Skip to content


How to edit OpenStreetMap “to go” 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.

Read More →

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.

Read More →

FSFE assembly during Chaos Communication Congress #32C3

FSFE assembly on CCCamp15
FSFE assembly on CCCamp15
On December 27 to 30 there will be the 32nd Chaos Communication Congress happening in Hamburg, Germany. FSFE will be there with an assembly. This assembly will be a booth where you can pass by, have a chat, inform yourself or get some merchandise. And it will be a space for and by our Fellows, friends and supporters to meet, share and organise. There will be a bunch of self-organised sessions, mainly about specific Free Software projects, about encryption and decentralized, federated social networks. Also, check out our special activities: the Free Software song sing-along and the GNU/Burger. Finally, we will bring all kind of up-to-date information material and the latest merchandise, including our “NoCloud”-Shirt.

About our place:
We will offer an information booth with our promotion material and merchandise equipment. Behind that booth there will be some chairs and tables to meet and discuss. If you like to meet our community, staff and GA members, the FSFE assembly is the best place to do so.

It is planned every evening to have 2 hours of “GNU/Burger” – burgers with a GNU brand on top and a GNU FDL-licensed receipt. Pass by and use, study, share and improve it.

On the second day, on Monday 28.12., at 14:00 we will have a spontaneous Free Software song sing-along choir. Everyone is invited to help singing. If you like Free Software, then “join us now and share the so-o-ftware”

Self-organized sessions:
Below is a list of our self-organized sessions as is the state on 20 December 2015. Please check our assembly page for updated information

Read More →

#ECS21 – the campaign that did not happen

The economy of knowledge in the 21st century

Our economic and social development has always been based on the freedom to use, study, share and improve common knowledge and information. Since entering the digital era, the freedoms to access and use knowledge is strongly linked with the access to technology and software. Furthermore, access and use of our cultural heritage, economic development, as well as our social and political organisation, is increasingly based on technology and software. In the 21st century, access to software determines how we can participate in our society.

Read more …

This is the introduction text of a campaign I wanted to run for the upcoming General Elections in Spain, accompanied with some theory, how Free Software increases autonomy and helps to grow local economy. Following this background, in the very heart of the campaign there are some clear demands, a “Freedom Pact”, that should help to put theory into practice. Candidates that run for office can sign this Freedom Pact to show that they care and to promise to

  • promote the use of Free Software in all areas of public life, public administration, and public education
  • promote legislation to make Free Software the first choice in public procurement
  • promote policies in favour of Free Software and oppose policies that discriminate against it
  • ensure a legal requirement, that all software developed with public funds is released as Free Software, so other administrations, and the public, can benefit from it
  • promote the widest possible use of Open Standards in the public sector, as well as the publication and archiving of all public data and documents in formats based on Open Standards

The concept is in the family of other Ask Your Candidate campaigns like the European Free Software Pact or the Swiss FreedomVote.

01 eibarUnfortunately, the campaign never came alive and given that the elections will already happen in 4 weeks, the campaign will not get alive for the 2015 elections. However, I think the work that has been done is worth sharing and that is why I aset put a simple wp-page that includes the pact, the campaign texts and the translations we have done:

This way, I hope it inspires someone else in the wild to take it up and run a campaign, to share it, to talk about it or to simply do whatever you like. Everything public domain (CC0). The text is available in Spanish, Gallic, Catalan and English.

Finally, I especially like to thank Juan Antonio Zaratiegui Vallecillo for working on the multilanguage page that never went online, to Eukelade for the translations and for Asa Ritz for his contributions.


Read More →

New Palmyra

Palmyra was Syrias best known archeological site, influenced by ancient Greek, Roman and Persian arts and culture. Bassel Khartabil, Free Software developer, started with a 3d virtual reconstruction of Palmyra but is put in prison by the current regime of Assad. In recent months, Palmyra became known around the world due to its deconstruction by the Islamic state, ISIS.

Now the #NewPalmyra project was launched to “create a online community platform and data repository dedicated to the capture, preservation, sharing, and creative reuse of data about the ancient city of Palmyra”

The idea is to go on with Khartabils work, to give and use the power of the commons: “3D modelers, archaeologists, artists, curators, developers, educators, journalists, researchers, wikimedians and everyone else is invited to participate and the collected data will be released into the public domain under a Creative Commons Zero license at”.

I was lucky to visit Palmyra before the outbreak of the civil war. Now happy to share my pictures and geo locations with via Wikimedia Commons under CC0. Hopefully helps.

Funeral temple No 86, Palmyra

Columns and tombs in Palmyra

Read More →

I(ra)nternet – Internet censorship and sanctions in Iran

This is not an in-depth blog post about the internet censorship in Iran. If you look for that you find better stuff ‘out there’ or maybe start with the dedicated wikipedia page, instead. This is mere a simple story about my own experience, using the internet in Iran.

Recently I was in Iran for educational purposes (the thing other people call vacation). I directly came from Bucharest where I was at FSFE’s General Assembly and where I used Airbnb to find a proper accommodation. For those who do not know: Airbnb is a service that offers private accommodations, provided by local people. To prove reliability of the hosts, it comes with a built-in recommendation system. So I was in Iran now and I wanted to write a recommendation about my host in Bucharest inside Airbnb. But, when I tried to log in, I was facing this:

Airbnb as seen inside Iran

Own translation:

Why can I not use Airbnb from my location?
Airbnb has to keep to the law of the United States, that says that people of distinct countries are not allowed to use our service. That is why our service is not available in Cuba, Syria, Iran and Sudan.

Read More →

European Coordinators Meeting 2015

Last weekend, July 24-26, FSFE invited it’s coordinators all over Europe to the European Coordinators Meeting 2015 (ECM15) in the Unperfekthaus in Essen. Unfortunately, we had a bit less participation then in the previous edition due to some short-time cancellations. Fortunately, this did not spoil the good mood of all those present and we look back on a very exciting and productive coordinators meeting. In this post, find a report of our weekend.

participants of ECM15

Participants of the ECM15

Read More →

Die Schulen Sachsen-Anhalts, der Finanzminister und Microsoft

Das Land Sachsen-Anhalt steht kurz davor, einen Vertrag mit Microsoft zu unterzeichnen, der vorsieht alle staatlichen Schulen des Landes künftig mit Microsoft Diensten und Programmen auszustatten. Die bisherige Absichtserklärung ist besonders prekär mit Blick auf den Datenschutz aller Lernenden, Lehrenden und Mitarbeitenden. Zudem unterstützt der Staat damit eine Produktbindung junger Menschen an verschlossene IT Lösungen.

Eigentlich hätte eine derart weitreichende Entscheidung – das Errichten einer einheitlichen, zentralisierten Schul-IT – durch ein Übereinkommen von Kommunen, dem Kultusministerium sowie dem Datenschutzbeauftragten besiegelt werden müssen. Weil ihm deren Zustimmung aber vielleicht zu unsicher war, hat der Finanzminister Sachsen-Anhalts, Jens Bullerjahn (SPD), jedoch kurzerhand im Alleingang einen Absichtserklärung über eine “Partnerschaft des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt und der Microsoft Deutschland GmbH” unterschrieben – ohne vorab die anderen Entscheidungsträger zu konsultieren.

Auch sonst schien es dem Finanzministerium lange Zeit wichtig zu sein, die konkreten Verhandlungen lieber geheim zu halten. Obwohl die Absichtserklärung bereits im März erstmals bekannt gegeben wurde ergab im April eine Anfrage auf zur “Partnerschaft zwischen Microsoft und dem Land Sachsen-Anhalt” lediglich ein vollkommen geschwärztes Dokument zur “Einsicht” zurück. Seit kurzem aber ist das Dokument endlich veröffentlicht und daraus zitiert:

“Als eine der ersten Maßnahmen wird hierbei ein zentraler Verzeichnisdienst (Active Directory, Sicherheits- und Identitätsmanagement) begründet, der alle Akteure in der Bildungslandschaft einschließt, gleich ob Lehrende, Lernende oder sonstige Verwaltungsmitarbeiter […] Das Ministerium der Finanzen verantwortet und gestaltet die strategische Architektur, den zentral gesteuerten Aufbau, den Betrieb und die Weiterentwicklung dieser Kernkomponente”

Read More →

Sachsen-Anhalt verkauft seine Schulen an Microsoft

Das Land Sachsen-Anhalt will mitmachen, up-to-date sein, die Digitalisierung als Chance verstehen, Schule und Lehre modernisieren. Soweit gut, doch leider verpasst die aktuelle Regierung dabei die Chance, eine gute Ausbildung mit digitaler Selbstbestimmung und der Unabhängigkeit der Lehre zu verknüpfen. Anstatt auf den Ausbau von Open Educational Resources mit Freier Software zu setzen, plant die Landesregierung eine vollumfängliche Kooperation und Ausstattung aller öffentlichen Schulen mit Microsoft. Dazu gehört die verpflichtende Nutzung von MS-Software und online-Services bis hin zum Aufbau einer eigenen Microsoft “IT-Academy”. Das ganze unter dem offiziellen Dach der staatlichen Schule und Schulbildung, bezahlt durch den Steuerzahler.
Derartiges Vorhaben darf nicht zugelassen werden. Das ist nicht nur schlecht für den Datenschutz der Schülerinnen und Schüler und das Geld der Steuerzahlenden. Es verhindert zugleich den freien Wettbewerb und damit die Chancen lokaler Dienstleister. Vor allem aber treibt es Generationen von jungen Menschen in die Abhängigkeit zu Microsoft.

Read More →