Mark Wielaard <mjw(a)gnu.org> skribis:
> # Meta-question: why so much confusion around GNU/FSF?
> Good question! A common belief is that GNU and the Free Software
> Foundation (FSF) are the same thing. This is untrue: GNU is not a
> registered non-profit, it’s an informal association among contributors,
> separate from the FSF. The FSF is oblivious to technical matters in
> The FSF supports GNU development primarily in three ways: by taking care
> of copyright assignments (for the few GNU packages that require it), as
> a [fiscal sponsor](https://www.fsf.org/working-together/fund)
for a few
> projects, and by providing infrastructure like
> [Savannah](https://savannah.gnu.org). For the most part, the FSF
> “supports GNU development” in the same way that Microsoft “supports” the
> development of projects hosted on GitHub.
I think this is missing that the FSF is the projects legal guardian
(copyright assignments is just part of that), there are various legal
challenges that the FSF helps with (patents, copyright disputes,
guidance one resources/code/specifications that can be used, being the
legal representatives for projects that need some service contract or
work for hire to be done, etc.)
Note “primarily” and “for the most part”; copyright assignment is
How can we keep it short while addressing your concerns?
Please just drop the Microsoft/GitHub analogy. The analogy isn't
accurate. It doesn't really make things more clear, just invites
speculation how that analogy really works.
For context, there’s a widespread belief that somehow, the FSF funds GNU
development, which can even be seen in free software circles:
One project participant [Guix] in Outreachy's May 2021 round planned
to rely on FSF funding.
Guix funds are at the FSF, but Guix is not “relying on FSF funding”.
The FSF fundraising campaigns also fuel the confusion, because they
often mention support of the GNU Project in some way. The analogy above
is one way to acknowledge that yes, the FSF helps GNU development, but
“for the most part” it does that in a way comparable to Microsoft.
That said, if there’s consensus, I have nothing against dropping the
GitHub analogy; I thought it would be helpful but we can do without.
> # Is this backed by FSF/OSI/SFC/XYZ?
> No, it’s not! The Assembly was founded by GNU maintainers and
> contributors and receive no support, financial or otherwise, from any
> three-letter-acronym organization. Evil Corp™ isn’t helping either.
> # Is this _against_ FSF/OSI/SFC/XYZ?
> Nope! The Assembly is not a _reaction_ to the three-letter acronym of
> your choice—it’s first and foremost a _constructive_ project.
> Is it at odds with the three-letter acronym you have in mind? Maybe!
> But we’re interested in _building_ something more than in arguing about
> what others are doing.
I don't like the tone/wording of this. It is also vague what exactly
the question is. First OSI is different from the FSF and SFC in that
they are not an umbrella organization for Free Software projects. You
might want to replace it with SPI (and drop the XYZ) then at least it
is a consistent set of 3-letter acronyms.
Then Evil Copr is "funny" but not really helping here either. Why is it
even in there? Are you answering a different question?
To complement what Ricardo wrote, the accusation that this is driven by
Red Hat employees has been seen in the wild:
There’s also been other conspiracy theories that look equally funny to
me (literally), and I think it’s fine to make fun of it.
I think the question is something like:
# Is the GNU Assembly and initiative of the FSF/SPI/SFC or a specific
I’d leave the SPI folks at peace. :-)
No, it’s not! The Assembly was founded by GNU maintainers and
contributors and receive no support, financial or otherwise, from any
organization at this time. We did talk to the FSF to get support, but
they have ignored us for the last couple of years. At the moment the
initiative uses the resources of the individuals listed. We will
publicly list anybody or any organization that provides us with
resources to be completely transparent.
I’d remove the “We did talk to the FSF” sentence because it would need
more elaboration like Ricardo wrote, and because it doesn’t stick to the
mantra of being positive. :-) (I mean, we _could_ write very negative
things about the fsf-and-gnu initiative in 2019 and generally how the
FSF handled this; but I don’t think anyone needs more drama today.)
Apart from this sentence, it’s fine with me!