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[GNU-linux-libre] Next Steps for gNewSense

From: Matt Lee
Subject: [GNU-linux-libre] Next Steps for gNewSense
Date: Tue, 6 Aug 2019 17:02:15 -0400

Hello, I'm Matt Lee, I've recently taken over maintaining
gNewSense from Sam, and I'd like to share a few of my
thoughts on the project and where I'd like to take things.

For those who don't know me, I'm Matt Lee: former FSF
campaigns manager, former technical lead at Creative
Commons and the founder of the GNU Network and the GNU FM
( and GNU social projects. I also wrote and
produced the short film, "Happy Birthday to GNU" with
Stephen Fry where he recommends gNewSense.

I have a vision for desktop GNU/Linux that is unfulfilled.

I want a default experience on a desktop to be opinionated
and well thought out. I want a distinct set of packages
that can be used by mere mortals without knowing about GNU
or Linux or free software. I call it 'Skeleton', because
there are simply no bones about it.

I also want developers to be able to have the best
possible experience, and I want to see GNU/Linux used on

Regarding gNewSense -- historically, we have been in a
position where we strive to produce a distribution that
makes Debian GNU/Linux (or Ubuntu, if you go back far
enough) available to people in the default state. Packages
were removed and activities that endangered user freedom
were curtailed, but little was added to Debian's excellent
output in terms of decisions or improvements.

To that end, I wish to strive for the following
improvements to gNewSense:

* Release four distinct versions of gNewSense, including a
  distribution that includes a subset of packages for a
  focused user experience, one that is essentially vanilla
  Debian with our freedom improvements, a developer
  edition with the latest and greatest GNU development
  tools, and a server edition that is based on the work of
  the Devuan community.

* Number our releases after the Debian releases.

* Use modern infrastructure and development tools like
  GitLab CE.

* Make updates available outside of the Debian upstream
  for things we care about: GNU development tools, web
  browsers, programs like XScreenSaver, etc.

* Have outstanding and beautiful documentation for our
  improvements to the community.

* Improve communication between users and developers of
  gNewSense with regular updates, newsletters and demos.

* Work with the broader free software and free culture
  communities to bring the best of our community to gNS.

* Explore supporting architectures beyond what we
  currently support to bring new users into our community.

* Have a richer online community, with a community forum
  in addition to mailing lists so that users who are new
  to free software can feel like they have a voice.

All of things will require commitment and work from our
community, and I would love to hear from all users and
developers who are interested in helping me take gNewSense
forward into the future.

I want to thank Sam for all the work over the years since
taking over gNewSense, and I welcome all questions, ideas
and suggestions on improving things.

I will be posting this on our website too, and I encourage
anyone with feedback to write to <address@hidden> or hit me
up on IRC.

I have already begun migrating things from the old wiki to
a GitLab CE wiki, so please let me know on IRC if would
like an account on GitLab.


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