Hi again everyone. It is past time for an update on a number of fronts and I am glad to say that we have some news to share.
I want to start by saying that we have not forgotten any of our commitments to the community and to you for the pledges that got the foundation off the ground.
All the physical rewards, the stickers, tee-shirts, bags, and plug computers are completed and currently sitting in my office. We have two major development hackfests going on over the next week, one at the Debian community conference going on right now in Nicaragua and the other before next week's HOPE conference in New York.
By the end of next week we will be able to announce what software we will be shipping as the initial release and whether we can get that onto CD's and microSD cards in time for shipping with the rest of the rewards or will send it in a separate mailing. The Foundation will pay for any additional shipping costs in case a second mailing is required.
My apologies for the delay with shipping these rewards; we have delayed not to keep anything from you but because we are working to make this project a reality worthy of your support.
Development and updates
FreedomBox development, like development for most free software projects, happens in many places at once. Our project mailing list (http://lists.alioth.debian.org/pipermail/freedombox-discuss/), community wiki, and the FreedomBox Foundations' website are the primary places where development progress, plans, and upcoming events are discussed. The mailing list and wiki in particular have received many thousands of messages and changes since the project began a year ago.
For any who are frustrated by lack of communication through Kickstarter's system, please accept my apologies and know that it is the result of having too many communication channels. We are still here and still working hard.
What we are working on can be broken down into four general areas:
1) Dealing with hardware.
We choose the DreamPlug from Global Scale as our initial development platform last year because of its flexibility and immediate availability on the market. A handful of contributors have devoted their time since then to building a completely free software image for this device that can use all its various features. Because the hardware industry moves so quickly, Bdale Garbee, the head of our technical advisory committee, built a more general purpose image building tool to make it easier to move between platforms. That tool is called freedom-maker and is available from the https://www.freedomboxfoundation.org/code/ site.
2) Getting boxes to talk to each other
One of the biggest challenges faced by distributed services is making sure all the different elements can talk to each other. This was particularly challenging in the FreedomBox context because we want many different software tools, from email to chat to software phones, to be able to talk to each other without having to all be re-written to use the same protocol and to communicate securely using the best available encryption and anonymity-preserving tools. Our answer is a new tool called the Freedom-buddy, documented here and discussed here on the mailing list. This tool is built on the world class TOR network to enable individual FreedomBoxes in the world's most restricted location to find each other and decide on a secure way to communicate further.
3) Cleaning up web traffic
Web tracking, through advertising and the monitoring of un-encrypted network connections, is one of the largest and most pervasive forms of privacy invasions today. Free software web browsers like Firefox offer users tools like AdBlock Plus and HTTPS Everywhere to help push back against this web tracking, but not all devices allow you to choose your browser these days. So we built a web proxy you can run with any browser to get the functionality from both these tools. That too is available at the https://www.freedomboxfoundation.org/code/ site.
4) Configuration soup
Combining software tools can be a little like building a jigsaw puzzle with pieces from several different kits. Getting the pieces to line up and keeping them that way as the system changes is a challenge, especially when one of your main goals is making all of this easy. To be as universal as possible we built our configuration management tool as a website that runs on your FreedomBox. That tool is called plinth and is designed for flexibility and simplicity. Plinth is the last item currently available at https://www.freedomboxfoundation.org/code/.
There are plenty of things yet to do before reaching all the goals set out in our project vision, some of which will be worked on in this week's North and South American hackfests, but we are making progress towards those goals and appreciate your continued support.
Initial release information will follow in two weeks and all the physical rewards will ship by the end of the month. Anyone who has not yet sent in a tee shirt size please do reply to the Kickstarter survey and anyone whose address will be different in the beginning of July from the one they sent in the survey, please message me with that updated information.