backports in FreedomBox with the launch of Debian Buster, and added support for more hardware models, among other things. We can't wait to build the next year at the 2019 Summit! After the Summit, we'll publish a report of our discussions, just like we did last year.

Announcing the "FreedomBox Turns 10 Hackathon"

October 18th, 2019

In February 2020, the "Freedom in the Cloud" speech that founded the FreedomBox project will turn 10 years old, which means that our project will also turn 10 years old. This is a huge milestone for FreedomBox. To commemorate the 10 year milestone, the FreedomBox Foundation invites our community to New York City for the "FreedomBox Turns 10 Hackathon" in November!

Please join us to learn about FreedomBox, hack a little, and celebrate our project's 10 year milestone!

Location

Jerome Greene Hall Room 103
Columbia Law School
435 West 116th Street
New York, New York 10027
United States of America

Date & Time (in local time zone): Saturday, November 16th, 2019, 9:00am-5:00pm

Program

The hackathon will be split into two sessions. You are welcome to attend one or both sessions. Eben Moglen will deliver a speech in between Sessions 1 and 2.

9:00am-12:00pm: Session 1 - Contributor Discussion Session

12:00pm-1:15pm: Lunch

12:15pm-1:15pm: Eben Moglen's Speech

1:15pm-5:00pm: Session 2: Hackathon Session

Note: Though the schedule of the program is final, we may revise some of the details of each session. If we make revisions, you can expect to be notified via email.

Registration & Cost

Cost: This hackathon is free to attend. We'll even provide free lunch! We may even provide some free swag...!

Registration: Registration ahead of time is required. Once you are registered, you will receive an email confirmation from us.

To register, please email info@freedomboxfoundation.org with "Hackathon registration" in the subject line and the following information in the body:

Once you register, you'll receive periodic updates via email about details like the event program and lunch menu.

Questions

Please feel free to email info@freedomboxfoundation.org with any questions!

Launching the Contributor Invites Program

October 7th, 2019

We are pleased to announce the launch of a new community-building initiative: the Contributor Invites program. "Contributor Invites" are small, approachable tasks that the FreedomBox community needs help with. Members of the FreedomBox core team will post requests for help with coding, design, development, documentation, localization, and testing tasks to the FreedomBox Forum; these tasks will be referred to as “Contributor Invites.”

Most of these tasks are beginner-level — and that is by design. The Contributor Invite program is primarily a community-building effort: its purpose is to offer a gateway into the FreedomBox contributor community. By posting approachable, well-defined tasks to our forum, we hope to make it easier for new contributors to join our community.

The First Contributor Invites

We launch this program with six Contributor Invites in the areas of coding, documentation, localization, and testing. We have ensured that this first set of invites offers an even mix of coding and non-coding tasks because the FreedomBox community relies on coders and non-coders alike.

Coding:

Documentation:

Localization:

Testing:

Click on any of those links to learn more about each Contributor Invite!

Thanks

Thanks to the FreedomBox core team for conceiving this idea on a recent progress call. Many of our best ideas come from our open, community-led progress calls. We hope that our new contributors will join us on those progress calls very soon. Why not you? Our next call is Saturday, October 12th at 14:00 UTC. Hopefully you can join us!

Announcing an E-Book about FreedomBox

September 20th, 2019

We are pleased to announce a community-driven effort years in the making: the "FreedomBox for Communities" free e-book has been published to the Wikibooks platform. This e-book was written to teach users how to set up their own community-wide implementation of FreedomBox.

The FreedomBox server system is designed for home users who want to host services for themselves and their families and friends. But FreedomBox is technically neutral to setting and scale: it could also be used in larger community settings, like villages, hospitals, and law firms. Indeed, FreedomBox is already being used in villages in rural India.

FreedomBox is a good option for communities who want to run their own servers without dealing with complicated setup or hiring experts. This e-book was written to guide those communities in building their FreedomBox implementations. Though large communities may require hardware more powerful than our recommended single-board computers, the FreedomBox software is compatible with countless high-power hardware models because it is a Debian Pure Blend. Moreover, FreedomBox offers streamlined server administration and automatic security updates, which makes it a good option for communities who cannot afford to hire an expert to build a local network from scratch. In advanced use cases, the FreedomBox system could even be used to provide a Wi-Fi network.

The free e-book, "FreedomBox for Communities," teaches you how to run a FreedomBox in a setting with several users. It was largely written by FreedomBox contributors who have built Wi-Fi networks with free Internet connectivity in rural India.

Contents of the E-Book

The e-book is divided into six chapters:

  1. About This Book
  2. Introduction to FreedomBox
  3. FreedomBox Setup
  4. Network Setup
    1. Network Configuration
    2. Internet connectivity using a Point-to-Point Wireless Link
    3. Internet connectivity using an ADSL Modem
    4. Wi-Fi Towers
    5. Wi-Fi Roaming
    6. Performance Measurement
  5. Services Setup
    1. Messaging and VOIP
    2. Media Streaming
    3. Digital Library
    4. Offline Wikipedia
    5. Wiki
    6. More Use Cases (Social Network, Microblogging, Discussion Board)
  6. Maintenance
    1. Remote Connection
    2. Monitoring Client
    3. Monitoring Server
    4. Maintenance Team
    5. Building Disk Images
    6. Troubleshooting Guide

Contribute to the E-Book

The core content of this e-book is complete. But, like other collaboratively written works, it is a work in progress and still welcomes contributions. To contribute to the e-book, simply visit the e-book's website and click on the "Edit" tab; account registration is optional.

Thanks

We thank the contributors who wrote this e-book! You can find a list of contributors here.

Announcing New Network Manager: Felix Freeman

September 9th, 2019

The FreedomBox Foundation is pleased to announce that we have recruited a new Network Manager: Felix Freeman. Felix is a free software activist based in Chile, and he brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the FreedomBox community.

Launched in February 2019, the Network Managers program supports volunteers (called "Network Managers") who advocate for FreedomBox in their communities. What makes Network Managers different from other FreedomBox users is their leadership and relationship with the FreedomBox Foundation. Network Managers are pioneers: they bring FreedomBox to communities that need it and educate their colleagues about the importance of decentralized digital services. To support Network Managers, the FreedomBox Foundation offers free resources and services, like hardware, consulting, special attention to patch and feature requests, and even on-site visits.

About Felix Freeman

Image: Felix Freeman

Based in Chile, Felix Freeman is a Web Developer, GNU/Linux SysAdmin, Software Engineer, and activist who specializes in libre software. Felix has been active in the free software community for about 15 years. Starting in 2005, he began participating in the now-defunct GNUCHILE Foundation as an advocate, while also doing some software development. In recent years, he has helped to organize several free software-focused events, such as a Software Freedom Day celebration, the FLISoL (latinoamerican installfest), and numerous free software training sessions. Throughout his career, he has utilized free software to solve real problems. His professional experience includes administering GNU/Linux servers and distributed systems and developing a fair amount of free software-based web applications for a wide range of fields. Felix’s activism centers on the education of free software, free knowledge, and free culture, which includes technological empowerment, ethical hacker culture for novice programmers, and the development of technical skills for hardcore nerds. He is also an advocate of non-violence.

Felix originally became interested in FreedomBox because he was looking for a way to decentralize the internet. He runs a FreedomBox at home and advocates for FreedomBox through the various activist networks in which he participates. He uses FreedomBox as a live example of network infrastructure and a practical means to empower people to take control of their computing.

Connect with Felix: Personal Website | Business Inquires | CuatroLibertades Telegram Group

Looking Forward

Felix is the FreedomBox Foundation's first Network Manager to reside outside the United States. We are eager to support his work in Chile and hope to continue expanding our presence throughout the globe. To help jumpstart Felix's work, the FreedomBox Foundation has already donated Pioneer Edition FreedomBox kits to him, and we look forward to supporting his ideas in the coming months.

If you want to be the next Network Manager, please reach out to info@freedomboxfoundation.org with "Network Manager" in the subject line. You can learn more about the Network Managers program here: https://freedomboxfoundation.org/partners/

DistroWatch Recognizes FreedomBox

September 6th, 2019

The FreedomBox Foundation is proud to announce that DistroWatch has officially recognized the FreedomBox operating system as a distribution of Linux! This means that FreedomBox is now listed in DistroWatch's authoritative database of Linux and BSD distributions.

Check out FreedomBox's official listing on DistroWatch here.

Founded in 2001, DistroWatch is a website that provides a curated, up-to-date database of the world’s Linux and BSD operating systems (i.e. distributions). As there are hundreds of Linux and BSD distributions in the world, and many distributions are born and die each year, DistroWatch plays an important role in organizing a corpus of information about the vast ecosystem of free operating systems. Given DistroWatch’s prominence in the Linux community, up-and-coming Linux projects are frequently submitted to be listed on DistroWatch, and the application process can take a year or longer. It is considered a rite of passage for an operating system to be listed on DistroWatch. We are very proud that FreedomBox has finally gained this honor!

A Win for Debian Pure Blends

FreedomBox is a Debian pure blend, which means that the FreedomBox system and 100% of the software inside of it are installed as Debian packages. In other words, FreedomBox is distributed directly through Debian's repositories. Though FreedomBox is now listed as its own distribution on DistroWatch, we remain committed to Debian and our status as a pure blend. Indeed, FreedomBox is not the first Debian pure blend to be listed on DistroWatch: Debian Edu/Skolelinux has also been listed. The fact that pure blends are successful enough to achieve distribution status in their own right is a testament to Debian's strength as a stable base of software packages. FreedomBox is proof that you can build a fully-functional, specialized operating system without ever leaving the Debian ecosystem. We view our listing on DistroWatch as more proof that it is possible to succeed as a pure blend, despite the challenges.

Olimex Hardware Also Recognized

In addition to listing FreedomBox as a distribution, DistroWatch has also listed the Pioneer Edition FreedomBox on their official page for "Linux/BSD Compatible Hardware." Olimex, the company which produces and sells the Pioneer Edition FreedomBox, is known for making Linux-compatible hardware and working closely with the Linux community.

Check out DistroWatch's listing of the Pioneer Edition FreedomBox here.

Thanks

We thank the team at DistroWatch for reviewing our application and investing time into FreedomBox's listing! Listing a distribution on DistroWatch represents a long-term commitment: as their website says, "once a distribution is added, it will also require a life-long commitment to monitor the project, update the package listing, boot/install the distribution and take screenshots, publish news, check the page for broken links, etc." 1 The DistroWatch team receives 2-4 submissions every week, and must carefully review every submission before making a commitment to monitor a distribution for its lifetime. We are grateful that DistroWatch has made this commitment to FreedomBox!

Sources:

[1] https://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=submit

FreedomBox at FOSSCON 2019

August 23rd, 2019

On Saturday, August 17th, the FreedomBox Foundation attended the FOSSCON conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the second straight year. At our table in the exhibition hall, we saw many familiar faces and met many news ones.

We were pleased to learn that multiple people who attended our FOSSCON session in 2018, "Thinking Inside the Box: Using FreedomBox to Protect Your Freedoms," actually installed a FreedomBox server at home and continue to use it to this day. Hearing about their experiences — both the good and bad — was informative. While the FreedomBox system has plenty of room for improvement, it is encouraging that so many people who set up FreedomBoxes after FOSSCON 2018 have continued using them into 2019.

Our Session: Building a Carbon-Neutral Internet

In his May 2019 keynote address at re:publica19, Eben Moglen compared the privacy crisis to the climate crisis: "The clock now runs against us as it runs against us on the planet: two great environmental disasters, each requiring our fullest concentration and our broadest and our broadest social mobilizations." Drawing inspiration from this keynote, Danny Haidar delivered a talk at FOSSCON 2019 titled, "Climate Change and Server Centers: Building a Carbon-Neutral Internet."

In his presentation, Danny expressed concern about the growing carbon emissions from the ICT sector and its data and server centers and argued that it is time to begin exploring a more sustainable internet, one built on energy-efficient hardware and resource-light software. While Big Tech's massive server centers and resource-heavy, attention-optimized software consume large amounts of electricity, Danny argued that a decentralized web can be architected to be green and private-by-design. Using a consumer-grade solar panel and Olimex’s LIME2 computer running the FreedomBox software, Danny built a prototype to demonstrate that it is hypothetically possible to run your own carbon neutral corner of the internet. Though many challenges remain in making this vision a reality, the audience's positive response encourages us to continue working on it. If you want to be part of this work, write to info@freedomboxfoundation.org.

Photos of the Solar-Powered FreedomBox

Image 1: A FreedomBox being powered by a solar panel on a rooftop. The laptop was using an internet connection from a mobile hotspot, which it shared with the FreedomBox through an ethernet cord. This created an ad-hoc local network on the roof. Though the FreedomBox interface was available only on the ad-hoc local network, it could be made available on the public internet if it were plugged in to a router with an ethernet cord.

Image 2: An Olimex LIME2 running FreedomBox while plugged in to a solar panel on a rooftop

Image 3: The solar panel's USB port from which the Olimex LIME2 drew power

Image 4: The FreedomBox interface while it is running on solar power

Image 5: The local address of the solar-powered FreedomBox

Photos are © FreedomBox Foundation 2019 and licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.

Thank You

Thank you to the entire FOSSCON community for welcoming us back this year! Special thanks to Jonathan Simpson for directing the conference and to the fine user who was kind enough to discuss his FreedomBox use case with us over lunch. Until next time, Philadelphia!

FreedomBox at DebConf 2019

July 31st, 2019

Last week, the FreedomBox Foundation sent its Vice President for Product & Development, Danny Haidar, to Debian's annual developer conference, DebConf. This year, DebConf was held in Curitiba, Brazil, and hundreds of people attended, including local Brazilians and Debian's global community of contributors.

As a Debian pure blend, FreedomBox owes its existence to the Debian community. Though we met many new faces last week, attending DebConf felt like more of a reunion than an introduction.

Our Experience at DebConf

On Monday, July 22nd, Debian Project Leader Sam Hartman delivered a moving keynote, Bits from the DPL, in which he reviewed recent news in Debian and shared his vision for the future. Sam applauded the Debian community for launching a new version of Debian, "Buster," on schedule. He also praised the community for its welcoming culture and set the tone for a year of even more progress in Debian.

Throughout the week, the Debian community engaged in a mix of technical discussions, hacking, social gatherings, and fun. In conversations, we found that people spoke of FreedomBox as one of Debian’s great achievements, despite its flaws. FreedomBox is Debian's own private server system, and the community appears eager to support it!

In fact, FreedomBox was a topic in at least four sessions. Learn more about these sessions below.

When Antitrust Law Fails: Breaking Up Big Tech with Grassroots Technology (Danny Haidar)

Abstract | Video

Danny is Vice President for Product & Development at the FreedomBox Foundation. In his talk, he explains why antitrust law has failed to prevent concentration in the technology industry, why Big Tech has been bad for users, and how users can escape Big Tech and build their own network infrastructure. He argues that FreedomBox is poised to change the client-server dynamic in the tech industry while antitrust law catches up.

Running your FreedomBox over Tor (Nathan Willis)

Abstract | Video

Nathan Willis is a technology journalist and FreedomBox power user who uses his FreedomBox from a different country over the Tor network. In his talk, he explains how he combined the user freedom of a FreedomBox with the anonymity of the Tor network. In particular, he teaches the audience how to access FreedomBox services over the Tor network using tools like Tor browser and Orbot.

Caninos Loucos: Enabling Design and Manufacture of FOSSH in Latin America (Jon "maddog" Hall)

Abstract | Video

Jon “maddog” Hall is a Linux founding father with over 50 years of experience working with computers. Concerned that import costs have made foreign-made computer boards prohibitively expensive in Latin America, maddog has founded a company called Caninos Loucos, which designs single board computers for manufacturers in Brazil. These boards are open hardware and have first-class support for Debian. He mentions FreedomBox as one of the use cases for the Caninos Loucos "Labrador" board.

Escaping the Surveillance Blackhole with Free Mobile Computing ("Alexandre Oliva")

Abstract | Video

Alexandre Oliva is a founder of FSF Latin America and long-time contributor to the GNU Project. In his talk, he shares his vision for free mobile computing through his new project called "0G," which aims to spur the development of versatile computer devices that respect user rights. He envisions using FreedomBox to run a Tor node at home that could be used as a proxy for phone calls routed over the Tor network.

Thanks

Thanks to the Debian community for giving FreedomBox a platform this year. We were thrilled to see so much energy around our project. We can't wait to see what ideas you have next year!

Get Involved

After learning about FreedomBox at DebConf, you may want to get more involved with our project. To get started, check out these resources:

1. Download: The FreedomBox software is available for download for free.

2. Buy: Pioneer FreedomBox Home Servers are produced and sold by Olimex, a company which specializes in Open Source Hardware: learn more here.

3. Demo: Not sure if you want a FreedomBox? Check out our demo here.

4. Software Development: Our software is developed on our GitLab instance on salsa.debian.org. There, you can find our source code, issue tracker, and release planner. Register an account to start contributing!

5. FreedomBox Forum: Our forum is the home of discussions about FreedomBox. Get support, engage in development discussions, and get to know our community! Check out our forum here.

6. Wiki: Our community also maintains the FreedomBox wiki. The wiki also has a contributor's guide. Additionally, you can learn about our current packaging efforts in Debian here.

7. Mailing List and IRC: If you have any questions or concerns, you can reach us at our mailing list or by asking on our IRC channel.

A New Stable Version of FreedomBox

July 16th, 2019

The FreedomBox Foundation is pleased to announce that a new stable version of the FreedomBox software system has been released. This release coincides with the launch of Debian's latest stable version, Debian 10 (codenamed "Buster"). Since FreedomBox is a Debian Pure Blend, its release cycle follows Debian's release cycle.

The new stable version of FreedomBox is a big improvement over the previous stable version. It features a redesigned user interface, many more applications and features, and a streamlined user experience. Notable additions to the new version include the Matrix chat server, the Syncthing file synchronization server, the Searx internet metasearch engine, and the MLDonkey peer-to-peer file sharing server.

Thanks to the entire FreedomBox community for dedicating years of work to this new release!

Download and Test

The FreedomBox team spent two years building this new version of FreedomBox, and we are proud to release it to the world. Download it here: https://www.freedombox.org/download/stable/

FreedomBox software images are available for the following hardware and virtual machine targets:

If you want to install FreedomBox on hardware which is not listed above, but which is capable of running Debian, see these instructions on our wiki: https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/Hardware/Debian

We encourage our supporters to test the new release and report any issues. Learn how to report bugs here: https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/QualityAssurance

Support For Lamobo R1 and PINE A64-LTS

June 10th, 2019

We are pleased to announce that FreedomBox now supports two new hardware models: the Lamobo R1 single-board computer and PINE A64-LTS single-board computer. This means that the FreedomBox team will publish operating system images for each of these two boards whenever a new version of FreedomBox is released. For now, images for these two boards are only available for the Testing and Nightly versions of FreedomBox, but images will be available for the Stable version soon. Download the images here.

About the Lamobo R1

The Lamobo R1 is very similar to the well known Banana Pi™ single-board computer: it distinguishes itself by offering 5 ethernet ports and direct attachment of a SATA disk, among other things.

Technical specifications of the Lamobo R1 board are below:

Full technical specifications can be found here.

About the PINE A64-LTS

The PINE A64-LTS is the long-term support version of the PINE A64 (+) single-board computer made by Pine64. It is one of the more high-powered hardware models supported by FreedomBox, and a thriving community of Pine64 enthusiasts build operating system images for this single-board computer.

Technical specifications of the Pine64(+) board are below:

Full technical specifications can be found here and here.

Thanks

With these two new models, the total number of hardware models for which the FreedomBox team creates custom images has grown to 14. Credit goes to Sunil Mohan Adapa and Florian Boor for creating FreedomBox images for these boards. Since this was his first contribution to the FreedomBox project, special thanks to Florian!

Bulgarian Linux Community Discusses FreedomBox

May 31st, 2019

We were very proud to see that a presentation about FreedomBox was delivered at a meeting of the Linux Users Group - Bulgaria (LUG-BG) in May 2019. The presentation was delivered in Bulgarian by Tsvetan Usunov, the Founder and Owner of Olimex.

If you speak Bulgarian or know anyone who does, be sure to watch and/or share this video: LUG-BG 2019 LT: FreedomBox (Цветан Узунов)

Free Software in Bulgaria

The Linux Users Group – Bulgaria (LUG-BG) was established in 1997, and it hosts events for Bulgarian Linux users. In order to promote Bulgarian involvement in the global Linux community, the user group speaks and writes in Bulgarian in their events and operations, even encouraging the use of the Cyrillic script in their written material. Additionally, LUG-BG also promotes the translation of free and open source software into Bulgarian.

The FreedomBox Foundation is thrilled that our software was discussed by a community with such an admirable mission. Our goal has always been for FreedomBox to empower people throughout the world to reclaim the internet. But the goal of self-empowerment cannot be achieved without inclusive, local leadership. We therefore encourage user communities like LUG-BG to create spaces where locals can engage with our software in their native tongue.

We were particularly proud to see that the presentation was delivered by Tsvetan Usunov, Founder and Owner of Olimex. Olimex is a company that produces open source hardware and, as of April 2019, the Pioneer Edition FreedomBox. Throughout the globe, Olimex is widely respected by the free and open source software community for its affordable products and support of Linux-based software. In Bulgaria, Olimex is a leader in the Linux user community.

FreedomBox Localization in Bulgarian

After watching this presentation, we noticed that the FreedomBox software interface hadn't yet been translated into Bulgarian. From its birth, the FreedomBox community has always been committed to localization. Currently, our community translates FreedomBox into more than 20 languages, and 8 languages have been translated in full or almost in full (85% or more of the strings). In 2017, we became an official partner of Localization Lab, with the specific aim of localizing FreedomBox in more places in the world.

Today, we created a new category on our Weblate translation page for Bulgarian. We encourage anyone with proficiency in Bulgarian to help us translate our user interface. Simply click on the links below, register a free account, and start translating strings of text!

Translate the FreedomBox user interface into Bulgarian: https://hosted.weblate.org/projects/freedombox/plinth/bg/

Translate the FreedomBox Android app into Bulgarian: https://hosted.weblate.org/projects/freedombox/android/bg/

Supporting Two New Hardware Models

May 28th, 2019

We are pleased to announce that FreedomBox now supports two new hardware models: the Banana Pro™ single-board computer and the Pine64(+) single-board computer. This means that the FreedomBox team will publish operating system images for each of these two boards whenever a new version of FreedomBox is released. For now, images for these two boards are only available for the Testing and Nightly versions of FreedomBox, but images will be available for the Stable version soon. Download the images here.

About the Banana Pro™

The Banana Pro™ is an updated version of the well known Banana Pi™ single-board computer. The Banana Pro™ is widely used for free and open source software, and it enjoys compatibility with many Linux-based systems.

Technical specifications of the Banana Pro™ board are below:

Full technical specifications can be found here.

About the Pine64(+)

The Pine64(+) is the first 64-bit single-board computer made by Pine64. It is one of the more high-powered hardware models supported by FreedomBox, and a thriving community of Pine64 enthusiasts build operating system images for this single-board computer.

Technical specifications of the Pine64(+) board are below:

Full technical specifications can be found here.

Thanks

With these two new models, the total number of hardware models for which the FreedomBox team creates custom images has grown to 12. Credit goes to Sunil Mohan Adapa and Joseph Nuthalapati for creating FreedomBox images for the Banana Pro™ and Pine64(+) boards.

Banana Pro™ and Banana Pi™ are trademarks of LeMaker.

Announcing the Launch of Sales of Pioneer Edition FreedomBox Home Servers

April 22nd, 2019

The FreedomBox Foundation is proud to announce that sales of the first commercially available FreedomBox have launched. Orders can be placed here.

The product, dubbed a “Pioneer Edition FreedomBox Home Server Kit,” is being sold by Olimex, a company which specializes in Open Source Hardware. The product includes pocket-sized server hardware, an SD card with the operating system pre-installed, and a backup battery which can power the hardware for 4-5 hours in case of outages. It sells for €82 and ships globally.

The FreedomBox community will be offering free technical support for owners of the Pioneer Edition FreedomBox servers on our support forum. The only thing users pay for is hardware.

FreedomBox is a small private server that was originally conceived in 2010 as an alternative to Facebook and other social media platforms. In the nine years since, a global consensus has emerged about centralized social media platforms: they are a threat to privacy and democracy. FreedomBox will be delivered to doorsteps just as people realize that they’ve needed it all along.

FreedomBox is designed around the principle that the exploitation of user data and attention should be technologically impossible. To that end, it is a user-controlled device that enables almost anyone to decentralize the web by hosting their own corner of the internet at home. Its simple user interface empowers individuals to host their own Internet services without any expertise, like an encrypted chat server that can replace Whatsapp, a VoIP server, a personal website, file sharing, a metasearch engine, and much more. The FreedomBox software is fully free and open source, and it is supported by the non-profit FreedomBox Foundation.

Try Before You Buy

In anticipation of the launch of sales, the FreedomBox team recently created a live demo of FreedomBox. Anyone can demo the software to learn what they will be getting in the product. Click here to try our free demo.

How We Got Here

In 2010, Eben Moglen, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, delivered a speech called “Freedom in the Cloud” in which he made a prescient claim: “Mr. Zuckerberg has attained an unenviable record: he has done more harm to the human race than anybody else his age.” 1 In this speech, Professor Moglen predicted the damage that would be done by Facebook; and in his next breath, he conceived of an effort to create an alternative Internet: FreedomBox.

On February 17, 2011, a Kickstarter campaign was launched to fund the project. It quickly raised $86,724. In 2011 and 2012, FreedomBox attracted much attention in the press, and it was viewed as a high-potential emerging technology by writers for the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, among others. 2, 3

After 2012, the project went through a stage of quiet development. But by 2017, the private sector global technology company ThoughtWorks had hired two developers in India to work on FreedomBox full-time. These two full-time developers plus a solid team of about 10 volunteer developers built a thriving software ecosystem around the project.

FreedomBox has grown an impressive presence in India. In fact, 12 villages in rural India rely on FreedomBox for digital services, thanks to the work of its advocates. In February 2019, the Times of India even published a national story about FreedomBox in rural India. 4

FreedomBox has succeeded in growing a thriving software ecosystem. Now, the FreedomBox Foundation is bringing FreedomBox to the hardware market. The Foundation is proud to partner with Olimex, a well respected company in the world of free and open source software. The word "Pioneer" was included in the name of these kits in order to emphasize the leadership required to run a FreedomBox in 2019. Users will be pioneers both because they have the initiative to define this new frontier and because their feedback will make FreedomBox better for its next generation of users.

The Pioneer FreedomBox Home Server Kits can be purchased here: https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/Home-Server/Pioneer-FreedomBox-HSK/

Sources:

[1] https://www.softwarefreedom.org/events/2010/isoc-ny/FreedomInTheCloud-transcript.html

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/nyregion/16about.html?mtrref=undefined

[3] https://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2011/02/16/freedom-box-needs-a-good-user-interface/

[4] https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/events/hyderabad/every-old-computer-is-a-potential-server-that-can-bring-internet-connectivity-to-an-entire-village/articleshow/67833580.cms

Announcing the FreedomBox Forum and Live Demo

March 29th, 2019

Sales of the the much anticipated Pioneer FreedomBox Home Servers launch soon. And our team has been preparing for the day that hardware hits the market. In anticipation of sales, we are proud to launch two new services for our users: a FreedomBox Forum and a live demo of FreedomBox!

FreedomBox Forum

The new FreedomBox Forum is now live! The forum is built on Discourse, which is free and open source forum software.

Our forum will be the new home of discussions about FreedomBox. The forum welcomes users in need of support and team members who want to discuss technical topics. In particular, here's what you can find on our forum:

If you prefer email instead of the forum, then you can use the forum via email with the mailing list mode preference. With that mode, you'll be able to receive notifications and reply entirely via email.

Big thanks go to Sunil Mohan Adapa, our lead developer, for building the forum.

Live Demo of FreedomBox

We are also proud to launch a live demo of FreedomBox for anyone to use! The demo is a custom version of FreedomBox which comes with a few apps pre-configured and automatically resets itself every 30 minutes. Hop on the demo server and try it out! We want this demo to show potential users and buyers of Pioneer FreedomBox Home Servers what they could soon have in their homes. And if you want to try FreedomBox for longer than 30 minutes, we have also created a page for cloud demos.

We hope that this demo convinces you that FreedomBox has a place in your life!

Big thanks go to Joseph Nuthalapati, who was helped by Johannes Keyser, for building the demo server.

Announcing Pioneer FreedomBox Kits

March 26th, 2019

On Sunday, March 24th at the Free Software Foundation's annual LibrePlanet conference, the FreedomBox Foundation announced that it has partnered with Olimex to sell Pioneer FreedomBox Home Server Kits.

We've been building the FreedomBox software since 2011—that's eight years. And our supporters have been asking for purchasable kits for about as many years. We've heard your voices, and we’re doing this for you.

We're very proud to partner with Olimex, a company that makes open source hardware. Olimex is well respected in the world of free and open source software, and we're pleased to be entering the hardware space with Olimex as our partner.

Our deepest thanks go to FreedomBox's core developers, designers, volunteers, users, and donors who all made this possible. Years of work, largely from volunteers, brought FreedomBox to a point where it was so good that a company wanted to build a product around it. Please join us in congratulating everyone who had a part in building FreedomBox.

We chose the Free Software Foundation's conference in Boston, Massachusetts as the launching pad of the first-ever FreedomBox kits intentionally: we wanted to take this step forward in the birthplace of the free software movement. Sincere thanks go to the Free Software Foundation for giving us the privilege of announcing these kits at LibrePlanet.

Special thanks also go to Olimex for being such a good partner throughout this process.

In the coming weeks, we'll be putting the final touches on the kits before Olimex officially launches sales. What we really need before the official launch of sales is to spread the word. Please tell your friends and family on social media, email, or any other communications channel you use! Point people to the order page for the kits and to the FreedomBox Foundation's mailing list. Write posts about it on social media using #FreedomBox and #BeAPioneer. Together, we can make this product a success and spread freedom one FreedomBox at a time.

We chose to use the word "Pioneer" in the name of these kits because we want to emphasize the leadership required to run a FreedomBox in 2019. Users will be pioneers both because they have the courage to explore this new frontier and because we'll rely on their feedback to make our software better. Running a home server is not mainstream, and it takes leadership to do it. But if you do it, you'll be a pioneer of what we hope will be a revolution in computing.

Sales launch soon. Be a pioneer.

Order details: https://www.olimex.com/Products/OLinuXino/Home-Server/Pioneer-FreedomBox-HSK/.

Members of the press can contact press@freedomboxfoundation.org.

Retiring Two Hardware Models

January 8th, 2019

After an open discussion, the FreedomBox developer community has decided to retire the DreamPlug and Raspberry Pi 1 hardware models from our lineup of custom FreedomBox images.

For a number of reasons, which are recorded in our public call notes from December 8th, 2018, the FreedomBox community decided that the DreamPlug and Raspberry Pi 1 hardware models are no longer suitable for our software system. Support for these two models was dropped for a number of reasons, including their low performance-to-cost ratios, lack of proper kernel updates, and dependence on non-free software. Together, these three factors contributed to our final decision, which is now reflected in the "Hardware" page of our wiki.

Before making the decision official, we wanted to make sure that it was possible for current users of these models to migrate to newer, supported hardware. To that end, we thoroughly tested the Backups feature to ensure that it works for every app and feature. Using the FreedomBox v0.45.0 Testing Image on a Raspberry Pi 2, we successfully installed every app and feature (with the exception of SIP/repro which was not available). After installing every app and feature, we tested the backups feature and can confirm that we successfully created and restored a backup archive for the following apps and features:

After this successful test, we finalized our decision to stop creating new images for the DreamPlug and Raspberry Pi 1 hardware models. Since we have added a Raspberry Pi 3B+ target and are planning to add a Pine A64+ target, this news will ultimately not change the total number of supported hardware models. But it may affect some users who plan to repurpose their DreamPlugs or Raspberry Pi 1's into FreedomBoxes.

What does this mean for current users of the DreamPlug and Raspberry Pi 1? Technically, users who have already installed FreedomBox on either of these two hardware models can continue to use FreedomBox on their devices. Current users with existing FreedomBox installations will keep getting software updates. But the FreedomBox community recommends that you consider migrating to newer, supported hardware using backup and restore.

What does this mean for anyone who wants to install FreedomBox on a DreamPlug or Raspberry Pi 1 anyway? Users who have not yet installed FreedomBox on these devices cannot the install latest FreedomBox images using the custom-built images available for download on our official website. Technically, users can try to install Debian on either of these devices and then install FreedomBox from within Debian, but we wouldn't recommend that due to low performance. Neither the FreedomBox community nor the FreedomBox Foundation could or would want to stop users from using our software on whatever hardware they want. The right of users to run our software is protected by the GPL, and respect for the right of users to pick their own hardware is a principle upon which our project was founded. After all, any device that can run Debian can be turned into a FreedomBox. But as a community, we can no longer recommend that users purchase the DreamPlug or Raspberry Pi 1 hardware models for the purpose of turning them into FreedomBoxes.

If you want to learn more about our reasoning, we encourage you to read our call notes and discussion on GitLab:

Call Notes: https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/ProgressCalls/2018-12-08

GitLab Issue: https://salsa.debian.org/freedombox-team/freedom-maker/issues/150

The DreamPlug, in particular, was an important part of our history. It was the hardware model for which FreedomBox was originally targeted, and the FreedomBox Foundation gave away many DreamPlugs at conferences. We salute this device and are proud of all the freedom it created in its lifetime with FreedomBox.

If you have any questions or concerns about this decision, feel free to reach out to the FreedomBox community on its email discussion list.

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.

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:

https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/ReleaseNotes

Major FreedomBox 0.9 Changes:

Known Issues:

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:

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:

https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/ReleaseNotes

Major FreedomBox 0.8 Changes:

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:

https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/Contributors

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

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.

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:

http://ftp.skolelinux.org/pub/freedombox/0.7/

Before using, you should verify the image's signature. See https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/Download for further instructions.

Thanks to all who helped to put this release together.

More information on this release is available on the wiki:

https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/ReleaseNotes

Major FreedomBox 0.7 Changes:

Known Bugs:

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

Freedombox 0.6 Released!

October 31, 2015

Hello,

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:

The FreedomBox version 0.6 is available here:

http://ftp.skolelinux.org/pub/freedombox/0.6/

Before using, you should verify the image's signature, see https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/Download for further instructions:

$ gpg --keyserver hkp://pool.sks-keyservers.net --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@medhas.org>
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:

https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/ReleaseNotes

Major FreedomBox 0.6 Changes:

Known Bugs:

Nick

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:

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 freedomboxfoundation.org to let us know you are coming so we can be sure to order enough food and caffeine email.

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

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:

http://ftp.skolelinux.org/pub/freedombox/0.5/

Before using, you should verify the image's signature, see https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/Download for further instructions:

$ gpg --keyserver hkp://pool.sks-keyservers.net --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@medhas.org>
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:

https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/ReleaseNotes

Major FreedomBox 0.5 Changes:

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

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:

http://ftp.skolelinux.org/pub/freedombox/0.3/

Before using, you should verify the image's signature, see https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/Download for further instructions:

$ gpg --keyserver hkp://pool.sks-keyservers.net --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:

https://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/ReleaseNotes

Major FreedomBox 0.3 Changes:

Unfortunately, some known issues do exist:

However, other known issues have already been fixed upstream:

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

Happy hacking, Nick

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 http://www.oftc.net/), 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.

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.

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:

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.

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 openitp.org 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 openitp.org) 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.

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)[http://freedomboxfoundations.org]. 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

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.

Neruda

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 bit.ly 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.

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:

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 join@freedomboxfoundation.org. If you have ideas for discrete tasks that might be tackled with a couple days of cooperation, please do join us.

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.

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.

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](http://www.changemakers.com/citizenmedia?utm_source=contacts-enthus&utm_medium=email-others&utm_content=vote&utm_campaign=citizenmedia)! (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](https://apps.facebook.com/changemakers/citizenmedia), 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 identi.ca/twitter to get last minute announcements.

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: http://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox

<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 http://freedomboxfoundation.org/discuss/

<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 thefnf.org @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?

<hook> http://openusability.org/

<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> http://emoglen.law.columbia.edu/CPC 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 nl.net 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: https://github.com/LockerProject/Locker 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? http://epfsug.eu/content/epfsug-invites-freedombox

<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: http://radicale.org/

<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? http://epfsug.eu/content/epfsug-invites-freedombox

<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 http://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/LeavingTheCloud 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, http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/freedombox-discuss/2010-October/000191.html 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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zooko'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 http://www.freedomboxfoundation.org/news/FreedomBox_at_DebConf2011/index.en.html

<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.


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.

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.

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 Identi.ca.

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

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 benkler.org.

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, vasile@freedomboxfoundation.org

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.

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:

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 http://lists.freedomboxfoundation.org/s/arc/tac (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 irc.oftc.net.

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

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 http://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/UserRequirements/BrainStorm. 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 join@freedomboxfoundation.org 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 oftc.net.

Best regards, James

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:

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.

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 press@freedomboxfoundation.org or see http://freedomboxfoundation.org.

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 join@freedomboxfoundation.org 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 join@freedomboxfoundation.org. Tell us what languages you can help with. We'll put together teams.

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 press@freedomboxfoundation.org. Salary will depend on experience and time commitment.

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.

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.

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.

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:

All these press pieces, and the many related twitter and identi.ca 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!