Leonardo da Vinci said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication“, but it seems like the “modern” computing world never heard that quote, or ignore it. Today, a single application takes hundreds of megabytes, both of disk and RAM space. Slow, buggy, inefficient systems at every level.
Probably the best example on this cluttering mess comes from the mobile computing. Most phones are bloated with useless software that not only hinders the navigation experience, but pose a threat to your privacy. Yes, all this software is proprietary. Worst of it, you can not even uninstall it.
Fortunately, there is hope. Let me introduce SXMO, the Simple X on Mobile project. As the authors describe it, SXMO is a minimalist environment for Linux smartphones, such as the PinePhone. SXMO embraces simplicity, and simplicity is both elegant and efficient.
SXMO uses a tiling window manager called dwm (Dynamic Window Manager), which allocates the different applications in the most efficient way. The dwm project is available as a single binary file, which source is intended not to exceed 2000 lines of code. That is amazing.
Simplicity is robust, and that again applies to SXMO. All the necessary components expected on a mobile phone (making and receiving calls, browsing the Internet, SMS messaging,..) just work. Moreover, SMXO comes with a scripting system that allow us to write solutions to our needs. For instance, the screenshots you see were taken with a script of 3 lines of code. Just place the little program under your “userscripts” directory, and voilà!, you’re ready to make screenshots from your PinePhone!
Browsing the Internet and the GNU Health homepage
Menu driven navigation in SXMO dwm in the PinePhone
In the end, most of current desktop environments today are huge, bloated and buggy. The discovery of SXMO has been an eyeopener. The perfect companion for my PinePhone.
I’m using SXMO on my PinePhone as a daily driver, and I just love it. Thanks to simple distributions such as Archlinux, Parabola or PostmarketOS, and simple Desktop / window managers as DWM, a am finally enjoying Libre mobile computing.
I feel projects like this take us back to the roots, to the beautiful world of simplicity, yet delivering the latest technology and showing us the path o the future.
MyGNUHealth 1.0 us out! The GNU Health Libre Personal Health Record is now ready for prime time!
This is great news. Great news because citizens around the world have now access to a Free/Libre application, focused on privacy, that puts them in control of their health.
Health is personal, so is the health data. It’s been years since I got the idea of expanding the GNU Health ecosystem, not only to the health professionals and institutions, but making it personal, accessible to individuals. Now is a reality!
Throughout these years, the mobile health (mHealth) has been governed by private companies that benefit from your health data. Private companies, private insurances, proprietary operating systems, proprietary health applications. Big business, no privacy.
GNU and Libre Software
The GNU Health ecosystem exists because of Free software. Thanks to communities such as GNU, we can have fully operational operating systems, desktop environments, databases and programming languages that allow us to use and write free software. GNU Health is one example.
The Libre Software movement fights for the advancement of our societies, by providing universality in computing. In the case of GNU Health, that freedom and equity in computing is applied into the healthcare and social medicine domains. Health is a non-negotiable human right, so it must be health informatics.
What is MyGNUHealth?
MyGNUHealth (MyGH)is a Health Personal Record application focused in privacy, that can be used in desktops and mobile devices.
MyGH embraces the main health domains (bio-psycho-social). All the components in the GNU Health ecosystem combine social medicine and primary care with the latest on bioinformatics and precision medicine. The complex interactions between these health domains play a key role in the state of health and disease of an individual, family and society.
MyGH has the functionality of a health and activity tracker, and that of a health diary / record. It records and tracks the main anthropometric and physiological measures, such as weight, blood pressure, blood sugar level or oxygen saturation. It keeps track of your lifestyle, nutrition, physical activity, and sleep, with numerous charts to visualize the trends.
MyGNUHealth is also a diary, that records all relevant information from the medical and social domain and their context. In the medical domain, you can record your encounters, immunizations, hospitalizations, lab tests,genetic and family history, among others. In the genetic context, MyGH provides a dataset of over 30000 natural variants / SNP from UniProt that are relevant in human. Entering the RefSNP will automatically provide the information about that particular variant and it clinical significance.
The Social domain, contains the key social determinants of health (Social Gradient, Early life development, Stress, Social exclusion, Working conditions, Education, Physical environment, Unemployment, Social Support, Addiction, Food, Transportation, Health services, Family functionality, Family violence, Bullying, War) , most of them from the World Health Organization social determinants of health.
A very important feature of MyGH is that it is GNU Health Federation. That is, if you want to share any of this data with your health professional in real-time, and they will be able to study it.
The PinePhone and the revolution in mobile computing
Of course, in a world of mobile phones and mobile computing, we need free/libre mobile applications. The problem I was facing until recently, that prevented me from writing MyGNUHealth, was the fact that there was no libre mobile environment. The mobile computing market has been dominated by Google and Apple, which both deliver proprietary operating systems, Android and iOS respectively.
The irruption of the Pine64 community was the eye-opener and a game changer. A thriving community of talented people, determined to provide freedom in mobile computing. The Pine64 provides, among others, a smartphone (PinePhone), and a smartwatch (PineTime), and I have adopted both.
I wrote an article some weeks ago (“Liberating our mobile computing”), where I mentioned why I have changed the Android phone to the PinePhone, and my watch to the PineTime.
Does the PinePhone have the best camera? Can we compare the PinePhone with Apple or Google products? It’s hard to compare a multi-billion dollar corporation with a fresh, community-oriented project. The business model, the technology components and the ethics behind are very different.
So, why making the move? I made the change because we, as a society, need to embrace a technology that is universal and that respects our freedom and privacy. A technology that focuses on the individual and not in the corporation. That moves takes determination and commitment. There is a small price to pay, but freedom and privacy are priceless.
As a physician, I need to provide my patients the resources that use state-of-the-art technology, and, at the same time, guarantee the privacy of their sensitive medical information. Libre software and open standards are key in healthcare. When my patients choose free/libre software, they have full control. They also have the possibility to share it with me or with other health professionals, in real-time and with the highest levels of privacy.
We can only manage sensitive health data with technology that respects our privacy. In other words, we can not put our personal information in the hands of corporate interests. Choosing Libre Software and Hardware means much more than just technology. Libre Software means embracing solidarity and cooperation. It means sharing knowledge, code and time with others. It means embracing open science for the advancement of our societies, specially for those that need it most.
MyGNUHealth will be included by default in many operating systems and distributions, so you don’t have to worry about the technical details. Just use your health companion! If your operating system does not have MyGH in their repositories, please ask them to include it.
Governments, institutions, and health professional need affordable technology that respects their citizens freedom. We need you to be part of this eHealth revolution.
Happy and healthy hacking!
MyGNUHealth is part of the GNU Health, the Libre digital health ecosystem. GNU Health is from GNU Solidario, a humanitarian, non-for-profit organization focused on the advancement of Social Medicine. GNU Solidario develops health applications and uses exclusively Free/Libre software. GNU Health is an official GNU project.
It’s a great day for Bangladesh. It’s a great day for public health! Today, GNU Solidario and the International Federation of Medical Students Association, IFMSA Bangladesh, have signed an initial 5-year partnership on the grounds of the GNU Health Alliance of Academic and Research Institutions.
IFMSA Bangladesh is a non-for-profit, non-political organization that comprises 3500+ medical students from over 65 schools of Medicine across Bangladesh. They are a solid organization, very well organized, with different standing committees and support divisions.
IFMSA vision and mission fits very well with those of GNU Solidario advancement of Social Medicine. IFMSA has projects on Public Health (reproductive health; personal hygiene; cardiovascular disease and cancer prevention, … ), Human rights and peace (campaigns to end violence against women; protection of the underprivileged elders and children.. ). I am positive the GNU Health ecosystem will help them reach their goals in each of their projects!
The GNU Health Alliance of Academic and Research Institutions is extremely happy to have IFMSA Bangladesh as a member. IFMSA Bangladesh joins now a group of outstanding researchers and institutions that have made phenomenal advancements in health informatics and contributions to public health. Some examples:
The National University of Entre Ríos (UNER) has been awarded the project to use GNU Health as a real-time observatory for the COVID-19 pandemic, by the Government of Argentina. In the context of the GNU Health Alliance, UNER has also developed the oral health package for GNU Health; and implemented the GNU Health Hospital Management Information System component in many public health care institutions in the country. The team from the UNER has traveled to Cameroon to implement GNU Health HMIS in several health facilities in the country, as well as training their health professionals.
Thymbra Healthcare (R&D Labs) has contributed the medical genetics and precision medicine. Currently, Thymbra is focused on MyGNUHealth, the GNU Health Personal Health Record (PHR) for KDE plasma mobile and desktops devices, and working on the integration of MyGNUHealth with the PinePhone.
Khadas has signed an agreement to work on with the GNU Health community in Artificial Intelligence and medical imaging, as well on integrating Single Board Computers (SBCs) with GNU Health (the GNU Health in a Box project)
The fact that an association of 3500+ medical students embrace GNU Health means that all these bright future doctors from Bangladesh will also bear the ethics and philosophy of Libre Software to their communities. Public Health can not be run by private corporations, nor by proprietary software.
IFMSA has 5 years ahead to make a wonderful revolution in the public health care system. Health institutions will be able to implement state-of-the-art health informatics. Medical students can learn GNU Health inside-out, and conduct workshops across the country in the Libre digital health ecosystem. Most importantly, I am positive GNU Health will provide a wonderful opportunity to improve the health promotion and disease prevention campaigns in Bangladesh.
As the president of GNU Solidario, I am truly honored and looking forward to start collaborating with our colleagues from Bangladesh, and, when the pandemic is over, be able to meet them in person.
My most sincere appreciation to IFMSA Bangladesh for becoming part of the GNU Health community. To the 3500+ members, a very warm welcome!
Let’s keep building communities that foster universal health care, freedom and social medicine around the world.
For further information about the GNU Health Alliance of Academic and Research Institutions, please contact us at: