Vernetzungsprojekt des Wissenschaftsladen Dortmund e.V. seit 1991

About FREE!

Sorry, our websites are available in german only. This is due to the fact that most of our users speak german and translation requires an serious amount of effort. With this page, we would like to introduce our project to the english speaking people. Feel free to contact us in english.

What's up with FREE! ?

FREE! provides a lot of possibilities to use the net of nets for individuals, groups, associations or progressive commercial organizations:

  • Mailboxes
  • Webhosting
  • Domains
  • Mailing lists
  • CMS - Hosting (PHP, Zope)
  • Jails (virtual server)
  • Housing
  • Consulting

You don't know most of the above? That doesn't matter. A lot of people don't know what is possible. Contact us and ask.

FREE! does not have a fixed tariff list. (None the less, here are some reference points: mailbox from 3 € per month, website or mailing list from 5 € per month). Once we have checked with the new users which service they need and to which extent, we can estimate the fair share of the costs of running FREE!

If it is not possible for someone to pay for a part of the costs, she/he should use FREE! anyway. Who has less, donates less. And who has a reasonably normal job donates a bit more. It doesn't have to be a donation in the form of money. Donations could be a service (craft, mentoring, design of a new flyer, ...) or a material donation (hardware, tools, …).

Why FREE! ?

FREE! is not commercial, so there is no advertizing. FREE! gets no institutional money and therefore depends only on its users. FREE! is self-organized and self-owned. FREE! operates its infrastructure 100% with ecological electricity from Naturstrom and self-generated solar electricity. FREE! operates the infrastructure with free, open source software (FreeBSD and Linux/Debian). FREE! saves connection data from the users for, at most a normal backup cycle – if at all. After max. one week it will be erased. FREE! refuses snoopery and doesn't spy on your data and connections.

Internet - a cold war spin off

Most people think that the Internet is one big network. But it consists of a lot of autonomous nets (e.g. FREE! operates such an autonomous net). The decentralized structure of the Internet was a requirement of the US-American military. They wanted a failsafe com­munication network in which every subnetwork can take over the services of the others.

This architecture was designed through free communication among US-American research institutions: the standards for the transmission protocols for data exchange were freely accessible. They were discussed and developed in public by all participants of the growing net­work.

commerce, censorship, surveillance

As soon as the basic infrastructure was creat­ed, it was handed out to commercial carriers. The commercialization of the services and con­tents followed in the 1990s. Decreasing in number but bigger and bigger providers share the market Internet. The amount of collectable data from users' connections makes the Internet an ideal platform for governmental surveillance possibilities like in Orwell's "1984".

The Internet-infrastructure moves further and further away from the principle of decentraliza­tion. By now, the free communication through the Internet has mutated into online-banking/-shopping and virtual babble for a large part of the users. But it can be used differently. Important is the purpose of the user. Do I want to consume or dispose of a medium that makes communication and information possible across all borders?

0* € does not mean "no charge“

Commercial Internet services are often used without hesitation. Even progressive users for­get or repress the difference between free and no charge. They often use the 0*€ Internet services. But there should be no doubt that, for example, gmx or (which by the way belong to the same corporate group 'United Internet') do not do their job for fun or charity. How could gmx & Co be so generous? With the 0*€-offers, mailboxes, websites, and mails of the users are populated with sales messages; according to the motto 'something will stick'. The use of user data for marketing, spyng on people, more monopolization of the Internet, censorship and data retention – you get all this without charge from gmx & Co.

At the same time, the social and economical base for alternative projects is detracted. Emancipatory Internet projects couldn't exist or grow without support from the movements. And vice versa? In the face of adulation of state and capital in most of the media, owning media is an important aspect for all those who want to develop alternatives in society.

We support people

  • who want to use the net as a tool in emancipatory debates: for information, discussion and mobilization (strikes, demonstrations, flashmobs)
  • who want to organise and develop the technical possibilities on a local level by themselves (i.E. Linux User Group, hacker space, wireless community project, media project, ...)

We hope for many more Internet projects – in Dortmund and everywhere else. We want to give help for self-help, provide infrastructure and advice. We'd like to share the networking experiences which we have made since 1991.

participate, support

One part of establishing and operating the services of FREE! is done by the FREE!-boyz and -girlz. They do technical and administrative work - unpaid. The other part must be done by our users: with continuous donations, which are used for the costs of operating; i.e. for connectivity, energy, rooms and hardware.

The fact that FREE! needs money from the users may appear uncool in times of 0*€ offers. But only in this way is a free and self-determined operation of Internet services in the interest of all FREE! users possible.