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.
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:
In his escape from Rome, Peter encounters Jesus and asks him, Jesus, Quo vadis? (“where are you going?“) Jesus responded, “Back to Rome, to be crucified again”. Peter follows him, ends up being captured and crucified upside down.
(Painting: Domine quo vadis? (1602) by Annibale Carracci. Source Wikimedia)
Two thousand years have passed, yet those who defy the status quo are still being prosecuted and crucified, one way or another.
Too much hypocrisy and lack of empathy
The prosecution and public lynching that Richard Stallman, creator of the Free Software movement, has suffered in the last year and half is unparalleled. Many of those who used to praise his work and figure, are now taking the first row in the lapidation of the heretic.
Richard Stallman might not be the best in social interactions, but neither am I. Richard is not politically correct either. Some things he has said can be controversial and even disturbing. But that does not make him a criminal or a monster. In more than one occasion, I’ve noticed that I’ve misunderstood his words after talking to him or re-reading the article.
We all are imperfect beings, with imperfect genes, living in an imperfect society. We come from different cultural, social, educational and generational backgrounds. I find this enriching and fascinating. Yet, there is still too much hypocrisy and lack of empathy in our society.
Let me share a short personal story. In 2018 I was invited to give a talk at LibrePlanet. I flew from Spain to Boston, and I was excited to meet with the colleagues from the community, so I signed up to the “Welcome dinner”. To my surprise, I got this response by email upon arrival:
"The Welcome Dinner is for all women, gender queer, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people interested in free software. If you don't identify as such, we kindly request that you don't attend the dinner this year."
So I checked whether all the list elements, looking for latino, hispanic, vegan, …. but no luck… after a long haul flight, I found myself excluded from the event. Where is the diversity, where is the inclusion, where is the empathy? Ironically, I found out that the very same person who sent me the email excluding me from the dinner is now part of the debunking campaign against RMS.
Let he who is free of sin cast the first stone
Who are we to judge? On what moral grounds are they judging Richard Stallman?
Discrimination on the basis of species is as terrible as any other form of discrimination (sex, race, age..). Those who eat meat are complicit of the daily holocaust of millions of sentient beings. Those who drink milk are complicit of the systematic rape, slavery and murder of millions of persons who have the same right to live in freedom and dignity as we humans. In addition, non-vegans are responsible in the climate change emergency, pandemics and other terrible side effects of factory farming.
I am convinced that many of those who are judging RMS are meat eaters and consume dairy products. So, before they accuse him for something that he might have said, they should take a look at themselves and their ethical / moral status, for what they are actually doing. I also think that many of them would not have joined this evil campaign if they knew how much pain and suffering it has caused to Richard.
Divide and conquer. The attempt to eradicate the Free Software movement
The existing plutocracy controls de media and distorts reality. The panem et circenses formula works great in creating a numb, docile society. Their mass control devices and programs activate the dopaminergic reward pathways on the person brain, creating a short but intense feeling of instant gratification through selfies, filters, likes. You willingly provide them your personal information. They know where you are, they know what you do. They will also make a lot of money selling your information to others who will refine the mind control process. This becomes a closed loop.
They have gradually eradicated critical reasoning. Activism and social justice are now forbidden terms. “Free Software” is now “Open Source”. To be a cool programmer and a good citizen, you have to share your code “Where the world builds Software“. It’s a proprietary platform, but this fact would not make a difference to you anymore at this point. You have become part of them, and your principles about the initial Free Software movement have faded away.
After creating the “idyllic community”, it was time for them to find a common enemy. The witch-hunt started by debunking the creator of the Free Software movement and then anyone that would defy the status quo. Vilifying RMS on the news and social media was an easy task for them, provided that they control most of the media and that they already counted with an “army” ready to burn heretics. The army members did the dirty job for them, proudly posting on their timelines how they contributed to the ruthless public mobbing, lynching and lapidation of someone who most of them, didn’t even know. The rest is history.
Time to hit the reset button
No doubt that the Free Software Foundation and the movement of free software and free culture is badly injured. The enemies of social justice and freedom in our society have tried to eliminate the Free Software Foundation and divide the community.
Yet, we are strong and resilient. Let’s come together, reunite and return even stronger. Society is facing very challenging moments, and we need the Libre Software movement to be a reference of evolution, diversity, respect and inclusion. The enemies of freedom and equity want us divided, so they gain control. We can not let that happen again.
Let us all take some time for self-reflection, to get rid of any resentment. Let us find room for forgiveness to our fellow members of the Free Software movement and hit the reset button. Let us put aside the confrontation among us that will take us nowhere.
Let us also support financially the Libre Software community. Most Libre Software projects and organizations depend on the financial contributions, and they should be able to grow with the support of their individual members alone. That will bring independence from the corporation.
Our mission as individuals and members of the Libre Software movement goes way beyond programming. The code that we write in C or Python must also be the source of an optimistic message to this and upcoming generations around the world. A genuine and honest message of freedom, equity, compassion, empathy and solidarity.
I could write many pages, but it all comes down to one concept: ethics.
When I talk about Free Software, I talk about not only about freedom, but also community and good will from the software author. The latter probably is the most important one.
You write Free Software because you want to contribute to the community. It’s an act of social activism. It’s about sharing and helping out.
This April I got a mail from Chris Larsen, a doctor working in Rwanda, where he was asking OpenERP the scripts to upgrade to 6.x, since they needed to have the latest Medical version. The response he got was that the scripts were not publicly available anymore. If they wanted to upgrade, they would have to pay a support contract to OpenERP. This is the typical example of a vendor lock-in. They change the rules (even the license) and then the user becomestheir prisoner.
That very same day I started the implementation of GNU Health (previously called “medical”) in the Tryton platform. Believe me, this was frustrating and it meant a lot of work, but I had to guarantee the future for the health centers.
That effort paid off. Today Health (GNU Health) is an official GNU package (health.gnu.org), the United Nations Universityhas adopted it, and everyday health centers are downloading it from the GNU official site. Obviously, the GNU Health version that today is an official GNU package runs under Tryton, a community-based project.
I just got an email today that a health center in RDC ( Democratic Republic of Congo ) after testing the functionality, will be using GNU Health under Tryton.
Open Source has become the refuge for some speculators, who apply digital lock-ins, by, for example, not releasing the upgrade scripts. This is not fair. It’s not ethical. It’s not thinking about the community. It’s being selfish and greedy. Lastly, it’s not respecting the underlying software.
OpenERP and Tryton need Python, Postgresql and GNU/Linux. If Python or Postgresql would impose a support contract fee to be able to upgrade, they would not exist. So, none of us have the right to break the evolution chain.
So, a word of advice . Make sure you use Free Software. This is more than just a license. They should be community-based projects.
Some signs of warning to keep in mind : Avoid software that has a “buy” link instead of a “download”, or “1 month free”. Those are signs of vendor lock-in strategies. Also, be wary of “Commercial Open Source”, projects, led by private corporations. They are usually there only for their money and don’t care about you.
If you are a programmer, you can – and you should – make money from Free Software. You can make a good income by giving training sessions and implementing your software. Free Software is both ethical and a great way of making your living !
As the author of GNU Health, and as the president of GNU Solidario, my commitment is to the community and the underprivileged, so rest assured that I will always suggest you the best environment for your health center. Now that GNU Health is an official GNU package, our mission is supported and backed up by the Free Software Foundation and the United Nations.