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Re: A GNU “social contract”?

From: Ludovic Courtès
Subject: Re: A GNU “social contract”?
Date: Fri, 01 Nov 2019 12:04:13 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.3 (gnu/linux)

Hi Andreas,

Andreas Enge <> skribis:

> 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.

Good point!

> 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
> system."

To better match reality, I would write: “… to provide an entirely free
operating system and free applications.”

Or: “… is to contribute to an entirely free operating system and to
develop applications.”

Regarding “free” and the fact that it’s not defined yet, I would
actually rather write: “… is to develop an operating system and
applications that respect user freedom.”

> 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
> parties."
> 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
> licenses.

How does “third-party software” relate to the GNU Project?  There’s some
connection with “the GNU operating system”, because it supposedly
includes third-party software, but that doesn’t sound like a central
concern for the project to me.  WDYT?

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

To me the social contract should talk about the project and its goals
more than about the software.  The “user freedom” goal is set in stone
whereas software could be a moving target.

> I think we also need to define the terms "GNU something" more clearly.

I think the version I sent defined “GNU packages”, for instance, quite
clearly, no?  It doesn’t the use any other phrase like “GNU operating
system”, which has the advantage that we don’t have to define them.

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

Sure, that’d be great!


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