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.