Freie Infrastrukturen

In den letzten Wochen ergab sich bei mir ein reger Austausch mit Politikern verschiedener Parteien. Zudem gab es in der Freifunk-Community zahlreiche Anfragen von Journalisten zu Freifunk und freien Infrastrukturen. Gerne mache ich hier meine Positionen öffentlich.

Jeder Bürger hat das Recht auf ein menschenwürdiges, selbstbestimmtes Leben in Freiheit. Dies kann nur in einer Gesellschaft geschehen, die Bürgern, Orte für die Entfaltung der Persönlichkeit und ein menschengerechtes Leben zur Verfügung stellt, unabhängig von Einkommen und Status. Der freie Zugang zu Wasser, Luft, Strom, öffentlichen Straßen und Plätzen, Schulen und Universitäten muss genauso gesichert sein, wie der ungehinderte Zugang zu freien digitalen Netzen als Orte der Öffentlichkeit im neuen digitalen Raum. Um diese Orte zu ermöglichen und effiziente lokale Netze und Breitbandinternet für alle im städtischen und ländlichem Raum aufzubauen, muss das offene Spektrum neben gegenwärtigen WLAN-Frequenzen ausgeweitet werden. Ein demokratischer Diskurs kann nur gesichert sein, wenn öffentliche Orte hierfür existieren. Offene Infrastrukuren wie Vekehrswege, Telekommunikationsnetze, Energie- und Wasserversorgung sind nicht nur eine Basis für wirtschaftliche Aktivitäten, sondern grundlegend notwendig für das gleichberechtigte Miteinander der Menschen in der Gesellschaft. Sie entscheiden als das zentrale Element, wer aktiv an der Demokratie, in der Wirtschaft und dem kulturellen Leben teilhat. Zugänge zu Infrastrukturen müssen daher frei und ungehindert sein. Der Betrieb von Infrastrukturen ist eine Gemeinschaftsaufgabe. Offene Betriebsmodelle des Teilens von Ressourcen und Arbeit, wie bei freien Bürgernetzen, müssen deshalb gewinnorientierten Geschäftsmodellen gleichgestellt werden. Infrastrukturen dienen zu allererst dem Gemeinwohl.

Debconf11: The Debian Conference and Camp Proposal for 2011 from Germany

On Tuesday, June 2 2009 sixteen members of the local Debian and FOSS community met in Berlin to discuss a possible bid from Germany for the Debconf11. We had some discussions at DebConf8 already and also our DPL promoted the idea. There is a strong desire in the local community to get the Debconf to Germany for the first time. The participation at the informally organized Berlin meeting was already overwhelming. There is a big and active group of very welcoming and friendly local supporters and there is an excellent and cost effective infrastructure available to host the event and contributors from all over the world. We had a follow up about a Berlin bid during the Linuxtag on June 26, 2009, where bidders from Rhein/Rhur and Munich also presented their ideas for bids. We decided to submit only one bid for Debconf11 from Germany and will have an internal German process to decide which bid will work out best. During the Debconf9 there was a presentation of the bids from Germany.


Presentation by: Berlin - Torsten Werner, Rhein/Ruhr - Rene Engelhard, München - Michael BanckLinks


* Debconf 11 Germany Wiki page:

* Mailing list:

* Archive:

* IRC: #debconf11-germany on AKA OFTC 

Chris Wickert running for Fedora Engeneering Steering Committee

A good friend of mine, Chris Wickert, is running for the Fedora Engeneering Steering Committee. Chris is a big contributor and supporter of LXDE and I value Christoph's contributions to the free software community a lot and especially his commitment to make computer systems more accessible to people who do not own high end computers, be it here in Europe or anywhere else in the world:

  • Christoph is the maintainer of Xfce and LXDE in Fedora, the lightweight desktops in Fedora.
  • His goals are to make Fedora more lightweight and less ressource hungry as well as keeping depencies low.

Christoph Wickert

To be able to vote for Chris you need to have a (1) Fedora Account and (2) be accepted in a group, for example as a Fedora Ambassador. Voting is possible until June 22, 2009. Chris is the most active distro package maintainer of LXDE in Fedora. His engagements is a great success for both Fedora and LXDE as the large interest at Chemnitzer Linuxtage and other events have shown recently.

A quote from Chris Wickert:
(I want to) … improve packaging quality and enforce higher standards for better cross desktop interoperability. Try to reduce the dependency bloat to make sure Fedora does not become too fat, so it still can be used on older or smaller hardware like netbooks or the OLPC without too much pain.

If you are interested to find out more about the community elections at Fedora, please check out:


* Blog of Chris Wickert
* Join Fedora

The Asian Free and Open Source Community

During my work as a FOSS business matchmaker in Asia for FOSS Bridge and other projects in the last two years I met many fantastic people doing amazing things with free and open source software. Yes, there is a vibrant free and open source community in Asia. I have done a few interviews and talks and will be publishing more of that step by step. I had a talk at the Berlin Webmontag a few days ago about business opportunities with free and open source technologies in Asia. The slides (in German) give some ideas about this.

Community First!

The current release of MySQL shows the problems free and open source software projects face that put business first and community second. Michael “Monty” Widenius critizes in his Blog the current developement model of MySQL and recommends not to use the current release 5.1 of the database system.

The reason I am asking you to be very cautious about MySQL 5.1 is that there are still many known and unknown fatal bugs in the new features that are still not addressed.

Monty points out problems stemming from having a company taking the lead in the development of a free software system - cause they need something to sell fast. In this article I am supporting the view of Monty and discuss his views in regards to Freifunk and LXDE. I believe communities must take the lead in order to make and keep a project on the bleeding edge, however, we should work together with companies (like for Freifunk or ASUS for LXDE) and exchange resources. Both can profit. In the end open and free community projects are all about cooperation.

In his blog entry Monty gives some reasons why the MySQL development department again got a quality problem with the release. Problems are ranging from the fact that MySQL 5.1 was declared a release candidate to early (because of commercial reasons), to focussing too much on new features rather than on quality (because of commercial reasons), to involving developers that are not experienced in developing database systems (Mario: Maybe because they do not come from the community?), to not keeping the development open for testing and participation of the community and more.

As I said in my talk at the MySQL users conference, I think it’s time to seriously review how the MySQL server is being developed and change the development model to be more like Drizzle and PostgreSQL where the community has a driving role in what gets done! (

What can we learn for the free software and other open source projects here? The consequences are clear. Projects that want to stay on the bleeding edge of technology with quality code and widespread support must put the community first.

In the projects I participate - e.g. freifunk, LXDE, FOSS Bridge - I always work hard to bring the community together, make the community grow and keep and foster it. And this is not always easy. There are different expectations of people involved, different goals and outside circumstances change and have positive and negative effects.

For example, even though the Freifunk community was in the spotlight many times in the last two years, it seemed somehow stagnating. We had put a lot of resources to rebuild the website and foster more exchange, but with the broader availability of broadband in some districts in Berlin for example the motivation of people to participate to get constant Internet access became less. Additionally new business models seemed to draw people away from freifunk to something that seemed easier to use and offer many things similar to Freifunk. However Freifunk is more than mere exchange of free Internet access. The idea of Freifunk is to build a local network - the public space in cyberspace, but we did not have the tools easy enough giving everyone the chance to build the local network with the limited resources, especially time!, that people have.. but we are getting there with simpler software and easier to use devices. received different reactions in the core groups of the global Freifunk community when it started, ranging from refusing any connection with FON to trying to ignoring it. Some welcomed FON and their involvement. FON pays some of the core OpenWRT developers which is the base of the Freifunk Firmware and it offers new hardware, that can also be used by the Freifunk community. Personally I do not mind working together with FON. As I see it, we have to be pragmatic and everyone has to make a living and the Freifunk community could profit from the involvement of FON and other companies. I would like the decision if people from the community work for and with FON left to the person him/herself. At a recent meeting in Berlin, I have discussed this a bit with Martin Varsavsky. Martin actually asked me how FON could work together more with the Freifunk community.

We should be clear here though. FON and Freifunk are two very different things. FON is a company that labels its participants (actually its customers) community. Freifunk is a community with many different people - students, engineers, scientists, free and open source activists, people who want Internet, people who want a truly free network, people using it for their business, people working for development cooperation and so on. People have different motivations to participate in Freifunk - interest for technology and development, Internet access, interest in new ideas and projects, inspired by idea of freedom, a way to make a living. These people would not participate if Freifunk was a commercial operation. I remember the saying of some ¨Money destroys the community¨. It is formulated in this regard, I believe.

Still, we should not be absolute here - meaning - we should acquire resources and money for the community -> for conferences, events, hardware for developers, funding for projects etc.. Based on my experience of the last years, communities need resources. We should study successful models of communities that have achieved to channel resources to the people really working on it. Associations, Foundations and similar organisations are very helpful here as they keep things transparent and offer newcomers entry points. Also companies that would like to support projects have it easier to talk to someone from the community if there is a working organisation set up.

During recent months I have seen more activity in the Freifunk community again. With the new OpenWRT Firmware Freifunk will have many features which we want for years. I am always talking about the fantastic things we can do in local networks - new usage cases and sharing of content in your local environment, community radio in schools, universities or simply your backyard. Local networks are different to the Internet as cinema to TV. Felix Fietkau and John have presented a development version of OpenWRT to a group in Berlin recently. The new OpenWRT will offer plugins that will let us store content directly on the nodes. With router devices offering USB connections now everyone can have their small webserver at home. We can have a local Web 2.0. With devices connected to sensors like thermometers we can have live feeds from all over the city, the country and worldwide. I do not want this local Web 2.0 called after a company, a device or anything else. We call this FREIFUNK. A global local = glocal network open to everyone - to the public and to companies.

Companies are always welcome to join development and focus on their business models. However, Open Source, Open Infrastructure and Free Software Projects like Freifunk and LXDE or Open Content projects like Wikipedia have a roadmap that is following long term goals instead of short term profitability. And people are engaging here not just for monetary reasons, they have much broader motivations and they are inspired by the freedom the communities offer. This is why communities are more powerful. Companies simply cannot compete with this in terms of human resources and motivation. In order to grow and sustain free and open projects and the communities though we need to work together in our different fields and we need companies that engage and support the communities.

Emails zum Mitnehmen mit OpenPGP Verschlüsselung und Portable Thunderbird

German Privacy Foundation LogoEmailverschlüsselung ist schwierig, wenn man immer unterwegs ist und auch noch verschiedene Computer nutzt. Eine Lösung hat jetzt mein guter Freund Jan Suhr von der German Privacy Foundation für mich gefunden: Portable Thunderbird für Gnu/Linux, siehe:

Wenn jemand mehrere Computer nutzt und trotzdem nicht auf Emailverschlüsselung verzichten möchte gibt es mehrere Lösungsansätze. Unter anderem kann eine portable Version von Thunderbird mit Enigmail verwendet werden. Diese wird auf einem USB-Speicherstick installiert und verwendet direkt dort gestartet. Dabei werden sämtliche Benutzereinstellungen und Daten auf dem Stick und nicht auf dem Computer gespeichert. Für Windows gibt es diese speziell angepasste Versionen bei PortableApps. Für Linux gab es bisher keine speziell angepassten Versionen. Daher habe ich ein einfaches Skript geschrieben, um einen portablen Thunderbird und portablen Firefox für Linux zu erstellen.

Jan, vielen Dank!



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