Kicking off the GNU Assembly

The GNU Assembly — April 16, 2021

Hi there! We’re excited to kick off the GNU Assembly and its web site! This place intends to be a collaboration platform for the developers of GNU packages who are all “hacking for user freedom” and who share a vision for the umbrella project.

Truth be told, this is an old story finally becoming a reality. Almost ten years ago, Andy Wingo (of GNU Guile) emailed GNU maintainers:

From: Andy Wingo
Subject: [gnu-prog-discuss] An experimental GNU Assembly
To: gnu-prog-discuss <>
Date: Sat, 12 Nov 2011 19:32:09

Greetings, GNU maintainers.

At the last GNU Hacker's Meeting in Paris, we talked a lot about the
social structure of the GNU project.  There was broad consensus that the
GNU project would be healthier and more effective if GNU maintainers had
the ability to act collectively, beyond our capacities in our individual

This mail is an attempt to take concrete steps in that direction.  I'm
trying to reflect the consensus we reached in Paris, though the words
are mine only.

In brief, I would like to propose an experiment: the creation of a new
forum for collective decision-making in the GNU project.  This "GNU
Assembly" (or whatever we call it) will discuss topics relevant to the
GNU project, with the goal of producing technical recommendations
through a process of consensus-building.

The major organ of the GNU Assembly will be a new mailing list, with
public archives.  The details of the discussion and
recommendation-producing structure should be worked out on that list.

Ideally I would like for all core GNU contributors to participate in
this experiment.  Following Debian's example, GNU Assembly members
should first agree on a founding document of principles.  This document
should be short and sweet: something about the four freedoms, preference
for copyleft, and mutual respect among assembly members.

Please give your reactions on this list.  Eventually this discussion
should be archived publicly, so please start a new thread if you do not
want your message archived on the new list, and mark it as such.

If there is agreement, I would like to start work on a draft Social
Contract within the week, and open a new mailing list

Let's give it a go!

Yours in free software,


Why this did not happen “within the week” belongs to the past; everything in this message describes our effort today. We came up with a founding document last year through a transparent discussion process, followed by a formal endorsement period, after which we set up the Assembly mailing list. This mailing list is a safe space where the group discusses its organization and governance.

Currently, the GNU Assembly consists of maintainers and developers from about 30 packages—old and young, small and big. You too can join us!