-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: [dgplug-users] Tor relay sysadmin 101 workshop
Date: Tue, 31 May 2022 12:00:13 +0200
From: Kushal Das via Users <users(a)lists.dgplug.org>
Reply-To: Kushal Das <kushaldas(a)gmail.com>
To: dgplug <users(a)lists.dgplug.org>
We are having a Tor relay sysadmin 101 workshop from the Tor Project on
4th of June, at 19:00 UTC. You can find more details on how to register
Hope you meet some of you there.
Public Interest Technologist
CPython Core Developer
Director, Python Software Foundation
Users mailing list
Debian is going to make an important decision regarding non-free
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Steve McIntyre <steve(a)einval.com>
Subject: Firmware - what are we going to do about it?
TL;DR: firmware support in Debian sucks, and we need to change this.
"My preference, and rationale" Section below.
In my opinion, the way we deal with (non-free) firmware in Debian is a
and this is hurting many of our users daily. For a long time we've been
pretending that supporting and including (non-free) firmware on Debian
is not necessary. We don't want to have to provide (non-free) firmware
users, and in an ideal world we wouldn't need to. However, it's very
longer a sensible path when trying to support lots of common current
Background - why has (non-free) firmware become an issue?
Firmware is the low-level software that's designed to make hardware
work. Firmware is tightly coupled to the hardware, exposing its
providing higher-level functionality and interfaces for other software
For a variety of reasons, it's typically not Free Software.
For Debian's purposes, we typically separate firmware from software by
considering where the code executes (does it run on a separate
processor? Is it
visible to the host OS?) but it can be difficult to define a single
dividing line here. Consider the Intel/AMD CPU microcode packages, or
U-Boot firmware packages as examples.
In times past, all necessary firmware would normally be included
devices / expansion cards by their vendors. Over time, however, it has
more and more attractive (and therefore more common) for device
to not include complete firmware on all devices. Instead, some devices
embed a very simple set of firmware that allows for upload of a more
firmware "blob" into memory. Device drivers are then expected to
blob during device initialisation.
There are a couple of key drivers for this change:
• Cost: it's typically cheaper to fit smaller flash memory (or no
all) onto a device. The cost difference may seem small in many
reducing the bill of materials (BOM) even by a few cents can make a
substantial difference to the economics of a product. For most
they will have to implement device drivers anyway and it's not
include firmware in that driver.
• Flexibility: it's much easier to change the behaviour of a device
changing to a different blob. This can potentially cover lots of
□ separating deadlines for hardware and software in
(drivers and firmware can be written and shipped later);
□ bug fixes and security updates (e.g. CPU microcode changes);
□ changing configuration of a device for different users or
(e.g. potentially different firmware to enable different
a radio product);
□ changing fundamental device operation (e.g. switching between
JBOD functionality on a disk controller).
Due to these reasons, more and more devices in a typical computer now
firmware to be uploaded at runtime for them to function correctly. This
• Going back 10 years or so, most computers only needed firmware
make WiFi hardware work.
• A growing number of wired network adapters now demand firmware
Some will work in a limited way but depend on extra firmware to
advanced features like TCP segmentation offload (TSO). Others will
to work at all without a firmware upload.
• More and more graphics adapters now also want firmware uploads to
any non-basic functions. A simple basic (S)VGA-compatible
not enough for most users these days; modern desktops expect 3D
acceleration, and a lot of current hardware will not provide that
• Current generations of common Intel-based laptops also need
uploads to make audio work (see the firmware-sof-signed package).
At the beginning of this timeline, a typical Debian user would be able
almost all of their computer's hardware without needing any firmware
might have been inconvenient to not be able to use the WiFi, but most
had wired ethernet anyway. The WiFi could always be enabled and
Today, a user with a new laptop from most vendors will struggle to use
all with our firmware-free Debian installation media. Modern laptops
don't come with wired ethernet now. There won't be any usable graphics
laptop's screen. A visually-impaired user won't get any audio prompts.
experiences are not acceptable, by any measure. There are new computers
available for purchase today which don't need firmware to be uploaded,
are growing less and less common.
Current state of firmware in Debian
For clarity: obviously not all devices need extra firmware uploading
There are many devices that depend on firmware for operation, but we
to think about them in normal circumstances. The code is not likely to
Software, but it's not something that we in Debian must spend our time
we're not distributing that code ourselves. Our problems come when our
needs extra firmware to make their computer work, and they need/expect
We have a small set of Free firmware binaries included in Debian main,
these are included on our installation and live media. This is great -
love Free Software and this works.
However, there are many more firmware binaries that are not Free. If we
legally able to redistribute those binaries, we package them up and
them in the non-free section of the archive. As Free Software
don't like providing or supporting non-free software for our users, but
acknowledge that it's sometimes a necessary thing for them. This
acknowledged in the Debian Free Software Guidelines.
This tension extends to our installation and live media. As non-free is
officially not considered part of Debian, our official media cannot
anything from non-free. This has been a deliberate policy for many
Instead, we have for some time been building a limited parallel set of
"unofficial non-free" images which include non-free firmware. These
images are produced by the same software that we use for the official
and by the same team.
There are a number of issues here that make developers and users
1. Building, testing and publishing two sets of images takes more
2. We don't really want to be providing non-free images at all, from a
philosophy point of view. So we mainly promote and advertise the
official free images. That can be a cause of confusion for users.
link to the non-free images in various places, but they're not so
3. Using non-free installation media will cause more installations to
non-free software by default. That's not a great story for us, and
end up with more of our users using non-free software and believing
it's all part of Debian.
4. A number of users and developers complain that we're wasting their
publishing official images that are just not useful for a lot (a
We should do better than this.
The status quo is a mess, and I believe we can and should do things
I see several possible options that the images team can choose from
However, several of these options could undermine the principles of
don't want to make fundamental changes like that without the clear
the wider project. That's why I'm writing this...
1. Keep the existing setup. It's horrible, but maybe it's the best we
(I hope not!)
2. We could just stop providing the non-free unofficial images
That's not really a promising route to follow - we'd be making it
harder for users to install our software. While ideologically pure,
not going to advance the cause of Free Software.
3. We could stop pretending that the non-free images are unofficial,
move them alongside the normal free images so they're published
This would make them easier to find for people that need them, but
likely to cause users to question why we still make any images
firmware if they're otherwise identical.
4. The images team technically could simply include non-free into the
images, and add firmware packages to the input lists for those
However, that would still leave us with problem 3 from above
generally enabled on most installations).
5. We could split out the non-free firmware packages into a new
non-free-firmware component in the archive, and allow a specific
only to allow inclusion of those packages on our official media. We
then generate only one set of official media, including those
(We've already seen various suggestions in recent years to split up
non-free component of the archive like this, for example into
non-free-firmware, non-free-doc, non-free-drivers, etc. Disagreement
(bike-shedding?) about the split caused us to not make any progress
this. I believe this project should be picked up and completed. We
have to make a perfect solution here immediately, just something
well enough for our needs today. We can always tweak and improve
incrementally if that's needed.)
These are the most likely possible options, in my opinion. If you have
suggestion, please let us know!
I'd like to take this set of options to a GR, and do it soon. I want to
clear decision from the wider Debian project as to how to organise
installation images. If we do end up changing how we do things, I want
mandate from the project to do that.
My preference, and rationale
Mainly, I want to see how the project as a whole feels here - this is a
issue that we're overdue solving.
What would I choose to do? My personal preference would be to go with
split the non-free firmware into a special new component and include
Does that make me a sellout? I don't think so. I've been passionately
supporting and developing Free Software for more than half my life. My
philosophy here has not changed. However, this is a complex and nuanced
situation. I firmly believe that sharing software freedom with our
with a responsibility to also make our software useful. If users can't
install and use Debian, that helps nobody.
By splitting things out here, we would enable users to install and use
on their hardware, without promoting/pushing higher-level non-free
general. I think that's a reasonable compromise. This is simply a
recognise that hardware requirements have moved on over the years.
If we do go with the changes in option 5, there are other things we
here for better control of and information about non-free firmware:
1. Along with adding non-free firmware onto media, when the installer
image) runs, we should make it clear exactly which firmware
been used/installed to support detected hardware. We could link to
about each, and maybe also to projects working on Free
2. Add an option at boot to explicitly disable the use of the non-free
firmware packages, so that users can choose to avoid them.
Thanks to people who reviewed earlier versions of this document and/or
suggestions for improvement, in particular:
• Cyril Brulebois
• Matthew Garrett
• David Leggett
• Martin Michlmayr
• Andy Simpkins
• Neil Williams
Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.
Who needs computer imagery when you've got Brian Blessed?
-------- Original Message --------
From: contrapunctus via Talk-in <talk-in(a)openstreetmap.org>
Sent: 7 February 2022 00:17:20 GMT+05:30
Cc: contrapunctus <contrapunctus(a)disroot.org>
Subject: [Talk-in] OSM community in Delhi (online event)
I really want to see a more active mapping community in Delhi, so I've been trying to reach out to people who may be interested in contributing to OSM, but have never done so.
I'm holding a online session for such first-time contributors at 11:30 AM IST, on Sunday, 13th of February. Link is https://meet.jit.si/OpenStreetMapDelhi - please invite anyone you know who may be interested.
(Even though it's aimed at fostering a community in Delhi, non-Delhiites are also welcome to these online sessions.)
For those planning to participate -
* Laptops/desktops are preferred, but if you only have a smartphone I can still try to accommodate you.
* Please make an account on https://openstreetmap.org/ in advance.
Additionally, are any existing mappers from Delhi up for a group mapping session? I'd love to pick out a market/neighborhood, and map as many shops/addresses we can. If you are interested, please email me your phone number so I may get in touch with you.
Talk-in mailing list
Sent from my Android device with K-9 Mail. Please excuse my brevity.
18 September 2021
The world celebrates Software Freedom Day today with the aim of increasing awareness of Free Software and its virtues, and it is in the same spirit and excitement that we announce today the Software Freedom Camp Diversity Edition. Diversity edition is aiming to reach out to people subject to systemic bias and impacted by under-representation in the technical industry in India.
The Software Freedom Camp is an online mentorship camp on free software organized by Free Software Community of India in association with Ambedkar Periyar Phule Study Circle-IIT Bombay and Egalitarians. It will start in October and run till end of February.
The Software Freedom Camp will be a valuable opportunity for anyone who wishes to become a contributor to free software projects but feels like they need structured mentorship and a learning environment to get started. It will also be an opportunity for existing free software contributors to get new contributors to their project and facilitate their entry into the free software community.
Application links for learners and mentors are open now on the camp website and will close for learners on October 15 2021.
The camp promises to be a safe space for learners to acquaint themselves with the philosophy of free software while also getting equipped to become free software contributors. In the first phase of the camp, learners will go through a series of assignments, interactions, movie screenings, and other activities that introduces them to the social benefits of free software and exposes them to the free software culture. They will get help in using free software on their own devices. At the end of this phase, they will get a chance to explore various free software projects and working with mentors they will be asked to create working proposals for contributing to these projects. The camp will match each learner to a mentor based on their proposal. In the second phase, each learner starts their free software contribution as per their accepted proposal, closely working with their mentor. There will be periodic review meetings to address the needs of the learners and help them stay on track.
Any free software contributor who can meet mentor expectations listed on the camp site can apply to become a mentor. They can also add their ideas to the list of ideas from which the learners can find starting points for writing their proposals. The mentors will work closely with the camp organizers in evaluation and selection of proposals, and with learners to facilitate the success of the selected proposals.
The camp encourages all kinds of contributions and contribution pathways - programming, system administration, packaging, UI/UX, forensics, localization, artworks, documentation, publicity, event organizing, etc. - as long as there is alignment with the free software philosophy. The camp is conducted online using free software communication tools like BigBlueButton, Matrix, etc. There is no fee for participation.
For more details and to apply, visit the camp website https://camp.fsci.in/
Camp Code of Conduct is here https://camp.fsci.in/code-of-conduct.
TL;DR: Google’s free-of-cost offer of G-Suite to Kerala schools is a
scheme to make more customers for G-Suite, retain their monopoly power
in the ad business and search engines. Dependence on Google can lead to
massive surveillance (and its chilling effects), losing our political
agency to Google, and many others. We urge educational institutes to
reject this offer and switch to free software (freedom-respecting
software or swatantra software) for all the activities. For
network-based services, we urge institutes to self-host free software
powered services. With self-hosting and using free software, the
software and the data will be under the institute’s control.
Please sign this letter at
https://fsci.in/blog/letter-to-kerala-teachers/ if you support free
software in education.
KITE announces G-Suite in classrooms
We are deeply saddened to learn that The Kerala Infrastructure and
Technology for Education (KITE) has rolled out the G-Suite platform for
all the online classroom activities in schools in Kerala. G-Suite
platform is a collection of Google services like, Google Meet, Google
Drive, Gmail, Google Docs etc. Read the official announcement here.
Promise of Privacy vs Reality
KITE also announced, “No sensitive individual details of students or
teachers will be shared. KITE will have the master control of data
uploaded in the platform.” Providing Google accounts with a
randomized student and teacher ID won’t protect their privacy from
Google because Google collects a lot of data on each user, and it can
easily combine all this data to deanonymize students and teachers.
Google uses cross-site tracking: When you browse from site to site,
you’re often followed by trackers that collect data on where you’ve
been and what you’ve done, using scripts, widgets or even tiny,
invisible images embedded on the sites you visit. Take, for example,
those social share buttons embedded on many websites. Sites may choose
to include those buttons to gain useful analytics about their content,
but the buttons also send data back to the social platforms. Sometimes,
that makes sense, allowing you to share content on other social
platforms. But often, that data also ends up being used behind the
scenes to target advertising or create user profiles.
Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that
tracks and reports users visiting on a website. In order to block
Google Analytics, users are required to use extra protection in their
browser, for example, by using ublock-origin add-on. This leads us to
ask KITE if they can turn off Google Analytics in the G-Suite.
How are ads shown by Google different from the ads you see on cable TV?
The way Google shows ads is fundamentally different to the way cable TV
or radio shows ads. Google uses user’s personal data to target ads
while the TV, radio or newspaper ads are not based on user’s personal
data as the same ad is being watched by everyone reading the newspaper
or watching the same channel on TV. Since, the ads that Google provides
are based on user’s behavior, search history, webpages they visited,
their emails, their purchases, articles they read etc. and therefore
have a lot more power to influence the users.
This offer by Google is just a scheme to gain more users (captive
audience to whom they can target ads) which will give Google a lot of
data on students. This will reinforce the dominance of Google in the
ad-business. They already use their dominance to eliminate the
competition. Google uses this data to manipulate their users with ads.
A company with so much data as Google can even influence elections. For
example, Facebook is a company with a lot of data on its users, which
was used by Cambridge Analytica to influence elections a few years ago.
As an example, Google’s search can amplify the voices of people it
agrees with and dampen those of people it disagrees with, effectively
manipulating the public opinion.
Why Google is giving it for free-of-cost?
Google’s free of cost offer is similar to Jio’s free-of-cost offer
of internet connection, which later started charging money. As a result
of Jio’s offer, Vodafone and Idea had to merge because they
couldn’t compete, and we are left with a lesser number of mobile
service providers. There is no guarantee that Google’s services will
remain free-of-cost forever. They can use their position in the
educational suite provider or videoconferencing to eliminate
competition and then raise prices at a later stage. Google Meet might
become a dominant platform for video calls, eliminating all the
competition like Zoom. (Note that Zoom is a nonfree software which we
don’t endorse in any way, it was mentioned just as an example).
Effects of massive surveillance
Massive surveillance has pretty adverse effects on the society and
individuals. What’s at stake is our political liberty, freedom of
speech, privacy, security, social equity,
Statistics show that lack of privacy leads to a population who is
afraid to ask questions or educate themselves, even if the issues are
important and the motives are pure.
Massive surveillance has adverse effects on mental health. These
include insomnia, social anxiety, depression, hypervigilance, specific
situational type phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and many other issues.
Surveillance puts us at risk of abuses by those in power, even if
we’re doing nothing wrong at the time of surveillance.
We’d like to quote some points from this excellent resource about
effects of massive surveillance at Social Cooling.
“If you feel you are being watched, you change your behavior.” This
could limit your desire to take risks or exercise free speech. Over the
long term, these ‘chilling effects’ could ‘cool down’ society.
Rating systems can create unwanted incentives, and increase pressure to
conform to a bureaucratic average. When doctors in New York were given
scores, this had unexpected results. Doctors that tried to help
advanced cancer patients had a higher mortality rate, which translated
into a lower score. Doctors that didn’t try to help were rewarded
with high scores, even though their patients died prematurely.
People are starting to realize that this ‘digital reputation’ could
limit their opportunities:
You may not get that dream job if your data suggests you’re not a
very positive person.
If you are a woman, you may see fewer ads for high paying jobs.
If you have “bad friends” on social media, you might pay more for
Tinder’s algorithms might not show you attractive people if you are
not desirable yourself.
If you return goods to the store often, this will be used against you.
What you post on social media may influence your odds of getting a tax
Your health insurer may collect intimate data about your lifestyle,
race and more.
What’s the solution?
We need to control the software that we use. Freedom-respecting
software means users have freedom to run, study, modify, share the
software. If a software respects all these freedoms, we call it free
software. Free Software is a matter of liberty, not price. To emphasize
that point, we also call it swatantra software. Example of free
software are Firefox, VLC, Thunderbird, Ubuntu etc. If any of the
above-mentioned freedoms is lacking, we call it nonfree/proprietary
software. Examples of nonfree software are- WhatsApp, Microsoft
Windows, Google Meet, Adobe Reader etc. For internet-based services
like videoconferencing, online file storage, emails etc., the users (in
this case, KITE or Kerala Government) must have the freedom to offer
the same services on their own servers. This practice is known as
self-hosting. These freedoms ensure that the users control the software
and data. With proprietary software, we are at the mercy of the
developer of the software, for example, in G-Suite, we are at the mercy
As an example, The British East India company created railway tracks,
roads and bridges free-of-cost, and it needs no mention of what
happened after that. So dependence usually results in enslavement or
People might think that they are not programmers, and they don’t need
the freedom to study and modify the program. But we exercise the
freedom to inspect and modify all the time, for example, we call
plumber to fix our water taps, electrician for electricity-related
problems, mechanics for repairing our bikes, cars etc. Similarly,
individually or collectively (for example, KITE or Kerala Government),
we must be able to fix or adapt software with help of companies like
Infosys, Wipro etc.
G-Suite software is nonfree software and so users don’t control it,
and educational institutes should use only free software.
A free software named Tux Paint used at VHSS Irimpanam school, Kerala,
where 11 and 12 years old students completely translated the
program’s interface to Malayalam, and added pictures of local flowers
along with recordings of Malayalam pronunciations of their name to the
program’s library. While doing this, they exercised their freedom to
learn how the program works and modify the program, which demonstrates
that even non programmers or children, can actually directly improve
software when software freedom is granted.
Scribus is a cross-platform (works on GNU/Linux, Microsoft Windows,
macOS, etc) Free Software for Desktop Publishing (replacement for
software like Adobe PageMaker and InDesign) which initially only had
support for Latin languages. It’s the developers of a community
project funded by the Oman Government, called HOST-Oman (House of Open
Source Technologies - Oman), who introduced support for Non-Latin
languages with Complex Text Layout in Scribus. And as a part of this
development, Malayalam also got supported in Scribus. So we can see
anyone improving a software is beneficial to all the users even if they
don’t improve it directly. This enabled Janayugom and Deshabhimani
newspapers to shift to 100% Free Software for their publishing.
Following are the free software that can be used in classrooms and
should replace their proprietary counterparts:
Operating system: GNU/Linux distros like Debian, Ubuntu.
Online Classes: Jitsi, BigBlueButton.
Instant Messenger: Element, Quicksy, Conversations.
Uploading videos: PeerTube
E-learning platform: Moodle, BBB
Recording Lectures: OBS
Sharing notes, lecture videos etc. : Nextcloud, Lufi
Digital writing pad: Xournal
Document editor: LibreOffice, Cryptpad, Etherpad, EtherCalc, OnlyOffice
Form filling: KoBoToolbox, NextCloud Forms — Disroot provides
Call for Action
We would like to remind the teachers from Kerala how you stood for
Software Freedom and became a model for the entire world. You resisted
offers of free of cost training by Microsoft and Intel. You created a
custom GNU/Linux distribution with software you needed in schools, and
provided technical support and training to teachers across Kerala. You
can do that again and lead the world in this changed scenario as well.
We urge teachers from Kerala to join us in this campaign to talk to
KITE and push for adoption of free software based learning platforms
for online classes.
Please sign the letter at
https://fsci.in/blog/letter-to-kerala-teachers/ if you support the
Teachers from Kerala
A K Francis
Vivek K J
ബിജീഷ് മോഹൻ റ്റി
Mujeeb Rahman K
kerala schools already using foss. dont go back to proprietary
solutions. i can help with any kind of training
“Free software and its philosophy should taught to every students
regardless of their subjects. Philosophy of FLOSS is such a great one
and learning it not only help them to create better software which
respects the user but also hopefully enables them to create a better
society which respects evryone and shares everything, participate in
activities etc. But using proprietary closed source software which
doesn’t care about users and only treat them as product shouldn’t
be the main mode communication they should have”
“KITE has all the capability to implement a free at the same time
efficient e-learning platform using existing technologies. If they do
so, it will be a revolution. Please dont rely on freebies from big
There are lot of free and open source alternatives that can be used by
the teachers and students for their privacy and security.
“great job guys , this is a great step you guys have taken . also
consider teaching them kids about free softwares a bit”
George Martin Jose:
I support FOSS. FOSS FTW
It's that time of the year again! DebConf is the annual conference where
Debian contributors and users interested in improving Debian come
together as a community. DebConf is taking place Online this year from
August 22 to August 29, 2021. DebConf21 gives you an amazing opportunity
to present Talks/Events in an International Conference in your own
language. We invite proposals on any Debian or FLOSS related subject.
This year, you can even submit talks/events in languages from India like
Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi and Telugu as well. If you're
interested to present in any other Indic language or have any query,
reach out to Sruthi, Debian Developer at srud(a)debian.org
Last Date to Submit Talk/Event Proposal: June 20 (Sunday)
Submit your talk/event proposals: https://debconf21.debconf.org/talks/new/