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A GNU “social contract”?

From: Ludovic Courtès
Subject: A GNU “social contract”?
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2019 15:56:11 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/26.3 (gnu/linux)


Mark Wielaard <> skribis:

> Right. I think what is being objected to is a GNU Social Contract that
> would contain something like this part of the Debian Social Contract

Looking at the form of Debian’s Social Contract, its conciseness and
clarity, I was inspired to think about a few points that would summarize
GNU’s mission and workings in a way that would hopefully be rather
consensual among maintainers (I’d like to draw attention to the six
headings, not necessarily on the detailed wording.)



Proposal of a “GNU Social Contract”

This document states the core commitments of the GNU Project to the
broader free software community.  All current GNU package maintainers
have agreed to uphold these values.

* GNU is software that respects the freedom of computer users

GNU is software that will always guarantee 
[[][the four essential freedoms]]
of computer users.  Because GNU is about user freedom, the GNU Project
refers to GNU as 
software”, not “open source”]].  The GNU Project
[[][does not compromise on user 

* GNU licenses uphold user freedom

The GNU Project has designed software licenses to ensure developers
cannot strip off user freedom from GNU 
software—[[][“copyleft” licenses]].
GNU software is distributed under the terms of these licenses.

* GNU is a consistent operating system and set of applications

The GNU Project [[][develops an operating 
system]] as well as a set of
applications—the “GNU packages”.  GNU package developers work to 
packages consistent and to ensure they work well together]].  GNU packages
should follow the project’s design and development guidelines, in
particular those embodied in the 
[[][GNU Coding Standards]] and the
[[][Information for Maintainers of 
GNU Software]].

* GNU cares for computer user freedom beyond software

Computer users can be free if they use software that respects their four
essential freedoms, but also if that software is loyal to them.  The GNU
Project pays attention to and responds to new threats to user freedom as
they arise, such as 
[[][distribution of non-free
software via the Web]], 
[[][digital restrictions 
(DRM)]], and more.

* GNU collaborates with the broader free software community

Over time, free software has extended beyond the GNU Project, and the
GNU Project naturally works with companion free software projects that
have been developing key components of a typical GNU system.  The GNU
Project supports developments that aim to extend the reach of free
software to new fields.

* GNU welcomes contributions from all and everyone

The GNU Project produces software for anyone to use, but also wants to
give everyone the opportunity to contribute to its efforts—be it as
software developers, web masters, translators, speakers, system
administrators, or on any of the many tasks that contribute to GNU.

The Project welcomes everyone regardless of their gender, ethnicity,
sexual orientation, level of experience, or any other personal
characteristics.  The GNU Project commits to providing a harassment-free
experience for all its contributors.

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