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Share Our Mission with Three Friends (and get a prize!)

by Deb Nicholson on December 18, 2019

We know that our Supporters are our biggest advocates, spreading the word about the work we're doing and helping us to reach our match goal. We want to thank you for doing this and inspire you to help a little more! Now if you sign up three friends as new Conservancy Supporters, you get a surprise prize!

ASCII art of snow falling on the Conservancy tree

The most exciting thing you could do for us during this giving season, is tell your friends about our work. Get three of them to become Conservancy Supporters and you will receive a small special edition gift designed by the lovely Chris Lemmer-Webber and/or we will thank you publicly on our website (but only if you are into that.) Plus, new Supporters will have their donations tripled by our generous matching donors.

WHY: Many nonprofits have staff members whose job it is to just write and talk about the work the organization is doing. As a small scrappy org, we do our best to squeeze this work in along with all of our normal jobs of actually doing all of the work to support software freedom. We have no professional marketers or fundraisers. And of course, Conservancy doesn't buy lists, or track folks who come to our page so we can follow them all over the internet with ads. That means that we grow our membership base a little more slowly than the organizations that do choose those methods. It also means that we need your help.

Nobody likes being followed around the internet.

We are largely a remote org that attends events throughout the year, but still the number of in-person conversations we can have about our work is finite. Even at a busy booth, we can only talk with so many new people. Plus there are loads of lovely folks who support software freedom who just don't attend in-person events, folks we'll never meet because we don't choose to spend a lot of money on advertising. We've noticed that most of our Supporters are folks that are really "in the know" - you're people who are leaders, speakers and the ones who will shape the future of software freedom. You know about our work because you are on the front lines of advocating for software freedom and you understand the critical role Conservancy plays.

WHO: All of this means that we rely on YOU to share our message with your friends and colleagues. We rely on you to share our story with the other folks that you collaborate with on free and open source software projects. We count on you to praise us to your fellow activists who are unhappy about how helpless we are in relation to the pervasive surveillance, one-size-fits-none solutions that many of us find it harder and harder to not use. We can't expand our work to support and protect free software solutions and grow the software freedom movement without you -- and your friends.

Once you've gotten three friends to sign up, just email us to let us know. Give us your address and you will receive a small special edition gift designed by the lovely Chris Lemmer-Webber and/or we will thank you publicly on our website (or just let us know if you prefer to remain anonymous or have your listing be in honor of someone or something.)

Tags: conservancy, FOSS Sustainability, software freedom for everyone

Hacker and Software Liberator

by Deb Nicholson on December 17, 2019

This week we are interviewing Mark Wielaard, one of the excellent people who is supporting our annual fundraiser by putting up matching funds. This year's match is our biggest yet! We've been challenged to match a total of $113,093. Donations help us support and protect free software alternatives and grow a bold software freedom movement where everyone is welcome.

Mark Wielaard addressing a group in front of a chalkboard

Photo at GNU Tools Cauldron 2017, courtesy of Mark Wielaard.

Mark Wielaard has a been a free software developer and advocate for a long time! He started out helping liberate Java as GNU Classpath maintainer and over the past twenty years, he has spoken publicly about his work to improve the experience of using critical free software tools including GCC and glibc and the DWARF debugging tools, elfutils and Valgrind. He's a senior principal software engineer at Red Hat working in the Engineering Tools group. Mark is passionate about building a software freedom movement that is inclusive and as bug-free as possible. He is not a huge fan of interviews, but generously agreed to answer a few questions for us anyway. Thanks, Mark!

1. What do you think is the biggest threat to software freedom today?

Centralized, non-open-standards based, communication and collaboration platforms. Personally I am perfectly happy using just email and irc. For all my personal needs I can now use my personal computer using free software. I have used a Firefox OS based phone in the past, but don't generally use a "smartphone". If you restrict yourself like that then it totally looks like we have won. There is this happy little community that has total control over their own computing. But it is a bubble. And it is getting harder and harder to get out. There are so many people who depend on communicating (and collaborating) with each other through these large centralized systems which only have proprietary (javascript) clients. It feels like it is getting harder and harder to bridge the gap.

2. What do you think free software projects should be paying more attention to over the next few years?

Besides figuring out what to do about those centralized communication/collaboration platforms I think Reproducible Builds (a Conservancy project) is really important. Even if you use only free software, you are still vulnerable to software supply chain attacks -- unless you audit and build all the software yourself. But everybody ultimately uses some binary builds produced by someone else. Reproducible Builds allow users to collaboratively "challenge" the provider of their binaries -- to trust, but verify.

3. Which Conservancy projects do you use?

As a hacker my current workflow is largely based around Git, Qemu, and Buildbot. But all Conservancy projects are useful (or just plain fun) in various situations. People really should check out the member list. If you used one of the projects and it was useful, consider hitting the Donate button.

4. Do you talk to family and friends about free software? If so, where do you usually start?

They will probably tell you I talk too much about it. These days it is easier because people very much realize they are no longer in control of their own computing devices. Sadly, software and computing have become synonymous with tracking and spyware. For their desktop or laptop I can mostly provide some free software solution. But not having much experience with mobile devices I often struggle to suggest good free software solutions there, except to suggest to avoid them if possible. Most people have become too dependent on their mobile devices to just not use them anymore.

5. Finally, what caused you to step up as a matcher for Conservancy this year?

Conservancy supports many software freedom causes and projects to which I could never productively contribute directly myself. Giving money is my indirect way to contribute. I believe it is important that Conservancy is supported by as many individuals as possible, so they can stay independent. Hopefully, the matching program inspires even more people to join, so that Conservancy can provide community projects a home where they can produce even more Software Freedom for all of us.

Participate in the match and have your donation doubled through the generosity of folks like Mark, today!

Tags: conservancy, Reproducible Builds, QEMU, software freedom for everyone

Karen Sandler keynoted State of the Map on Saturday 2019-09-21

by Bradley M. Kuhn on September 20, 2019

Conservancy's Executive Director Karen Sandler delivered the keynote address on Saturday 2019-09-21 at the 2019 State of the Map Conference in Heidelberg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. State of the Map is the annual conference for all mappers and OpenStreetMap users.

Karen's keynote was recorded and is available on the CCC media server!

Karen discussed her personal journey in software freedom, the challenges we all face maintaining lives of software freedom, and how that relates to the freedom of maps and navigation software.

Tags: conservancy, conferences, events

Conservancy News Round-up August

by Deb Nicholson on September 11, 2019

Updates from many of our projects' departing summer interns, updates on what our contractors have been up to and pictures from recent events.

Karen Sandler on the Abstractions stage with a screen that says: I have a big heart

Picture is available under a CC.BY license and was taken by Sarah Withee

Karen Sandler on the Abstractions stage with a screen that says: We may be collecting data about you and transmitting it to third parties... Would you like this life-saving device?

Picture is available under a CC.BY licenses and was taken by Zach Harris

Neal Stephenson, GNOME's Executive Director wearing his Conservancy t-shirt and sitting outside

Picture is available under a CC.BY.SA license and was taken by Deb Nicholson

Various people sitting around at an outdoor cafe

Picture is available under a CC.BY.SA license and was taken by Deb Nicholson

Recent Videos and Pictures

Our Executive Director, Karen Sandler, is going to be part of an upcoming French documentary about the global fight for software freedom. The English version will be titled "Hackers For The Commons" and you can already check out the trailer (along with a fundraiser for the English version), right here. There are a few upcoming screenings scheduled of the French version.

Check out these two pictures from Karen's Abstractions talk last month! (top)

Deb held a "Supporters & Friends" event during GUADEC. Check out these nice pictures of folks talking about software freedom in Thessaloniki! (below)

Upcoming talks from staff

Bradley is keynoting the 8th edition of Kernel Recipes in Paris on September 26 & 27. Conservancy is also this year's featured non-profit beneficiary. Registration opened this week.

Karen will be keynoting State of the Map in Heidelberg in September, on Saturday, September 21st.

Deb is speaking about "Selenium and Conservancy" at Selenium Conf this October.

Deb is also co-presenting with Nithya Ruff (the Head of Comcast’s Open Source Program Office) at All Things Open on "Companies and Communities: Why Can't We All Just Get Along?"

Interns are wrapping up for the summer

Also, applications are currently being accepted for the next round! Outreachy internships are remote, paid ($5,500 stipend), and last three months. Initial applications for the Dec 2019 to Mar 2020 internships are due on Sep 24 at 4pm UTC. Please help us reach folks who could benefit from an internship by sharing with your networks!

Conservancy contractors have been working hard

Lots happening at Reproducible Builds, including more work on diffoscope, new variations in their testing framework.

Over at phpMyAdmin, in addition to the intern that was sponsored directly through Conservancy, work focused on the request router and time with the Google Summer of Code interns who both wrapped up and reported on their work this summer, here and here.

Clojurists Together started work on four new projects. You can read about them all here.

Loads of fresh code!

Member Projects: Fall is for learning

Thanks to Chris Lamby for promoting Conservancy with complimentary beer mats at the recent Debian BBQ!

Tags: conservancy, Google Summer of Code, conferences, Outreachy

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