Posts tagged free software

Digital Markets Act: Device Neutrality finally becomes a reality

EU flagAfter many iterations and amendments, the European Parliament adopted the Digital Markets Act (DMA) by 642 votes in favour, 8 votes against and 46 abstentions, the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) reports.

The Act introduced the principle of Device Neutrality. At the same time, the Parliament missed the chance to introduce strict interoperability requirements based on Open Standards.

The FSFE has urged EU legislators to safeguard Device Neutrality in the DMA. We regret the voting has not contemplated setting Open Standards as default to define interoperability. However, getting Device Neutrality in the legislation is the first step. The right for end users to use their own devices and operating systems is an important factor to guarantee the access of free software operating systems to dominant platforms. As a daily reality for many users, this option enlarges the audience for free software adoption.

Lucas Lasota, the FSFE’s Deputy Legal Co-ordinator, remarked as follows:

We strongly believe the digital markets will benefit by facilitating access to Free Software in devices. Device Neutrality translates in the DMA as stricter consent rules for pre-installed apps, safeguards against vendor lock-in and real-time data portability. Interoperability of services was also introduced, but not with the requirement to be based on Open Standards. This is a lost chance to leverage competition with accessible and non-discriminatory technical specifications. Open Standards are an important element for innovation by allowing market actors to innovate on top of technical specification standards and build their own services.

The FSFE has been working for two decades empowering people to control the technology in their devices. It will closely follow the implementation of the Act and continue its activities and initiatives to safeguard the interests of end users.

EU Commission wants to release its software as open source

The European Commission announced today that it has adopted new rules on Open Source Software that will enable its software solutions to be publicly accessible whenever there are potential benefits for citizens, companies or other public services.

The Commission’s recent studyon the impact of Open Source Software and Hardware on technological independence, competitiveness and innovation in the EU economy revealed that on average, investment in open source results in four times higher returns. The Commission services will be able to publish the software source code they own in much shorter time and with less paperwork.

One example of the benefits of releasing software as open source is eSignature, a set of free standards, tools and services that help both public and private sector organisations accelerate the creation and verification of electronic signatures that are legally valid in all EU Member States.

A second example is LEOS, (Legislation Editing Open Software), the software used across the Commission to draft legal texts. Originally written for the Commission, LEOS is now being developed in close collaboration with Germany, Spain and Greece.

Single repository

The Commission will make its software available as open source in one single repository to enable access and reuse. Before its release, each software package will be checked to avoid security or confidentiality-related risks, data protection problems or infringement of third party intellectual property rights.

The Commission already shares hundreds of software projects as open source, including software developed for the Connecting Europe Facility, Eurostat, the Interoperable Europe Programme (Interoperability solutions for public administrations, businesses and citizens programme, the former ISA² programme), and for the Joint Research Centre.

Commenting on the announcement, the EU’s Commissioner for Budget and Administration, Johannes Hahn, said:

Open source offers great advantages in a domain where the EU can have a leading role. The new rules will increase transparency and help the Commission, as well as citizens, companies and public services across Europe, benefit from open source software development. Pooling of efforts to improve the software and the co-creation of new features lowers costs for the society, as we also benefit from the improvements made by other developers. This can also enhance security as external and independent specialists check software for bugs and security flaws.

EUPL now a “legal licence” in France

On 3rd December, French Décret no. 2021-1559 of 1st December 2021 was published in the Official Gazette, Joinup, the EU’s public sector news site reports.

This decree makes the European Union Public Licence (EUPL) a “Legal Licence” for use by public sector organisations in France.

Before the approval of this decree, French public sector organisations who wanted to use the EUPL had to justify it individually in a long administrative process. Since the EUPL is a reciprocal licence stating that derivatives of the covered software must likewise also be distributed under the EUPL, this represented an additional barrier for sharing and reusing software between European institutions, France and the rest of EU.

French public sector organisations are major users and developers of free/open source software. It is estimated that some 1,000 have published about 9,000 free and open source projects.

In addition to the EUPL, the decree mentioned above also adds the Eclipse Public Licence to the French “legal” list. The Eclipse Public Licence is a free and open source software licence most notably used for the Eclipse IDE and other projects by the Eclipse Foundation, an independent, Canada-based not-for-profit corporation that acts as a steward of the Eclipse open source software development community.

Ubuntu 21.10 released

Two days ago, Canonical announced the release of Ubuntu Linux 21.10, codenamed Impish Indri.

Ubuntu 21.10 wallpaper

Canonical’s CEO Mark Shuttleworth said of the release:

As open source becomes the new default, we aim to bring Ubuntu to all the corners of the enterprise and all the places developers want to innovate. From the biggest public clouds to the tiniest devices, from DGX servers to Windows WSL workstations, open source is the springboard for new ideas and Ubuntu makes that springboard safe, secure and consistent.

This latest Ubuntu release is a short-term one with nine months of support that precedes the next long-term support (LTS) version, Ubuntu 22.04.

The new release’s default desktop interface is GNOME 40, whilst there have also been some updates to the distribution’s default desktop programs, which now include the LibreOffice 7.2 office productivity suite, the Thunderbird 91 e-mail client, and the Firefox 92 web browser.

Ubuntu 21.10 is available for immediate download for 64-bit systems (32-bit support ceased some time ago. Ed.)

LibreOffice 2021 Conference details announced

Italo Vignoli has posted details of the 2021 LibreOffice Conference (which will take place online. Ed.) on the Document Foundation’s blog.

LibreOffice Conference 2021 logoThis year’s LibreOffice Conference will open at noon CEST on 23rd September and will conclude at 5:30p.m. CEST on 25th September.

The conference schedule has been finalised and is now available. Of course, there may last minute changes until 12th September when the schedule will be frozen. Sometime after that date the schedule will also be available on Android mobiles

People attending the LibreOffice Conference via Jitsi are asked to register by filling in this form. Registration will enable the conference organisers to manage conference sessions in the best way and provide a better experience than in 2020 (when a couple of unwelcome “guests” tried to spoil the event). LibreOffice advocates and conference attendees can support the event by purchasing LibreOffice Conference merchandise from Freewear.

In addition to the Document Foundation blog, conference announcements will be posted on two Telegram groups – LibreOffice Virtual Conference Announcements (https://t.me/LibOcon) and LibreOffice Virtual Conference (https://t.me/liboconvirtual), as well as the dedicated LibreOffice Conference website.

Debian 11 bullseye released

Debian logoYour ‘umble scribe has been using Debian GNU/Linux for the best part of 15 years now.

Besides being a distribution in its own right, Debian is also used as the basis for many other Linux distros, such as the Ubuntu family and derivatives, as well as specialised distros like the security- and privacy-conscious Tails.

Furthermore, Debian stable version releases don't occur very often, only every 2-3 years (unlike the Ubuntu family, which is on a rigid twice-yearly release cycle. Ed.).

Consequently, a Debian stable version release is a major event and the latest release occurred on Friday, as announced in an email to the Debian Developer Announce mailing list

The start of the email reads as follows:

Hi,
On 14th August 2021 we released Debian 11 “bullseye”.
There are too many people who should be thanked for their work on getting us to this point to list them all individually, and we would be sure to miss some. Nevertheless, we would like to particularly thank the installer team, the buildd and ftp teams, the CD team, the publicity team, the webmasters, the Release Notes editors, porters and all the bug squashers, NMUers, package maintainers and translators who have contributed to making bullseye a great release of which we should all be proud.

The email goes on the state that first point release for bullseye will take place about one month after the initial release.

Testing will soon start for the next Debian stable release – Debian 12, codenamed bookworm.

Finally, it’s worth noting that bullseye comes with 5 years’ support and an additional 10,000 software packages, as noted by ZDNet.

Debian 11 ‘bullseye’ due for release on 14th August

Debian logoVersion 11 of Debian GNU/Linux, codenamed ‘bullseye‘, is due for release on 14th August The Register reports.

A new Debian release is an important event in the world of Linux and free and open source software as it doesn’t happen all that frequently, the last version release being over 2 years ago.

Not only is Debian an important distribution in its own right, but is also influential since it froms the basis for many others including the various flavours of Ubuntu (e.g. Kubuntu, Xubuntu, etc. Ed.), Mint, Devuan, Knoppix, Tails, Raspbian, Pop!_OS and SteamOS, to name but a few.

A post to Debian’s developer announcements list stated: “We plan to release on 2021-08-14”.

It’s a little over 2 years since the last stable Debian version, Debian 10 or ‘buster‘, was made available for download.

Happy 20th birthday, FSFE!

FSFE logoWay back in 2001, the prescient souls who established the Free Software Foundation Europe foresaw that people should be in control of technology and not vice versa.

Twenty years down the road the FSFE is concentrating its daily work on three main pillars to help software freedom thrive in Europe: public awareness, policy advocacy, and legal support.

FSFE 20th anniversary graphic

The FSFE has had some major campaign successes over its 2 decades.

For instance there was the campaign to promote free software PDF readers, which encouraged over 2,000 European public sector organisations to remove links for Adobe’s proprietary Acrobat reader from their websites.

A major current FSFE campaign is Public Money, Public Code, an initiative to ensure that publicly financed software developed for the public sector be made publicly available under a Free and Open Source Software licence. If it is public money, it should be public code as well. Code paid by the people should be available to the people!

Finally here’s FSFE President Matthias Kirschner speaking to the openSUSE Virtual Conference 2021 about two decades of the FSFE.

https://fsfe.org/news/2021/news-20210721-01.en.html

Many happy returns, FSFE. Keep up the good work for the good of all.

Tor Browser squashes user tracking bug

The Tor Project has updated its browser after the discovery of a bug with more than dangerous repercussions for user privacy. URLs based on onion services version 2 should migrate to version 3 before September 2021.

A recent update of the Tor Browser to version 10.0.18 has enabled several bugs to be corrected, including a rather serious vulnerability for users, French IT news site Le Monde Informatique reports. As a matter of fact, this bug, which is based on version 2 of its onion services, enabled some sites to track users from the applications installed on their devices.

Tor Browser running on Ubuntu Linux

Tor Browser running on Ubuntu Linux. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The vulnerability tracked users via their browsers, enabling any website or government to discover a user’s actual IP address, which is contrary to the basic principle of the Tor project. URLs actually benefit from a security gain with version 3 of onion services. This is due to the fact that they use “cleaner” code with stronger cryptography which is proving to be less susceptible to brute force attacks due to its complexity.

URLs under onion services V2 no longer supported from 15 July

The project also announced it would start to deprecate URLs under onion services version 2 by initially advising the operators and clients that access them. With effect from 15 July, Tor will no longer support V2 URLs V2 and support for them will be removed from the browser codebase.

So as to ensure that each user and website administrator is well aware of this change, a message will be displayed “when visiting sites which are still using V2 URLs advising they will shortly be deprecated and the site will be inaccessible unless it is updated to version 3 of onion services“.

Estonia – government software is now public software

Public Money Public Code logoThe Baltic Republic of Estonia has clearly taken note of the Free Software Foundation Europe’s Pubic Money Public Code campaign to have publicly funded software released as free software.

Joinup,the EU’s news site for open source IT developments reports that the Estonian government decided to make all government software publicly available.

The Estonian Parliament, the Riigikogu, approved the necessary changes to the Estonian State Property Act on 12 May 2021 and the the new rules came into effect on 1st June 2021.

All software to which the Estonian state owns the property rights in whole or part shall henceforth ould be made available publicly. If only parts are owned by the state, those parts owned by the state will be made available.

Under the new regulations, the authority in charge of the software shall decide if the software is to be made available and has to provide the following:

  • a description of the public software to be made available for use;
  • the conditions of use of the public software to be made available.

However, there are some restrictions on the release of publicly-funded software to the pubic. For example, if such a release would be detrimental to the state, such as a potential threat to public order and national security or cybersecurity reasons, in which case the authority in question can refuse to make the software publicly available.

With his move, Estonia joins other European countries such as Spain, Italy and France, which already publish most of government-owned software publicly

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