Least Authoritarians Reveal Open-Source Projects That Make a Difference in Their Lives

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In March, Least Authority marked one year of working entirely remotely; twelve long months punctuated by frequent video conference calls keeping us connected. Fortunately, Least Authority is accustomed to operating as a remote-first company since it was founded in 2011, with teammates spanning across 19 time zones.

Nevertheless, we are disappointed that we have had to postpone our chance to meet in-person at the next company summit. Reflecting on this ominous one-year milestone during a team meeting, we began brainstorming something fun we could do together, especially to show appreciation for the open-source tools that help us to work remotely together.

The Spark

Within minutes an idea emerged: what if we showed our collective and individual support for the open-source community by sending donations to projects/products we like and use?

As a company, we develop open-source products and contribute to open-source projects, and many of our clients are committed to building and using open-source software. But additionally, as individuals we use open-source tools that benefit our everyday lives. So why not talk about the tools we use? The company committed to providing money for donating to our favorite projects. It was up to us as individuals to decide how to allocate it.

The Rules

Over the next week, we developed the basic guidelines for Least Authority’s Open-Source Software Donation Allocation Pitch Party:

  • Each person could pitch one project, but no one was required to pitch.
  • Each person who signed up needed to provide a direct link to the project’s donation instructions to verify that donations were possible.
  • The 2-minutes pitch would answer the question, Why do you like/use/support this tool?
  • Pitches had to be presented live during the event.
  • Each team member could indicate where Least Authority would direct 60€ on their behalf, including team members who did not attend the event.
  • Each person’s portion could be either given fully to one project, or divided among several projects.

At the end of the 45-minute event, everyone had access to a shared spreadsheet to record their choices. In the days that followed, it was fun to check the spreadsheet to see how the numbers were adding up. Some people made their decision before the event even ended, while other people wanted time to contemplate and research.

The Results

The final list consists of 16 open-source projects, with donations to each project ranging from 50€ to 350€. Below, in alphabetical order, are the tools and projects we selected to receive our donations and admiration:

Blender — A free and open source 3D creation suite

Chayn — Projects around the globe empowering women against abuse through technology

CryptPad —  A collaboration suite with end-to-end encryption

FreeCAD — A general purpose parametric 3D CAD modeler

GnuPG — A complete and free implementation of the OpenPGP standard

Haskell — An advanced, purely functional programming language

KeepassXC — A cross-platform password manager

KiCad — An open source software suite for Electronic Design Automation (EDA)

Kitty — A fast, featureful, GPU based terminal emulator

OsmocomBB — A GSM Baseband software implementation

NixOS — A Linux distribution based on reproducible build and deployment tools

Qubes-OS — A security-oriented operating system for single-user desktop computing

RiseupVPN — A personal VPN service for censorship circumvention, location anonymization, and traffic encryption

Secure Scuttlebutt — A decentralized secure gossip platform

Signal — An end-to-end encrypted messaging app

Spectrum — A computer operating system under active development, based on the principle of security by compartmentalization

The event turned out to be an energizing team-building activity, which was later described by team members as wonderful, cool, awesome, and exciting. We enjoyed the opportunity to share which open-source tools matter to us, and which ones we are supporting and/or using in our everyday lives. The secondary benefit of this event was that we had the chance to discover tools and projects that some of us had not heard of, learning about them through the enthusiasm of our teammates.

 

Abigail Garner is a project manager at Least Authority.

Least Authority is a Berlin-based tech company supporting people’s right to privacy through security consulting and building secure solutions. The projects named above have received monetary donations as recommended by individual team members, with final review and approval by Least Authority TFA GmbH. Mention of the projects/products in this blog post should not be presumed to be an endorsement from Least Authority.

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