Not Someobody Else's Problem; Mine. By Abhas Abhinav

No Somebody Else's Problem; Mine.

Student Projects - January 2019


Here are some free software projects that students can work on. I expect that multiple students will work on the same project but with different approaches.

Some of these project are research and documentation projects (tagged: research) while others are development and documentation projects (tagged: development).


These projects are only meaningful if we do them in the right way. Here are some modalities for these projects if you choose to work on them with me:

Web Applications

Themes for Starli


Shaarli is a self-hosted bookmarking tool. It helps you store your bookmarks on your own server and annotate and share them publicly (if you wish).


The default and available themes by the Shaarli community are not minimal enough!

What? & How?

We need to build two sorts of CSS themes for Shaarli:

Simple CI system for gitea


Gitea is a web-based git version control system.


Unlike full-blown version control systems like Gitlab, Gitea does not have an integrated Continuous Integration (CI) system. It however has support for other third-party systems such as Drone CI and others.


Here is what we will do as a part of this project:

Patch for gitea to customise front page


Gitea has a default front page that explains its features.

As a part of this project, we will develop a patch for Gitea that will enable a Gitea admin to replace this front-page with a statically generated website pointed to by a configuration line.

Static site hosting for gitea


Make it possible to use Gitea along with a CI system to deploy static websites on git push.

Wordpress-libre development


Wordpress is a very popular content management system (CMS) and blogging engine.


There are multiple problems with Wordpress and its plugin ecosystem today. Primary among them is the way Javasript code is loaded and used across a website.


We will modify the Wordpress source code and that of major and useful plugins to achieve the following:

  1. All javascript and CSS should be loaded locally and not from a CDN.

  2. All non-trivial javascript should be LibreJs compliant.

  3. It should be possible to take stock of the licensing of all the components that affect a single Wordpress instance.

Jekyll - Rails shopping cart integration


Jekyll is a static site generator written in Ruby.


Make it possible to integrate a static Jekyll website with a (Ruby on) Rails shopping cart engine. Specifically, we are looking at integrating the Solidus shopping cart with Jekyll.


The final result should enable a developer (or user) to put in some simple Liquid tags onto any jekyll page to connect and embed a shopping cart with it.

Jekyll podcast framework

It should be trivial to use Jekyll to publish a podcast, make sure the podcast website can be viewed without using javascript, to customise the looks of the website and finally, to publish it RSS feed.

OSEM conference management system

Package and document the OSEM conference management system so that it is easy to use and effective for running the cPf for a conference related to free software.

Self-hosted audio conferencing, recording and interview system

How does one use self-hosted free software to interview someone over the Internet and also record the conversation? What if there are multiple people in an audio conference?

Setup, document and package an effective way of doing this.

Extensible and customisable email signup form

Build a framework to build an embeddable email sign-up form that can work standalone or with a static website. It should be possible to code the form using a simple text based definition language and without having to write custom HTML or configure or customize a database.

Markdown newsletter submission system

Build a Jekyll-based newsletter submission system that can be used to send a newsletter to an email list by just writing and publishing a new jekyll post.


Skulls-derived Coreboot distribution for X220 and X200

Build, test, package, document and release a Skulls-based or like Coreboot distribution for the X220, X200 and X201 Thinkpad laptops.

Custom logo integration into coreboot

Build, test, package, document and release a set of scripts (+ docker container) to embed a custom image or graphic for use with Coreboot during the boot phase of the computer.

X200T Libreboot flashing success

The X200T uses a very different type of BIOS chip which makes it very challenging to flash coreboot onto it. Document and package the process of running Libreboot and Coreboot on the X200T laptop.

Heads integration, validation and documentation with X230

While Heads works well on the X230, documentation and packaging are required so that users can use it easily and effectively.

Chromebook Coreboot distribution

Many Intel-based chromebooks (our development efforts will revolve around falco) can run Coreboot by default. Build, package, document and release a Coreboot distribution for the falco chromebook.

Hardware Boards and IoT

Documentation for Bus Pirate v2 and v3


The Bus Pirate is a mult-tool that talks to electronic stuff. One great use for the Bus Pirate is to flash BIOS chips on a motherboard over the SPI bus.


We need to test and release documentation that will enable anyone to use the Bus Pirate to (at least) flash BIOS chips with Coreboot.

Testing and documentation for Numato Opsis

The Numato Opsis is a HDMI2USB board that can be used to mix, capture and stream video from multiple sources.

We need to test and document simple, yet reliable ways of using the Numato Opsis to (primarily) record and stream free software events and conferences. This will take the guesswork and complexity out of using the Opsis board and it will become a default way to do such recording and streaming.

Rock64 u-boot network boot

The Rock64 SBC from Pine64 has a SPI flash which runs u-boot. This is a unique feature of this board and because of this we can get it run in a diskless manner and boot off the network.

Test, package, document and release a reliable method to boot the rock64 off the network.

vim-arduino IDE

Build a vim plugin to enable vim to act as an Arduino IDE to program microcontrollers.

vim-micropython IDE

Build a vim plugin to enable vim to act as a micropython IDE for rapid development.

Documentation for PADI

PADI is an inexpensive wireless microcontroller from Pine64. It can run FreeRTOS among other firmware.

Write documentation and examples on how to use PADI for common tasks in place of other wireless microcontrollers.

PADI with relay + RGB LED + MQTT client support

Use the PADI microcontroller to build a wifi power switch.

FreeRTOS + micropython packaging

Package a custom distribution of FreeRTOS with micropython for various microcontrollers.

FreeRTOS + esp32

Package a toolchain and development environment to run FreeRTOS on the ESP32 microcontroller.

Document proprietary software in each SBC OS distribution

The operating system images of almost all single-board computers contain proprietary software. Study the OS images of the Raspberry Pi, Orange Pi, Odroid, Rock64 and Nano Pi boards to document which parts of these images are proprietary software.

Application Software & Solutions

Webinar demo and documentation using openmeetings

Evaluate if it is possible to use Apache OpenMeetings for Webinars. This will ensure that people don’t have to use proprietary software for running their webinars.

Self-hosted video streaming

How do we stream a talk or lecture to the Internet using commodity hardware? Build, document and package a self-hosted solution for doing that.

Jitsi Meet with login and no public registration

Jitsi Meet is a very useful free software tool for video conferencing and desktop sharing. However, the default way it is packaged is a “demo” and it allows anyone to use it publicly.

We need to build a wrapper application around Jitsi Meet so that it can be self-hosted easily and used for video conferencing and desktop sharing securely and privately.

Telecom & VoIP

Container distribution for compiling FreePBX dependencies

Compiling and getting FreePBX to run can be very frustrating because it not only does it have complex (and many times, undocumented) dependencies but also multiple steps that have to be executed carefully.

By building a container distribution for FreePBX, we can compile wanpipe, freetdm, dahdi and freepbx in a simple and reproducible manner.

Desktop Applications

Basic web-browser using Gecko / Quantum

It should be possible to use the Firefox engine to build mini web-browsers. This project will explain, document and automate this process of build Gecko / Quantum based web-browsers.

Electron-like desktop apps using Gecko / Quantum

Similarly, desktop applications which are browser-based should NOT only be powered by Webkit or chromium. We should be able to build such frameworks and application using Gecko and Quantum as well.

Mobile Applications

Mobile application for OpenWRT

Build a free software mobile application for Free-Android that can be used to control an OpenWRT device over RPC.

Mobile application for OpenHAB & home-assistant

While both OpenHAB and Home Assistant have very easy-to-use and free software mobile applications, it would be good to build a custom application which exposes a limited set of features and makes these systems more usable.

Mobile application for MQTT native

Build a mobile application that can natively talk to a MQTT server for managing a self-hosted IoT installation.

System Software

DNSSEC with tinydns

Build documentation and package software to get tinydns to work with DNSSEC.

Git Push-based tinydns management

Build a text-based database format to version control DNS records over git and publish them via tinydns.

Extend management app to latest Rails and REST API

We have a rather old Rails application to manage DNS records for tinydns. It should be re-written using the latest release of Rails and so that it also exposes a REST API

Test out, package and document dovecot full text search (fts)

Dovecot is an IMAP server that can also act as a deliver agent among other things. In conjugation with a search engine, it can index a mailbox and enable full text search for it.

Build, document and package the full text search capabilities of Dovecot.

Integrate, document and package Kerberos with OpenLDAP

Integrate, document and package Kerberos so that it can be used along with Append for single sign-on in a GNU/Linux network.

© 2018, Abhas Abhinav.

Source Code

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.