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EU consultation: Which Free Software program shall receive a European Union’s financed audit?

If you like to know your software, look into the code
If you like to know your software, look into the code

tl;dr: the The European Union runs a public survey about which Free Software program should receive a financed security audit. Take part!

2014, in reaction to the so-called “heartbleed” bug in OpenSSL, the Parliamentarians Max Andersson and Julia Reda initiated the pilot project “Governance and quality of software code – Auditing of free and open source software”. Which is now managed and realised by the European Commission’s Directorate General of Informatics (DIGIT) as the „Free and Open Source Software Auditing“ (EU-FOSSA) project. FOSSA is aiming at improving the security of those Free Software programs that are in use by the European Commission and the Parliament. To achieve this goal, the FOSSA project has three parts:

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FSFE summit: some updates and introducing our committee

Things are getting more and more concrete
Things are getting more and more concrete
The settings of the first ever FSFE summit are getting more and more concrete and I like to share the recent steps we made to shed some light on what kind of event we are heading towards. This post will update information about our Call for Participation, our logo and introduce our summit committee. Expect to read more in-depth posts about the venue, the program and its organisation in upcoming blogposts.

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There is no Open Science without the use of open standards and Free Software

99% of science is more than the final publication
99% of science happens before its final publication
Recently, the EU ministers responsible for research and innovation decided unanimously that by 2020, all results and scientific publications of publicly and publicly-private funded research must be freely available. This shall be ensured by the mandatory use of Open Access licenses that guarantee free access to publications. In addition “the data must be made accessible, unless there are well-founded reasons for not doing so, for example intellectual property rights or security or privacy issues”.

This important decision is long overdue and a good step towards opening up scientific results. And to give back to the public what they indirectly paid before with their tax money. However, this EU minister’s decision misses the opportunity to declare and understand software as a part of the research. Means to also include the free availability of the software used for publicly funded research. Indeed, there is not a single word in the press release to cover any informatics, software, “computer aided research” or anything alike. Everything that the ministers seem to care about is the final paper that is published as an article.

But we are in year 2016 and it is time to understand that software is information and knowledge – just as any article is.

Software as integral part of modern research

Software is an integral part of nearly all modern research. Beginning from metering, calculations, demonstrations to following stages of statistics, writings, publications … nearly all steps involved in a research project are in need and covered by the use of software.

What does it help the information society if a scientific paper is published in Open Access but all the steps involved towards creating this publication are built by investments in intransparent, closed and proprietary software solutions and data formats? Especially as the creation of a paper often involves many years of investigation and millions of Euros of fundings.

What does it help the science community, if the software that was used to achieve a result is not transparent? Software is really not without fail: miscalculated prison sentences, hardware scanners that randomly alter written numbers or professional software abuse to cheat on emissions by car manufacturers … – How can a researcher really believe in any result of a software that no one is able to look into and prove it to work correctly?

If the EU ministers responsible for research and innovation really aim at opening up scientific knowledge but keep software out of their scope, they do a very selective choice and only open up the very final stage of any research process. Articles are only able to list outcomes and results of a research process. Not including the software to be freely accessible means no one can see, reproduce or test the process itself or the mathematical methods that have been used to achieve these results.

Most researchers would love to have the software free as well

To understand a result you often need to analyze all parts of it
To understand a result you often need to analyze all parts of it
The EU ministers decision also seems not to be in line with what a majority in the scientific world is waiting for. Because having the software and data that is used for research freely accessible is definitely in interest of many researchers.

As an example, at the end of 2015, I was lucky to have been invited to shape the outcome of the JPI Climate symposium “Designing Comprehensive Open Knowledge Policies to Face Climate Change”. JPI Climate is a collaboration between 17 European countries to coordinate jointly their climate research and fund new transnational research initiatives. Given this transnational, European background, JPI Climate was setting up common Open Knowledge Policies. These shall help to find sustainable ways of archiving and ease the exchange of data and results – which in turn shall boost innovation in climate research. Naturally, JPI Climate was calling their members to publish under Open Access. But in contrast to the EU ministers, the JPI Climate does understand that all the way of the research process until the publication of the final article is just as important as the publication itself:

the symposium’s results confirm that access and availability issues are just one issue within the “openness” approach of “Open Knowledge”/“Open Science”; therefore, comprehensive policies (i.e. tackling the whole research cycle) should encompass measures related to “reuse and re-distribution” of data, information and knowledge and “universal participation” when designing, creating, disseminating and evaluating such data, information and knowledge.

Hence, participants on the common symposium agreed that

4. Research data, metadata, software, methods, etc. funded by public bodies should be open/public. Open licensing for data and software avoids collusion with legal restrictions at national or international level.


6. Open software/formats (independent from vendors) should be mandatory for data repositories and Data Management Plans (DMPs). Research Funding Organisations should take the lead and foster changes of business models when dealing with data


In addition to research results and data, open source software (used in the research process) should be mandatory and published under a free license.

Open Science needs Free Software

Obviously, the science community is large steps further than the EU ministers responsible for research and innovation. Many researchers all over Europe already seek for the mandatory use of Free Software in research process and the publication of software whose development was publicly funded. If EU ministers really like to realize their now proclaimed vision that “knowledge should be freely shared”, they should listen to their community and keep to their advise.

It is time to understand that software itself is knowledge and an integral part to create more (scientific) knowledge. And it is time for the European Union to note: There is no Open Science without the use of open standards and Free Software!

FSFE summit: Why we extend the deadline (Now May 29)

(download large file)
(download large file) [1]

tl;dr: The deadline of the Call for Participation for the first FSFE European summit is extended to May 29.

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” (multiple sources [2]) And if you organize a large conference for the first time, you have to do a lot of tough predictions. How many people will attend? Who are the interested speakers? What is your community going to organize? A lot of questions whose answers sometimes depend on or influence each other. For example, if a lot of people attend, speakers get interested in talking. Or if the community organises interesting opportunities to share and learn, more people are likely to attend and so forth.

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Call for Participation: FSFE European summit

Enlightening Europe
Enlightening Europe
Imagine a European Union that builds its IT infrastructure on Free Software. Imagine European Member States that exchange information in Open Standards and share their software. Imagine municipalities and city councils that benefit from decentralized and collaborative software under free licenses. Imagine no European is any longer forced to use non-Free Software.

This is the introduction of the Call for Participation of the first FSFE European Summit

Come and be part of an event where local activists gather to change Europe and its politics into using, creating and sharing free technology.

If you like to inspire, sent your submission until May 17

Save the date: September 2 – 4, 2016 – BCC Berlin, Germany
Hashtag: #FSFEsummit – Picture / Logo:

I love Free Software: How to edit OpenStreetMap in Osmand

ilovefs-osmandI am a traveller, a person who spents his money and spare time to leave home and see the world. That is why I am in need of a good Free Software navigation system. For IloveFS Day 2016 I like to thank all Free Software contributors and highlight my personal favorite OpenStreetMap-based navigation app: Osmand

For me, Osmand is the perfect match between simplicity and complexity. You can choose to use it for a simple map illustrator or as an offline navigation system including voice directions. Also, you can choose to see a simple map or show multiple layers to also see transportation systems, points of interests, hillshades, wikipedia entries and much more. Or you can enable a variety of plugins to customize your application or to enable advanced features. One of them is to edit and contribute to the source of OpenStreetMap.

Since this makes contributes anytime spontaneously to OpenStreetMap very easy, on #IloveFS, I like to thank the people behind Osmand by sharing a how-to add locations to OpenStreetMap with Android (or an Android custom-ROM). It is fun, easy and free.
This way I also hope to inspire other people to take their mobile once in a while and to map the world together.

Please note: this is an updated How to for Osmand version 2.2+. Please read my former Howto, if you run Osmand 2.0 or 2.1.

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About Cartes – the OSM app inside FirefoxOS marketplace


After my first steps with Firefox OS, this time I looked out for a navigation app because proper navigation is to me among the most important services of a mobile phone. I navigated through Mozillas marketplace and so far there are Cartes, Bing Maps, traffc, Maps Online, Find Me Google, Compass +, zMaps and Easy Taxi. Unfortunately, you do not see which one are Free Software and which not. But, after reading the info-pages inside the market place, I found Cartes to be the only navigation app in the market place so far, that is Free Software. So I gave this one a try.

First, I love a lot that it comes with a very easy-to-use interface that is composed of simply one line where you can enter for example an address that you are looking for. Or two lines in case you look for a route. Basically like itself. This interface is so much easier to use than the one from my beloved Osmand, which has a much more complex and unintuitive interface. Actually, every time I look for an address in Osmand, I wish there would be something like an easy “one line interface” to find the address I am looking for …
However, I think the difference in search usability derives from one of the most important features that Osmand offers and Cartes not, at least not yet: Offline maps and navigation. Offline maps are much more powerful than online searches, they are faster and work without any dependency on your internet connection. Which is especially important when you are travelling and like to have a full navigation system without roaming charges – anywhere in the world. Also I have to admit that Osmand~ offers multiple times more features and functionality than Cartes, for example OpenStreetMap editing on your device.

But hey, Cartes is a good start and I would love to see further development to give Firefox OS users easy-to-use freedom to OpenStreetMap for their navigation instead of being tied to proprietary services. And, as I can see from updates, there is already a “First attempt at offline use, now viewed tiles are cached an can be reused offline”. Thanks, Maël Lavault, keep the good work going.
BTW: Interesting to see, that Cartes can display satellite images? Where does it take it from? Bing?

Put Freedom into Firefox OS marketplace

Firefox OS Marketplace logo
Firefox OS Marketplace logo
My main interest towards Firefox OS derives from the fact that it is Free Software and that it is by Mozilla, an organisation that knows about the importance of free software and that fights for an “open web”. They also don’t hide that Mozilla heavily relies on Free Software technologies.

Given this background and the market share of Mozilla software – this leads me to the idea that Mozilla can play a crucial role in spreading software freedom into the mobile world and the world of connected devices. Even more as Mozilla publicly announced that they like to use Firefox OS as a Pivot to Connected Devices to

explore and prototype new use cases in the world of connected devices as an open source project with a clear focus on the user benefit and experience.

I like to argue, that a clear benefit to the user experience would be to easily find and use Free Software inside Firefox OS and therewith support Mozilla’s idea of “Open Web”. With the upcoming “internet of things”, it will be crucial that the people are in control of the technology and the devices that surrounds them. And as one simple but effective step towards that vision, I propose that Mozilla has a clearer information policy inside the Firefox OS market place. Please, add some information or label to make finding Free Software an easy thing. Make the use and the promotion of Free Software a concept inside Firefox OS, it’s market and add-ons. This would be a true benefit for the user.

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OpenStreetMap editing “to go” – adding locations to OSM with Android

Since I realized how easy it is to contribute anytime spontaneously to OpenStreetMap with your Android device, I wrote a how-to add locations to OpenStreetMap with Android (or an Android custom-ROM) in my OSM-profile. It is fun, easy and free.
This way I hope to inspire other people to take their mobile once in a while and to map the world together. This blog post is a duplicate of my profile information:

Installing Osmand~

Get F-Droid, the Free Software repository app. You can download the .apk directly from the home page and need to install it on your Android. If you encounter installation/permission problems, you most probably need to trust “unknown sources” first. Don’t panic : ) no harm involved.

F-Droid is an “alternative market place”, that only offers Free Software (as in Freedom). Others call it “Open Source”. For various reasons, Free Software is to be considered a good thing : )

Inside F-Droid, search for “Osmand”

and install “Osmand~”.
Don’t get confused by other apps : )

Get an account for OpenStreetMap

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