LinuxCon North America, 22-24 August 2016, Toronto ON Canada

LinuxCon North America, 22-24 August 2016, Toronto ON Canada

LinuxCon North America is coming up on 22nd August 2016, it’s a huge conference with great keynote speakers such as Jim Whitehurst, the CEO of Red Hat, and Cory Doctorow, author and prolific blogger on open left and open culture. Of course Linus Torvalds will also be there!

The event hashtag on Twitter and is #linuxcon and the event itself is hosted at the beautiful Westin Harbour Castle hotel in downtown Toronto, Canada.

Schedule and Sessions

Click here to view the schedule.


It’s not too late to register! Students get a discount.

Continue reading “LinuxCon North America, 22-24 August 2016, Toronto ON Canada”

TechBridge Makerspace: Help fund the Lethbridge Maker Space!

TechBridge Makerspace: Help fund the Lethbridge Maker Space!

The Techbridge Makerspace is attempting to create a new makerspace in the city of Lethbridge, Alberta. They’re raising money to create the space and have already raised $4080! There’s just TEN DAYS LEFT to fund them.

The perks they offer are:

  • a 3d printed bust when you donate $200 + shipping
  • a handmade laser cut letter when you donate $10
  • a handcrafted leather key fob when you donate $20
  • $50 gets you an engraved multitool
  • $1000 means you’ve basically bought equipment for the space and can name it anything you want, the example is a 3d printer named Printy McPrintface

They want to buy some of this equipment so that people can come in and learn how to create new things and build their own projects and products and prototypes:

  • CNC mill
  • Machina X20 3D printer
  • 3D scanner
  • heavy duty sewing machine
  • laser cutter
  • vinyl cutter
Lethbridge skyline, source:

Hackerspaces and makerspaces should be helping each other more often, this is why I’m posting about this new makerspace here.

Crowdfunding isn’t just for funding new hardware, it’s for funding new spaces where people can learn how to build using that new hardware. It would be amazing to see people all over the world learn how to use 3d scanners and printers.

Click here to fund the Techbridge Makerspace and help Lethbridge residents see what all the excitement about the future of 3d printing is all about!

German Free/Open Source Fund

The Prototype fund applications are open for another 60 days. The fund has 1.2 million Euros to invest in free/open source software projects and development work. They are looking to develop prototypes that are open sourced over a period of 6 months. Each project can receive a grant of up to 30,000 Euros. Projects will also gain mentorship. They are looking to fund around 10 projects per round of funding.

The coolest part here is that you will get paid to develop a prototype and that prototype can later on be further be developed by others. Non-profits especially will appreciate this as it will keep their costs low and give them a chance to check out new technology. For example, the open source nature of WordPress is the main reason it is the dominant technology used by non-profits and charities.

Businesses across the world will benefit as well from the Prototype Fund’s works. Very exciting development, looking forward to other governments and nations offering grants for open source development work.

FreedomBox on RaspberryPi

FreedomBox on RaspberryPi

I did a presentation at the Toronto Anarchist Bookfair. The workshop/presentation went very well, great questions in the Q & A session, people picked up and kept the handout which contains all the info on the hardware and software needed to get everything set up.

The presentation was about how to run FreedomBox on the RaspberryPi hardware. FreedomBox is a collection of software running on the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. The software includes Tor, OpenVPN, Privoxy.

The full list of software included on FreedomBox as of version 0.9:

  • Tor, the onion router for anonymizing web browsing and hosting hidden services
  • OpenVPN, VPN service
  • Privoxy, proxy service
  • Quassel IRC client
  • RoundCube email client
  • Deluge, BitTorrent client
  • Transmission, BitTorrent client
  • IkiWiki, a wiki/blog
  • Minetest server, a server for a MineCraft game clone
  • Mumble voice chat server
  • XMPP chat server
  • SIP server

It includes dynamic DNS in case your IP address changes while running the FreedomBox. Also useful and included with it is PageKite which is a reverse proxy.

The first part of the workshop was a presentation where I covered the current privacy and liberty landscape. I explained how corporations and governments are gathering and analyzing much of our data which should be remaining private. In the second part of the workshop I walked through practical applications of the FreedomBox and how it can be a convenient alternative to services that invade your privacy. Furthermore, I tried to highlight how particular ideas of sharing and helping, do it yourself and building alternatives apply to the FreedomBox.

Click here to download the presentation PDF “FreedomBox on the RaspberryPi”

Click here to download the raspberrypi instructions handout PDF

I specifically mention anarchism and anarchist concepts in the workshop, because I lean toward that ideology myself. That doesn’t mean I’m against business or against government, it means I’m in favour of building alternatives that are fair and protective of privacy and liberty. I am in favour of free market competition as well, though we do not operate in a free market most of the time. However I know it isn’t always polite to talk politics and it may make some people uncomfortable, or they may think I am anti-whatever.

On my other site,, I will be posting a different version of the slides that cuts out the mention of anarchism. Maybe I should have changed the title of the talk to “applying free market concepts with FreedomBox and RaspberryPi” and point out that in a free market the FreedomBox is a competitor to Dropbox, Google Drive, GMail, and other services.

In any case my goal is to show people how to protect their privacy and establish their own space of liberty and freedom with the FreedomBox.

Rejecting Software Licenses

Martin Sustrik has written an article about the number of Github repos that have licenses and apparently that number has been declining. Github now lets newly created repositories to insert a license file that has the text of licenses such as the MIT, Apache 2.0 and GPL.

His theory is that more developers just don’t care about licenses anymore and are completely rejecting them and the copyright system that goes along with them.

So, the other possibility is that authors deliberately reject the legal system per se. The reasoning can go as follows: I do care about my peers using my software. I don’t give a damn about whether the lawyers and mega-corporations they work for use it. So, if you are like me and you don’t care about all the intellectual property antics, here’s my project, feel free to use it. If you are the kind of moron who wants to have their legal ass covered, go screw yourself.

Where I think he goes wrong is in stating that this is a more radical position than the Free Software movement’s statement:

Put this way, publishing without license is a much more radical statement than GPL is. Where RMS says: “You can use my stuff if you buy into the idea of free software,” people publishing without license say: “You can use my stuff if you are willing to ignore the law.” It’s a bit like when you want to join mafia and they ask you to beat an innocent bystander to prove your contempt for the rule of law.

This is missing the point. Yes the GPL relies on the existing copyright system of enforcement, but if you aren’t using GPL that’s absolutely fine and is in fact the point of the GPL; that we are creating new free/open source software that can exist *outside* of the realm of our antiquated copyright system. Richard Stallman was keenly aware of this and why he worked on creating a license that can use existing system against itself.

One day we’ll reach a tipping point where it would be stupid to try and copyright a piece of software, absolutely ridiculous, something that’s only done by someone selfish and anti-social. Until that day, however, we have the GPL to protect us from companies that want to lower their costs and take advantage of our labour. The GPL’s point is to use the copyright system against itself.

At this point you can opt out of the copyright system, but it won’t opt of you. The governments of the world, despite our protestations, want to enforce copyright on software. By neglecting to include a license, you’re actually preventing others from using your software and developing it further because your users/developers and the rest of society have bought into copyright law.

This is precisely why it’s important to talk about the GPL and copyleft. One day, all software will be free/open source and we’re getting closer. This is why I’m forking node-oauth, which was under the MIT license and changing it to the GPL3 license. Because I can’t opt out of the copyright system yet, but when we get to that day where we no longer have any copyright laws and enforcement in place, that’s when I’ll remove all the licenses from my code.

Update: The Anti-GPL Crowd

(written on 2 June 2016)

There’s a disturbing trend in any threads on reddit/r/programming that mention the GPL or any of the related licenses or that mention the Free Software Foundation to have lots of anti-GPL and anti-FSF propaganda in them. And it truly is propaganda because in 2016 you can’t feign such ignorance about software licenses, it’s propaganda because it spreads FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).

What really disappoints me is that there’s no brigade on reddit to dispel all the falsehoods that the anti-GPL crowd is writing.

Click here for the whole thread, but I’ve selected some choice quotes from the anti-GPL crowd.

In reply to someone who uses the GPLv3+ and LGPLv3+:

In reply to the fact that the GPL subversively relies on current copyright law:

Apparently the GPL and LGPL are too complex for ordinary developers and users:

Why corporations will also choose the anti-GPL route and why you’re a bad person for not allowing the corporations to incorporate your libre code into their proprietary product:

The typical corporate environment doesn’t allow GPL so that’s why you should use other licenses apparently:

Confusion about being able to charge people for licenses/seats when using GPL:

The worst propaganda of all, that the GPL splits developer communities which is completely untrue:

Vendor lock-in and rent-seeking are apparently the only ways for a developer to make money (very untrue, most developers typically make their money by getting paid for their services):


Guide to DRM-Free Living: Audio | Defective by Design

Great guide on finding and buying music that’s  free from DRM (Digital Restrictions Management).

Subscription services where you pay $10/month or watch ads to keep it free are inherently less free because they require DRM otherwise the model doesn’t work.

Will be buying more individual tracks in the future rather than giving into the subscription model.

Update: Top Music Store Choices

So far I’ve explored the list of music and found two great choices that are DRM-free and offer music in higher quality versions (FLAC and 320kbps MP3).

I used to have a Google Play Music subscription but realized that subscription services are vendor lock-in and lead to monopolization and overall a less free market. If I wanted to switch from Google Play Music to another music player on my phone or computer I wouldn’t be able to, I would always have to use their proprietary music player.

My top choices are:

  1. 7digital
  2. Zunior – Canadian music originals