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Re: A GNU “social contract”?

From: Andreas Enge
Subject: Re: A GNU “social contract”?
Date: Mon, 28 Oct 2019 21:28:26 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.12.1 (2019-06-15)

Hello all,

thanks to Ludovic for posting a first concrete suggestion! I agree with
Mark's comments on removing the links, although I also think it was good to
have them in the first version put up for comments - it helps with the
bootstrapping process, showing that what is proposed is in line with the
current GNU project.

What is missing, however, is, right at the beginning, a statement of mission;
I think this is so because you essentially assumed it was understood as
granted... I would put this as the very first paragraph, before the bullet
list with more detailed points. Maybe something like this, inspired by the
starting words on, "What is GNU?" :

"The purpose of the GNU project is to provide an entirely free operating

I also like the next few sentences on, which could be used to
clarify the point about licenses:
"The GNU operating system consists of GNU packages (programs specifically
released by the GNU Project) as well as free software released by third
Then we could explain that GNU packages need to be released under copyleft
licenses, while third party software only needs to be released under free

But maybe this requires more discussion, since some of you seem to think
that GNU should have a broader mission statement?

I think we also need to define the terms "GNU something" more clearly.
Above, we have "GNU project", "GNU operating system" and "GNU packages".
For me, once a GNU social contract (and I really like the term, I think it
is in line with Rousseau's concept!) has been installed, the "GNU project"
are all the people who work on furthering the goal set up in the social
contract, and who explicitly agreed to it. This includes all the people
Brandon mentioned in his message. These would be the safeguards of the
social contract.
The "GNU operating system" is clear then, it is the system created and
distributed by the GNU project.
A "GNU package" would be one of the software packages created inside the
GNU project, as opposed to the third party software that we also need to
arrive at a complete operating system.

The bullet points would then just serve for fleshing out the things. For
instance, we need to give the definition of what we understand by "free".
I think it would be good to explicitly copy-paste the four freedoms; these
are really the core of the endeavour, and they are sufficiently concise.

What do you think? I would volunteer to formulate in a few days a new
version taking the discussion into account.


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