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Install zip module php-zip on Fedora 16

Due to an issue with the packaging of zip functionality within Fedora’s PHP package, the yum package php-zip, which was available for Fedora 15, is not available in Fedora 16. This is actually a “feature”, not a “bug”, but either way, getting zip support in PHP now takes a few extra steps.

1. Install dependencies as root or using sudo:

yum install pcre-devel gcc zlib zlib-devel

2. Install zip module using PECL (PEAR‘s sister):

pecl install zip

3. Edit the main PHP configuration file to register the new module. Add this text:


a few lines before this:

Module Settings

in /etc/php.ini, as root or using sudo, like this:

nano /etc/php.ini

4. Restart your web server as root or using sudo:

service httpd restart

5. Check that support is enabled using phpinfo(). You should have a section on your phpinfo() page that looks like the image below.

Screenshot of zip support shown on phpinfo() page

Zip support confirmed by phpinfo()

That’s it, good luck 🙂

Like candy from a baby: PS Vita takes freedom from new generation

SONY’s new hand-held console is riddled with Digital Restrictions Management (DRM). Both hardware and software are built to control what consumers can do, requiring large and frequent payments to SONY in order to experience the features the PS Vita advertises. As the SONY marketing machine focuses its powers on children and young adults in their homes and schools through the usual multi-million dollar advertising onslaught, I thought I’d highlight the ways in which a new generation of gamers will have their freedoms taken from them. Will PS Vita owners grow up to assume digital media will only ever work on a single device? Will they come to see cross-platform, cross-device compatibility of applications and protocols as a historical ideal?

Some of the restrictions below are well established in SONY products. Disproportionately priced, product-specific removable flash memory with inbuilt DRM has been a company staple for more than a decade. Some of the measures are new however, like the various systems which enforce a strict single user per device policy. This initiative is eerliy familiar to anyone who has read Richard Stallman’s short dystopian story from 1997 ‘The Right to Read‘. Furthermore it is amazing to me that on top of these restrictions, SONY still hasn’t added support for Free formats and standards like OGG and HTML5 video – these are well established within the industry, and free of both copyright and patent concerns for companies like SONY. The combination of willful product restrictions, and the lack of Free and Open elements results in a consumer product that is as anti-consumer as anything SONY has produced.

Anti-freedom components of the SONY PS Vita:

  • New proprietary operating system
  • App store purchases / prices restricted by region via ‘PlayStation®Network’ (PSN) ID
  • Games and media only work with the single PSN ID account with which they were purchased, prohibiting sharing
  • Only one PSN ID per machine, enforcing single user devices
  • App store (‘Playstation store’) purchases only via sony
  • Built in chat systems (text, voice) only compatible with PSN – no communication with non-SONY social networks
  • ‘PS Vita cards’ are proprietary physical form and format (purchased games and movies come on these)
  • ‘PS Vita memory cards’ are proprietary physical form and format (saved games and downloaded apps are stored on these)
  • All existing memory types of memory cards (micro-SD, MMC etc.) are unsupported
  • ‘PS Vita memory cards’ are currently ten times more expensive than Micro-SD
  • Games which support the use of alternative firmware are removed from distribution by SONY
  • Incompatible with iTunes movies and TV shows
  • Incompatible with blu-ray movies
  • Video player only accepts a single patent encumbered video format (MPEG4)
  • Open media Standards are not supported (Ogg, Theora, WebM); no HTML5 video support
  • Advertised backwards compatibility with Playstation games only available via redownload from SONY (versions may be different, old purchases are no longer anonymous)
  • Using an alternative firmware to protect your freedom or privacy would void device warrantee
  • Using an alternative firmware which does not enforce DRM and region-blocking may be illegal
  • Official website uses proprietary Adobe Flash
  • Games more expensive than ever RRP £35 – £45 (consumers pay for all that DRM)

Car: 1, me: 0

So, I got hit by a car on Monday while cycling home.

Sam's face after the crash on Monday

Me at A&E on Monday

It was dark and raining, and I was in the cycle lane about to go straight over a junction when a car turned left into my lane and into me. I went over the handle bars, possibly over the bonnet, and landed on my knee, shortly followed by my face.

Sam after being stitched up in hospital

Me after being stitched up at hospital

I was on the tarmac for about an hour; a small crowd, three teams of medics and a GP helped to check me out, cut off my clothing, and get me onto a stretcher and into hospital. I came out several hours later with nine stitches in two wounds, crutches, bandages, and 0.5 less of a tooth than I went in with.

I’m returning to work gradually and may take longer to reply to emails for a week or so. The whole experience was rather a shock, but things are slowly returning to normal.

Document Freedom Day sprint in Berlin

Last week I travelled from Liverpool to Berlin for three days to step up preparations for Document Freedom Day 2012. I arrived on Tuesday afternoon and went straight to the FSFE offices. Over the next two days I had meetings with other Document Freedom Day organisers, added a new web page, two new features, and fixed several other bugs.

DFD 2012 Team members

DFD 2012 Team members (excluding me!)

Summary of changes made to documentfreedom.org:

  • Added page listing all DFD 2012 partners
  • Added identi.ca feed to contact page
  • Added new print css file meaning website pages, including articles and events lists, can be easily printed
  • Fixed broken news links
  • Added link to city sponsorship page from sponsors page
  • Added new testimonials
  • Numerous other bug comments and closures
Advert for GB on billboard in Berlin

Facing Shonefeld airport is this advert encouraging UK tourism

Letter supporting Manchester hackerspace funding application

Sent to the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA)in support of a funding application made by MadLab Manchester Hackerspace.

Dear AGMA,

I am writing in support MadLab in their request for AGMA funding. I have been running Free Software Foundation Europe events at MadLab since January2011, and have made use of their facilities on both a monthly basis for regular community meetings, and also on weekends for special local and national events.

Software Freedom Day 2011 (SFD), for example, was a major event at MadLab. SFD involved 437 teams around the world, from Sweden to Nigeria, for the purpose of introducing the public to powerful and freely available computer software. At MadLab approximately 50 people visited during the day (despite heavy rain) to view demonstrations, booths, and presentations. A mapping party gathered downstairs and organised an afternoon of amateur cartography, contributing to a global map, under public ownership, which is used extensively in GPS and governmental systems. [Pictures]

The Gnome 3 launch event, which I also co-organised at MadLab, drew people from as far as London and Scotland to come on a Saturday afternoon last April to see new  accessible computer desktop technology demonstrated by experts,and discussed by attendees. The event drew corporate sponsorship from Codethink, and generated hours of discussion. [Pictures]

I attend several other community group meetings at Madlab which are run by other societies. In particular, I attend groups which meet to develop technical skills relating to computer science, such as the Python programming language monthly meetings.

MadLab has exhibited creative work in the past, and I enjoyed taking a partyof friends to see the artwork and literature on display at ’38° of Separation,Korea’. This was purely for my own interest, and introduced me to a culture which I had previously known very little about. [Pictures]

MadLab is non-profit making, is open to all for free and over 75% of attendees are Manchester residents.  MadLab encourages the uptake of ICT skills in surprising and effective ways, which has led to job creation and skills enhancement in the region.

The fact that MadLab existed in the city of Manchester was one of my primary reasons for moving to live in the North West when I emigrated from Berlin early last year. MadLab’s existence here is a very visible sign of a growing community of digital innovators in the region. MadLab’s free services to community groups, especially ones of an educational and technical nature,undeniably fosters innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurial activity in the area.

I support their appeal for funding.

Sincerely etc.

De l’impact politique d’apprendre aux enfants la libre programmation

Lizette Greco - CC by-nc-sa

This French article is reproduced from Framablog[2], and is a translation of my article “Will teaching children basic programming skills have a political impact?“.

Apprendre les rudiments de la programmation aux enfants aura-t-il un impact politique ?

La BBC m’a envoyé un courrier électronique la semaine dernière pour me demander mon avis sur la rumeur actuelle qui voudrait que le gouvernement britannique ajoute des compétences informatiques de base aux programmes scolaires en mettant l’accent sur un éventuel impact politique que ceci pourrait avoir sur la façon dont la société interagit avec les technologies. Voici ma réponse.

Question : Enseigner des rudiments de programmation à tous nous oriente-t-il vers une société plus critique et plus créative ?

Oui. Très souvent, les technologies, et en particulier les logiciels, voient leur utilité restreinte pour les intérêts de quelques-uns, comme les entreprises privées, afin de leur permettre de manipuler les consommateurs à leur avantage. Bien que la Grande-Bretagne utilise plus de logiciels et de produits numériques que jamais, seul un pourcentage restreint de la population est capable de participer à la création de ces produits, de les adapter à ses propres besoins, ou bien de créer les siens.

Cela a un impact extrêmement néfaste sur la société. Cela crée un déséquilibre de pouvoir entre les concepteurs des outils et tous les autres, dont le travail dépend de ces outils. Quel que soit le secteur dans lequel il travaille, un salarié a de fortes chances de devoir utiliser un jour ou l’autre un navigateur Web ou un client de messagerie par exemple, ne serait-ce que trouver un emploi. Mais la façon dont une personne interagit avec ces technologies est presque toujours définie par un groupe de personnes extérieures, sans aucun lien avec l’utilisateur final et qui pourraient n’avoir que très partiellement satisfait ses besoins.

Si notre société inculquait davantage les concepts de base de la programmation et de la création numérique, nous serions plus à même d’interagir en connaissance de cause avec notre environnement social et professionnel. C’est particulièrement vrai pour les sujets importants comme par exemple le journalisme citoyen, l’auto-hébergement et la publication. Une compréhension large de la façon dont fonctionnent les systèmes de vote électronique pourrait avoir un impact fort sur la politique future, par exemple.

Pour autant, avoir simplement des compétences en programmation ne suffit pas. Pour être compétitif, efficace et productif, la Grande-Bretagne devra également promouvoir une culture des libertés et du logiciel libre au sein de son industrie informatique. Et ce parce que les restrictions des copyrights et des brevets peuvent mettre au pas la créativité, y compris celle du plus doué des programmeurs, ou les forcer à réinventer constamment la roue avant qu’ils ne puissent commencer à innover.

Le logiciel libre a initié une véritable révolution technologique au cours des trois dernières décennies, nous apportant, entre autres avantages, Internet et des ordinateurs suffisamment abordables pour être distribués en masse dans le Tiers Monde.

Les écoles devraient favoriser la curiosité et l’esprit critique dans un environnement qui encourage les étudiants à apprendre. Une salle de classe exécutant des logiciels propriétaires ne peut fournir cela. « Comment ça marche ? », « Qu’est-ce qui se passe si je change ceci ou cela ? ». Ces questions restent fondamentalement sans réponse quand on enseigne aux enfants en utilisant des systèmes d’exploitation, des suites bureautiques ou des outils de robotique non libres.


[1] Crédit photo : Lizette Greco (Creative Commons By-Nc-Sa)

[2] Licensed under Creative Commons By-Sa Traduction Framalang/Twitter : Yoha, Gatitac, Bl0fish, Sophie, Morphix, 0gust1 http://www.framablog.org/index.php/post/2012/02/05/education-informatique-politique

Creative Commons By-Sa

Free Software Android page gets “slashdotted”

At FOSDEM, FSFE’s page about how to free Android devices was officially launched by Torsten Grote, leaflets were handed out, and over the course of the weekend news of this hit hackernews.ws, causing a ‘slashdot’ effect resulting in 12,00+ hits. Great going in such a short time, and goes to show what an impact sharing your knowledge on the fsfe wiki can have!

Thanks also to UK Fellow Paul Boddie for fixing search engine indexing and Piwik analytics issues with our MoinMoin installation just days before FOSDEM – without that the launch couldn’t have been so successful.


This year four things particularly struck me about the annual Free and Open Source Developer’s European Meeting (FOSDEM) in Brussels.

Lots of new software

Liverpool Airport

Liverpool Airport - the first landmark on my route to Brussels

Attending FOSDEM is always a great opportunity to find awesome new Free Software projects to make your life and work easier, and with more than 420 speakers in the “dev rooms” alone, and more tracks and conference rooms than ever, 2012 was especially fruitful in this regard. I found myself writing down the names of intruiging FS projects I had been hitherto unaware of every few minutes during some of the talks.

I got the impression that more Free Software is being written by European developers than ever before, and that the quality and variety is also increasing. This is really encouraging and inspiring – to find so many innovative freedom focused applications in just two days was eye-opening to the scale and rate of our ecosystem’s growth.

My most interesting finds:

Lots more FSFE supporters

FSFE’s booth was in a new location, a long way from the campus center in a separate building (‘K’) together with many booths from other organisations (I notice O’Reilly retained their usual prime position – the only booth that did).

Brussels Airport

Brussels Airport under snow when I arrived

Despite the less desirable location we apparently managed more sales than ever before! Not only that, the range of merchandise was bigger, as was the number of booth volunteers, and perhaps most importantly, the number of people at FOSDEM who were wearing FSFE endorsements was definitely greater than the year before.

I saw FSFE hoodies and t-shirts all over the place – at every single talk that I attended, large and small. This was so encouraging, and hopefully will work to exponentially increase awareness and support at FOSDEM in future. Truly our presence was growing.

Open hardware devices

Various open hardware devices at a booth, including Open Pandora

Lots of comeraderie

Perhaps it was just because as time goes on I know more and more FSFE people, but it seemed to me that the FSFE crowd was not only larger but also as, or more, friendly than before. I met tens of people at FOSDEM who I now consider personal friends, introduced them to tens of other people, and saw new relationships and camaraderie form before my very eyes. At the booth I felt like I was amongst a large group of friends, not a large group of aquaintances with shared interests. I think this is a real achievement – to maintain what I perceive to be a welcoming disposition towards new people as a team and also as an organisation as we grow in numbers each year.

ULB university ampitheatre

People leaving Janson lecture hall at the end of FOSDEM

It was also very gratifying to me to see so many people at the booth who have worked for FSFE in the past, as interns for example, and who have retained their relationship with us after their professional engagement ended.

Eszter, Hugo and Nicolas are all examples of past FSFE interns who have gone on to new jobs and studies, but who voluntarily retain important

responsibilities within FSFE – Eszter having

recently become the Deputy Coordinator of FSFE’s Policy team. This indicates to me that despite our shortcomings, the goals, culture, and camarad

erie of FSFE are on the right track. It’s so encouraging to see the good work that past FSFE staff continue to do in the name of freedom!

Kabuki restaurant

Kabuki Japanese restaurant with 11 FSFE patrons

Lots of snow

The sub-zero temperat

ures, which reached -12, were extreme and took me completely by surprise. “Brussels c

an’t possibly be colder than Manchester”, I reasoned, and so I left my thermal underwear and thick socks and jumpers to gather dust in my wardrobe.

Apart from there being no buses from the airport to the city when I arrived late on Friday evening, Brussels’ city infrastructure coped quite well, with trains and urban transport working throughout the weekend. The University didn’t fair quite so well however – several doorways and grassy areas turned into deep dark slush, and the entrance to “Bar2” on campus claimed many victims as they rushed in and immediately landed on their backs, feet sliding from beneath them (I fell twice before learning my lesson).

Brussels Atomium

My visit to Brussels Atomium en route to the airport

Coming back to earth

FOSDEM is a conference primarily concerned with technology rather than politics, unlike the Free Society Conference in Sweden, for example. As such it motivates and inspires me in different ways to that conference. Just like FSCONS, FOSDEM has left me exhausted, enthused, and saturated with thoughts, ideas, and intentions.

I’ll take back to Manchester a renewed conviction that Free Software can and does provide the tools necessary to free our digital worlds, and the conviction that our larger community of hackers can meet any challenge whatsoever that freedom may face in future, should they so wish.

From FSCONS in November I took a refreshed faith in the importance of Free Software in today’s society. From FSCONS I take refreshed faith in our capacity to deliver it.

Get wireless working on Fedora with BCM4313


BCM4313 802.11b/g/n Wireless LAN Controller (rev 01)

This is the built-in wifi on the Lenovo B570 (and many other laptops).

[UPDATE: As of updates applied on 15.04.12, wifi is again broken (curse you Fedora and your inadequate testing suites!) – I’m currently working on finding a fix ]

[UPDATE: The fix is to connect temporarily using another method (ethernet cable, 3G, or wifi dongle), update your system using yum update, and then reboot. This should hopefully fix the issue. Apparently after using yum update to install the broken updates you can often run yum update immediately after to fix it. See here for a thread with more info ]

[UPDATE 19.03.13: If you have problems with dependencies during updates, follow the advice stated here. It relates to a nVidia kmod package, but the instructions apply for kmod-wl also. Just replace “kmod-nvidia” with “kmod-wl”]

The following procedure gets this chip working for me with Fedora 16 / 17 / 18 (run the commands in a terminal – accessible via alt+F2, enter: gnome-terminal [press enter]

Enable rmpfusion repos:

Follow this guide: http://rpmfusion.org/Configuration

Login as root:


Update to latest packages and kernel:

yum update

Install kmod-wl and wl-broadcom:

yum install broadcom-wl kmod-wl

Blacklist acer_wmi, dell_wmi and bcma:

nano /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf

[add the following lines to the end of this file:]

# blacklisted to get broadcom 4313 wireless to work
blacklist acer_wmi
blacklist dell_wmi
blacklist bcma

Restart network manager:

service NetworkManager restart

Try and connect as usual using the Gnome 3 network manager applet