[Pipet Devel] official GNU project status

J.W. Bizzaro bizzaro at bc.edu
Thu Mar 25 02:05:37 EST 1999


I've been mulling over the prospect of making The Loci Project part of the GNU
Project.  I had a number of questions, which I sent to the FSF, and below is
their reply.  What are your thoughts regarding this?  I can't see how we can
lose.  Maybe some of you are just RMS haters...?

bizzaro at bc.edu

 jwb> Quoting Georg from Issue #1:
 jwb> "The TrustCenter in Hamburg (Germany) [5] released its PKCS#11
 jwb> under the GPL and made it an official GNU Project [6]."

 jwb> What makes a project "an official GNU Project"?  What you wrote gives the
 jwb> impression that it was The TrustCenter's decision in this case.  But it
must of
 jwb> course be the FSF's decision.

This is a question that might be worth answering in the issue #3...

So you don't have to wait: here is your private answer. .-)

"Official GNU Projects" are projects that are "officially accredited"
by the FSF / GNU Project. The official GNU Projects are considered to
be part of the GNU System and they are distributed on the GNU CD-ROMs.

All GNU Projects follow the GNU coding guidelines (long commandline
options, a help available via "--help" and such) as can be viewed on
the GNU Webpage.

 jwb> Are all "GNU Projects" for the creation of the GNU OS and OS-related?  The
 jwb> gained this status but is not a program critical for the existence of an

All projects under the GPL or Lesser GPL may become "official GNU
Projects" as long as they are of interest for a group of people (just
one or two isn't enough..). As you already said: Not all GNU Projects
are neccessarily system-related.

 jwb> Also, are there restrictions to using "GNU" in a program name?  If someone
 jwb> their program "GNU CD Player or GCP", do they or must they have permission
 jwb> use "GNU"?

Well. There are not really restrictions on the usage of "GNU" in a
name although using GNU suggests a GNU affiliation and it would
probably be a good idea to use it only if you have an official GNU

How to make a project "an official GNU Project" is easy. Contact the
FSF / GNU Project and tell us what you are planning to do (or have
done already) and (optional) why you think it'd be interesting to have 
this as a part of the GNU System. In most cases we'll give you an
account on the GNU machines, offer you webspace for your project on
www.gnu.org/software/your-cool-gnu-project and welcome you in the GNU
community. :-)

 jwb> If a developer's project does become an accredited GNU project, what is
 jwb> developer expected to give to the FSF?  Particularly, does the FSF gain
 jwb> copyright or legal claim to the software?  

That is up to you. If you ask to make your project a GNU Project
you'll be asked whether you want to transfer your copyright to the
FSF. This is not neccessary, though. If you take my GNU Project, the
Xlogmaster, for instance: I still hold the copyright although it is an 
official GNU Project.

The only thing that is really "expected" from you is to comply to the
GNU coding standards which ensure that all applications have a similar 
"feel" to them (like everything should support the "--version" and
"--help" commandline options). Those are never strictly enforced -
it's more like something that "we would like you to do". Since those
standards are basically common sense I never had a problem to follow

We also encourage people to write clean code and write as much
documentation as possible. Again this is never enforced.

You will decide what happens to your project. Even after transferring
the copyright you'd become the maintainer of the package and would
determine it's course.

No matter how you decide yourself: You'll always stay the original
author and the maintainer as long as you want. The program will still
be "your baby". .-)

 jwb> And what is the developer expected to
 jwb> get from the FSF in return.

If you mean any monetary compensation: The FSF does not pay any money
for making things official GNU Projects - sometimes you'll find
announcements for special projects that might be funded by FSF money
but in general we won't pay an author to make something a GNU Project.

The other advantages are more than worth it in my eyes, though. You'll 
get an account on the GNU machines (together with a nifty 
"yourchoice at gnu.org" email address). You will be able to access GNU
internal mailinglists and your project can have it's own homepage on
www.gnu.org. If you want you can get a GNU Mailinglist and/or
Newsgroup (gnu.your.project) for your program.

Your project will be on the GNU CD-ROMs and ftp.gnu.org plus all it's

What I consider very pleasing myself is the feeling to have "given
back" something to the community that allowed me to use all this cool
software before. 

 jwb> Thank you for answering my questions!

No problem. Hope my answers helped you a bit.


J.W. Bizzaro                  mailto:bizzaro at bc.edu
Boston College Chemistry      http://www.uml.edu/Dept/Chem/Bizzaro/

Studies show that 93% of all people are below average.

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