What to use instead of WhatsApp and Threema?

WhatsApp is a messaging app for smartphones that allows you to send (text) messages free-of-charge. After WhatsApp’s recent acquisition by Facebook and in the face of the NSA revelations, many of the millions of WhatsApp users are looking for secure and trustworthy alternatives. Because this effects so many people, we at the Free Software Foundation Europe would like to be able to promote an alternative that respects your freedom and privacy. Therefore we decided to do some research and to hold a workshop on WhatsApp alternatives during our latest FSFE team meeting. While most tech-people really didn’t see the point … Continue reading

Liberte seu Android at FISL15

I had been invited to present FSFE’s “Free Your Android” campaign at FISL, the biggest Free Software conference in Latin America. The talk was full and well received. Most people didn’t know about the campaign and the options they have to make their phone more free. For the occasion I updated my presentation with the latest developments in the area. If you are interested, a recording is available online. The presentation was also featured on the conference homepage, in a technology magazine, a political website and some other places. The size of the conference, the corporate/governmental involvement and the percentage … Continue reading

A New Theme for KMail: Modern Headers

I’m using KMail to handle my emails every day. It is a very powerful program and heavily customizable. Thanks to Baloo, I finally see the pictures of my contacts in their emails. I just didn’t like the way the pictures were shown in the email header. In case you did not know, KMail supports many different ways of presenting the header of emails. Laurent Montel implemented not only theme support, but also built an editor that you can use to make your own themes. So I took his editor, started playing with the example theme and then ended up writing … Continue reading

Transitioning to a new more secure GnuPG key

I am transitioning GnuPG keys from an old 1024-bit key to a new 4096-bit key, because 1024 bit are uncomfortably close to what can be cracked. The old key will continue to be valid for some time, but I prefer all new correspondence to be encrypted in the new key, and will be making all signatures going forward with the new key. If you have signed my old key, I would appreciate signatures on my new key as well, provided that your signing policy permits that without re-authenticating me. The old key, which I am transitional away from, is: pub … Continue reading

Dark Mail as Next-Generation Email to Stop Spying

The people from Lavabit and SilentCircle announced their Dark Mail Alliance which is going to develop a new end-to-end encrypted protocol to better secure email. Since, the media reports about this were scarce on details, I watched the recording of their presentation and will summarize what is interesting to me below,  in case it might also be interesting to you. They call their new Dark Mail system peer to peer. The end-to-end encryption should be integrated into the protocol and keys should be generated on the users device without any interaction by the users so it will be as easy … Continue reading

First F-Droid Workshop to Happen Soon in Berlin

If you always wanted to learn how to include new apps into the F-Droid Free Software app repository for Android, then the first F-Droid Workshop is for you. There the F-Droid developers themselves will show you how to do it. When? Saturday the 3rd of August, 2PM – 5PM Where? IN-Berlin (OSM) Who? Daniel Martí and Torsten Grote (F-Droid developer) F-Droid is a project that aims to provide Free Software applications for Android via a repository system, much like most of the GNU/Linux distributions distribute packages. This differs very much from the Google Play approach since the client and server … Continue reading

Meine Einschätzung der NSA Mitarbeit an Android für ZEIT ONLINE

Gestern Abend erhielt ich eine E-Mail von einem ZEIT ONLINE Redakteur, der mich um eine Einschätzung zu der Mitarbeit der NSA an Android bat und fragte, ob es möglich sei, dass die NSA Hintertürchen eingebaut habe. Der Artikel dazu wurde mittlerweile veröffentlicht und zitiert mich teilweise. Aus Transparenzgründen und zur Steigerung der allgemeinen Medienkompetenz, gebe ich hier mal meine vollständige hastig zusammen getippte Einschätzung wieder: Prinzipiell ist es natürlich möglich, dass die NSA Hintertüren in den Code von Android eingebaut hat. Vor einiger Zeit gab es ja den Fall, dass das FBI Hintertüren in den OpenBSD Code eingebaut haben sollte. … Continue reading

CyanogenMod removes tracking opt-out, reverses decision, but still uses Google Analytics

The most successful and best managed version of Android CyanogenMod is gathering data from users for statistical purposes. The statistics are public and users have the chance to opt-out of being counted. On March 31st this changed. The founder of the CyanogenMod initiative Steve Kondik removed the opt-out feature from the source code (commit). He explained his reasons in the commit message: Not having an accurate count of how many people are using CM is painful. I am making an executive decision to remove the opt-out and always turn stats on. The data is anonymized and there is nothing evil … Continue reading

Android SDK is now proprietary, Replicant to the rescue

I just noticed that the Android SDK is now non-free software. If you go to https://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html#download and click on one of the files, you are presented with lengthy “Terms and Conditions” which for example say: In order to use the SDK, you must first agree to this License Agreement. You may not use the SDK if you do not accept this License Agreement. This sentence alone already violates freedom 0, the freedom to use the program for any purpose without restrictions. Today, the truly Free Software version of Android called Replicant came to the rescue and released a free (as … Continue reading

Compiling KDE Kontact from Source

I’m running Debian Sid, because I like to have a rolling distribution with the latest and greatest software as soon as it is released. Unfortunately, the KDE packagers in Debian lack (wo)men power and still ship 4 year old KDE PIM packages. Using their experimental KDE repository does not help. Since I have multiple annoying issues with Kontact 4.4.11 and because I need it functional for work, I decided to take a rather extreme step: Compiling it myself from the source code repositories. Turns out that it isn’t all that difficult. I documented the process below for those who want … Continue reading