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Open Source GNU is Not Unix

Free Software Foundation Shakes Up Its List of Priority Projects (networkworld.com) 103

alphadogg quotes Network World: The Free Software Foundation Tuesday announced a major rethinking of the software projects that it supports, putting top priority on a free mobile operating system, accessibility, and driver development, among other areas. The foundation has maintained the High Priority Projects list since 2005, when it contained just four free software projects. [That rose to 12 projects by 2008, though the changelog shows at least seven projects have since been removed.] Today's version mostly identifies priority areas, along with a few specific projects in key areas.
The new list shows the FSF will continue financially supporting Replicant, their free version of Android, and they're also still supporting projects to create a free software replacement for Skype with real-time voice and video capabilities. But they're now also prioritizing various projects to replace Siri, Google Now, Alexa, and Cortana with a free-software personal assistant, which they view as "crucial to preserving users' control over their technology and data while still giving them the benefits such software has for many."

And other priorities now include internationalization, accessibility, decentralization and self-hosting, and encouraging governments to adopt free software.
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Free Software Foundation Shakes Up Its List of Priority Projects

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  • smh (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @12:46AM (#53713877)

    "We can't build a kernel in a reasonable amount of time, so instead we'll take on projects that meld AI, natural language and voice recognition!!"

    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @02:18AM (#53714127) Homepage Journal

      Free software assistant... already exists

      http://mycroft.ai [mycroft.ai]

      They've got an RPi image you can download, slap on a card, and be up and running with a USB mic and something to handle the audio out.

      Seems to me like the FSF should pay more attention to what is already going on.

      • From what I heard, everything except the TTS (which is quite bad) is just using some online API from google/microsoft, so your data end up in their hands with mycroft as well. However, they still should be supported as their goal is to get rid of that reliance.

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      Also, is it even poasibkentonmake one that maintanes privacy?

      Don't these systems work so well because they are always improving based on their usage?

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        Also, is it even poasibkentonmake one that maintanes privacy?

        "Possible to make"?

    • What do you expect from ideologues? Common sense? Here's one example of their "me-too" stupidity

      replace Siri, Google Now, Alexa, and Cortana with a free-software personal assistant, which they view as "crucial to preserving users' control over their technology and data

      People don't need "personal software assistants" to "help preserve users' control over their technology and data." What they need is to learn that anything you share with anyone is ultimately shared with the world, so if you want control of your data, keep it to yourself.

      We already have the ultimate secure social network - just send all your posts to /dev/null. Anything else, you're fooling yourself. Same with

      • This - absolutely this!!! I don't use Siri or Cortana or Alexa or any other 'assistant'. The last thing I want or need is an AI telling me that I have any sort of accent. Besides, it's not very complicated for me to open up Fandango if I'm checking for movies, or Yelp if I want to find a good restaurant for Mongolian food in my locality

        About things I post publicly, I've made it a point to only post under assumed names and addresses, and use my real identity only for things like bill payments and so

        • I take the reverse - I post everything under my real name, same as I posted under my old real name before I changed it. You'd be amazed at just how much less complicated life is if you just assume your deepest dirty secrets are already out there - it also keeps you honest, both with others, and especially with yourself. :-)

          Too bad most of the politicians out there are too busy fingerpointing at the messengers who leaked their dirty little deals rather than not doing them in the first place. But worse, in m

    • "We can't build a kernel in a reasonable amount of time, so instead we'll take on projects that meld AI, natural language and voice recognition!!"

      I believe they had long given up on HURD, after trying 4 or 5 different microkernels, all of which failed

  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @01:00AM (#53713927)

    I looked at the projects from 2008, and AFAIK none of them have really made much progress or are already dead. Gnash, really? Luckily for everyone (except Adobe) Flash is in it's death knell in 2017. Coreboot is a great concept (I have used LinuxBIOS in a couple of projects) but ultimately doomed because firmware/BIOS is intimately tied to hardware - it will be great for hobby projects but by definition never be useful for mainstream PCs. And so it goes down the list...

    And the 2017 list... Free smartphone OS basically seems to be "free Android" - I'm sure it will be about as successful at the 2008 goal with "gNewSense". FSF personal assistant? Could it be possible they don't understand how these work? It's trivial client software with billions of dollars in server hardware behind it. And seriously, "projects that replace Google, Facebook Apple, and so on"? Again, you don't replace those unless you have billions in backend investment and billions of users.

    I commend them on finally trying to address the totally dysfunctional open source community in terms of female and minority inclusion, but they still need to prioritize actual useful *projects*, not just processes...

    • by WaffleMonster ( 969671 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @03:03AM (#53714191)

      And the 2017 list... Free smartphone OS basically seems to be "free Android" - I'm sure it will be about as successful at the 2008 goal with "gNewSense". FSF personal assistant? Could it be possible they don't understand how these work? It's trivial client software with billions of dollars in server hardware behind it. And seriously, "projects that replace Google, Facebook Apple, and so on"? Again, you don't replace those unless you have billions in backend investment and billions of users.

      Originally "intelligent agents" were supposed to be software running on the users behalf which strived to understand contextually what the users needs were and act to support the user. What actually happened big data cyber stalking firms have entirely corrupted this vision.

      It isn't that you start over and run parallel infrastructure. It is more about designing local agents able to effectively leverage the network as it is to fulfill needs of the user. There is no reason an IA can't run a google, wolfram alpha, bing search, check specialized databases of interest or rummage through your email or local files on your behalf. The only difference is the IA is acting in YOUR best interests NOT a third parties and it isn't sending all of your local personal shit to god knows who for god knows why.

      Current systems are more than capable of doing NLP and voice recognition locally. Even if you go with generic ANN approach for recognition you don't need exotic hardware to use a trained network. Granted all of this requires specialized skills but far from unreasonable.

      If done properly you can provide value with IA's the likes of siri, cortana, alexa...etc can't because it's not in their business model. If you got the basic interfaces, perhaps some specialized DSLs and focus on making it easy for people to build their own agent logic and share it with others.. there is a chance... perhaps a small one of creating something that snowballs where the value and the capabilities of the IA grows organically as more people contribute or improve upon logic that scratches their itches.

      • by Dahamma ( 304068 )

        Current systems are more than capable of doing NLP and voice recognition locally. Even if you go with generic ANN approach for recognition you don't need exotic hardware to use a trained network. Granted all of this requires specialized skills but far from unreasonable.

        Since you seem to know the basics of ANN-based AI but not the details, check this article out to get into the current decade, it's a good overview of how much resources it really takes to do ANN right: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/1... [nytimes.com]

        Summary is: sure you can do really crappy NLP locally, but what Google has started doing is at another level entirely. And that's not even at the level that will be required to really get "intelligent agents" to be truly useful. The limiting factor to ANN right now is comput

        • Since you seem to know the basics of ANN-based AI but not the details, check this article out to get into the current decade, it's a good overview of how much resources it really takes to do ANN right: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/1 [nytimes.com]...

          I seem to have no idea what you are asserting or relevance of this New York times article. It does not address the topic at hand, offers no useful technical details and does not address the premise of my point -- there exists a massive difference in computational requirements between training vs using trained networks.

          For example when level 5 self driving cars hit the roads they will be executing against trained networks locally without "the cloud". ANN based systems generally have this property.

          Summary is: sure you can do really crappy NLP locally, but what Google has started doing is at another level entirely. And that's not even at the level that will be required to really get "intelligent agents" to be truly useful. The limiting factor to ANN right now is computing power (and/or much more special purpose hardware). That's the reason it was nearly abandoned 20 years ago and revived recently - it was impossible with the previous concepts of "supercomputers", etc and now only with massively distributed computing has it been possible to actually simulate the multilevel networks required.

          My own o

    • You can run plenty of AI on mobile phones or PCs. It's not so farfetched to have a non-cloud personal assistant.
    • Chromebooks use Coreboot, and they regularly top the lists of most popular laptops on Amazon. The firmware/binary blog thing isn't as much of an issue as you might think, since the basic idea of Coreboot is to do the minimum possible to boot the OS rather than replace all the random BIOS functions and crud built up over the years.

      Replicant is likely a response to Cyanogen giving up, and an attempt to find some way around the binary blob hell that is smartphone chipsets. Well, these days Android runs on a lot more than just phones, and things like tablets tend to have more transparent hardware for their radios so it's far from an impossible goal.

      Personal assistants could easily use your own personal server. The speech recognition might not be quite as good, but of course you can just type stuff. In any case, being able to look up results on your choice of search engine or Wikipedia, and being able to interpret simple commands like "set a reminder for next Tuesday at 7 PM" hardly requires billions of dollars of hardware. There are some useful Google Now features I don't use for privacy reasons, like traffic info cards, which could easily be replaced by free software even if I have to explicitly tell it my route home from work rather than it using machine learning to figure it out for me.

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Personal assistants could easily use your own personal server.

        Would this "personal server" be a device carried in the user's pocket? Or would it be a server application running on the user's home PC, which home ISP terms of service tend to forbid on pain of disconnection? Or would it be a leased virtual private server?

    • by jon3k ( 691256 )

      Again, you don't replace those unless you have billions in backend investment and billions of users.

      There are some really interest projects going on that allow for decentralization of applications (eg ipfs [ipfs.io], blockchain technology). With the continued increase in broadband speeds and distributed technologies it's not as far fetched as it once was.

    • I looked at the projects from 2008, and AFAIK none of them have really made much progress or are already dead. Gnash, really? Luckily for everyone (except Adobe) Flash is in it's death knell in 2017. Coreboot is a great concept (I have used LinuxBIOS in a couple of projects) but ultimately doomed because firmware/BIOS is intimately tied to hardware - it will be great for hobby projects but by definition never be useful for mainstream PCs. And so it goes down the list...

      And the 2017 list... Free smartphone OS basically seems to be "free Android" - I'm sure it will be about as successful at the 2008 goal with "gNewSense". FSF personal assistant? Could it be possible they don't understand how these work? It's trivial client software with billions of dollars in server hardware behind it. And seriously, "projects that replace Google, Facebook Apple, and so on"? Again, you don't replace those unless you have billions in backend investment and billions of users.

      I commend them on finally trying to address the totally dysfunctional open source community in terms of female and minority inclusion, but they still need to prioritize actual useful *projects*, not just processes...

      This is pretty much right, although I like some of the newer priorities they have, such as 'driver development, internationalization, accessibility.' At least, that would largely reduce the barriers that exist in their 'Libre-Linux' being accepted. About Replicant, I just don't see the point - why don't they look at partnering w/ LineageOS to produce something? They can fork it so that they have a GPL3 version while LineageOS has maybe a BSD one.

      But the larger point you made is correct - they need to

    • Luckily for everyone (except Adobe) Flash is in [its] death [throes] in 2017

      Not quite everyone. Flash is still very important for people who read and study the existing corpus of electronic literature, much of which was created using Flash. Whether that was a good idea (not really) is irrelevant; that's what the authors used, and we need an implementation to continue reading those texts.

      Some [mspaintadventures.com] of that Flash-based e-lit has a large audience, and some of it is culturally significant. This may be a niche application, depending on your point of view, but it's not an insignificant one.

      Tha

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Lately we've seen GNU/Linux morph into GNU/systemd/Linux, and we've started to see that morph into just systemd/Linux.

    As everyone is probably quite aware these days, systemd has proven itself to be very problematic for many GNU/Linux users, especially those who need stable and reliable systems.

    After encountering numerous problems, most of them truly idiotic, with systemd, I've had to move away from Linux (no, I'm not going to use a niche distro like Devuan that might not exist next week, nor a truly archaic

    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @01:59AM (#53714093)
      Linux is not a GNU project. That's why not.
    • nor one like Gentoo where I have to wait a week for everything to compile

      If you're waiting a week for Gentoo to build, either (1) you're doing it wrong or (2) you need more modern hardware. It doesn't even need to be bleeding-edge; the Core 2 Quad Q6600 I bought in 2008 and still use at work (!) could do a complete rebuild (including things like Chromium, LibreOffice, and KDE) in maybe 36-48 hours. You almost never need to rebuild everything at the same time, however, so the typical emerge whatever takes

  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @01:45AM (#53714053)

    I read TFA because I was curious to see what the FSF felt they'd accomplished in the last twelve years; but, alas, there's no mention of the list's former contents.

    I have trouble believing a group which has been unable to get a working Hurd released sometime during the past three decades is capable of accomplishing any of their stated "high priority" goals.

    I don't mean to discount their philosophical importance; but really I think that's pretty much the sum total of their impact.

    • Well I read the article, but obviously didn't read the submission! I see the archive.org link is there...

      Octave at least is actually getting some exposure. But it's still rather imperfect - a niche offering at best.

    • To my knowledge Hurd has not been a high priority project nor received money for development in decades, so I fail to see how that can sum up anything of their "high priority" goals.

  • Back before every computer/tablet etc users were using was behind NAT we had point to point video and audio. Skype is the hack to have someone in the middle to act as a proxy between to endpoints between NAT.
    Now that IPv6 is finally starting to spread we just need something like those many point to point video and audio programs. It's no longer such a difficult problem and there are many open source projects already delivering in that space.
    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      You're still going to need a MITM unless everyone figures out how to do proper port forwarding or exposing the port from behind the ISP's modem's router/firewall.

      Apparently, Linux people still fail at understanding some of these basic networking concepts. Not surprised.

      • You're still going to need a MITM unless everyone figures out how to do proper port forwarding or exposing the port from behind the ISP's modem's router/firewall.

        Apparently, Linux people still fail at understanding some of these basic networking concepts. Not surprised.

        All you need is something that looks like a naming/directory/oldschool ILS type server to coordinate things.

        With IPv6 implementations ports are mapped 1:1 because there is no packet mangling. All you need to do is prime the SPI with a few UDP packets in either direction and your good to go.

        With IPv4 NATs ... especially the CGN variety without a 1:1 map required much more creative approaches such as birthday paradox spam across the port space which is slow and unreliable and may not work at all due to lack

    • Skype is the hack to have someone in the middle to act as a proxy between to endpoints between NAT.

      Wrong. Skype is what gives you access to the POTS network worldwide without it costing you a zillion dollars.

  • by cats-paw ( 34890 ) on Sunday January 22, 2017 @12:18PM (#53715485) Homepage

    given the opportunities for snooping, they level of insecurity that is here and only going to get worse, a free mobile OS would be a great thing.

    google's efforts at completely eliminating your privacy (i HAVE to sync my calendar to the google, WTF?!) is evil.

    couple of problems:

    how does this work with the carriers. are they free to keep your phone off the air once they start doing OS checks ?

    pushing an OS onto a variety of hardware, just as on PCs is definitely painful, and I think it's going to be much worse for mobile phones. Lots of parts are proprietary and require NDAs to have access to datasheets. Not sure how you get around this problem.

    • how does this work with the carriers. are they free to keep your phone off the air once they start doing OS checks ?

      That depends on the terms under which each carrier leases spectrum from each national radio communications regulator. Some require carriers to serve subscribers who carry any device that has been certified to follow the relevant protocol and has not been stolen, such as licenses resulting from U.S. auction 73 [wikipedia.org].

  • Salamu alaikum, Thanks all for the FLOSS movement. I'm a normal user of Debian GNU/Linux and GNU/Linux Mint as my main Desktop computer and Laptop. Since, i'm creating CC0 educational 2d animation videos like those : https://youtu.be/4MB47oPBp9U [youtu.be] (Created with Synfig Studio, Tupe, Libreoffice Impress, OpenShot, Audacity, LibAV, Inkscape and GIMP), And because of the world of on-line content are increasingly created by users. I think that it is time, for FLOSS people to consider a Animation Maker Software t

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