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Hacker Dojo Update

September 17th, 2013 by

Met with the FNF Board of Directors last night. It was a routine
meeting, no special agenda. The Board approved of the FNF’s
participation in the KCFN, of the FNF applying for funding from CONFINE,
and for the FNF to collaborate with Dazed Group.

I wiki-posted a couple of educational course outlines we had created.
They are https://commons.thefnf.org/index.php/Theory_of_Networks and

https://commons.thefnf.org/index.php/Building_and_Operating_Free_Networks

These are drafts and we would appreciate feedback.

Looks like the livestream we were helping with between the MMF and
Copenhagen, DK won’t be coming together due to technical issues on their
end. We’re hoping to make it happen in the future. In other
collaboration news, an art project called “Station to Station” by Doug
Aitken was in Kansas City this week. I would have mentioned it
beforehand but it was a pop-up kind of thing and I only learned it was
happening hours previous. Anyway there’s a short clip of me talking to
their film crew, at http://stationtostation.com/free-network-foundation-2/

No call tonight, but we’ll be holding evening tech dojo at the MMF.

TJG

FNF Austin Update

September 17th, 2013 by

This evening was spent on getting more of the lab online after my move.

Today:

1) Cleaned up power cabling for my production kit.

2) Wired up ubiquiti ip camera and two b/w analog cameras. This is for generating iptv feeds for a future part of FreedomStack called FreedomVid (neighbors YouTube).

3) Wired up two cisco aironet access points in their final location.

4) Deployed power cabling for all the lab cisco switches/routers and FreedomLink test systems.

All cabling is managed (as well as I can manage power bricks and computer power cords without a rack that is!). Im happy with the layout and configuration. Power in back, data in front. All devices are now on managed PDU porte.

The setup is pretty permanent, as I don’t plan to move for a very long time, and I’m free of the space and sharing constraints of my apartment.

5) Organized my toolbag, it is much more oriented towards more field/tower type work now.

Tomorrow/Thursday I will be bringing the cyclades online, finishing up data/power cabling for all lab kit, bringing up wireless spectrum/network/IDS monitor, upgrading to pfsense 2.1 release, documenting everything and posting up pics

I hope to have the lab infrastrucfure and documentation (pics, wiki page, racktables) fully finished Thursday night by about 11pm.

Friday night will be getting the access points flashed with QMP.

Saturday will be the mail server rebuild.

Next week will be full out hax on AutoNOC.

This will put us in a great place for the summit in Berlin. It will show we can get things done. Lets keep at it folks!

FNF Lab Update

September 16th, 2013 by

Hey all,

I’ve been pretty busy with settling in to the new place the last couple of weeks, and haven’t had much to report on the FNF front. I’ve mostly wrapped all that up , and should be finishing up over the next couple weeks.

I got quite a bit done this weekend on the FNF front.

1) Deployed 8 access points throughout the house, both upstairs and downstairs. This will let us have a live dev network to develop AutoNOC against. Floor plans, modeling etc are all underway.

2) Got a qmp dev environment setup on the lab server and built images for the various access points.

3) Deployed observium and have it instrumenting (via snmp) the house production network (pfsense router, cisco 3550 core switch, cisco 1231 G ap, netgear wndr3800 G/N ap). In particular I’m interested in seeing what happens to small SOHO networks near meshes. Co existence and transition are vital parts of how we can
support folks doing mesh deployment.

4) Synced with Isaac on all the things. Its great to be coming back online.

5) FreedomBot MARK1 is well underway. Lots of pics were taken of the progress. Post up soon.

6) Presenting to the Austin LOPSA chapter on 9/23 (week from today) on FNF. It will be a very busy week/weekend for me to have the lab online by the presentation.

On a personal note, I’ve cut out all TV watching. Its done wonders for my productivity!

Tonight I will be wrapping up some non FNF things and doing some final lab wiring, tomorrow I will be flashing all the radios. I will post another update (including task warrior bits and links to pics/wiki pages/AutoNOC alpha) on Wednesday or Thursday when I’ve got something more substantial to report.

Network Launch at the MMF

August 27th, 2013 by

This morning concluded a four day hacking sprint leading to a press
conference at the MMF announcing their network. The work was finished
just in time! The KCFN is now a routed network running qmp.

The press conference went very well. It was pretty low key, I don’t know
if anyone showed up who wasn’t already aware in some part of our work,
but that’s how press conferences invariably are. Anita from MMF, Isaac,
Michael from C4G, Fr Justin from RS, and Roger from Guifi all spoke
briefly. It was good to connect again with some people from around KC
who seem interested in what we’re doing. As always, our work is equal
parts building telecommunications networks, and human ones. I’m looking
forward to attending some events at the MMF this week celebrating
Charlie Parker, and I urge everyone in the KC area to come. Schedule at

http://mutualmusiciansfoundation.org/

A preliminary version of the website for the KCFN is now live! It’s
located at http://www.kcfreedom.net/

We would love some feedback on it. I should note that the website is not
hosted or managed by the FNF, and its content represents the entire
coalition.

Presently, Isaac, Roger, and Pau are beginning the engineering study for
a community network in the area around Lincoln Prep. This will occupy
much of our time for the rest of the week.

TJG

The FNF Welcomes Guifi.net, Part 2

August 24th, 2013 by

The C4G social yesterday evening went great. Many people showed up, some
of whom from groups we collaborate with now or in the near future, and
some others who are less aware of our work. Pau and Roger spoke to
everyone about Guifi, and clearly the audience was impressed by their
accomplishments. Afterward we hacked on some mesh firmware and discussed
strategy for the weekend, then picked up Charles who has come from
Austin for the weekend.

Today we have continued firmware hacking for most of the day, in
preparation for making the KCFN a routed network, and in preparation for
the public reveal of the Vine St Network at the MMF’s press conference
on Tuesday the 27th. Right now I’m in the basement of 3101 Troost
(Reconciliation Services’ building where C4G also operates) with Isaac,
Charles, Clint, Roger, and Pau. Rick from C4G has been around for most
of today as well, and Brad from MMF, and Jake, who has started working
with FNF, have hacked with us this weekend as well. It’s been incredibly
exciting to have the opportunity to hack together in person with so many
of our friends and partners; it just feels better and is so much more
effective. We are so grateful to C4G and the Guifi Foundation for making
this summit financially possible.

Tonight will be more hacking, and hopefully a visit to the Late Night
Jam Session at the MMF so that our guests can experience the value of
MMF’s work and appreciate, in my opinion, the absolute best offering of
KC culture. Tomorrow will be pretty crazy. We plan to visit all the
current FTower sites and reflash the devices.

Onwards!

TJG

The FNF Welcomes Guifi.net, Part 1

August 23rd, 2013 by

Pau and Roger from Guifi.net came in on Wednesday evening and will be in
KC for a week more. Yesterday, we all attended the Kansas City Freedom
Network (KCFN) weekly meeting. We all asked many questions about Guifi,
especially about how to expand the network effectively and sustainably.
Roger and Pau stressed the importance of building in small iterations,
and letting growth happen organically as much as possible, then going
back and improving network infrastructure based on how the network is
already being used. We’re now gearing up for the engineering study that
Pau and Roger came here primarily to do, as well as for building a tower
at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy (Lincoln Prep), a KCMO public
magnet school at 21st and Woodland Ave (a few blocks SE of the MMF, on a
hill). That evening we went to a Royals baseball game. The Royals lost.

Presently, we’re at Tech Dojo at the MMF. Working on some network
set-up, like setting up DNS and configuring a media server. A friend of
Anita’s who is running for city council from a district on the East Side
of KC was around, and Isaac explained to her about the Freedom Network
we’re building. This evening, C4G will hold a get-together to celebrate
Guifi.net’s visit.

In other news, my landlord is getting GFiber for my building, and that
might be in as soon as next week. Expect a review in this space :)

TJG

Announcing the KC Freedom Network

August 14th, 2013 by

This week I’m doing some farm work in Iowa, which I’m really glad to be
doing. But there’s a lot of exciting upcoming happenings in KC that I’m
not sure we’ve talked about on this list.

First, Pau and Roger from Guifi.net will be in KC starting next week,
until early September. Connecting for Good was able to secure funding to
help bring them over for consulting on parts of KC Freedom Net. “KC
Freedom Network” was the name chosen for the Kansas City free network by
consensus of the organizations that currently participate in it. I’m
very excited to meet and work with Pau and Roger, I think we will
benefit tremendously from their expertise and experience.

Also, the Mutual Musicians Foundation is officially launching their
network on the 27th of August. Please come out and support all of us
there if you’re in the area. More formal announcement of that soon,
hopefully.

Some organizations in KC (Google et al) recently announced the launch of
a Kansas City Digital Inclusion Fund that will provide grants to local
nonprofits working to help get Kansas City residents online and give
them the skills they need to take full advantage of the Internet’s
benefits for education, job hunting, health information and more.
Obviously, this is a huge opportunity for us as well as for our local
partner orgs, and it will be exciting to see more specifically what
types of work they want to fund. Article here:

http://www.kansascity.com/2013/08/14/4409852/kansas-city-fund-aims-to-bridge.html

TJG

2013 Q2 Review

July 26th, 2013 by

isaaczionposada

 

Isaac Wilder and Zion Dixon adjust an antenna at Posada del Sol, Kansas City

Our Educational Programs:

The Mutual Musicians Foundation and the Black Economic Union

The FNF is working with the Mutual Musicians Foundation, a non-profit organization that runs the world’s oldest jazz house, to educate and connect communities on the east side of Kansas City. Connecting for Good, The Black Economic Union of Greater Kansas City, and the Mutual Musicians Foundation, are teaming up to build a network in the 18th and Vine St neighborhood, to serve the MMF’s building, as well as the nearby Lincoln Building where the BEU is headquartered. Along with providing Internet connectivity to the MMF and the BEU, the network will host cultural and educational content locally, and serve as an anchor to build out a residential network in the community. The FNF is providing tools, resources, and education to these groups, so that they can learn how to be their own (and their community’s own) network service providers.

Tech Dojo

In addition to our operator training, this June marked the soft launch of our Tech Dojo at the Mutual Musicians Foundation. Thanks to the tireless efforts of new FNF education director Clint Wynn, we are developing programs to educate youth about building and maintaining networks and systems, and about computer technology in general. Throughout the summer, we will be meeting with small groups of students weekly and learning together. In the fall, we will have developed formal programs that will instruct youths in the communities where we operate how to build, expand, and maintain free networks.

Reconciliation Services and the Community Capital Fund

This spring, the FNF received a grant for $1,000 from the Community Capital Fund to help our local partners jumpstart a network on the east side of KC. The Community Capital Fund is a Kansas City non-profit organization that funds neighborhood capacity building initiatives in historically under resourced and under invested parts of the metro. We have used that grant to procure equipment and training for Reconciliation Services, a religious charity located at the corner of 31st St and Troost Ave. Our hope is that with some support and guidance, their building will become the anchor of much larger push into Kansas City’s urban core. The network will connect back to the Kansas City Free Network at Oak Tower, and will provide Internet access to Reconciliation Services’ building, including the headquarters of Connecting for Good, as well as to the high-traffic bus stop on the corner.

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Isaac Wilder of the FNF, Dan Harmon and Rick Deane of Connecting for Good, and Clint Wynn of the FNF set up an antenna at the Lincoln Building in Kansas City

 

Our Research Programs:

Refining the Network Commons License

At our just-concluded Summer Summit, the executive team began the process of writing a second, more effective edition of the Network Commons License (NCL) that governs use of free networks. In order for this license to have the scope and power that we all want, we need all your help and participation. We want to extend our thanks to our many friends who are helping us to write the NCL already, and hope that more can take part in this process. The live draft of the NCL is hosted on our wiki, and you can contribute there, or through the [discuss] list.

guifiuslogo

Helping the World Understand Free Networks

Throughout the quarter, our CIO James Yox has been leading the development of a web platform designed to help the world understand free networks, and how to build them. Guifi.us takes a cue from the world’s largest free network (guifi.net, in Catalonia), by helping people visualize and understand free networks. Guifi.us is still pre-alpha, but it is making steady progress towards wider usability. If you would like to gain access to the platform before it is ready for public use, or if you are interested in contributing, please don’t hesitate to e-mail [email protected]

Meeting with European Partner Orgs

Exectuive Director Isaac Wilder traveled to Europe on a European Commission grant secured by Catalonia’s guifi.net. Several weeks in Catalonia, two weekends in Berlin, and almost a week in London offered the opportunity to engage in professional exchange with the leaders of Europe’s foremost free networks. A well-timed visit to Spain by members of Argentina’s AlterMundi made the exchange a three-continent summit of free network thought leaders.

Bringing FreedomStack to Reality

Our main research effort over the past two years has been on FreedomStack – a design pattern for free networks at scale. We’ve made huge strides on the stack over the past quarter. In May, we began a collaboration with several major European free network outfits aimed at creating the ‘Ubuntu of firmwares’ (openwrt could be thought of as the Debian). This effort, called, libre-mesh (or lime, for short), is still in its very early stages, but represents the next big step for tower and node development.

Charles has  been putting significant time into FreedomSky, our longstanding effort to put airborne platforms into service as network relays. We believe that the future of layer 1 independence is up high, and have found an excellent community of doers who are working to realize this vision.

Working Towards Tax Exempt Status

We have remained in communication with the IRS about our application for 501(c)3 tax-exempt status. We recently responded at length to a number of questions they raised, and are awaiting further response from them. We are excited to be moving towards tax exempt status. If you would like to view their questions, and our responses, not only are they a matter of public record, but they’re on our wiki: IRS Responses on The Commons

As you may know, the FNF is an all-volunteer organization and we rely on your support to keep helping communities build their own networks. While we move through the application process for tax exemption, our opportunities to seek grant funding are limited. At this time, we take in less funds per month than it costs us to keep our servers running, and we don’t know how we will keep funding our work in the coming months. Please consider signing up as a monthly donor, or giving a one-time contribution to the FNF, here.

2013 Q1 Review

April 5th, 2013 by

FNF and Connecting for Good Expand Free Network in KCMO
This quarter, we continued our work with non-profit Connecting for Good to bring Internet connectivity to more people in Kansas City. In late March and early April, we provided systems and systems know-how for a network network expansion at Posada del Sol, a subsidized apartment building for seniors in KCMO. The Posada site connects more than sixty housing units, the surrounding neighborhood, and serves as a relay to the 200 units we and Connecting for Good brought online at Rosedale Ridge last year. Posada del Sol is well situated to become a distribution center for connectivity on Kansas City’s west side.

Steady Progress on Technical Objectives
CTO Charles Wyble recently has continued his work on the FNF’s radio testbed and has begun benchmarking, experimenting, and integrating systems for our 1.0 FreedomStack release on July 4. James Yox, our CIO, has been penetration-testing our computer systems to ensure greater reliability and security. We began the quarter by completely rearchitecting our enterprise storage solution, and system performance is at an all-time high.


isaacsxsw

Guifi.us Demoed at SXSW
Isaac presented on the FNF and guifi.us at SXSW Interactive in Austin, TX, on March 9th. Also presenting on the panel “And What of Liberty? Networks and Freedom,” were Dan Phiffer of occupy.here and Harlo Holmes of the Guardian Project. Isaac spoke about network freedom and guifi.us, and demonstrated an early build of our network-planning tool. Guifi.us, our project to bring free networks like Guifi.net’s to the US. Guifi.us is a web platform enabling communities to plan, provision, and fund their own cooperative ISPs. Guifi.us will include mapping and RF planning features, community support for selected hardware platforms, tools to determine how best to backhaul networks, and a crowdfunding tool for communities to raise funds for network building. The objective of this project is to catalyze community wireless projects by providing decision support and organizing tools. The FNF is working in collaboration with Spanish networking group guifi.net, which has built a user-run cooperative network of over 20,000 nodes in Catalonia and Valencia, in an effort to bring their model to the US.

New FNF Website Launches
This quarter, we performed a complete overhaul of our public web properties, designing a custom WordPress theme in order to make it easier to find information, and establishing a uniform user experience across all of our sites. Please check the new site out at https://www.thefnf.org and let us know how we can make it even better.

Press Clippings
The FNF has been featured by several media outlets this quarter. Gordon Cook, who since 1992 has edited and published the longest running technology policy newsletter on the Internet, wrote on the FNF as well as Guifi.net in the March/April 2013 issue of the ”COOK Report on Internet Protocol”, “DIY Commons Infrastructure in the US.” ”Harper’s Magazine” and Kansas City writer Whitney Terrell also took notice of our work, in an article entitled “Network Free K.C.” And Isaac Wilder was interviewed by Elise Gallant for the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of ”Purple Magazine”. More about the FNF in the press can be found here.


boxysean

Winter Summit 2013
The FNF held our biannual summit for winter 2013 in Austin, TX, during late January. We discussed the FNF’s operating procedures and plans for 2013, worked on our technical systems, strategized our upcoming efforts in publicity and fundraising, and talked about how to launch a community network on the guifi.net model. Attending the Summit was our core team: Charles Wyble, Isaac Wilder, Tyrone Greenfield, and James Yox; artist/activist Sean McIntyre and journalist Whitney Terrell.

Board of Directors Meets
The Board of Directors decided this January to begin meeting monthly rather than twice per year, and so far in 2013 they’ve held two Board meetings, in late January and in early March. The Board strategized on how to build guifi.us and integrate it with guifi.net and with FNF’s mission. They also discussed how the Board can exercise more effective oversight of the FNF, and how to move toward making the Board more democratic by having dues-paying members elect new directors.


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FNF Moves into New Office
In January, the FNF moved into our first office, in the West Bottoms neighborhood of Kansas City, MO. We are very excited to have a dedicated space where we can plan, work and build. Additionally, the core team made significant efforts to improve their own workstations for better productivity and flow.

Financial Report
This quarter, the FNF took in $1411.50 in revenue, and spent $4037.08, ending with $2831.43 cash in hand. All of the income came from individual donations, while the greatest portions of expenses went towards electronic equipment, colocation/hosting/backhaul costs, and travel, in that order. A more detailed report can be found on the Commons.

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Join the FNF
The FNF relies on individual donors like you to keep bringing people online and developing tools to truly make the Internet a commons for all of humanity. You can help us bring about our vision of a world where networks are owned and run by all. Please consider signing up today as a monthly donor, or give a one-time contribution, on our website.

FNF Featured in Harper’s Magazine Online

March 27th, 2013 by

Recently, the Free Network Foundation attracted the attention of Harper’s Magazine and KC-based author Whitney Terrell, who published an article Wednesday, March 20, about our recent activities in Kansas City. We’re very happy with the quality of the article and with the focus Whitney brings to technological issues now affecting KC and everywhere. The article, entitled “Network Free K.C.” can be found on Harper’s website.

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