Software Freedom Day


Software Freedom Day — 18th of September 2021

This should be the final timetable for the day and information about talks and speakers. We recommend checking back here before joining the meeting in case of any necessary last-minute changes.

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It's almost time for Software Freedom Day, and this year Free Software Melbourne and Linux Users of Victoria are celebrating the 18th Software Freedom Day online. We'll be hosting a range of talks and presentations about the importance and benefits of Free Software to users and how this improves society and nurtures healthy communities.

This year we will be hearing talks about hardware that respects your privacy, tools to empower you to take back control over your own data, privacy respecting searching on the web. As well as demonstrations of tools to help you collaborate and communicate online, and Free Software in the enterprise environment. All that and of course lots of Linux! Because this is the 30th anniversary for the first public release of the Linux kernel and the Linux kernel is arguably the most popular GPL licensed software on the planet. There will be plenty of Linux talks along with the official launch of the Longer Life with Linux campaign.

Participation is no cost and we are of course holding the event online. The event link will open directly in your browser (we recommend Firefox or Chromium) so no additional software is required and it will work on any operating system.

Software Freedom Day is a family friendly event welcoming to anyone, and open to people of all technical abilities. Pass on the invitation to anyone you think may enjoy it and help make it a great day. We have a code of conduct available on our website, but in short: Be respectful, Be inclusive and Be aware.

Hope to see you all online for the best Software Freedom Day ever!


Date: Saturday the 18th of September 2021

Time: Talks start at 10:30am, wrapping up about 5:30pm. For attendees from afar: Times are in AEST (Australian Eastern Standard Time), UTC+10. The meeting could start as early as Friday afternoon local time for some parts of the world. So check your timezone difference.

Location: Online Meeting:

Meeting Tips: Mute microphone when not speaking. Headsets recommended to reduce feedback if you will be speaking. If you are having difficulty hearing or being heard there is a chat stream available. If you want to ask a question during the presentation either ask it in the chat or use the “raise hand” button.

Code of Conduct:

Mailing List: Stay in touch by joining our mailing list here:


10:30am — Event opens
10:45am — Welcome and Introductions
11:00am — Todd Weaver — “Purism: Freedom, Privacy, and Diapers”
12:00 noon — Vanessa Teague & Andrew Conway — “The Right To Ask Project”
1:00pm — Tatiana Lenz — “Next Cloud: Why you need it”
2:00pm — Break — Online Discussion
2:30pm — Alexar Pendashteh & Tom Danby — “Linux against E-waste”
3:30pm — Linux and other Lightning Talks
4:30pm — Noémi Ványi — “Searx: Developing a privacy-respecting search engine”
5:30pm — Event Close

About the Talks and our Speakers

Todd Weaver — “Purism: Freedom, Privacy, and Diapers”

Abstract: In a series of stories, Todd Weaver will take the listener on a real journey on how the team at Purism solves the near-impossible time and time again.

Bio: Todd Weaver is CEO and Founder of Purism. After a lifetime of work as a software engineer, developer, architect, and technology advocate, Todd Weaver founded Purism to make high quality, safe, and secure hardware that respects civil liberties, freedoms, and privacy. He did not want to be monitored nor recorded; he wanted an environment he could trust. He wanted that for everyone else, too. In 2014, Weaver started Purism with crowdfunding a 15-inch laptop for a quarter million-dollar funding goal. Purism has grown substantially and now has a sophisticated portfolio of digitally responsible, high-quality, and safe products, software, and services that allow people the default position of complete freedom with the choice to ‘opt’ into features they desire. Weaver also founded, IVI Inc in 2005, the first online cable company, delivering over-the-air broadcast television channels over the Internet to a downloadable cross-platform media player. He enjoys building products and companies that don't require a lot of upfront capital but garner tremendous growth.

Vanessa Teague & Andrew Conway — “The Right To Ask Project”

Abstract: The Right To Ask project will use cryptographic techniques from end-to-end verifiable e-voting for a much simpler problem: voting on which questions are the most popular. These questions are meant to be asked in formal scenarios such as Parliamentary committee hearings and question time, or answered in written form in-app. We aim to open a channel of communication between parliamentarians and citizens so that Parliament can be more directly and immediately responsive to input from citizens.

Questions have a name attached, but upvotes and downvotes can be aggregated anonymously and proven to be properly tallied using well-known techniques from the e-voting literature.

Vanessa will describe the aims of the project, some of the underlying maths, and how to become involved if you'd like to help. Andrew will discuss his Rust implementation of the public bulletin board. It's a verifiable data structure based on Merkle trees, which allows every participant to verify that they have the same transcript, and prevents even a corrupt authority from undetectably rewriting history.

With thanks to these contributors: Ishan Goyal, Chuanyuan Liu, Lillian McCann, Tim McCann, Eleanor McMurtry, Hanna Navissi, Pedro Rosas, Miguel Wood.

Initial code at:
Join the discussion on HackMD:

Bios: Vanessa Teague is a cryptographer living and working on Wurundjeri land in Southeastern Australia (near Melbourne). She is interested in cryptographic protocols that support a free and democratic society. She works on openly-available research and open source software for supporting democratic decision making and empowering ordinary people to make choices about their own data.

Vanessa is CEO of Thinking Cybersecurity Pty. Ltd., and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Research School of Computer Science of The Australian National University, Canberra.

In 1994 Andrew Conway made arguably the first device that would be recognisable now as an autonomous flying drone. In 1998 he founded and ran a software company, Silicon Genetics, making specialized data analysis software for gene expression experiments. Now he writes software that will hopefully turn out to be useful including covid genetic diversity visualization and STV vote counting.

Tatiana Lenz — “Next Cloud: Why you need it”

Abstract: We'll be looking at what Nextcloud is, how and why it's useful and touching on why privacy and data sovereignty matter. As part of the presentation we will do a quick install of a Nextcloud instance and look at some ways of customising and leveraging core functionality.

Bio: Tatiana Lenz is a software engineer living in Melbourne. She has worked in companies big and small and has been involved in government projects at state and federal levels. She is currently working on tools and software that guide people through the legal system in an empathetic way. “Divorce Helper”, the current project she is working on, is out in beta release at Tatiana has always been passionate about software freedom both in her work life and on a more personal level. She credits FLOSS with changing her life in being able to escape a corporate monolith of proprietary software and out into the open fields of more meaningful work. She is speaking here today because she wants to show people that Nextcloud (and other free software) is very practical and useful in our everyday lives and our work and corporate ecosystems.

Alexar Pendashteh & Tom Danby — “Linux against E-waste”

Abstract: “The World has an E-Waste Problem” as Time put it; and there are ways we can potentially turn this threat into opportunities. In this talk we explore one of those ways, which is using Linux and the Free and Open Source Software. We will also be introducing “Longer Life with Linux”, an Electron Workshop project in partnership with Linux Users of Victoria and sponsored by the City of Melbourne that aims at establishing support services for Linux Desktop in the process of reviving old computers.

Bios: Alexar Pendashteh is a technologist and a social entrepreneur. Trained as an Electrical Engineer, he changed course to IT and is now focusing on distributed technologies. Alexar actively participates in the tech and startup ecosystem in Australia and is passionate about enabling a tech industry around open source technologies that supports public innovation.

Tom Danby comes from a publishing background and is presently working on community development projects. He is active in a number of sustainability groups and is on the committee of Transition Towns Australia Inc. — the national hub for Transition Town groups. He is the current editor of the Transition Streets community education and engagement program.

Noémi Ványi — “Searx: Developing a privacy-respecting search engine”

Abstract: Searx is a popular privacy-respecting replacement for many big search engines, however, it is capable of more things. In this talk, you will learn about what makes searx different from other search services. You will also see what is it like to develop a project with AGPL licence focused on privacy.

Bio: I am an open-source enthusiast since high school and one of the maintainers of searx since 2016. I have been lucky to work on open-source software at my day job as well for most of my career. I love open source because I get to collaborate with smart people all around the world who are passionate about coding and freedom.

Software Freedom Day 2021 in Melbourne is a joint activity of Free Software Melbourne and Linux Users of Victoria (a subcommittee of Linux Australia). Our event is part of the global celebration of Software Freedom Day.

Thanks to Electron Workshop for providing Big Blue Button hosting for the online meeting.

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