Google Summer of Code 2008 - Application

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This application form was submitted by Mario Behling to the Google Summer of Code programme on 12th march 2008.

Application Form

About Your Organization

1. What is your Organization's Name?


2. What is your Organization's Homepage?,,,,,,

3. Describe your organization.

The user-driven freifunk community runs some of the largest deployed mesh networks in the world, such as the city networks in Berlin, Leipzig, Weimar, Paris and Rome. Based on this model numerous free wireless communities all over the world sprung up. Currently there are well-established networks in Australia, Greece, Croatia, South Africa, France and the USA (see

In Germany, freifunk provides operational network access to several hundred users and begins to deploy additional services such as community radio broadcasting. Freifunk members are active in development of the OLSR routing daemon (OLSRd), and creator of the B.A.T.M.A.N. stigmergic routing protocol. The Berlin network for example had more than 3000 registered users and 604 observed live nodes during a 29 day period in March/April 2007. The network is dense in the eastern districts of the town, where high-speed Internet access was unavailable or costly. Hence, users shared the few broadband accesses via wireless mesh networking. Areas of high density are interconnected using directional antennas.

Current developments: Freifunk is evolving from a mere access network to providing localized community-based services. Currently, freifunk mainly serves to connect the node operator and its neighbours to the Internet. Additional nodes mainly serve to increase the availability of Internet access. However, with the ever increasing storage and processing capabilities of modern wireless access points, additional services can be provided. For example, in an ongoing experiment in Leipzig Germany, the “rundfreifunk”, community radio is being streamed across the freifunk network and finally broadcasted via USB FM transmitters to reach neighbours via their conventional radio. In this new service model, the technically educated node operator serves as a leveraging point to include his whole neighbourhood into the experiment. Another class of services could run directly on the node – providing the means to communicate with other Internet using neighbours close and far. An example would be a distributed bulletin board to advertise parties and classifieds, another example would be WLAN telephony.

To support this evolution the proposed ideas follow two approaches which create a greater acceptance in a larger community. On the one hand, we seek to bring more capabilities to the existing routers and to mobile devices such as PDAs, small computers and mobile phones, allowing mobile users to contribute to the content in the network. On the other hand, freimap could be extended to provide an easy-to-grasp discovery interface for these new services. Allowing the users to identify at first glance the nodes, neighbours and services offered in the immediate and larger environment.

4. Why is your organization applying to participate in GSoC 2008? What do you hope to gain by participating?

We hope to gain more students interested in our open source software and to gain improvements to our code base. We also hope to increase usability of our software and in general we hope to increase the visibility of free wireless communities and the efficiency of mesh communication especially in our biggest networks with 500-700 nodes.

5. Did your organization participate in previous GSoC years? If so, please summarize your involvement and the successes and failures of your student projects. (optional)


6. If your organization has not previously participated in GSoC, have you applied in the past? If so, for what year(s)? (optional)


7. What license does your project use?

We use the General Public License (GPL) Version 2 and Creative Commons Licences.

8. URL for your ideas page

9. What is the main development mailing list for your organization?,

10. Where is the main IRC channel for your organization?


11. Does your organization have an application template you would like to see students use? If so, please provide it now. (optional)


12. Who will be your backup organization administrator? Please enter their Google Account address. We will email them to confirm, your organization will not become active until they respond. (optional)

Mario Behling (,

About Your Mentors

1. What criteria did you use to select these individuals as mentors? Please be as specific as possible.

Our mentors are chosen because of their dedicated work in the free wireless freifunk community during years and their experience with students in the past. Our selection criterias are quality of code work, long term engagement, ability to communicate effectively and because they are extremely nice people, who get things done.

We have mentors from:

  • Freifunk Firmware
  • OpenWrt GNU/Linux Distribution
  • Freifunk Kamikaze Firmware
  • Fraunhofer FOKUS
  • T-Labs
  • University of Rome

Our confirmed mentors are:

  • Sven Ola ( Freifunk Firmware)
  • Alexander Morlang (p2p in freifunk networks, Fraunhofer, Germany)
  • Thomas Hirsch (freimap, Fraunhofer, Germany)
  • Felix Fietkau (OpenWrt, Europe)
  • Frithjof Hammer (, Freifunk BNO, Germany)
  • Harald Schioeberg (t-labs, Germany)
  • Ramon Navarro Bosch (, Spain, former GSoC Plone student)
  • Xavi Martinez (, Spain)
  • Aaron Kaplan (, Austria)
  • Francesco Saverio Proto (, Italy)
  • Mikolas Bingemer (,, Germany, head of Software development of medium sized enterprise)
  • Jo-Philipp Wich (, Freifunk Leipzig Firmware, Germany)
  • Professor Andrea Detti (University Rome)

2. Who will your mentors be? Please enter their Google Account address separated by commas. If your organization is accepted we will email each mentor to invite them to take part. (optional)

  • data private

About The Program

1. What is your plan for dealing with disappearing students?

We will contact students regularly and support them in their projects as much as possible. We will have weekly meetings between students and mentors to keep students on track. In case students disappear, we will contact them firstly by email, then by telephone or other means. If our contact efforts do not succeed we will inform the Google Summer of Code team. If students permanently do not respond we will ask them to leave the program.

'2. What is your plan for dealing with disappearing mentors?

We will have two mentors for each student. As we have a long-term relationship with the proposed mentors, it is very unlikely that our mentors will disappear. In case of absences of mentors, students will still be able to contact us through mailing lists or telephone. Our dedicated mailing lists have a very short response time. Our backup organization administrator will also be able to provide an alternative mentor on short notice in case of illness or other problems.

3.What steps will you take to encourage students to interact with your project's community before, during and after the program?

We have numerous ways to encourage students to get involved and interact with our project's community. We will use our blog and wiki to inform students of the participation of the freifunk community in the GSoC project. After acceptance members of the community will additionally use their communication channels. We have several community support administrators who besides in English are partly also able to communicate with students in French, German, Italian, Russian and Chinese. We will subscribe the students to relevant mailing lists. Students will be personally presented by their mentors. The mentor will stay in regular contact with students and be available for questions and comments. Each student will keep a wiki page which shows the progress of the project. Personal meetings are an important part in the freifunk community. We invite students to our meetings. We have regular meetings of local developers mainly in different European cities and in the US (see in Germany e.g. We would like students to present their ideas here in person.

4. What will you do to ensure that your accepted students stick with the project after GSoC concludes?

We hope students will continue to participate with their projects after GSoC. Depending on the chosen project students will also get a subdomain and a project page thus giving other developers the opportunity in reviewing code and providing expertise. We have yearly get togethers of the international freifunk community like the Wireless Community Weekend in Berlin, the International Summit for Community Wireless Networks in Washington or the Wireless Meeting at the Annual Linux Conference in Melbourne. We welcome students to have a presentation here after GSOC. Following the completion of the project we support applications for other congresses or for publications. We will discuss ways to get students involved even more in the freifunk community and support them as much as possible. We could provide them with server space or a mailing list for their project if necessary. We also have well established contacts to the scientific community, as for example the Fraunhofer Institute FOKUS and TU Berlin in Berlin Germany, or the University of Rome, Italy, who might be interested in the work of students. Successful projects may be continued as thesis work or recognized as university project. Other ways of support for students can be discussed openly.

See Also