CategoryFree and open source software (FOSS)

All articles related to free and open source software (FOSS) are here. Topics include my favorite software, thoughts on contributing to open source communities, some experiences in the Fedora and MetaBrainz communities, my thoughts on issues in the world of FOSS, and more.

What’s new in TeleIRC v2.0.0

TeleIRC v2.0.0 is the latest major release of our open source Telegram <=> IRC bridge. Download the latest release and read the release announcement for the full story.

There are several new and noteworthy changes in TeleIRC v2.0.0. This post walks you through the major changes and differences for TeleIRC v2.0.0. Read on for the highlight reel of this release.

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TeleIRC v2.0.0 is officially here!

After almost eight months of work, the TeleIRC Team is happy to announce General Availability of TeleIRC v2.0.0 today. Thanks to the hard work of our volunteer community, we are celebrating an on-time release of a major undertaking to make a more sustainable future for TeleIRC.

Download TeleIRC v2.0.0 now!

If you want to skip the text and get to the software, head to the GitHub v2.0.0 release for more info. If you want the story behind this release, read on!

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Take the 2020 #HappinessPacketChallenge!

In this brave new COVID-19 world, we have to watch out for each other. These times are unusual and not normal. This year in 2020, I challenge you to join me and others in the Happiness Packets Challenge from Monday, 27 April to Sunday, 3 May! This is the same challenge I made in 2017. Can you say thanks to someone different every day for one week?

When I was a kid, one of the most important lessons I learned was saying “thank you” when someones does something nice for you. So, a few years ago, I learned about this awesome little website called Happiness Packets. Its purpose is simple but powerful. Happiness Packets are open source thank-you cards you can send over email. You can send Happiness Packets to anyone for anything. Your message can be as short or as long as you like. You can put your name on it or keep it anonymous. The choice is yours. And now, I want to challenge you (yes, you) to the 2020 #HappinessPacketChallenge!

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FOSDEM 2020, pt. 2: Can Free Software include ethical AI systems?

This post is a follow-up to FOSDEM 2020, pt. 1: Play by play. This post summarizes the talk given by me and my colleague, Mike Nolan, at FOSDEM 2020.


FOSDEM 2020 took place from Saturday, 1 February, 2020 to Sunday, 2 February, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium (shortly after Sustain OSS 2020 and CHAOSScon EU 2020). On Saturday, together with my colleague and friend Mike Nolan, we presented on a topic he and I have co-conspired on for the last six months. What are the intersections of Free Software and artificial intelligence (AI)?

What is a rights-based approach for designing minimally safe and transparent guidelines for AI systems? In this talk, we explore what a Free AI system might look like. Then, taking research and guidelines from organizations such as Google and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, we propose practical policies and tools to ensure those building an AI system respect user freedom. Lastly, we propose the outlines of a new kind of framework where all derivative works also respect those freedoms.

Freedom and AI: Can Free Software include ethical AI systems? Exploring the intersection of Free software and AI
Video recording from FOSDEM 2020

This post is an abridged summary of the key ideas and thoughts Mike and I presented at our FOSDEM 2020 session.

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How did Free Software build a social movement?

The Free Software movement is rooted to origins in the 1980s. As part of a talk I gave with my colleague and friend Mike Nolan at FOSDEM 2020, we analyzed how the Free Software movement emerged as a response to a changing digital world in three different phases. This blog post is an exploration and framing of that history to understand how the social movement we call “Free Software” was constructed.

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CopyleftConf 2020: quick rewind

CopyleftConf 2020 took place on Monday, 3 February, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium:

This will be the second annual International Copyleft Conference. Participants from throughout the copyleft world — developers, strategists, enforcement organizations, scholars and critics — will be welcomed for an in-depth, high bandwidth, and expert-level discussion about the day-to-day details of using copyleft licensing, obstacles facing copyleft and the future of copyleft as a strategy to advance and defend software freedom for users and developers around the world.

This event will provide a friendly and safe place for discussion of all aspects of copyleft, including as a key strategy for defending software freedom!

Official conference website

This was my first time attending CopyleftConf. I attended on behalf of RIT LibreCorps to represent the sustainability efforts at the RIT [email protected] initiative. However, I also represented myself as an individual in the Free Software movement. For CopyleftConf 2020, I arrived hoping to learn more about where we, as the Free Software community, are going. I also hoped to gain a deeper ethical perspective about our digital society.

Me excitingly looking up to the main stage, holding my CopyleftConf 2020 schedule, after having bought my ticket earlier that same morning.
Me excitingly holding my CopyleftConf 2020 schedule after having bought my ticket earlier that same morning.

Event reports take many forms. Since CopyleftConf 2020 is structured in a unique format, my event report is structured as follows:

  • At a glance: structure and key takeaways: High-level overview of what CopyleftConf 2020 was like. What the biggest ideas on my mind were at the end of the day.
  • Copyleft adopt curves: what drove copyright adoption then (or now?): Musings on the history of copyleft and movement building.
  • Free Software, but for kids: Children and teenagers are already building open source communities. How do we include the next generation?
  • Where are we going?: Software ethics and copyleft licensing.
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The day open source died: a story about Minecraft, Bukkit, and the GPL

Once upon a time, when I was a teenager, I volunteered in the Minecraft open source community. I volunteered as a staff member of the largest open source Minecraft server today, called Spigot. Spigot is a fork of the Bukkit project.

This blog post is a story roughly covering 2010 to 2014 on the meaning, values, and promise of open source. This story impacted a community of hundreds of thousands of people, mostly adolescent children, teenagers, and young adults. It is a tale about the simultaneous success and failure of the GNU Public License (GPL).

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TeleIRC v2.0.0: March 2020 progress update

Since September 2019, the RITlug TeleIRC team is hard at work on the v2.0.0 release of TeleIRC. This blog post is a short update on what is coming in TeleIRC v2.0.0, our progress so far, and when to expect the next major release.

What’s coming in TeleIRC v2.0.0?

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FOSDEM 2020, pt. 1: Play by play

FOSDEM 2020 took place from Saturday, 1 February, 2020 to Sunday, 2 February, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium (shortly after Sustain OSS 2020 and CHAOSScon EU 2020):

FOSDEM is a free and non-commercial event organized by the community for the community. The goal is to provide free and open source software developers and communities a place to meet to:

– Get in touch with other developers and projects;

– Be informed about the latest developments in the free software world;

– Be informed about the latest developments in the open source world;

– Attend interesting talks and presentations on various topics by project leaders and committers;

– To promote the development and benefits of free software and open source solutions.

fosdem.org/2020/about/

This is my third time attending FOSDEM. I attended on behalf of RIT LibreCorps to represent our engagement with the UNICEF Office of Innovation and the Innovation Fund. For FOSDEM 2020, I arrived ready to give my talk (coming in pt. 2) and honestly to see where the weekend took me.

Planning out FOSDEM is hard. So, my strategy is to figure it out as I go, since most of what I get out of FOSDEM comes from casual conversations and “hallway track.”

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CHAOSScon EU 2020: play by play

CHAOSScon EU 2020 took place on Friday, 31 January, 2020 in Brussels, Belgium (the day after Sustain OSS 2020):

Learn about open source project health metrics and tools used by open source projects, communities, and engineering teams to track and analyze their community work. This conference will provide a venue for discussing open source project health, CHAOSS updates, use cases, and hands-on workshops for developers, community managers, project managers, and anyone interested in measuring open source project health. We will also share insights from the CHAOSS working groups on Diversity and Inclusion, Evolution, Risk, Value, and Common Metrics.

chaoss.community/chaosscon-2020-eu/

This is my second time attending CHAOSScon. I attended on behalf of RIT LibreCorps to represent our engagement with the UNICEF Office of Innovation and the Innovation Fund. For CHAOSScon EU 2020, I arrived hoping to learn more about effective metric collection strategies for open source communities and also get a deeper understanding of the technology behind GrimoireLab.

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