[Freedombox-discuss] Introductions

Jonas Smedegaard dr at jones.dk
Mon Aug 30 09:15:45 UTC 2010


My name is Jonas Smedegaard.  I am a Debian developer since the dawn of 
this millenium, working on "Debian Pure Blends", Debian-edu and 
(recently) multimedia teams, and (a bit) FSO and emdebian teams.  I am 
self-educated, self-employed, earning a living doing mostly sysadmin 
jobs for small heterogenous networks - mostly schools.

On Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 12:20:08AM +0200, Michiel de Jong wrote:
>I found you while trying to set up an open-source project that explores 
>the combination of PGP and Bittorrent, to do things like email, social 
>networking, etcetera over encrypted bittorrents. It was thinking of it 
>as a desktop application, but after reading this list, i think it would 
>be very compatible with the freedom box effort.

It is exciting to hear how this FreedomBox proposal by Eben Moglen have 
inspired and lured forward so many novel ideas.

The above one - and others too - sounds quite interesting.  I would very 
much encourage you to work on it - and will also offer my help getting 
your work into Debian.  Would be cool IMO for a FreedomBox to embrave 
such project when ready.

I strongly recommend, however, to treat this FreedomBox effort not as a 
platform for inventing novel pieces, but a platform for stitching them 
together when available as individual pieces in Debian - i.e. a task 
similar to that of other existing Debian Pure Blends:

  * Find novel ideas not yet in Debian but potentially useful in 
    FreedomBox, and encourage their packaging for Debian,
  * Pick suitable selection(s) of *existing* Debian softare packages,
  * Decide suitable configuration(s) of these package selection(s),
  * Decide suitable maintainance on these package selection(s),
  * Help work on improving the packages to be configurable and 
    mainainable the way we figure out that FreedomBox need it,
  * Decide suitable install routines to bootstrap a FreedomBox
  * Help work on improving Debian infrastructures to serve the
    needed bootstrap routines.

As I see it, this FreedomBox project may not need to ever write a single 
piece of code!

Novel code is developed *upstream* (i.e. as separate projects, typically 
independent from Debian) and then is packaged for Debian through normal 
means of filing RFP and ITP bugreports.  Bug fixing and code 
improvements are done through the normal means of filing bugreports 
against existing packages.  Install quirks and maintainance designs are 
done by filing bug reports against existing Debian infrastructure.

Sure, we should discuss and coordinate here what we want and how we want 
it, and we should coordinate the bugs filed and the package selections 
chosen.  And sure, we should throw together test routines to easily try 
out our composition(s) before fully integrated with Debian.

But no, I don't think we should _develop_ any code as part of this 
project.  We do not need it, and it we have plenty of challenges just 
working from existing 26.000+ packages already fully integrated in the 
larger Debian construct.

>I wanted to note a few things, for what they're worth - feel free to 
>shoot them down if I missed the point, or if this is outside the scope 
>of FreedomBox:
>1 - i think there is a need for search. we agree facebook has too much 
>power. but what about youtube? if i post a video on youtube, then it's 
>public, searchable, and not in any way private. but I wouldn't be 
>surprised if they do their fair bit of "spying for free" as well. my 
>point is that to really beat all the existing "platforms" (youtube, 
>twitter, ...), you need search (although maybe only at a later stage).

I agree that for world domination we need everything, including search, 
but do not agree that FreedomBox "needs" search to exist at all.

Please add search to the list at the wiki.  And please either find it 
invented somewhere, or invent it yourself.

>2 - multiple users may want to use the same plug server. It could speed 
>up adoption in for instance a house share if you can create accounts 
>for your 5 or 6 house mates on one single plug server.

I believe this is tied to the middle or upper layers of the stack:

   * lower layers: machine entity and resources (e.g. disk space)
   * upper layers: user entity/entities, relations, and resource use

As such, your point is very valid, but not a show-stopper IMO: imagine 
we find a tool working properly to handle a single user but by design 
cannot support multiple users - I would then want a FreedomBox that uses 
that, until someone invents a similar but multihomed tool.

So again: add it to the list at the wiki (if not already there), and try 
locate candidates fulfilling this envisioned need - preferrably packaged 
for Debian already, and if not then please file an RFP or ITP bugreport 
and list the bug number at the wiki too.

>3 - maybe (I'm not entirely sure about this one myself) one user may 
>want to "trust" several plug servers to store his encrypted files. I 
>already trust my friends to hold encrypted backups of my data. So I 
>might as well store a second copy of all my stuff on the freedom box at 
>my parents' house. Also, maybe I also want to run a "freedom box" on my 
>laptop, for lower latency when I´m in an internet cafe. I feel there 
>must be a flaw in this reasoning, because it completely decouples the 
>applications/usefulness from the actual product/hardware, and I don't 
>know whether that's good or bad. At least maybe it's something that 
>needs defining. Make of it what you will.

Again, it is great that you raise the issue, but please let us discuss 
it not in the mindset of implementing something ourselves but in picking 
something already invented.  Or put it on a wishlist, to encourage 
clever enthousiasts to embrace the idea and realize it.

Kind regards,

  - Jonas

  * Jonas Smedegaard - idealist & Internet-arkitekt
  * Tlf.: +45 40843136  Website: http://dr.jones.dk/

  [x] quote me freely  [ ] ask before reusing  [ ] keep private
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