Author Archives: Matt Lee

Use and GNU FM and help defeat surveillance

Right now, we’re working on a brand new look and feel for all GNU FM sites, based on the latest release of Bootstrap (we promise it’ll be less purple) and I thought I’d take a few minutes to share some ideas I’ve had recently on the subject of privacy and surveillance.

As you hopefully know if you use, we do not log your personally identifiable information, such as your IP address, screen resolution, etc. Almost every other website does this in some way, either with a program such as Google Analytics, or with their server logs.

Here’s exactly what we store on the site right now: - - [25/Aug/2013:06:26:02 -0700] "GET /themes/librefm/img/player/seek-backward.png HTTP/1.1" 304 188 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; YandexImages/3.0; +" - - [25/Aug/2013:06:25:57 -0700] "GET /2.0/?method=track.gettoptags&artist=Tryad&track=Lovely&format=json HTTP/1.1" 200 3444 "" "Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:23.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/23.0 Iceweasel/23.0.1"

In these results, we can see that a search engine indexed one of our images, and that another user tried to find the top tracks by Tryad, but we don’t know which user is doing this, or where they are located.

This is not true of sites like, and especially not true of Facebook. Facebook apps work with sites such as
Rdio, Spotify and others to show up to the minute live listening information from other sites, right in the users’ Facebook action stream.

For maximum privacy, we recommend installing your own GNU FM server. We have already demonstrated limited federation abilities at FOSDEM last year, and have recently green lit our work on the GNU social project which will give us a strong, federated social presence, and technology we can piggy back onto.

With the 30th anniversary of the GNU project coming, now is an important time for all GNU projects to work together on providing a real alternative to sites that users cannot control.


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72 million songs later…

On April 1st, 2009 I outlined my ideas for a new kind of music

service in an image I put together with Inkscape. is a project to help keep track of what music you like and

share that, with your friends…

…discover new music, and meet new people who share your taste in

Sounds familar, but wait…

* Complete public source code licensed under the GNU AGPL
* You own your data…
* Use our service, or run your own
* Get started and hacking today

With links to source code (then in SVN) and a mailing list and an
ideas wiki.

Four years later, we have over 100,000 users, over 72 million tracks
have been recorded and we’re still going. In many ways, is
the most successful thing I’ve ever done.

It started when I offered to give a talk at the LibrePlanet 2009
conference about network services, one idea I had been playing with
for a little while was the idea of some free alternative to,
and had been poking around on my own computer, trying to capture my
scrobbles in a text file.

The whole story of the project should be told some day, perhaps in the
inevitable manual that we should go ahead and make.

For now, I would like to thank the amazing people who’ve been on this
journey with me so far — especially Mike Sheldon (Elleo) who
increasingly writes lot of the code himself, but also Clint Adams
(Clint) and Jørgen Bøhnsdalen (jurg) for their work over the
years. Thanks to our upcoming new star developer, Jonas Haraldsson
(kabniel) who started out fixing all the broken stuff on our wiki.

Thanks to the huge list of people who at some point contributed too:

Justin Baugh (baughj), Carlos Perilla (deepspawn), Donald R Robertson
III (donald), Evan Hanson (evhan), Nicolas Reynolds (fauno), Corey
Farwell (frewsxcv), Bernd Gruber (grubernd), Marius Orcsik (habarnam),
David Mignot (idflood), Jarkko Piiroinen (jarkko), John Sullivan
(johnsu01), Joshua Gay (josh), Mikael Nordfeldth (mmn), Nikola Plejic
(nikolaplejic), Daniel Watkins (odd_bloke), Toby Inkster (tobyink) and
Tony Biondo (tonyb486).

And thanks to my wife, Robin, to Rob Myers and to Ward Vandewege for
all their help keeping things ticking along nicely all this time.

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Too cool: submitting your listening history from your portable music player

Matt here. I’m currently on tour in Europe, and I might be coming to your city. Tomorrow, I leave for London, and will be doing a couple weeks around the UK for the last leg of my trip.

Right now, I’m sitting here, preparing for my talk on GNU FM (the software behind at FSCONS in Gothenburg, Sweden. I’ve been away from my usual computers for about a week at this point, so I’m limited to the juicy goodness on my Sansa Fuze that I loaded up with tracks from eMusic and my collection before I left.

I realized, poking around on the player, there’s a file called scrobber.log — then it hit me: 3200 songs I’d listened to, ready to be scrobbled. As it turns out, our own wiki has instructions on how to handle this file.

So, while I might be the last Rockbox user on earth to find this out, I feel especially lucky that there is a wealth of software out there that supports as well as

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Thoughts on Facebook

Rob and I have published our thoughts on Facebook and free social networking, in a post called ‘Thoughts on Facebook

Please write to us at with your feedback.

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First episode of the podcast is now available

Recorded in free software and hosted by Mike Sheldon, episode 1 of the podcast is now available.

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New website, LibreDroid updated…

We’ve just launched our new website here at, complete with our new logo by Pablo Lizardo.

In addition, Mike Sheldon has released version 1.2 of LibreDroid — the best way to listen to free music on your Android phone. Mike has also been working hard on adding tag support to GNU FM — well done Mike!

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