GNU and FSF News for January 2008

Posted 7 Jan 2008 at 22:57 UTC by robogato Share This

Welcome to the new year and another monthly installment of news about the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Project. This month we have news from the FSF Europe, the latest numbers on GPLv3 conversions, the annual Gfortran report from the GCC folks, a GLib development release, Stallman commenting on the GNOME's alleged support of OOXML, GNU Hurd news, and more.

FSF Europe

The latest FSFE Newsletter is out and includes articles on FSFE participation in open standards discussions at the second Internet Governance Forum was hosted by the Brazilian government in Rio de Janeiro; on a recent STACS session organized in London to increase CSO awareness of Free Software; and on the Trophees du Libre - the world's largest Free Software award event. There is also information about OpenMoko and Free Software mobile phones, software patent discussions, and an interview with Werner Koch, creator of GnuPG.

GNU License News

Palamida's GPLv3 Information site reports the number of projects known to have made the switch to GPLv3 at 1431 as of this writing (plus another 141 under LGPLv3).

GNU Hurd

Shakthi Kannan has been working on a high-level system architecture diagram of the main components in GNU Mach and the Hurd. After several iterations of accepting corrections and other suggestions on the bug-hurd list, he came up with a diagram that was generally agreed to be reasonably close (PNG image, DIA diagram).

Carl Fredrik Hammar has been posting his latest thoughts about libchannel in a series of emails on the bug-hurd list. His first email, a Critique of libchannel's design, identifies some of the problems with the current libchannel implementation and suggests possible solutions. His second email, New Channel Concept, goes into more detail about his new channel concept and the idea of channel hubs.

How you can help: The number of developers working on the Hurd and GNU Mach contiues to be small and they could use your help. Check in on the #hurd IRC channel or the bug-hurd mailing list. There should be no trouble finding interesting things to work on.

GNU GCC News

The Gfortran maintainers have published their annual report for 2008. The report highlights increased conformance with the Fortran 95 standard as well as the addition of new Fortran 2003/8 features. There is also a call for new developers as two long time Gfortran team members, Steve Kargl and Bud Davis, have moved on. The report also include 2007 commit stats and a list of the 12 most significant achievements for Gfortran during 2007.

The latest GCC 4.3.0 status report shows that open regressions have dropped to 134. When that number drops below 100, the project goes into regression-only mode and a release will follow soon afterwards. As the 4.3.0 release approaches a Stage 1 branch will be opened for 4.4.0.

In other GCC news, does anyone know what happened to Planet GCC? Moved to another domain name perhaps?

How you can help: if you're interested in working on compiler development, visit the Contributing to GCC to find out what you can do help with the development of the GNU GCC compiler.

GNOME News

A recent ITWire article talks to Richard Stallman about the relation of GNOME to the Free Software Foundation and the GNU Project. In particular the question of whether or not GNOME is officially supporting Microsoft's OOXML format instead of the ISO accepted Open Document Format. Stallman explains that unlike other GNU projects, GNOME does not "follow GNU policies the way a normal GNU package does. That's Miguel's doing." RMS was also asked if, given the principled stand against OOXML by KDE, the GNU Project would consider adopting it in place of GNOME. Stallman's reply: "That would be a very drastic thing to do." The topics of Mono and Moonlight are also discussed.

GLib 2.15.0 has been released. This is the first development release leading up to GLib 2.16. This release introduces GIO, a VFS API that will replace GnomeVFS. Also new is GTest, a new test framework.

There will be a GNOME Developer Room at FOSDEM, 23-24 Feb 2008 in Brussels. It will be in Room H.1302 on Saturday and Room H.1301 on Sunday with a seating capacity of about 200.

How you can help: GNOME needs your help. In addition to programmers, the GNOME team also needs people to assist with testing, translation, accessibility, documentation, website maintenance, graphics, and marketing. To find out what you can do and how to get started, visit the Join GNOME webpage.

FSF High Priority Free Software Projects

The Free Software Foundation maintains a list of what they believe are the highest priority projects at any given time. If you're looking for something fun to work on or just want to make the world a better place, this is a good place to start.

"There is a vital need to draw the free software community's attention to the ongoing development work on these particular projects. These projects are important because computer users are continually being seduced into using non-free software, because there is no adequate free replacement. Please support these projects."

Where's RMS This Month?

The only RMS appearance on the calendar for this month is 31 January at the Benson Memorial center, Santa Clara, California. The talk will be on Copyright vs Community and is open to the public, however advance registration is required. For the latest updates see the FSF upcoming events page.

This monthly news summary about the Free Software Foundation and GNU project was distilled down from FSF press releases, blogs, email lists, and website news pages. The idea is to provide a concise summary of FSF/GNU news from the past month for those who don't have the time or interest to find and read all the original news sources within that community. This is a news summary about the FSF but it is not produced by or associated with the FSF in any way.

I'm looking for a volunteer to take over writing this news summary each month. It's a minimal amount of work, taking no more than a few hours per month.


various points, posted 12 Jan 2008 at 01:57 UTC by jbuck » (Master)

I'm a member of the GCC steering committee and have been dealing with RMS for many years.

Planet GCC was on Dan Berlin's personal machine, and it and a number of other projects are no longer there. Unfortunately we can't host something like Planet GCC on any official gnu.org machine (like gcc.gnu.org) because of the FSF's extremely restrictive policies (no links, direct or indirect, to anything that promotes proprietary software in any way). There's a place for purism, and I'm glad RMS sticks to his guns , but it's not appropriate as a censoring mechanism for individual blogs.

As for GNU vs. Gnome, unfortunately for "GNU policies" you have to read "RMS's personal whims". Only one person gets to say what GNU policies are, and when it's one guy in his mid-50s with rather skewed views about user interfaces, it is wise of the Gnome project to limit RMS's influence when he goes beyond the core principles of software freedom to address technical preferences, or positions on tactical issues (like whether or not to be involved with OOXML).

Involvement by the free software community in the standardization process can help force more information out of Microsoft and produce a better standard. Microsoft won't disappear tomorrow; if GNU/Linux can't interact with Microsoft file formats and protocols it will get frozen out.

As Eben Moglen has politely and repeatedly said, RMS needs to start thinking about passing the torch to the next generation. He tries to decide too many things personally, and don't be fooled by his use of the second person plural. When he says "we", he means "I". There needs to be a larger group of people committed to software freedom who run the show, but who show greater flexibility about things that aren't critical.

And can the Hurd already. 18+ years is long enough; the FSF should not spend any more cycles on it. It was an interesting idea. Not all ideas pan out. Maturity requires cutting one's losses. Interested individuals can still hack on it if they want, but the FSF shouldn't expend any more resources on it.

Re: various points, posted 15 Jan 2008 at 19:49 UTC by jemarch » (Master)

Planet GCC was on Dan Berlin's personal machine, and it and a number of other projects are no longer there. Unfortunately we can't host something like Planet GCC on any official gnu.org machine (like gcc.gnu.org) because of the FSF's extremely restrictive policies (no links, direct or indirect, to anything that promotes proprietary software in any way). There's a place for purism, and I'm glad RMS sticks to his guns , but it's not appropriate as a censoring mechanism for individual blogs.

I am quite confused. A blog is hosted in a personal machine. It is no longer available. Where is the censorship? Did RMS close that blog?

And can the Hurd already. 18+ years is long enough; the FSF should not spend any more cycles on it.

AFAIK the FSF is not spending resources in the Hurd development (more than hosting it). In fact it has become a non-critical project. It is certainly not in the high priority projects list.

Re: Re: various points, posted 16 Jan 2008 at 12:19 UTC by redi » (Master)

I am quite confused. A blog is hosted in a personal machine. It is no longer available. Where is the censorship? Did RMS close that blog?
The reason it's not available now is nothing to do with the FSF or RMS. I think Daniel Berlin is upgrading his machine, so his patch tracker and other hosted projects are unavailable.

I believe what Joe meant is in order to avoid any restrictions due to FSF policies, Planet GCC was hosted on another machine. I don't think he meant to imply any censorship had already taken place, or that it would take place unless the blogs were hosted on gcc.gnu.org.

redi is correct, posted 18 Jan 2008 at 17:22 UTC by jbuck » (Master)

Planet GCC's down because of issues with Danny's machine. The FSF only sets policies for their own machines. Technically, gcc.gnu.org is also sourceware.org, and is on Red Hat's network, but it is operated according to FSF policies, since it's in gnu.org.

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