Ring being listed among Free Software Foundation’s High Priority Projects

Becoming integrated into GNU since November, since 2017 Ring has been listed in Free Software Foundation (FSF)’s High Priority Projects (HPP) .

The main objective of HPP initiative is to increase Free Software reputation and adoption among information systems users, individuals and/or corporations. Since 2005, the foundation updates a list of work in progress applications for contributors, volunteers, companies and other Free Software supporters. Without their help, those projects would have never reached their full potential.
This list addresses several issues of Libre technologies such as decentralization, security, mobile APPs or real time voice and video chats. Ring is presented in this last category.

To FSF’s mind, the present context of mass surveillance forces us to fulfill Free Software commitment: creating new alternatives and secure solutions to proprietary communication softwares.

Ring’s presence in the HPP list is very important. As a Free, decentralized, secure and universal software, Ring fits natively in FSF’s philosophy because it is distributed under GPL v3 with its code being open to all contributions.

An object of study

Namely, our development team works with external contributions and academic partners. Ring is already part of computer engineering undergraduate programs at École Polytechnique de Montréal. This winter, new functions of Ring will be taught to 3rd year students.
Besides, let’s not forget to mention the important contribution of Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) graduates in building a secure Distributed Hashed Table system for Ring.

Therefore Free Software Foundation’s support nurture our will to share our own developments of a Free, universal, secure and distributed software project, which takes part in building a decentralized and free Internet.

A tribute to Debian’s founder, Ian Murdock

Photo de Ian Murdock
Copyright – Ilya Schurov , Computerra Weekly — CC

A year ago, Ian Murdock passed away and with him, a core part of the defenders of free software. We would like to pay tribute to the Debian founder, because at Savoir-faire Linux, we use his heritage everyday.


Free above all

As an undergraduate student at Purdue University, Ian Murdock discovered Linux in the early 90s. Fascinated by its ethics and vision, he dives in passionately. In 1993, at the age of only 20, Iam Murock begins his Debian project, where the name originates from the contraction of his wife Debra Lynn’s name and  his own. Initially developed with the collaboration of a small group of Free Hackers, Debian quickly became one of the first Linux distributions, open and free to have found success and brought together a community of free developers and users.  That same year, Ian Murdock published the Debian Manifesto, which grounds the humanist philosophy which is behind his project. This philosophy falls in line with the spirit of GNU and Linux.

1. Debian will remain an entirely free project.
2. All new developments will be brought back to the community.
3. Transparency is an acquired good.
4. The users and free software are the project’s priority.
5. Exceptions to the free software principles are made to respond to any need.

To this can be added many principles which are entwined in a social contract, a constitution and a series of instructions, demonstrating a vision based on diversity and non discrimination towards users or softwares as well as a free and non commercial distribution, a key principle of Debian.

A community project with infinite forks

Logo DebianToday, the Debian project counts more than a thousand official developers without forgetting more than a hundred occasional contributors and no less than 43 500 software packages. Every Debian version where the release varies based on the degree of stability is named after a character of the animated film Toy Story of Pixar studios- my preference goes to Mr. Potato Head  and yours?

Like in any organization based on free principles developers can fork a project, a branch of a project which will have its own continuity, there are many Debian project forks. Without writing an exhaustive list, we can reference Ubuntu which we use at Savoir-faire Linux, Xubuntu or even SteamOS.

Another one of Debian’s distinctive characters is its organizational model. During his discovery of Linux and the free software model, Ian Murdock remained profoundly impacted by the communitarian aspect of the project. As his turn came, he wanted to give forward. The Debian project was  taken on by a not for profit foundation, Software Public Interest (SPI), where a community of volunteer developers decide future orientations and developments. A project manager is elected every year by the members. Ian Murdock naturally relayed his role to other managers, however kept a close eye as his role of secretary of the foundation.

Ring on Debian

Thanks to the work of Alexandre Viau, Debian developer and developer at Savoir-faire Linux. Our Ring project is accepted since June 30th, 2016 on Debian testing, the repositories of  Stretch development, Debian’s next version.

An incredible recognition for Savoir-faire Linux’s Ring team and good news for users who can now install Ring from their Debian distribution without having to add those of ring.cx

Alexandre Viau and his collegue Simon Désaulniers participated at the DebConf 2016, in the city of Cape Town, South Africa,  to present Ring to the Debian community.

They also took advantage of this International Free event to present OpenDHT, our distributed hash table system at the heart of Ring. The libopendht package  made an appearance on Debian experimental during the DebConf.

In regards to Gabriela Coleman, teacher and researcher at McGill University, other than the community created around the project, Ian Murdock’s heritage rests on the collaborative culture he fostered issued of GNU and Linux, which makes the Debian project an even larger success than the technical development of an information technology product of good work.

Ring on UWP : genesis of a technical challenge

illustration-wup-rin

Ring’s beta 2 version  is now available on the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). It’s not only a great step forward for Ring, an official GNU package, but a technical success for our development team.

This release of the beta 2 is the work of collaborative development between Savoir-faire Linux and the community of developers all over the world. Ring is still a work in progress, that’s why we invite all users- passionate or curious- to test our secure and decentralized multimedia communication platform and give us some feedback.
Since November 2016, Ring is part of GNU, this mile stone marks our involvement in the Free Software philosophy, for its purpose – the free access for all – as much as its development, where every contribution counts. Ring’s universal dimension, with distinctive aspects such as decentralization through OpenDHT, follows its path in the communication software industry, and it has to be available in UWP.
With this new platform, Microsoft’s goal is quite simple : all application developments will be unified, even if the client’s applications are on different devices, such as desktops, tablets, Surface computers, smartphones, Xbox or IoT. The developers‘ job is easier, the application’s code will need to be written only once, with some minor modifications to deploy it in different terminals. For our development team at Savoir-faire Linux, it is an opportunity to get in touch with all Microsoft users. « It offers a lot of potential; Ring could be used on Windows phone, Surface laptops, tablets, or games console such as Xbox, explains Guillaume Roguez, Ring development manager at Savoir-faire Linux.

From a closed system to open software engineering

At Savoir-faire Linux, as you can presume, we are not used to working with Windows environments, hence this was a big challenge for our team. Developers Andreas Traczyk and Nicolas Jäger took on the challenge from the very beginning, until this awaited release.

The genesis started during the first term of 2016, with a prospection phase and a feasibility study. Andreas Traczyk took on this mission,  porting the existing Ring code to Windows. Gradually, an idea arose to Andreas and Nicolas : why not use win32 already created to adapt it for UWP?

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Coding in C++/CX

However, the challenge got bigger, with the choice of the language. Whereas a majority of Windows developers use C#, both Savoir-faire Linux developers chose C++/CX. The first reason was the daemon, which is in C++, «it shall be wrapped to have a C#», explains Andreas Traczyk. The second reason is a pragmatical one, according Nicolas Jäger. « Ring is above all a multimedia software, with video, audio and real time network, and the C++ code allows for resource optimization». This practical choice has been approved by Cyrille Béraud, Savoir-faire Linux president, careful about «the application’s performance standards».

For us, whose core business is Linux code, we had to go off trail, get out of our comfort zone. « Loving complicated things is a way of life» grins Nicolas Jäger. As much as we did not only tackle the User Interface (UI), but also some fundamental parts, simply because they didn’t exist before».

To Guillaume Roguez, Ring’s development manager, it was a positive experience, «because we overcame obstacles, and the first was very colossal: starting from scratch. We tried and succeeded in developing free software in Windows’ universe. »

Free software development is our motivation through Ring. This project benefits from Montreal universities contributions, from Polytechnique Montreal to École de technologie Supérieure. One of them, Université du Québec à Montréal, works to improve the data persistence and indexation in its underlying distributed hash table software library, OpenDHT, with the help of professor Alexandre Blondin-Massé and his graduate and post graduate students. This confidentiality and security issue ignited more than a spark of interest among cybersecurity specialists, throughout the world.
As a Free Software Foundation and Linux Foundation partner, Savoir-faire Linux is an active member of the Free Software community and works towards resources availability, creating and diffusing users value. As a common goods producer, we claim the right of each user to have a free access to knowledge as much as free and universal resources.
Hence the importance of Ring’s release in UWP, because its takes part of  Free spirit.

For more informations
 To download Ring Beta 2 version for UWP, click here.
 To discover Ring, visit our website.
 To contribute to the Ring project, visit our page.
 To suscribe to our mailing list.
 Follow us on @JoinTheRing on Twitter.
 You can contact our developers Andreas Traczyk and Nicolas Jäger.