Software Freedom Conservancy

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Displaying posts tagged Outreachy

Software Freedom Work During the Pandemic

by Deb Nicholson on April 21, 2020

Most of us have already gotten many, many emails talking about how fast food chains, companies that sell sweatpants and soap makers are "here for you" especially, "in these troubled times." Some of those are heartfelt emails assuring you that their company is making donations to non-profits or that they are really, really, washing everything. Non-profits, while we are also "here for you" especially, "in these troubled times" generally have more to do during a crisis so we've been focusing on our work while going a bit light on our marketing.

Conservancy's communities have responded to the global pandemic in several ways. Firstly, we are all grateful for the global, remote free software community -- particularly as many key events are being cancelled or transforming into online experiences. Many of us are looking at how to better serve the people who count on us, either by improving the tools we offer or our support, or both. Here's a sampling of what our projects are doing during the pandemic.

Working Together

Etherpad recently rolled out video support. It was already in the works, but it couldn't be more timely as many, many more people look for remote collaboration tools that respect their freedom. We've tried it out with as many as six people and you get a collaborative space for document editing (minutes, statement, shared story, etc.) as well as a sidebar with everyone's faces reacting in real time — very nice!

Conservancy also houses three (3!) version control systems. There's never been more demand for efficient tooling to manage remote, asynchronous collaboration. Git, Darcs and Mercurial are ready to help you work together, remotely.

Common Workflow language has been participating in biohackathons, more information on that work can be found here.

Remote Internships

Outreachy provided remote paid internships to work on free and open source software, inviting anyone who faces under-representation, systemic bias, or discrimination in the technology industry of their country to apply. The pandemic has exacerbated societal inequities such that people who have stable tech jobs are able to weather this crisis from the safety of their homes, while less resourced people are forced to choose between having an income and safety from the virus. And of course, it's not a great time to look for intro-level opportunities, let alone remote ones that could lead to a career with working on free software. Outreachy is looking to provide as many internships as possible in the coming May round to help bring more opportunities to marginalized people when they're needed most. Additionally, Outreachy has lowered the hours requirement for interns and mentors, to make the intership more accessible to those who have additional care-giving or just increased emotional overhead during the global pandemic. Outreachy typically has provided a travel stipend to interns. Because travel is no longer safe or recommended, the Outreachy team has decided to officially cancel all travel and pay all outstanding travel stipends, which they hope will help their alumns cope with this difficult time. The Outreachy team could use your help -- making the upcoming round bigger will be tough while some funding sources are contracting. We encourage companies to sponsor Outreachy interns, and anyone whose financial situation is not impacted by the current crisis to make an individual donation.

LibreHealth and Qemu are both mentoring Outreachy interns who will get paid to work on free software, remotely (as always) this summer. Boost, Coreboot, Godot, Inkscape, Qemu, Sugar Labs, Wine and Xapian are all taking part in Google Summer of Code -- another critical remote internship opportunity that brings new people in to the free software community. Disasters tend to exacerbate the impact of existing inequalities, making things hard for newcomers. Mentoring new free software contributors, and paying them while they work and learn, is more important than ever.

Control Over Our Computing

Many folks have been trying to get work or school software functioning on their home computers for the first time this past month and are newly grateful for the important interoperability bridges that Homebrew and Wine maintain. Wine just released updates and bug fixes a week ago, while we've been working with Homebrew to ensure that their paid contractors are well-supported with proper hardware during lockdown.

As we incorporate technology more intimately into our lives, with networked devices being a lifeline to work, school, friends and family, it's never been more important to make sure we control the technology we rely on. Our team is also continuing to work on GPL compliance, making sure that companies who use copylefted software keep up their end of the deal. Having access to source code and being able to modify the software on our devices can help us limit surveillance and other predatory behavior by companies who know that their customers have little choice if they want devices that provide a lifeline in this difficult time.

Finally, it can't always be all about work. As we enter the *second* month of lockdown in many places, video games are providing an important escape for people who are staying at home. Godot helps folks create new games without having to worry about proprietary licenses. With Conservancy's help, the Godot team has been using community driven funding to make Godot better and better.

We hope you're keeping well and staying healthy!

Tags: conservancy, Outreachy, software freedom for everyone

Last Week in Brussels: FOSDEM, Copyleft Conf and More

by Conservancy's Staff on February 10, 2020

FOSDEM

FOSDEM is a great volunteer-run, community-driven event that has been going on for twenty years!! Conservancy staff and volunteers who attend the event are grateful to have the opportunity to interact with so many passionate free software advocates in one place each year.

The FOSDEM organizers invited Bradley and Karen to speak on the main track talk — the next installment talk on the difficulty in living in software freedom and making ethical choices today — a follow-up to their keynote from last year.

Conservancy staff also gave some DevRoom talks, including participating in the one-of-a-kind debates in the Legal & Policy DevRoom this year. Nearly all of these recordings are now available. The FOSDEM video team is amazingly efficient — with a fully FOSS system for conference video!

The well-attended Legal & Policy DevRoom (which Bradley and Karen help organize each year) occurred all day on Saturday. In the morning, Bradley participated in a debate entitled, Does Careful Inventory of Licensing Bill of Materials Have Real Impact on FOSS License Compliance? The debate format was an exciting new addition to the DevRoom this year. (Please note that per the debate format, some speakers took positions that did not necessarily reflect their personal or organizational views.)

On Sunday, Deb spoke about Building Ethical Software Under Capitalism, in the Community Devroom. Later that day in the same room, Bradley Kuhn discussed, How Does Innersource Impact on the Future of Upstream Contributions?.

On Sunday, Conservancy welcomed attendees to learn more about our organization at our booth. We thank our volunteers who greeted and discussed Conservancy's work with attendees; we appreciate your energy. Also, thanks to the many Outreachy alums (all of whom are still participating in FOSS!) who stopped by the booth — it's really gratifying to hear from you. One current intern even asked for a selfie with our staff!

Many of our member projects were also at FOSDEM. Coreboot ran a shared booth, Homebrew had their second in-person meeting on Monday and Godot had a booth and helped run the Gaming Development track.

Godot also hosted two pre-conference sprint days and a two day “FOSDEM Fringe” event — GodotCon.

Copyleft Conf

Sign that says Second Annual Copyleft

Photo is by Deb Nicholson and is available under a CC-BY-SA-4.0 license

We ran the Second Annual Copyleft Conf on Monday. The event sparked lively and respectful conversations about the use and future of copyleft. The event included an exciting, multi-faceted schedule of talks and panels. Our lovely program committee — Molly de Blanc, Nithya Ruff, Harald Welte, Josh Simmons, Beth Flanagan, Bradley Kuhn and Deb Nicholson — curated and selected excellent content for the day. Thanks also to our Copyleft Conf volunteers, who helped with registration, speaker introductions and time-keeping.

All the Copyleft Conf sessions and Deb's CHAOSS Con keynote (a Friday “FOSDEM Fringe” event), Ethics: What You Know & What You Don't Know should be posted within a few weeks.

Tags: conferences, Godot, Outreachy

Friends of Outreachy, UX and the GPL

by Deb Nicholson on December 13, 2019

David Turner and Danielle Sucher are just two of the excellent people who are 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.

David Turner has been working on free software for nearly 20 years. He's been a GPL Compliance Engineer at the Free Software Foundation, worked on Open Trip Planner (a Conservancy member project) and is a Senior Software Engineer at Two Sigma. Danielle Sucher is a polyglot who primarily works with OCaml these days. They are partners who live together in New York City, along with the best cats.

Two lovely cats lounging on a sofa

Picture is available under a CC.BY license and was taken by Danielle Sucher.

David and Danielle were gracious enough to participate in an interview -- thanks!

1. What do you think is the most exciting thing that happened in free software over the past year?

David: As a user of free software, I think the renewed focus on UX has been valuable. Two examples: Git has added some new subcommands like "switch" and "restore" and that put the emphasis on the task the user is trying to accomplish rather than on what happens internally. And Blender has a whole new UI, just in time for me to start playing around with it.

2. How does software freedom fit in with the other causes you support?

I think the notion that it's possible to cooperate with folks with whom one might not have very much in common seems increasingly rare these days. I think of freedom of speech as a sort of treaty: I won't try to censor you, and you won't try to censor me. Free software is very much the same: you're doing your thing with the software, and I'm doing mine. Because freedom of speech is threatened, we support the ACLU.

3. Danielle, you went from being a lawyer to being a developer when most people in this field go the other way if they're going to switch! What was the most unexpected thing about that change?

Danielle: I thought I would like front-end stuff because I love art, but in fact, I hate it and am very happy doing backend development and distributed systems.

4. Do you ever dream of writing a software license? Why or why not?

David: I do sometimes dream of writing a constitution. But I don't really feel the need to write a license, because I think the GPL does a fine job.

5. What do you hope to see Conservancy accomplish in the next five years?

We continue to enjoy seeing new folks joining the movement through Outreachy. And I'm sure that whatever else you do will be great too.

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

Tags: Outreachy

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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