09.20.21

Richard Stallman’s Talk in Ukraine Two Days Ago (in Person)

Posted in Audio/Video, Free/Libre Software, GPL at 4:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman explains his stance on Invidious (released under the AGPLv3) in his new (in-person) talk:

Video download link

The part preceding the new (in-person) talk:

Video download link

The full talk (from Saturday), streamed over Invidious:

09.17.21

Lagrange Makes It Easier for Anybody to Use Gemini and Even Edit Pages (With GUI)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Review at 9:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum ec192ce38f3d4d9773021d2d3f9b5149

Summary: Gemini protocol and/or Gemini space are easy for anyone to get started with or fully involved in (writing and creating, not just reading); today we take a look at the new version of Lagrange (it was first introduced here back in March and covered again in April), which I installed earlier today because it contains a lot of improvements, including the installation process (now it’s just a click-to-run AppImage)

OMG! Command line! OK, this is better...LAST night Andrew Thorp wrote in the Gemini mailing lists: “While I like a good technical blog as much as the next software engineer, does anyone know of some good non-technical capsules ? In particular I enjoy reading about hiking, gardening, and photography. I don’t mind if the capsule contains technical content, but it’s nice to read something softer.”

It’s not controversial to say that Gemini is popular among geeks and developers; for mass adoption we’ll need to make it easier and welcoming to lesser- or differently-technical people, as well as foster “content” to that effect. It was the same with the World Wide Web in its early days (early 1990s). Techrights on Gemini is mostly technical, but the Daily Links are not limited to technology.

Gemini:// is different; It's like http:// but simplerContrary to how it may seem on the surface, as many early adopters are also command line lovers, one needn’t have any knowledge beyond the level of using a Web browser (or accessing the Web) in order to embrace/use Gemini. One existing barrier is the lack of software in repositories and “stores”; in due time, however, given the phenomenal growth of Gemini, we reckon we’ll leave this obstacle behind us.

As noted here before, creating and managing a Gemini capsule is a lot simpler than running a Web site and editing Web pages (there are also GUIs for it, as shown below).

As the media refuses to cover Gemini (publishers’ agenda has its lousy reasons) it remains highly important to spread the word. In the video above I sort of ‘review’ the latest version of Lagrange, which as far as I’m aware is the most advanced Gemini client/browser. It’s still actively developed, it is very popular, and its development is self-hosted, which is a positive sign. Now it’s possible to install and run it by just downloading a single file (the AppImage object), then double-clicking it. It ought to help by lowering the entry barrier.

Lagrange editing

09.16.21

Techrights Examines a Wide Array/Range of Gemini Clients/Browsers

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Review at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 2502c141249b73b6dd31167c4a2c69e0

Summary: After spending many months examining an array of different types of software for Gemini (including but not limited to clients/browsers) we take stock of what exists, what’s supported (it varies a bit), and which one might be suitable for use by geeks and non-geeks

AROUND the start of this year we began implementing our Gemini capsule, which now contains almost all the pages that exist in the Web site. It the process we produced a lot of code (released under the terms of the AGPLv3), mostly for converting WordPress and MediaWiki into Gemini pages.

Our Web site isn’t going away, but it’s no longer our sole priority. We invite readers to follow us into Geminispace (or Gemini space — the term used for that protocol and what lurks inside it).

I’ve asked around in IRC, where quite a few of us have tried Amfora, Lagrange, and Kristall. One of us settled on Kristall, I myself mostly use Lagrange these days, and MinceR (who tried all three) prefers Amfora. One associate prefers Amfora as well.

“There’s no clear strategy for ‘fixing’ the Web, so we need to gradually move to something else, at least for some use cases.”In the first half of this month the capsule has attracted nearly a quarter million page requests and it’s growing every month. We invest more energy in the Gemini capsule than we do in the Web site. Gemini protocol has promise and has a future; Gemini space continues to expand, too. There are currently 1,600 unique capsules that are known, compared to 500 last December and about 1,000 back in April (according to Mr. Bortzmeyer). So it more than tripled in a single year!

The video above covered my personal everyday experience with Gemini software (I used those tools in parallel and in conjunction, partly for testing purposes).

As promised in the video (recording before typing a single line of text), here are the links to various homepages, along with a screenshot of each homepage.

Kristall
Kristall. Homepage: https://kristall.random-projects.net/

Amfora
Amfora. Homepage: https://github.com/makeworld-the-better-one/amfora

Telescope
Telescope. Homepage: https://git.omarpolo.com/telescope/

Lagrange
Lagrange. Homepage: https://git.skyjake.fi/gemini/lagrange

Moonlander
Moonlander. Homepage: https://sr.ht/~admicos/moonlander/

We are absolutely certain that Gemini will continues to grow; it’s not some passing fad and interest in Gemini will grow as fatigue/backlash increases, seeing that the Web is a monopolistic monoculture of bloat and surveillance. There’s no clear strategy for ‘fixing’ the Web, so we need to gradually move to something else, at least for some use cases.

Deleted Post: “LibreOffice is Becoming Dominated by a Bunch of Corporates, and Has no Place for the Enthusiastic Amateur.”

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Office Suites at 2:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chris SherlockSummary: Chris Sherlock, an insider of LibreOffice, cautions about the direction of this very important and widely used project

The post “How to upset someone” has just been self-censored by Chris Sherlock, but it is important to see what he had to say (prior to the post’s disappearance):


Here is how you upset someone:

- You write a set of unit tests to test the moving of some files into a better directory and a way better name – say for instance renaming ImplDeviceFontList to PhysicalFontFaceCollection
- You tell that person that they used the wrong vim modeline, but then you say that you don’t know what a modeline is. But that’s what you do, and to be sure you do it on all the files you have touched to try to reduce the build churn
- You order them to add sal/config.h – which is a convention you don’t know about – to source files. So you do this. Again, to reduce build churn you do it to all files you touch.
- You add a header, so you regenerate the pch file.
- As you are adding sal/config.h, as so ordered, you fix the include guards and use #pragma once

A few other things you can do:

- Advise them to rename a class from PrinterOptions to Options, but then you get blowback because you made that change – on their recommendation.
- Tell them they aren’t careful with their patches, even though you spend hours and hours ensuring that they are tested and working as best you can.
- Tell them, on numerous occasions, that they way that you reorders the VCL headers wasn’t correct – then remember you had already asked about this and realised that you said it was OK.

You do all of these things because that is what you were told to do in the past. It’s not exactly easy to do this, as a lot of these things aren’t necessarily needed in that patch – but hey, that’s what you were told to do.

Evidently, LO doesn’t want unit tests, and the changes I’m making to try to make the codebase easier to read aren’t needed. To hell with it. LibreOffice is becoming dominated by a bunch of corporates, and has no place for the enthusiastic amateur.

Best of luck to LibreOffice!


This is worth documenting in light of the project selling keynotes, manuals, and adopting a sort of 'dual' approach. It also issued a statement against RMS earlier this year, based on a campaign of slander (and the person who did this was incidentally inside OSI).

09.15.21

(Super)Free Software As a Right – The Manifesto

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 1:59 am by Guest Editorial Team

By Thomas Grzybowski, derived from towards-super-free-software, by figos

Seagull

Summary: “Software text has long been recognized as “speech”, and is covered under the very same copyright laws as conventional printed matter.”

The notion of Free Software is a direct descendant from ideals of freedom of speech, formulated during the historical period termed “The Enlightenment” – ideals which were further developed during the period of the American Revolution and the French Revolutions. The individual and social value of “Free Speech” has become essentially iconified in the US, while perversely, the ideals of Free Software have not inherited this status.

Software text has long been recognized as “speech”, and is covered under the very same copyright laws as conventional printed matter. “Free as in Free Speech” is attributed to Richard Stallman as his essential description of Free Software. Also significantly, famed computer programming guru Donald Knuth went as far as to actively advocate for “Literate Programming”, where the main intention is to treat a program as literature understandable to any interested person who should pick it up for study.

Confusion concerning the recognition of computer programs as speech began just around 1997, just as Free Software was becoming popular and just before the foundation of the “Open Source” movement. The misdirection underlying the ideas behind Open Source are described here. Software, instead of being recognized as a mode of human expression, was classified as a type of “property” – which is a very different kind of thing.

Now, if computer programs are speech, an activity, we all have a Right to express ourselves in this way, and to share these expressions with others. Sadly, the Free Software movement has lately become shy about taking this notion where it should lead. Software, once it is viewed in all seriousness as a kind of Free Speech, the expression and use of software becomes seen as a cultural entity and as an art. Participation becomes part of our proper rights as human beings.

So, how do we advance a human right where the view appears to be faltering? We know that Free Software has a specific definition, and we know we are after something of a subset from that definition. And we know we want the result to be hopefully greater than what we see today – Super-Free (or SuperFree) software!

So, the idea of a SuperFree Software is indeed something of a paradox: by further defining what it is that makes software more free to more people (this refinement being in practice a subset within “Free Software”) we hope to arrive at something greater. The simple idea which promotes the Superfree subset of Free Software higher is this: SuperFree Software is Free Software which works better to promote more freedom.

SuperFree Software can be viewed as an art, with serious intent. As an art, certain practices or disciplines will advance the art such that participation in software freedom becomes more actual to more people. Again paradoxically, less is often more:

#1. SuperFree applications (and systems) must be modular, as simple as possible, and open in design. Transparency to any interested party is paramount. If we don’t want a feature, we should be able to safely delete that component, and the program will function as designed – minus the component. If we modify a component, only that component should be affected. Unnecessary and opaque dependencies are a bug.

#2. The replacement of understandable code with binary blobs is a severe bug. Blobs do not represent “modularity”, they implement developer takeover and are obviously a place to hide security flaws. Blobs negate the basis of Free Software as Free Speech, preventing other people from interacting confidently with code.

#3. SuperFree Software should be developed with “ease of forking” as a design goal. Freedom means you can fork: understand, modify, and share code. We must forget about personally or organizationally “owning” our software, because the “Free” in Free Software becomes a reality primarily in the sharing. And note that this is not just a moral standpoint: You and I, we WANT software to be Free, in practicality, and thus we have to make it so.

#4. SuperFree Software should teach people how to create software, not just how to use it. Training people only to use applications is to train them to be consumers, and nothing more.

#5. SuperFree Software should actively distance itself from corporate funding. Corporations are not going to stop trying to control software – because they make money from software by making it less free. We will always need to keep our mission at some far distance from them. People will argue that it’ll become much more difficult to develop significant software without corporate support – but what is more true is that it will become possible to develop SuperFree Software without the dependency (and strings) that their money brings.

#6. SuperFree Software should promote itself as a cultural endeavor and as an example for other areas of culture to emulate. Free books, Free Music, Free Culture – these things are readily possible. Synergies of efforts, laws, and productive creativity abound!

If we can produce software as described above, it will take software freedom to another level entirely– where software “freedom” is NOT dictated by corporations or corporate-captured non-profits. With SuperFree Software as a flexible grassroots movement, people will freely join, leave, fork projects as they please. Software freedom will engage with more people, and SuperFree Software will become the visible, vibrant, significant cultural entity that it was always destined to be.

License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

09.14.21

Richard Stallman Is Not Surrendering His Free Speech

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF at 4:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Today we commemorate the September 11 attacks, which killed President Allende of Chile and installed Pinochet's murderous military dictatorship. More than 3,000 dissidents were killed or 'disappeared' by the Pinochet regime. The USA operated a destabilization campaign in Chile, and the September 11, 1973, attacks were part of that campaign.

Summary: The homepage of Dr. Stallman looked like this on Saturday, 20 years since the September 11 attacks in the US, noting that “[t]oday we commemorate the September 11 attacks, which killed President Allende of Chile and installed Pinochet’s murderous military dictatorship. More than 3,000 dissidents were killed or “disappeared” by the Pinochet regime. The USA operated a destabilization campaign in Chile, and the September 11, 1973, attacks were part of that campaign.”

09.13.21

This Coming Saturday Richard Stallman Will Give His First Public Talk Since May

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FSF, GPL at 5:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Richard Stallman on Ukraine event

OSDN - Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman talk slot

Summary: Cordial headsup to Free/libre software aficionados; “Richard Stallman will be giving a talk in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Saturday, September, 18, titled Free Software and the GNU General Public License,” his Web site says. It’s noted here.

09.12.21

Git Over Gemini Protocol (and Experimental/Preliminary Publication of Some Techrights Code)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Site News at 11:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link | md5sum 401663d55a789d994a981fa3004ba9e6

Summary: Today we launch a sort of ‘alpha’ (or proof of concept) of Git over Gemini; it’s not yet in the front page of the Web site (only the Gemini capsule or the menu at the top), but we’re working on it and we’ll try to make the pragmatic case for Git’s simplicity over Gemini’s simplicity (more advanced in some respects than the command line, not as bloated and unsafe as Web browsers)

GIT isn’t new to us. I’ve used Git for over a decade and here in Techrights we’ve been using it for years, mainly for collaboration. Over a year ago we started self-hosting Git and over time we added more of our codebase/scripts to it. Today we finally publish most of these, however reluctantly (because a lot of it is still crude, the intended userbase being a handful of people at most).

“We emphasise that this is very rudimentary at this point and some tools aren’t of much use outside Techrights itself.”At the very least, we’re hoping to demonstrate a sort of use case for Gemini. I think we might be the first in the world to do such a thing because I spent hours researching what others had done (to avoid duplication of effort). This is just an experimental iteration akin to an alpha release. We emphasise that this is very rudimentary at this point and some tools aren’t of much use outside Techrights itself. This can hopefully be changed over time and presentation be significantly improved (remaining bugs ironed out and better/high-quality code that’s made generalised).

“Everything starts small and crude. Today is just a start.”Gemini has many advantages in this context, including speed, memory footprint, ease of management, and access through any web proxy (better availability). It’s hosted from home (Gemini) and our server (Git), with replication set up over Git and a 24-hour (daily cycle) cron job to keep everything updated or synchronised and up to date. We’ll probably say more in weeks or months to come. We already have some code that can help convert WordPress blogs and MediaWiki to Gemini, even though it makes certain assumptions about a consistent style and structure.

Everything starts small and crude. Today is just a start.

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