Embarrassing. As a Free/Libre/OpenSource developer, I have shied away from choosing a licence for over twenty years. It's time to make some decisions.


This week I'm setting up Draupnir on my matrix test rig, in order to become familiar with Draupnir deployment before I integrate it with PubHubs.

Very glad to be able to use matrix-docker-ansible-deploy's Draupnir setup to automate the majority of the Draupnir deployment.

I also want to automate, with Ansible, as much as possible of the set-up that is required before running that playbook. I aim to document here what I have done and open questions about it. The numbered steps here correspond to the manual instructions in that documentation linked above.


I was reminded of the Detect Missing Ad-blocker WordPress plugin made by Stefan Bohacek.

I hate intrusive advertising on the web. I always install ad blockers to manage my own experience but I often forget that many of my friends and family are oblivious and see ads as a routine annoyance. Presumably they assume it's an inevitable part of modern life. And they don't even see the adjacent class of content, the invisible, nefarious, mass surveillance and tracking.

Could I do something to help my friends and family? Presumably these people are likely to share my values.

Why, yes, I could!


This is how we explain to children the importance of software freedom!

Ada & Zangemann – A Tale of Software, Skateboards, and Raspberry Ice Cream

I've been waiting for this ever since I heard about it last year. Now available in the UK, I bought mine from Hive Books .

“In this hopeful story Ada and her friends join a movement that started back in 1983. Their courageous adventure of software freedom and learning how technology works is a wonderful way to introduce young people everywhere to the joys of tinkering!” —Zoë Kooyman, Executive Director, Free Software Foundation

How powerful! What great makers and engineers we can inspire! Let's get a copy into every library and every school!

UPDATE: Look! David Revoy, awesome software-freedom artist famous for Pepper&Carrot, drew this impression of Ada — great to print as a poster or (dimmed) as a screen wallpaper — creative-commons licensed CC-BY-SA. Hi-res downloads, licence, etc.

Grown-ups: read Cory Doctorow's book The Internet Con: How to Seize the Means of Computation (ebook, audiobook, USA); or from Hive (hardback, UK). “When the tech platforms promised a future of “connection,” they were lying. They said their “walled gardens” would keep us safe, but those were prison walls. The platforms locked us into their systems and made us easy pickings, ripe for extraction... Doctorow explains how to seize the means of computation, by forcing Silicon Valley to do the thing it fears most: interoperate.”

#awesomeFOSS #outreach #openEdTech #openHardware


Rooted Software Ltd., September 2023

I am delighted to be joining the PubHubs project, working on adding moderation tools.

PubHubs icon

Public Hubs

The purpose of PubHubs is to enable real-world public organisations such as libraries, broadcasters, schools or health care, to provide online group communications for local citizens, in ways which match their real-world values and needs.


School communities are begging Google to continue supporting Chromebooks beyond the scheduled end date this year. I wish them success with their short term goal. However, I wish more dearly that they would have an opportunity to learn about the down sides of corporate involvement in education, and about ethical alternatives.

Whichever way the petition goes, the media focus there will on Google pushing their Big Tech, likely framed as “generosity”, which we recognise as an anti-pattern. It would be good if we could avoid wasting our energy engaging directly with this news story but instead, riding the wave of it, promote our own story.

Could we write a story something like this?

Having placed all of their eggs in Google's gift basket of once shiny Chromebooks, now rusting away, some schools react by begging the Big Tech for an extension. Meanwhile the [Codename: Ed Foundation?] is preparing to show school leaders a more wholesome future aligned with educational values, with the launch of *[Codename: Ed Suite?]*


You! You, university! You, sports club! You, local library, city council, school, church, youth group! Your social media links could look like this:

Join us in our own spaces! — [Mastodon] – [Pixelfed] – [Friendica] – [PeerTube] ... — [Blog] – [Fediverse] – [Matrix] ... open-media-icons-p1.png We are also on commercial media: — [G] [A] [F] [A] [M] ... social-media-icons-n1.png

with an explanatory footnote or pop-up:


In the series: Gadgets and Gifts that Respect Our Freedom

A smart soldering iron? An open-source-hardware soldering iron?

Yes! The Pinecil by Pine64.

The Pinecil — Smart Soldering Iron by Pine64

Designed by Pine64.

Pinecil-v2 reviews: at hackspace.raspberrypi.com, at tomshardware.com

Pinecil Accessories include a flexible heat-proof cable and sets of tips.

Would I Use It?

Since I was a teenager I have been using my father's trusty old 15W Antex Precision Model C soldering iron, which has gone through a couple of new tips back in the days when I was building a lot of circuits, and otherwise just keeps working.

Antex soldering iron

However, the old soldering iron's mains cable, very thin though it is, has become so hardened and springy that I have to pull against it to move the iron where I want it. And it heats up slowly so after plugging it in, and waiting for minutes before tinning it, I end up leaving it on, its tip smoking and charring, until clearing up time at the end of the project.

I would love a Pinecil, especially for its temperature regulation and for its quick heat-up, claimed as 6 seconds.

But the 32-bit microprocessor? The control buttons, the USB connector? I can't see it lasting 50 years. This would not be a purchase for lifetime reliability. This would be for fun, for utility, and for the sake of supporting open hardware design.

UPDATE 2023-2024: YES — Thanks to my father, I now have a Pinecil. It works well. I am very pleased with it.

#awesomeFOSS, #openHardware


Where does your project live? Where do people find it? Who controls how people access your project's resources on the Internet?


Github the Mega-Mall

See also: Open Tech, Be Very Afraid

In practice, what do ninety-something percent of small FOSS projects do? They sign up on Microsoft Github. If we are one of these, then we feel our little project has a home on the Internet, its own address: https://github.com/our-name/our-repo. Oops, but did I say an address of its own? Well, there's the catch. I meant an address of Microsoft's own.

Github is a Gatekeeper. Every link to our project now takes the reader through a virtual gateway owned and ruled by Github's owner, Microsoft. The domain name is the gate, and its owner holds the key. Want to visit the source code? Before we reach our-name/our-repo we must walk through their gate at github.com. We must pass through whatever they put in the gateway. Ads? Nagging to sign up? Then they will let us visit the source code that we feel is “ours”.


I have been trying out a matrix-based blog comments system.

WriteFreely is a simple self-hosted blogging system. It uses Markdown for content. To let readers subscribe to follow new posts, it supports both RSS and ActivityPub (Fediverse). It has no comments system of its own.

Cactus Comments is a simple self-hosted comments system. It lets us add a comments section to any web page we control, such as a blog. It uses Matrix for the comments.

I describe a self-hosted deployment.