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Proprietary social media platforms are used heavily even by those attending a conference meant for free and open source software users and Bdale Garbee used this fact to kick off his talk on FreedomBox at the 13th Australian national Linux conference in Ballarat today.


Garbee (below), the head of open source and Linux technologies at HP and a senior Debian developer, asked for a show of hands and found that every member of the audience used one of either Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or Google+.

He had a sobering bit of advice to the audience: each of these services involved a big tradeoff in personal privacy and people had to think before they used such services, he said, adding as an example the fact that photos uploaded to Facebook were subject to face recognition technology ostensibly for the purposes of catching bad guys. But it could just as easily be used to harass innocent people.

From this it was a short step to the topic of his talk, FreedomBox, a personal server running a free operating system and applications designed to create and preserve personal freedoms.
Bdale Garbee
The FreedomBox Foundation was set up by one of the doyens of the free software movement, Eben Moglen, and Garbee is on the board.

Garbee chairs the five-member technical advisory committee; the others on the panel are Jacob Applebaum, a privacy expert, Sam Hartman, a Debian developer, Sascha Meinrath, a mesh networking researcher, Rob Savoye, a GNU toolchain and embedded systems developer, and Matt Zimmerman, the former chief technical officer of Canonical.

The project aims to try and allow people to communicate with the confidence that they are not being snooped on. The project aims to either give away the servers free or else sell them at retail for an affordable price.

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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