Helping GNOME defend its trademark

The GNOME project will be familiar to the vast majority of our users, what you might not be aware of is that the project is currently facing an expensive trademark battle against Groupon with the latter having allegedly chosen to infringe upon GNOME’s trademark by launching a product with the same name (a POS “operating system for merchants to run their entire operation”).

I am not going to go into the details here, as they have been explained by the GNOME project over at http://www.gnome.org/groupon/ and the GNOME folk are in a much better position than me to provide more detailed information on the matter.

What I am going to do is appeal for your help. The GNOME project is looking to raise $80,000 to cover the legal costs involved in defending their trademark. At the time of writing this post the freenode network has 89,998 connected users. Users who are passionate about FOSS.

If each of us donated just ONE DOLLAR to the GNOME project they would cover the anticipated legal costs AND have some spare change leftover for a pint when the proceedings conclude.

Even if you do not use GNOME, please consider helping them out. This is bigger than just GNOME and I think would be fantastic if the FOSS communities could drum together to support our own.

If you head over to http://www.gnome.org/groupon/ you can make a donation directly via PayPal by clicking on the “Help us by donating today” button.

Update: Due to the controversial nature of PayPal, GNOME is now also offering other ways to donate .

Thank you!

Update #2: According to the Groupon blog and this article over at Engadget Groupon has issued the following statement: “Groupon is a strong and consistent supporter of the open source community, and our developers are active contributors to a number of open source projects. We’ve been communicating with the Foundation for months to try to come to a mutually satisfactory resolution, including alternative branding options, and we’re happy to continue those conversations. Our relationship with the open source community is more important to us than a product name. And if we can’t come up with a mutually acceptable solution, we’ll be glad to look for another name.”

I am assuming that this means that the trademarks filed will be retracted and that the GNOME project can go about business as usual. I am certain they will be releasing a statement with further details before long.

Server hosting and trust

For the purpose of disclosure we have had to make the difficult decision to discontinue a long-standing relationship with a server sponsor.

As a freenode user you may be aware that our set-up is somewhat untraditional and differs from that of many other IRC networks; servers are sponsored by various companies and educational institutions across the globe and all our infrastructure is centrally managed by the freenode infrastructure team. Generally speaking we do not provide o:lines or other privileges to server sponsors. Whilst it is possible for a sponsor contact to also volunteer as a staffer on the network such recruitment is independent of any server hosting.

Our staff are expected to work together closely and communication is key in any freenode relationship, be that with users, among staff or with sponsor contacts. It is important to us to be consistent in the way we provide support and apply policy and we expect all volunteers to be intimately familiar with our policies, procedures and philosophies — which in turn means that senior staff invest a lot of time in ensuring that any new recruits are given adequate support when getting to know the ins and outs of the network and what being a freenode volunteer entails.

Unfortunately one of our server sponsors added an o:line for themselves on the server they sponsored and whilst we do not believe that this was done with any malicious intent, more through thoughtlessness/negligence and having forgotten the expectations set out on our “Hosting a Server” page we feel that we are unable to comfortably and confidently continue the relationship.

Our number one priority has to be our target communities, the Free and Open Source Software communities that have chosen to make use of freenode in their internet activities.

Whilst we do not believe and have no evidence to indicate that any user traffic or data has been compromised, we would of course encourage you to change your passwords if you feel that this would make you more comfortable in continuing to use our services.

We can only apologise for this happening and we’d like to assure you that trust is incredibly important to us and that we are incredibly embarassed that this situation arose in the first place.

As a result of this we have just replaced our SSL certificates, so if you notice that these have changed then this is the reason why.

We will of course take this opportunity to remind all our sponsors of our expectations when it comes to providing services to freenode and our target communities.

Again, we apologise for any inconvenience and we hope that any loss of trust in the network that may have resulted from this incidence can be restored and that your projects will continue to feel comfortable using the network in future.

 

 

Over 9000 * 10

freenode has been growing slowly and steadily, breaking the next practically-useless-but-still-kinda-neat barrier of more than 90,000 concurrent connections at the same time. It’s very nice, and humbling, to know that we are able to enable so many people to communicate with each other.

I shouldn’t have added a month of leeway at the last second to my last prediction so the scary scary 100,000 is officially targeted for May 2014. Yes, the pace at which freenode is growing seems to be increasing ever so slightly.

Historic posts for those of you keeping track:

http://blog.freenode.net/2007/08/freenode-has-reached-40-000-users/

http://blog.freenode.net/2008/09/50000-active-users/

http://blog.freenode.net/2009/12/happy-new-year-2010/

http://blog.freenode.net/2011/01/freenode-70k/

http://blog.freenode.net/2012/04/80k/

Fosscon 2012, Saturday August 11th in Philadelphia PA

August 11th, 2012 (All day)

Hi everyone,
In just a couple of months we will be hosting FOSSCON (Free and Open Source Software Conference), focusing on the community that has grown around Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), and in parallel to both the Free Culture and Open Source cultural movements.
This is a community-focused live event designed to build and strengthen relationships between Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) developers and users. FOSSCON seeks to raise awareness of and promote FOSS alternatives to proprietary software. Facilitating face-to-face interaction, creative workshops, talks and think tanks, FOSSCON brings developers and users together in a nurturing and dynamic environment stimulating the free exchange of ideas and information while fostering cross-project collaboration and dialogue for innovation.

FOSSCON is a Peer-Directed Projects Center (PDPC) project, organized by the foss community.  FOSSCON (along with Geeknics) is part of PDPC’s desire to bring an already massive online community, freenode that has grown around free and open source ideas, out into the world, to meet, connect, support and challenge each other, imagine, plot and co-develop beautiful, possibly useful and unexpected things.

The people behind FOSSCON are free software enthusiasts, user group members, coders and users – just like you! Free software is all about community and this is a very grassroots event, organized by the community and for the community. Our common goal is to provide a space for us to all come together in the northeast. We hope you’ll join us as an attendee, a volunteer or an exhibitor.

Register

Admission is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required. If you’re able and want to be a “FOSSCON supporter” you can get a gift and thanks for $25. Whether free or a supporter, please register here: http://fosscon.org/attend

Schedule

FOSSCON will last all day. See the regularly updated schedule of presentations (and proposal guidelines) here: http://fosscon.org/speakers

Anyone in the FOSS community with interesting and exciting topics is invited to submit a talk to speak at this event.  As a general event built for the community at large, the range of acceptable topics is broad, however FOSSCON traditionally favors topics with an immediate real world use in home, work, or education environments and broadly categorizes talks under one of these headings.

The program committee invites proposals for paper presentations, demonstrations and poster contributions on any topic relevant to FOSS awareness, accessibility and application. We want to offer something for beginning, intermediate, and advanced learning levels with particular emphasis on the following topics:

  • The Open Culture Movements influence on open source
  • Beginning the FOSS conversion
  • FOSS on a Windows Desktop
  • Fun FOSS projects for your home
  • Plugging into Social Media with FOSS
  • FOSS in the workplace
  • FOSS in education
  • FOSS at non-profits
  • FOSS Government
  • Open Hardware
  • Open Mobile Environments
  • Your new awesome FOSS project
  • Free Network Services

 

Exhibitors

If your group has an interesting project, or event useful to the community, show it to the world at FOSSCON!  We invite you to join us at FOSSCON to show the community what you’ve done, what you’re doing, or what you offer.

  • LUGs
  • Hackerspaces
  • Local FOSS events the community needs to know about

We still have a limited number of spaces available for groups so please get in touch with us to reserve your spot.

Sponsors

We have a limited number of tables available for sponsors so please get in touch with us early to reserve your spot.  We’re very interested as well in any suitable organizations involvement in other ways, such as talks or other interesting ideas you may have. Please see this link for more info (oh, and obligatory but genuine shout out to FOSSCON sponsors here as well): http://fosscon.org/sponsors

Location

FOSSCON will take place at Venturef0rth on the second floor of 417 North 8th Street Philadelphia PA.  The location is just a few blocks from Market east station on the SEPTA transit network, which further provides access to the Philadelphia Airport and 30th street station, where Amtrak can be connected.  The location has central air, and elevator access to the floor we will be occupying.  There are several paid parking lots within a few blocks of the location, and limited street parking is available nearby as well.

Volunteer

If you would like to help out with FOSSCON, let us know!  We need help with things before, during, and after the event, including setup and tear down, announcements, technology, and much more.  We also appreciate assistance in spreading the word via mailing lists and other resources you may be a part of.  Stop by our IRC channel (#fosscon, on freenode) to learn more or read on for other ways to contact us.

Questions?

You can join us on the IRC network “chat.freenode.net” and join the channel “#fosscon” to talk with the planning team and others interested in FOSSCON, ask questions, or volunteer to help us out.  You can easily join the channel using webchat by clicking here: http://webchat.freenode.net/?channels=fosscon.

You can also check out our facebook page, or our twitter feed.

See you all then!

Database prune

Every couple of years, freenode likes to get out the shears and prune the services database. Recently we broke the 80,000 usercount barrier, but the services stats are way ahead:

Sat 13:35:46 -OperServ(OperServ@services.)- Registered accounts: 446777
Sat 13:35:46 -OperServ(OperServ@services.)- Registered nicknames: 557497
Sat 13:35:47 -OperServ(OperServ@services.)- Registered channels: 141373

We’ve noticed that nearly half of the accounts shown there haven’t been used in the past 6 months! More importantly, over the past few months many people have noticed significant waits when issuing certain services commands – and we’d like to fix that.

Hopefully, the services upgrade should help with this, but we’re going to coincide this with a database prune.

As of the services upgrade date, any nicks unused for > 150 days are at risk of being dropped. This includes grouped nicks. The easy way to avoid this happening is to use each of your grouped nicks (while identified to the appropriate account) within the next few weeks – and to drop those that you don’t need anymore!

The testnet (testnet.freenode.net, port 9002. 9003 for SSL) is running a database snapshot from mid-March and will be periodically updated from the production network. This database instance is being regularly pruned – so check there to see how your account will be affected (use /msg nickserv info on both the production and test networks to see the differences).

Remember that testnet isn’t running a real-time duplicate of the production network, so when you use nicks which would be expired on the production network, they will still appear expired on testnet until the next database snapshot is migrated. Don’t worry though – the actual pruning will only occur on the current database at the time of upgrade.

On which note.. an upgrade date hasn’t been formally fixed but we’re aiming for mid-May.

Thanks, and don’t forget to test the testnet!

80k…

As of today, freenode had 81443 concurrent connections. Last Friday, the count lingered around 79987, presumably to make things more interesting for those of us keeping close track.

We passed this milestone one working day later than I predicted in January 2011, more than a year ago. Scary precision, I know. Extrapolation based on graphs and nothing else is a big no-no in the scientific circles, yet we really do grow at an exceptionally steady and predictable pace.

Still remembering the excitement when irc.openprojects.net surpassed 2,000 users, I have always had a knack for those numbers. Meaningless in and as of themselves, they do prove that we are able to provide a valuable service to our users and that more and more people apparently agree. freenode is not without growing pains, but I like to think that we are on a good path.

Once again, all of us would like to thank all our users and all our volunteers. It’s a fun ride for us and, hopefully, for you, too!

To make tracking our old posts regarding this easier, here goes:

http://blog.freenode.net/2007/08/freenode-has-reached-40-000-users/

http://blog.freenode.net/2008/09/50000-active-users/

http://blog.freenode.net/2009/12/happy-new-year-2010/

http://blog.freenode.net/2011/01/freenode-70k/

See you around July 2013 when we expect to hit 90k.. :)

Merry Christmas

It was the day before Christmas, when all across the network not a creature was stirring, not even a troll…

Another year is coming to a close, a year of FOSS, a year of collaboration, a year of getting to know exciting projects and contributors, a year plentiful in conferences and events. A year in which community was at the heart of everything freenode and the PDPC did.

I am sat here in a candle lit room that smells of Christmas spice whilst sipping eggnog and stealing a moment to myself to reflect… when I first started using freenode, the network had around 1200 users — some years on we’ve passed 76,000. It is great to see so many projects make use of the service! The PDPC is doing some exciting stuff, FOSSCON was arranged for the second year running in 2011, FOSSEVENTS is still going strong and Geeknics are being held across the globe. Sometimes it is a bit daunting, everyone involved with freenode (and other PDPC projects) volunteer their time and skills to help the communities — and whilst this is great, the volunteer roster isn’t growing at a rate matching the increase in users. We will be doing another “Call for volunteers” in the New Year and we’re looking to find some awesome people to add to the team.

On a more personal basis, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in some brilliant “real life” events this year – from the always brilliant OGGCAMP, arranged by the amazing people behind the Linux Outlaws and Ubuntu UK podcasts. OGGCAMP is the sort of event which attracts “my sort of geek” — people with which I really enjoy spending time and socialising and I am already looking forward to next years! I’ve also enjoyed a number of Ubuntu-UK events, from the recent release party to smaller happy hours to the rather interesting Christmas meal at Dans Le Noir, where we ate a surprise menu (consisting of glow in the dark scallops, ostrich and blue shark to name some items!) in complete darkness before wandering off to enjoy a few pints of ale. Now, this is where freenode communities are great — I am an avid fan of the Ubuntu project, however, I have never used the distribution (though as a Debian user I am sure I’d get on with it just fine.. right?) but through freenode I have, over the years, come to know a lot of Ubuntu contributors and users, and over time discovered that these are people I really enjoy spending my time and people I am proud to call my friends! And I love their social events, they are a lot of fun! So thank you for letting me be a part of your community despite not really being “one of you” ;)

On the subject of freenode, communities and Christmas parties — as freenode volunteers are scattered across the globe, few of us meet on a regular basis but we tend to try make an effort to get together for dinner and drinks at events such as fosdem. This year, we decided to have a Christmas party, surprisingly we ended up with 21 people attending, most of which had never met each other in person before. Our volunteers flew over from America and Europe and we all had a smashing weekend filled with good food, nice drink and much laughter. Thank you all for coming!

In 2012 I look forward to learning about more projects, old and new. I look forward to attending yet more conferences and meeting more of you in person! I look forward to another year together with our volunteers and our sponsors, and of course our users.

On which note I shall wrap this entry up, thank you for using freenode and wish you all a Merry Christmas!

 

 

New GRF-freenode process

As you might know, GRFs (Group Registration Forms) exist to form a relationship between a project and the PDPC (Peer Directed Projects Center). This relationship is relatively formal – personal details (address/tel no./etc) need to be shared by the project. For this reason, a severe backlog of GRFs has built up, since only a few staff have access to them (to protect this personal data). PDPC is the UK-based not-for-profit company which runs freenode. For most groups in our request backlog, their reason for registering is not to work with PDPC, but to gain a channel or cloak namespace on freenode. We’ve decided that running a separate, freenode-centric groups request system may help to move the system along. By requesting fewer details, we can open up this system to more staff, and hopefully keep on top of the queue of requests.

From now on, using a new, shorter form, projects can choose to file a GRF-f (for GRF-freenode) and submit a GRF for processing by freenode, rather than by PDPC. This sends details (no personal details, other than email address, will be required) to a system to which many more staff will have access. This new form will allow you to gain control of a channel and the right to issue cloaks much more quickly than previously, as we will double/treble the number of staff able to deal with requests. For now, please only apply if you are a ‘priority’ group – ie, you do not own the main channel of your namespace.

If you already have a group registered and approved with an old-style GRF, you do not need to do anything. Your registration remains valid. If you need to make changes to the registration, please contact staff on freenode who will, if appropriate, direct you to use the old (GRF) system. The GRF-f system cannot be used to update groups which filed under the GRF system.

If you have a request pending in the old GRF queue, you are welcome to re-file under the GRF-f system. This is likely to mean that your request will be dealt with much more quickly than otherwise. This approach supersedes the grfprocess@ system introduced a while back – unfortunately, we just weren’t able to keep up with requests to that address.

You might be wondering where all of this fits into the GMS (Groups Management System) masterplan. When GMS is ready, we may need to ask all projects registered under the GRF-f system, and likely some projects which are already registered, to re-file. The GMS system will allow us to dispense with GRF-fs, and just build project<=>PDPC relationships, since forms will be able to be processed much more quickly. To be clear – it is quite possible that any registration made now may be revoked if a registration is not re-filed after GMS is released. If this does become reality, as much warning as possible will be given.

We hope that this will change will counter some of the ill-feeling around the GRFs system. In effect, the mentality is shifting from one of “GMS will clear the GRFs backlog” to “GMS will help us to serve groups better”. We’re no longer waiting for GMS to clear the queue. We’re still looking for help with GMS: if you have Perl/Catalyst or web design experience and think you can help, join #freenode-gms.

Update 2012-06-09 – All group registration has been suspended whilst we evaluate the system and its implementation. A replacement should be available in due course, but for now it is not possible to register groups, and the link to the grf-f form has been removed.

PDPC Fundraiser 2011

Hello everyone and Happy St Valentine’s Day!

Love PDPC! 2011 Fundraiser

We here at freenode and PDPC love Free and Open Source Software (FOSS), and we know that at least 70,000 of you do too.

What better time than the middle of February to show your love and appreciation?

Peer-Directed Projects Center Ltd. (PDPC) exists to support all sorts of peer-directed projects, and our roots are firmly planted in the world of FOSS. Hundreds of projects, large and small, use our services, including:

  • freenode: probably the reason you’re on this blog – the 70,000-strong IRC network focused on FOSS
  • Geeknics: the popular real-world meetups for geeks – “Geek Picnics” (we don’t bite, honest!)
  • FOSSCon: the friendly and successful conference about to enter its second year – watch this space
  • fossevents: your online guide to the real-world happenings of the FOSS universe
  • … and infinitely more! Got an idea? Get involved and let us know about it.

The aim of this fundraiser is to generate £5000, which will help to cover general operating expenses and enable us to apply for recognition as a Charity. This will help us to show our appreciation to donors and sponsors (on freenode) who may be able to claim tax benefits from their governments as a result. It also means that we can ensure that more of future donations go towards PDPC’s projects, and not to the taxman!

While the aim of the fundraiser is, of course, to generate income for PDPC, we want to give you the opportunity to express your appreciation for the projects and developers you love. For the next two weeks only, we are running the following offers:

Valentine cloaks

Would you love to send your favourite developer a valentine? Donate £10 or more and we’ll offer the target of your affections a “pdpc/valentine/message/account” cloak for the duration of the valentine period. The best bit? You get to choose “message”! Of course, you will still, subject to the same staff discretion as usual, be welcome to a PDPC supporter cloak for yourself. Donate here.

Please keep the message clean and pleasant, and be aware that we will not set cloaks that we deem to be offensive or that the recipient does not want. If you wish for us to tell the recipient that you bought their cloak, let us know. All of this, with your account name too, should be conveyed in the PayPal donation message. We will process outstanding requests at least daily, and these valentine cloaks will remain for 24 hours from when they were set.

Cloud Nine

As usual, when you donate to PDPC, we will give you the opportunity to link your donation to a channel – this might be a channel you frequent, or that for a project you love. For the next few weeks (and possibly beyond, but without the love theme!), we are going to use this data to compile a Love Cloud (yes, you guessed it – “Cloud Nine”) where at a glance you will be able to see the relative contributions in each project’s name. We are measuring donations in hugs: £5 = 1 hug (£10 = 2, £500 = 100), and the hearts will be scaled appropriately (if we have to break out some logarithmic scaling, we have success!). Cloud Nine will be sitting over the homepage of freenode.net.

We’re all about sharing the love here at freenode, so if you are naming a channel with your donation we would love it if you would tell us why. What makes this project so great? Please try to keep kudos concise! We might wallop some of the best messages (so set yourself /umode +w to see them, or /umode -w to hide them), and we will blog the collected kudos at the end of the valentine period. If you do not want your account name to be attached to feedback that you send, please mention this to us. All of this should be placed into the PayPal donation comment. Donate here.

We have some more ideas for the fundraiser in the pipeline, so keep an eye on this blog for more details!

Finally, but by no means least, significant thanks are owed to JonathanD, mgdm and Scott Rigby of BaseKamp who have contributed much time and effort to forming this fundraiser launch at short notice. You’re awesome.

So, everyone, I’d encourage you to put your hands in your pockets, send a small donation our way (£5 – the cost of a couple of pints of beer?) and, most importantly, get involved with our fundraising fun for 2011!

With love,

Martinp23, the Board and Staff.

Peer-Directed Projects Center Ltd. is a company limited by guarantee (no 06680918), 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London, EC1V 4PY, England