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 email@example.com (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 firstname.lastname@example.org and
email@example.com, 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]
These are the core commitments of the GNU Project to the broader free
software community. The GNU Project provides a software system that
respect users' freedoms.
# The GNU Project respects users' freedoms
The GNU Project provides software that guarantees to all users the
_Four Essential Freedoms_, without compromise:
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.
2. The freedom to redistribute copies so they can help others.
3. The freedom to distribute copies of their modified versions to others.
The GNU Project adopts policies that encourage and enable developers
to actively defend user freedom. These policies include using
_copyleft licenses_, designed to ensure that users’ freedoms cannot be
stripped off, when appropriate.
Besides upholding the Four Essential Freedoms, the GNU Project pays attention
and responds to new threats to users' freedom as they arise.
# The GNU Project provides a consistent system
The GNU Project develops an operating system, the _GNU System_, as well as
a set of applications. Each software component developed by the GNU Project
is referred to as a _GNU package_. GNU package developers work together to
ensure consistency across packages.
# The GNU Project collaborates with the broader free software community
Free software extends beyond the GNU Project, which works with
companion free software projects that develop key components of the
GNU System. The GNU Project aims to extend the reach of free software
to new fields.
# The GNU Project welcomes contributions from all and everyone
The GNU Project wants to give everyone the opportunity of contributing to
its efforts on any of the many tasks that require work. It welcomes all
contributors, regardless of their gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation,
level of experience, or any other personal characteristics. It commits to
providing a harassment-free experience for all contributors.