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GNU - Principles and Guidelines (was: Re: A GNU “social contract”?)

From: Andreas R.
Subject: GNU - Principles and Guidelines (was: Re: A GNU “social contract”?)
Date: Mon, 30 Dec 2019 22:25:56 +0100
User-agent: NeoMutt/20170113 (1.7.2)


This writing, "GNU - Principles and Guidelines", is based on Andreas Elke's 
preliminary version 
(draft posted on 1 Nov 2019) of a general and concise document that states some 
guidelines ("GNU Social Contract") 
which came with a request for feedback. 

In response to that request, earlier on-list feedback, and expressed support 
for having a couple of 
succinct documents that describe the structure and mission of the GNU project, 
I composed a version 
based on Andreas Elke's draft that attempts to address some of the problems 
that were raised.

This amended version:

- is closer to the situation as it currently exists and as such should need no 
additional agreement 
or undersigning of existing maintainers since it should describe the status quo.

- retains the position of trust and authority of the FSF instead of placing it 
with the GNU 
maintainers (thereby working around the hitherto unaddressed  problem that GNU 
maintainers--outside of
adhering the the licensing of their package--need to have no affinity or even 
an interest in Free Software).

- guarantees GNU maintainers can continue to work on the project as a loosely 
associated group of hackers 
if they so desire even though a more regimented approach can be implemented 
within each seperate component
or package.

Comments and questions are, of course, more than welcome.



GNU - Principles and Guidelines

This document states the obligations of the GNU Project and the core principles 
the project is based on.

* The GNU system

The purpose of the GNU Project is to create and maintain a body of software
(the GNU Operating System, or GNU system) that respects the software users's 
where "users's freedom" is defined by the four essential software freedoms of 
which the
definition is maintained by the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

The four essential software freedoms are:

  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.

Unless the FSF deems a different license more beneficial to the advancement of 
free software
in a particular instance, all GNU maintainers are urged to distribute their GNU 
packages under 
copyleft licenses with prejudice towards a current (or later) version of one of 
the GNU 
copyleft license family.

* The GNU Project provides a consistent system

Each software component developed by the GNU Project is referred to as a GNU 
package.  GNU package 
developers should work together to ensure consistency across packages.  GNU 
packages should follow 
the design and development guidelines of the GNU Project.

* The GNU Project and the free software community

The GNU project stakeholders are all users of the GNU system as represented by 
the FSF. As such, an 
FSF-sponsored maintainer for the GNU system as a whole (the Chief GNUisance) 
will ensure the GNU Project 
adheres to FSF guidelines pertaining to the GNU project in particular and 
software freedom in general.

* GNU Maintainers and the GNU Project

GNU maintainers have no obligations towards the GNU project or the FSF outside 
those set forth in the 
"Information for Maintainers of GNU Software" document.

Outside of technical matters and a general disposition in favour of software 
freedom, the GNU Project 
as a single identifiable entity holds or propagates no opinions as its own. 

* Contributing to GNU

The GNU Project encourages contributions from anyone who wishes to advance the 
development of the GNU 
system, regardless of gender, race, ethnic group, physical appearance, 
religion, cultural background, 
and any other demographic characteristics, as well as personal political views.

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