Moral report on activities of APRIL in 2001
Activities between 11/11/2000 to 30/11/2001
- Moral report on activities of APRIL in 2001
- Brief history
- Economic context
- Political context
- Year assessment
- Working groups
- Server Administration and Web
- FSF Europe
- Contacts with media
- Conclusion and future
- Thanks to...
Note : Many of groups and events refered in this report are about the GNU/Linux system but call it 'Linux'.
Created in November 1996, APRIL isn't aiming to promote the GNU/Linux operating system or set up a simple GNU/Linux User Group. APRIL aims to promote free software in general, and to a larger audience, including companies and institutions in France and all of Europe.
APRIL is one of the most important associations for Free Software in France, and encourages publicisation and greater awareness of Free software in France either via direct action (conferences, installation and training days, meetings, debates, etc.) or via action of a more indirect sort (meeting in Sénat, regular publishing of papers in different media, common action with other associations against patents on software, etc.). A strong partnership, strong sympathy with their ideas and a privileged relationship exists with Free Software Foundation created by Richard Stallman. This helps explain why the association attaches great importance to the promotion of the FSF's ideas in France.
Since 1996, the first set of objectives we set ourselves have been successfully achieved. From an almost complete anonymity, free software (and not just "Linux") is now known to a large audience and also companies, journalists, and decision-makers. Of course, this success is not only due to the association but we have greatly contributed to it.
Free software continues to become more commonplace, but there are still many goals we wish to achieve in the future.
The economic outlook has changed considerably since the last general assembly of the association. The computing industry is generally in crisis, and the world of free software has also been badly affected. Several companies which provided free software services have had difficulties, have changed their business model, or have disappeared. On the other hand, a few companies that provide free software services have proven their maturity in the management of these problems and have shown that it is possible to base an economic model on the development based on free software (providing that model is well chosen).
APRIL considers it important that economic models based on free software succeed.
International and national political climate has some impact on development and the future of free software in different ways:
- strong lobbying of big companies (helped by "experts" in intellectual property) who are pro-patents on computer software;
- strong lobbying of companies who want the European adoption of laws like DMCA and others;
- Adoption of laws that limit liberties (see Loi sur la Sécurité Quotidienne [LSQ] -- Law on Daily Security).
In that field, our adversaries are very well prepared and armed.
The fight against these changes fills a great deal of our action time, in collaboration with other organisations (Eurolinux, AFUL, LSIJolie, ..). In France, several private bills related to free software (closely related to or not far from it) were not accepted. Nevertheless, we can note some progress, see for example the Carsenac report, creation of ATICA [Agence pour les Technologies de l'Information et de la Communication dans l'Administration -- Agency for Information and Communication Technologies in the Civil Service], ex-MTIC (interdepartmental mission of support for development of inforamtion and communication technologies in the Civil Service).
Note that in France and Europe, free software has got supporters (Direction Générale de la Société de l'Information, financing plans of IST, ATICA).
The association today has around 200 members distributed over several French-speaking countries, with a majority of French people. Last year over the same period, we had about 130 members. Among these members, we find people who work for different companies or the Civil Service, as researchers, teachers, students, as well as some people who are not involved with computer science.
Last year, the association modified its rules to accept membership of moral people mainly to have a running budget that can allow us to think about future actions in a different way (for example, to finance permanent members). The association counts one more moral person: the free software "technopole" of Soissons. The current economic difficulties make us fearful that among the 9 moral persons, several may have to leave sometime in future for economic reasons.
Besides, we are currently looking into the possibility of hiring a permanent member for APRIL; however, no progress in this area has yet been made.
One dificulty of an association like ours is the spread of members but we have successfully co-ordinated action, particularly via several mailing lists. The board of directors has a face-to-face meeting at least once per month and follows that up with a public report.
The way new members are integrated into the association is satisfactory. This is due in part to the setting up of an information system: a member's section on the web with the archives of the mailing lists, documents about the software architecture of the server, howtos allowing everyone to take part to the activities of the association, a description and progress monitoring of the working groups, a task-manager, a shared calendar, automatic management of new joiners who receive an automatic e-mail with a whole presentation of the association, which allows the new members to know almost everything about what the association is doing.
We can note the joining of people who have not come from the free software world, whose activism will be beneficial for the association.
One part of the association's running relies on the notion of working group. Working groups are in charge of implementing all actions that can fulfill objectives of the association, and are not limited with respect to time.
Since the beginning, the management of each working group has been provided by people who also had lots of work to do at the head of the association. That is a reason why most of working group leaders have chosen to vacate responsibility for their group. We note the excellent resumption of the working group on "GNU Philosophy Translation", which regularly publishes new translations on www.gnu.org, and new joiners have taken charge of working groups "Documentation/Labo". Working groups with fixed deadlines, like the organisation for Linux Expo stand, have been also well managed.
The working group called "Samedis du Libre" ("Free Software Saturdays") has recently taken off again with the help of GCU-Squad and Parinux, and will take place one saturday per month, at the Cyberbase of La Villette (the first meeting took place on November 17th and was a critically acclaimed success).
The groups "Documentation" and "Labo" ("Laboratory") have been dormant since the last time Alain Riffart added documention.
The group "Press review" was created in June 2001 and appears to be proceeding well. Nicole regularly sends newspaper cuttings to the FSF.
The group "Free Software and scientific research" was created, and some dicussion has started.
The group "Education" will soon revive under the leadership of Charlie.
The other groups are really dormant (Catalog, interviews).
Lots of procedures have been/are being set up to facilitate the administration of the association's server.
The management of website is provided by CVS/WML, allowing a cooperative administration, despite some architectural limits. Lol Zimmerli, the current webmaster, has done a very good job, but now wishes to stand down (volunteers wanted).
The association's machine has moved to Easynet's building.
New administrators joined the team in charge of server administration. Incidentally, organisation problems in the team still exist and need to be resolved.
The association took part in numerous activities on several occasions (organisation, event stand holding, meeting, ..).
We can specially note this year:
- Linux Expo on February 2001
- Internet festival 2001 (with Parinux) at La Villette (from 27/02 to 04/03)
- Free Software Saturdays (with GCU) by Internatif: multimedia
- Linux@Work, Paris, June 13th 2001
- Taking part in a Zelig meeting (intervention of Fred, thierry laronde, paper of fred, aris, benj)
- Taking part Took in the publication of the 'Multitudes' issue on Intellectual Property
- Action on Ecole Centrale de Paris to release VideoLan under the GPL (FSF Awards)
- Sponsoring LSM 2001 (10 kf) [LSM = Free Software Meeting]
- Taking part in the organisation of LSM (Subjects: law and free software, python)
- organisation of 3rd FSF Award
- APRIL member meeting, Paris, June 9th 2001
- APRIL/FSF France Convention at LSM, July 7 2001
- Launching of "Libre en Fête" (Free software festival)
- Meeting with CNRS for GPL translation
- contact with Technopole of Libre Software of Soissons (information exchange, the technopole became April member, getting in touch with journalists, european contest of Libre, legal aspects, APRIL became partner of Technopole)
- Active participation in organisation of LSM (topics: law, press, ...)
- Paper for the EPFL newspaper
- Paper for Tribunix
- Meeting with the senator of Nice for the creation of a future free software "technopole".
- Cryptography Meeting about law on information society, taking part in LSI Jolie
- Setting up of an "introduction to free software" for INJEP
- Tasca Tax
- Lemon price to IBM at Linux Expo 2001 (patents)
- several articles/papers written to answer to Microsoft's FUD or others
- Days of free software in education (on Raphaël's own initiative), sponsorship, hosting of the website
- Free software picnic
- Cheese and Win e
- Fred appearance and conference during Montpellier's 'Last Jeudi' (Last Thursday) on May, 31th 2001
- Conference about FSF Europe during LSM 2001's closing
- Round table on Free Software in La Villette during the Internet Festival
- 2 conferences in Évry's INT
- Cedar in Nice
- LinuxDay in Luxembourg
- Second Day of free software in the Civil Service (Paris)
- Compiègne's University of Technology
- Round table during the Education Exhibition (Paris)
- 'Autour du Libre' 2001 (About Free Software) (Brest)
- Radio broadcast on FPP
- Radio broadcast on France Culture
- cocktail/debate at Globenet
- Benchmark Group Forum (Paris)
- Debate about Free Software in the IE Club (Paris)
- Remics in Bordeaux
- Club de l'Hypermonde (Paris)
- Round table on Free Software in Hourtin
- Ceenet in Hungary
- Free Software Day in Montpellier
More APRIL specific actions:
- Update of the APRIL FAQ
- Completion of the APRIL booklet + Press release
- Setup of Catalog
- English and Portuguese versions of the website
- Install of the Mantis task manager (after being modified)
- Creation of the 'howto actions de terrain' (live action howto) in progress
- APRIL visit cards
- Agreement to host translated resources which were 'expelled' from gnu.org
- Initiation of the 'Developer's Map' project, later left to the FSFE
- Ordering of the APRIL t-shirts (blue and yellow)
- 'member management' project started and stopped
- Setup of Ezphone in the member section on the website
- Jérémie commissioned on the association functioning
- Server moved from Lolix to Easynet
- Loan to ABULÉDU
Several Initial contacts:
- Initial contact with Noël Mamère
- Initial contact with the Ministry of Culture
- Initial contact with the MTIC (now ATICA)
- Initial contact with the ASTI
- Initial contact with the MACIF fundation
- Initial contact with the Paris Town Hall
- Initial contact with the Ministry of Formation (Mélenchon's Departmental Staff)
- Meetings with people from the CNRS about a Free Software study
- Numerous contacts with people more or less involved in EPN (Espaces Publiques Numériques -- Digital Public Area)
- Tax on digital aids: It's Mozart who is murdered! On the tax on digital aids
- 100 000 bresilians threatened with death by patents
- Congratulations to Ecole Centrale of Paris on VideoLan publishing under GPL
- European Patent Office: Intellectual property? No, Intellectual Pollution!
- Convention of APRIL in Free Software Meeting
- Free Software Saturdays, going in search of new numerical countries via free software
- On the presence of RMS in Paris (meeting with Noël Mamère, conférence at ENST, ..)
- Relaying FSF and FSFE press releases (GNU GPL, creation of FSFE, ..)
Patents on software:
- Active participation in EuroLinux
- Several interviews to journalists
- Attempt to make people/companies who are not involved with free software aware of the issues.
- meeting political representatives (Noël Mamère, Jean-Noël Tronc, ..)
- Help for writing a book on patents
- Miscellaneous actions: academy of technology, ..
Several press interviews, among others: InternetActu, Politis, 01net, Internet entrepreneur, Cadres On Line, Linux Loader, Ordinateur Individuel, Silicon.fr, Monde Interactif, 01 Réseaux, Transfert, Login, Linux Passion, Place Publique.
The association played an important part in the successful creation of FSF Europe. 3 members of APRIL (Loïc, Raph, Fred) belong to the FSF Europe coreteam; some APRIL members are involved with the success of FSFE (Cyril, Jérôme, Hugo, Olivier, Gilles, ..) either by helping with campaigns, administration or webmastering. The association became the first associate of the FSF Europe. The FSF Europe has started several campaigns, in collaboration with the association and/or external people.
Among these actions, we can note:
- Setting up of contacts with other organisations about free software in the world (Africa, Japan, United Kingdom, Italia, Spain, Portugal, ..)
- Advice on creation of an association for free software
- Taking part in the launching of ANSOL in Portugal
- Official start of the translation/adaptation of the GNU GPL into French Law
- Setting up of a legal expert network (we have to find other lawyers)
- Consulting for private individuals and companies
- Setting up of the first GNU machine outside of the USA
- Study into possibilities of deducting donations (tax benefits)
- study into selling GNU goodies in France
- involvement in the GNU project
- FAQ about Hardware manufacturers
- correction of the Unesco website on free sotware
- SourceForge, VA Linux
- experts in free software at european committee
- Study into groupware solution
- Savannah, CoopX
- Presence of FSFE at World Forum of Education. FSFE has taken part by sending two papers, one introducing free software, the other offering a list of free software resources for education. Both papers were written by Raphaël Ducheyron.
Contacts with journalists are getting better and better, especially for non-specialised national press. Lots of interviews were done and journalists have also contacted us to record our opinion or to get information. The association is now clearly well established as a referee that should be consulted.
Our press releases were mostly cited and/or used in press (electronic or paper).
Last year we talked, within the scope of our contacts with media and our lobbying actions, of an official April moving closer to the FSF, with the objectives of signing a kind of partnership. This point is no longer on the agenda since the creation of FSF Europe and since APRIL became an associated organisation.
An important but less visible activity of the association is lobbying, with numerous initial contacts in lots of circles (political, economic, ..).
The patent question remains at the centre of many of our actions (on the APRIL side or the Eurolinux alliance side).
APRIL is well established in the world of free software and its position is well understood, including even external people. APRIL has cultivated a privileged relationship with the media, decision-makers and so on in the field of free computer science. Its role has been strengthened by the creation of FSF Europe and by the official relationship between the organisations.
The association is full of life, well organised and is building constructive partnerships. The creation of FSF Europe has increased the visibility of the association and the knowledge other people have of it. Nevertheless, the work load has also considerably increased this year and the question of the durability of the association is more and more pressing.
Last year, several leads were mentionned:
- Use of budget: permanent member, ..
- priorities that the association should follow in free software
- closely related activities
- pool of active members
Thanks to all people, members of the association or external people, who allow us to successfully carry out all our tasks.