I'm Efraim Flashner. I contribute to GNU Guix actively since around
I acknowledge and agree to the social contract and code of conduct.
I'm looking forward to a bright future :)
Efraim Flashner <efraim(a)flashner.co.il> אפרים פלשנר
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I'm David Thompson. I contribute to GNU Guile and GNU Guix.
Tangentially related, I was the Web Developer at the FSF back in
I acknowledge and agree to the social contract and code of conduct.
Thanks to everyone that has worked to set up the GNU Assembly. I
think it's a very positive step forward.
Now that we have a better underlying set of principles, and will possibly end up with a more mature environment, I wonder if it might be a good idea to invite some projects to be GNU projects.
In the past my projects became GNU projects because Stallman appreciated the work I did in early GNU stuff and had written me in 1996 saying:
> I'm willing to agree that to call them GNU software,
> because I trust that you're doing a good job
> and that they will be a credit to the GNU project.
but that idea of "hey, this person who has my ear is doing something, so I'll bless it" is not OK for our mature GNU project :-)
So I got to thinking about whether some projects that are key infrastructure, and a more modern version of such, might want to be GNU projects. Some end user ones as well.
I wonder if it might be possible to invite them to be part of the GNU Assembly. Two came to mind:
At the low-level end of the spectrum are the Meson build system, which makes a good bid at gently phasing out autotools (I'm beginning to do that phasing myself).
The other is https://lichess.org/ by Thibault Duplessis. For those who do not follow chess, lichess.org is a huge free software success story, and a real part of what kept the world going during the lockdown. There is an amazing lecture the author gives on lichess.org here:
which really shows his single-minded dedication to offering a free (as in freedom and as in cost) service. Licensing is spelled out in the way we love at: https://lichess.org/source
I was an FSF intern in 2010 (https://www.fsf.org/about/interns/2010/sdubois)
and contributed to the GNU social project early on. I haven't been active
in any GNU projects for a while, but I'm excited to see this initiative get
off the ground. I'm currently a contributor to some Drupal modules, which
are under the GPL.
turns out that publishing a GNU-related web site in a swirl of
public drama interrelating the free software community, GNU, and
the FSF poses a lot of questions. Who would have thought? :)
Until a few minutes ago only few assembly members were present on
the #gnuassembly IRC channel to respond to the many people who
joined to ask questions, pose concerns, veer off topic, and return
For the benefit of those who ask genuine questions and expect to
find assembly members on #gnuassembly I propose to temporarily
mute the channel (or whatever the appropriate name for the
corresponding IRC action is) until a time when we can guarantee
that enough assembly members are present to take questions and
correct misunderstandings that may be perpetuated (maliciously or
inadvertendly) by non-members. I also think that for those
curious newcomers it would be good to have some ops around to
ensure that inquiries can be handled without heckling from
I have resigned myself to being an unapologetic IRC noob for the
complete duration of my stay in this world, so if that involves
kicking everyone (sorry in advance!) I’m not opposed to it. I’d
like us to do this pretty soon because I can’t promise to be
around tomorrow and I’d like us to either communicate well or not
What do you all think?
Mark Wielaard <mark(a)klomp.org> skribis:
> On Mon, 2021-04-12 at 10:18 +0200, Ludovic Courtès wrote:
>> I’ve added you to the list of endorsers:
>> It seems we’re missing some of the newcomers though; Mark?
> That webpage was part of the bootstrapping effort for the GNU Social
> Contract which ended last year February (see the Timeline section on
> that page).
> Originally for bootstrapping reasons that was just for GNU maintainers
> as that term was defined in old GNU. I think if we want a "people" page
> on the new website we could add people there if they want, but I think
> it doesn't have to be very formal as long as it is clear that
> participation in the GNU Assembly is under the assumption that all
> participants endorse the goals of the GNU Social Contract.
Still, I think it would make sense to keep a public list of
participants/endorsers for transparency and also as an introduction.
On Thu, Apr 15, 2021 at 12:00:17AM +0000, assembly-request(a)lists.gnu.tools wrote:
> Date: Wed, 14 Apr 2021 17:31:35 +0200
> From: Ludovic Courtès <ludo(a)gnu.org>
> Subject: Re: New assembly member
> To: Jack Hill <jackhill(a)jackhill.us>
> Cc: Mark Wielaard <mjw(a)gnu.org>, assembly(a)lists.gnu.tools
> Message-ID: <87r1jcevc8.fsf(a)gnu.org>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
> Jack Hill <jackhill(a)jackhill.us> skribis:
> > I think it is confusing who should appear on the Software page. It
> > currently says "Maintainers of the following projects," but there are
> > people like me who are on the mailing list, but aren't maintainers for
> > whom this third step doesn't make sense (except for the introduction
> > bit, that seems great).
> > It seems promising to open up discussion of GNU to more project
> > participants than just the maintainers, but I can understand if that
> > isn't really what you were hoping for either. Having the website list
> > be a subset of the mailing list membership definitely makes sense to
> > me.
> > I subscribed to the mailing list because I think GNU working together
> > can bring unique benefits to the world of software, and wanted to help
> > this happen by bringing energy to the effort. However, I'm also
> > subscribed to the mailing list so that I can receive the discussions
> > in my mail rather than having to poll the archives. Between the
> > website and the mailing list I think we'll need to figure out how to
> > support people with different levels of engagement.
> All this makes a lot of sense to me.
> I think we should maintain a list of “participants” (eventually
> “members”) and the software page should reflect it. In that list, it
> can be useful to distinguish between maintainers and non-maintainers,
> mostly as a way to support those different levels of engagement.
> Anyhow, a few people subscribed and endorsed the social contract
> recently; if your name in this list, please tell whether you’d like to
> be listed on the software/people page:
> Frank Ch. Eigler
> Florian Weimer
> Jack Hill
> Leo Famulari
Please, put my name on the list.
By the way, I'll switch to "regular" mail delivery, rather than digests,
so I can reply properly in the future.
We do not yet have to have a detailed governance, but we should have a placeholder that shows that we are serious about doing this well.
My guess is that we are passed the point of no return for the former GNU project. The document someone pointed to about the "appointment for life" of the chief gnuisance makes it clear that nothing will happen there: it that document was created *after* the 2019 events. The FSF appears to be an echo chamber for its founder rather than what we wish it were, and that is unlikely to change.
I'd like to point to a couple of resources y'all might want to consider as we prepare our governance structure. One is an interview to Keith Packard (one of the authors of X and author of countless other free s/w projects, committed to both software freedom and good structures) in FLOSS Weekly:
he discusses the current matter, and also points out how x.org and freedesktop.org took example from examples of good governance. He ultimately points to the Gnome foundation as an example. (He also has cool comments on modern *technical* issues, like shared libraries and containers, that are worth being aware of and that go beyond most people's initial thinking of such things.)
(If anyone is interested in the history of how the Gnome foundation developed I can forward you the emails from that time.)
The other is the delightful book by Tamim Ansary, "The Invention of Yesterday" - one of those single-book world histories. He discusses constitutions, in the context of the US constitution if I remember well, and has a passage that goes something like this:
Every real-world constitution has two aspects. On the one hand it's a manual for running a country; on the other it's a treaty among all interests competing for advantage at the moment the constitution is created. [...] Some constitutions are more manual; some lean more toward treaty."
I like Ansary's framing of the matter. It doesn't really apply to us in any concrete sense. But it reminds us that we have a nice angle on the "treaty among all interests competing for advantage..." because our shared interest in software freedom is a massive keel that unites us, and the social contract and code of conduct are well embraced here. This allows us to craft a more straightforward "manual on how to run the GNU assembly".
A while ago I sent out an email with some detailed thoughts on GNU structure, and was delighted to see the tone the discussion took - I feel that we have something good here, the kind of GNU community that we need. I liked all the disagreements-with/clarifications-of my issues as much as the agreements :-)
The next step on the critical path seems to be:
Make sure that we have a convincing placeholder for governance, something like drafting a list of 4 or 5 people we have asked to draft the governance structure. That way the web page can convincingly state that we are working on that. A lot of this will depend on who wants to volunteer a solid bit of time on GNU assembly leadership :-)
(Note that if we become a Software Freedom Conservancy project, Conservancy will require a project leadership committee of some 3 people or more, so getting that in place will be important if we then submit a full package.)
Other things can probably wait, but we might want to write a preliminary letter to Conservancy. There is an evaluation committee meeting tomorrow (then one in a month) and getting a preliminary letter in would mean that some informal conversation in the evaluation committee would put us on Conservancy's radar.
Dear GNU Assembly,
Like many I’m astonished by the FSF’s decision to reinstate RMS (who
actually still had voting rights, I recently learned). To me, it’s a
betrayal, as if the forced resignation two years ago was a masquerade.
I support the call in the open letter to RMS¹ “for the removal of the
entire Board of the Free Software Foundation.” Until it has cleaned
house, this foundation can no longer pretend to represent the free
I also support the call to remove RMS “from all leadership positions,
including the GNU Project”, though I think we’ve gone past that: we
demanded that two years ago², but by creating this assembly, we affirmed
that GNU Project leadership is in our hands, collectively, as
maintainers and contributors to GNU.
Unfortunately, the letter also calls to “[r]efuse to contribute to
projects related to the FSF and RMS”. As Andy explained³, this is
something that’s hard for us to sign, as people who maintain and
contribute to “projects related to the FSF”.
Perhaps one workaround for this bug, so to speak, would be for us to
publish a statement expressing our support, reaffirming where we stand
wrt. “GNU leadership” and what it is we seek to build (as Mark wrote⁴),
and calling hackers to join us in building a landmark of free software
actively working to create a welcoming space for all.
Yes, it would be yet another statement in an already long list. But
we’re in a sweet spot and I think our voice needs to be heard. It’s an
opportunity to move forward on our agenda, too.
I've just joined the GNU Assembly and I'm here to introduce myself.
I joined the Guix project in 2015. Since then, I've paid close attention
to the role of GNU and FSF in the broader free software movement.
Based on these experiences, I perceive a lack of effective leadership
from GNU, despite a robust developer community and great software.
I'm happy to join the Assembly and endorse the GNU Social Contract 1.0.