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LibrePlanet 2013

· 3 min read
zach wick

Towards the end of March, I attended LibrePlanet 2013 in Boston, MA. This was a weekend conference put on by the Free Software Foundation that was all about free software and bringing together members of the various free software communities. It was a fantastic weekend! I attended a few talks, and a workshop/install party, and learned a bunch.

Thursday evening, I met some people for dinner that I had only ever know from IRC. Little did I realize that this was going to be the case all weekend!

Friday morning I explored Cambridge, Harvard’s campus, and MIT’s campus. Then after a quick lunch, I took the T downtown to work out of the Free Software Foundation’s office. While it was kind of strange to putz away on my day job work from a place that would frown on what I do for my day job, it went very well, and I met even more people in person that I had only known from IRC.

Friday evening there was a meet-and-greet at the FSF office, where once again, meeting IRC people in the flesh was the order of the day.

Saturday began the "actual" conference, and I walked to the Harvard Science Center with much enthusiasm. After a breakfast and some quick conversations, it was off to the talks and workshops!

One of the talks that I attended was on the recently passed MA Right-to-Repair law. The talk was generally about the free software that may (or may not be) in cars, and how recent legislation is driving more people towards free software.

Another talk that I attended was on IceCat and LibreJS. IceCat is a GNU project that is a web browser based off of Mozilla Firefox with all the Mozilla branded stripped out, and added privacy features. LibreJS is a Firefox/Icecat/Iceweasel plugin that allows users to avoid the “javascript trap” of running non-free javascript on their machines. These two projects are near and dear to me as I hack on them, but it was very nice to meet my collaborators in person.

I also attended a talk by Stefano Zacchiroli, the current Debian Project Leader, about what the Debian Project is doing to become a Free Software Foundation endorsed distro. This talk, and some of the discussions afterwards, were the catalyst that made me change from my beloved Arch GNU/Linux to Debian GNU/Linux on my main machines.

Then of course there were the Free Software Awards, preceeded by a talk from rms (Richard M. Stallman, Founder of the GNU Project and FSF). The talk was what I expected, and the awards were given to deserving projects.

I also went to the workshop/install party for Replicant and Coreboot. Replicant is an Android fork that has of the non-free parts taken out, as well as all the Google specific parts. The end result is a cell phone that runs on (mostly) free software. There are still some non-free firmware bits, but that is almost unavoidable. The second part of this install party pertained to Coreboot. Coreboot is a BIOS replacement that is entirely free software. While my machine is not able to run Coreboot, it was pretty cool to talk with one of the developers of Coreboot and learn more about how BIOS’s actually work.

In the end, LibrePlanet 2013 was a great experience. I learned a lot about various free software projects and free software in general. I will definitely be going back next year.