Use Libre.fm 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 Libre.fm, 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:

libre.fm:80 127.0.0.1 - - [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; +http://yandex.com/bots)"

libre.fm:80 127.0.0.1 - - [25/Aug/2013:06:25:57 -0700] "GET /2.0/?method=track.gettoptags&artist=Tryad&track=Lovely&format=json HTTP/1.1" 200 3444 "http://libre.fm/user/Trim/station" "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 Last.fm, 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.

Libre.fm 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
music.

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, Libre.fm 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 Last.fm,
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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News for March 2011

Translations

At the bottom of the main site (alpha.libre.fm) you’ll now see a small drop-down box that allows you to select the language you’d like to view Libre.fm in. Thanks to the sterling work of a whole host of dedicated translators we now have pretty complete translations for Esperanto, Finnish, French, Galician, German, Slovenian, Spanish and Welsh. If you’d like to help translate Libre.fm to support even more languages then simply visit our translations page, sign up for an account and get stuck in.

Google Summer of Code

This year we’re taking part in the Google Summer of Code under the umbrella of the GNU project. If you’re currently a university student and are interested in spending your summer working on GNU FM (the software behind Libre.fm) and getting paid to do so, then drop by the #libre.fm IRC channel on irc.freenode.net and have a chat with us about how to apply. There’s only a few days left until the application deadline on the 8th of April, so don’t delay. Further details…

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Google Summer of Code 2011

This year GNU FM and Libre.fm are proud to be taking part in the Google Summer of Code under the GNU banner. Interested students can find a list of our suggested ideas here:

Naturally we’re also interested in hearing your own ideas as well. 

To increase chances of acceptance we strongly recommended that students pop on to our IRC channel (#libre.fm on irc.freenode.net) and discuss their planned projects with us prior to submitting applications. In addition to this providing some patches for existing bugs/feature improvements can help us to judge ability levels more accurately (as well as helping you to get to grips with our code-base and community a little in advance).
After 19:00 UTC today (28th March) it should be possible to start working on your application at:
The deadline for applications is 12:00 UTC on the 8th of April.

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News for February 2011

Improved artist tools

It’s now possible for artists to add their tracks directly to Libre.fm themselves, rather than having to rely upon our imports from other services.

More artist images

A lot more artist pages should now also show a picture of the artist in question.

Improved scrobbling

A number of bug fixes have been made which should result in even more robust scrobbling, with better support for very long track names and improved support for forwarding scrobbles on to Last.fm.

Flattr support

The largest change recently has been the addition of support for flattr, a micro-donation service that makes it very simple to “tip” your favourite artists. Artists can easily associate a flattr username with their Libre.fm account, after which flattr buttons will automatically appear on both their artist page and on each individual song page.

Additionally the html5 audio player will now display an appropriate flattr button whenever a flattrable artist is played on our radio streams.

You can see an example of this in action on the page for paniq’s song ‘Heavy Working Robot’ which was featured in this month’s podcast.

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News for December 2010

We’ve been a bit remiss in keeping our news page up-to-date in the past, while news has always been released as it happens via our Identi.ca group and monthly in the podcast that isn’t especially obvious to people just finding out about the project. So from this point on each time a new podcast episode is released I’ll simultaneously post the development news in text form here as well. To kick things off here is the news from December, look out for January and February’s news soon (along with February’s podcast episode).

New radio stations

Once you’ve loved a few tracks on Libre.fm you’ll now be able to tune in to the mix and recommendation stations and have a selection of tracks that you might like played to you. You can access this by either visiting the “Radio Stations” tab on your user profile or by tuning in with your favourite desktop or mobile client.

User profile updates

User profile pages now also display a small selection of free artists that the user loves and artists we think they might like.

Artist page updates

When viewing an artist’s page we now provide a list of similar artists. This only works for artists that have been tagged, but it’s now even easier than ever to help tag artists and improve our recommendations. In addition to being able to tag songs as you hear them on the radio stream, there’s now a “tag” link at the top of artist pages making it possible to tag both free and non-free artists.

Scrobble forwarding to Last.fm

For user’s of both libre.fm and last.fm who’s scrobbling client only supports submitting to a single server we’ve got some good news, you can now connect your last.fm account with libre.fm and we’ll automatically forward your scrobbles on to last.fm’s servers. Simply edit your profile and select “Connections to other services”, then click the “Connect to a last.fm account” link at the bottom of the page and configure your scrobbling client to submit to libre.fm.

Jamendo import updated

We’ve updated our import of songs from Jamendo, meaning that approximately 1200 new free artists and another 20,000 streamable tracks have been added to our database.

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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 Libre.fm) 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 Libre.fm as well as Last.fm.

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