Write a thank-you to free/libre/open source software maintainers! #ThanksFOSSMaintainers

Windson Yang makes a great point in Why we never thank open source maintainers. They do a lot of hard work and we should take the time, especially since Christmas is around corner, but all year round too, to thank the maintainers that make all our favourite free/libre/open source software possible!


LanguageTool: free grammar checking tool

LanguageTool is like Grammarly, except completely free and open source. (I will be adding it to the resources page later today) It’s written in Java which means it is quite performant.

There are plugins to use LanguageTool in:

  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Google Docs
  • LibreOffice
  • and standalone desktop app

What I like is that there is a Python library, grammar-check, that interfaces with LanguageTool. You can get up and running and start checking grammar on your own with Python scripts. There’s also a Ruby library but it only uses the API from the website. The Python library uses a locally installed version of LanguageTool so you don’t have to rely on an internet connection (very useful for me when I’m writing on the train or bus for example).

The LanguageTool project itself has great documentation and interesting source code. It is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License v2.1.

Running GUI applications in LXD on Fedora 26

Instructions on how to use LXC (Linux Containers) to run GUI applications within a container. The example shows how to run chromium with X11 and GPU-accelerated.


Create container:

Install needed tools:

Map UID and GID ramges:

Set UID/GUID ranges for container:

Mount X11 socket and .Xauthority file:

Passthrough GPU device:

Check results with:

Now we can install and run chromium browser inside:

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Learn How To Create a Cool NaiveCoin Cryptocurrency

Naivecoin is an open source implementation of a cryptocurrency. It includes all the major components needed to build a cryptocurrency such as a miner and the blockchain. If you’ve been reading about BitCoin and other cryptocurrencies and still don’t quite understand how they work, you should check out the code in Naivecoin.

Sometimes to understand a concept we have to implement it ourselves. Or in this case, we can use someone else’s implementation as a live simulation that we can watch and read through the code.

Naivecoin is written in Node.js which should make it easy for everyone to learn from. It is short and the author aims to keep it as small as possible.

We had a blog post about Copay, a shared bitcoin wallet. It would be cool to see someone implement a shared wallet for NaiveCoin. Another idea is to add smart contracts to NaiveCoin.

If you have an idea for how a cryptocurrency could be better, you can use Naivecoin as a basic implementation and proof of concept.

Liberapay: an open source Patreon/crowdfunding alternative

Liberapay: an open source Patreon/crowdfunding alternative

Liberapay is a recurrent donation platform, similar to Patreon, GoFundMe and other platforms. What makes it different is that LibreaPay is a non-profit organization and they fund themselves rather than charging transaction fees (though you will still get charged payment processing fees).

The source code for their platform is also open source. The code for Liberapay is available on Github.

What’s nice about Liberapay is that it’s easy to use, the transaction fees are non-existent and it gives users of free/open source software another platform on which to support developers. Recurring donations are sponsorships of a project. OpenCollective is a similar platform that we’ve covered before.

If you’re interested in more crowdfunding platforms for your free/open source projects, the Snowdrift Co-op has an amazing wiki page full of research on crowdfunding platforms.

Facebook Patents Grant License is Causing Chaos

Facebook Patents Grant License is Causing Chaos

Note: this blog post was updated on 25 September 2017.

The popular React Javascript library from Facebook, amongst other open source projects from them, has a license (3-clause BSD license) and a patents grant. Recently, the Apache Software Foundation declared that this license + patents grant belongs to Category X. The licenses in Category X means that projects that are part of the ASF (Apache Software Foundation) umbrella cannot use libraries or code that are licensed under those licenses.

The patents grant basically amounts to this:

The patent grant says that if you’re going to use the software [Facebook] released under it, you lose the patent license from us if you sue [Facebook] for patent infringement

This means that if you’re using React.js in your startup’s code and later on down the line, Facebook patents something related to your startup and you try to sue them for patent infringement, then Facebook revokes the patent license. Their reasoning for this is that it will prevent patent trolls from suing Facebook but this doesn’t make much sense. There are other ways to protect themselves from patent trolls and it feels like this chaos is much more punishing to the open source communities around Facebook’s code.

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