Dear GNU maintainer,
You are receiving this message because you are listed as responsible for
a GNU package in the ‘maintainers’ file on fencepost.gnu.org. If you
think this is inaccurate, or if you no longer want to be contacted about
this initiative, please let us know about it.
The authors of this message have started an effort to devise a GNU
“social contract”. We hope the social contract will help build a shared
understanding of our mission as part of GNU.
Work has been on-going on the public gnu-misc-discuss mailing list since
October 2019, with comments from several GNU volunteers, in the “GNU
social contract” threads below:
A first draft resulting from these discussions is attached below and can
be seen at:
The goal of this document is to state the core values GNU maintainers
and uploaders and contributors who have endorsed it are committed to
uphold. It is both an agreement among us, GNU contributors, and a
pledge to the broader free software community. Additionally, we think
it can be a first step towards formalizing a transparent and collective
governance of the GNU Project.
We are sending this message to all the GNU volunteers responsible for a
GNU package for which we have the contact information so that they can
take part in the making of the GNU Social Contract. We hope you can
share this with other members of your project for the next step (see
below). The proposed timeline is the following:
1. By February 9th, 2020, we invite you to send feedback about the
draft GNU Social Contract to firstname.lastname@example.org (you first
need to subscribe at
Please introduce yourself as GNU maintainer. Note that up to 400
maintainers might contribute to the discussions; make sure that
your contributions are focused and to-the-point. Alternately, you
can choose to email your feedback privately to
We also encourage you to discuss this topic on your project’s
channels during that time to get some feedback whether other
members would be willing to endorse the GNU Social Contract or
would like improvements to the text before doing so.
2. On February 10th, we will upload an updated version of the Social
Contract, version 1.0, to <https://wiki.gnu.tools/gnu:social-contract>.
3. We ask you to send a message, by February 24th, preferably signed
with your OpenPGP key, to email@example.com and
firstname.lastname@example.org, containing one of the following
• I, maintainer of package X, endorse version 1.0 of the GNU
Social Contract, available at
• I, maintainer of package X, do not adhere to version 1.0 of the
GNU Social Contract, available at
4. In the following days, we will publish at
<https://wiki.gnu.tools/gnu:social-contract-endorsement> the list
of GNU package maintainers who endorse as well as those who reject
version 1.0 of the GNU Social Contract.
One of the next action items we may collectively undertake at the end
of this process is defining “membership” in the GNU Project. This, in
turn, will allow us to ask all the project members (including sysadmins,
web masters, developers) whether they would endorse the GNU Social
Thanks in advance for your participation!
- Ludovic Courtès
- Andreas Enge
- Carlos O’Donell
- Mark Wielaard
- Andy Wingo
GNU Social Contract [DRAFT]
This document states the core commitments of the GNU Project to the
broader free software community. All current GNU Project members
have agreed to uphold these values.
The purpose of the GNU Project is to provide software and systems that
respect users' freedoms.
# GNU respects users' freedoms
We provide software that guarantees to users the four essential freedoms,
0. The freedom to run the program as they wish, for any purpose.
1. The freedom to study how the program works, and change it so it does
their computing as they wish.
Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
2. The freedom to redistribute copies so they can help others.
3. The freedom to distribute copies of their modified versions to others.
By doing this they can give the whole community a chance to benefit
from their changes.
Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
All software written by us is distributed under copyleft licenses, designed
to ensure that developers cannot strip off users' freedom from GNU software.
Besides upholding the four essential freedoms, we pay attention and respond
to new threats to users' freedom as they arise, such as services as a
software substitute (SaaSS), use of non-free scripts on web pages, mass
surveillance, digital restrictions management (DRM), etc.
# GNU provides consistent systems
We develop an operating system and a set of applications, in the form of
GNU packages. GNU package developers work together to ensure consistency
across packages. GNU packages follow the design and development guidelines
of the GNU Project.
# GNU collaborates with the broader free software community
Free software has extended beyond the GNU Project, and we work with
companion free software projects that develop key components of our system.
We aim to extend the reach of free software to new fields.
# GNU welcomes contributions from all and everyone
We want to give everyone the opportunity to contribute to our efforts
on any of the many tasks that require work. We welcome all contributors,
regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, level of
experience, or any other personal characteristics. We commit to providing
a harassment-free experience for all our contributors.