view doc/maintain.texi @ 7376:5b76a3b030e7

author Karl Berry <>
date Wed, 27 Sep 2006 07:37:50 +0000
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\input texinfo.tex    @c -*-texinfo-*-
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@settitle Information For Maintainers of GNU Software
@c For double-sided printing, uncomment:
@c @setchapternewpage odd
@c This date is automagically updated when you save this file:
@set lastupdate September 26, 2006
@c %**end of header

@dircategory GNU organization
* Maintaining: (maintain).        Maintaining GNU software.
@end direntry

@setchapternewpage off

@c Put everything in one index (arbitrarily chosen to be the concept index).
@syncodeindex fn cp
@syncodeindex ky cp
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Information for maintainers of GNU software, last updated @value{lastupdate}.

Copyright (C) 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000,
2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Free Software Foundation, Inc.

Permission is granted to make and distribute verbatim copies
of this entire document without royalty provided the
copyright notice and this permission notice are preserved.
@end quotation
@end copying

@title Information For Maintainers of GNU Software
@author Richard Stallman
@author last updated @value{lastupdate}
@vskip 0pt plus 1filll
@end titlepage


@node Top
@top Version

@end ifnottex

* Preface::
* Stepping Down::
* Recruiting Developers::
* Legal Matters::
* Clean Ups::
* Platforms::
* Mail::
* Old Versions::
* Distributions::
* Web Pages::
* Ethical and Philosophical Consideration::
* Terminology::
* Hosting::
* Free Software Directory::
* Using the Proofreaders List::
* Index::
@end menu

@node Preface
@chapter About This Document

This file contains guidelines and advice for someone who is the
maintainer of a GNU program on behalf of the GNU Project.  Everyone is
entitled to change and redistribute GNU software; you need not pay
attention to this file to get permission.  But if you want to maintain a
version for widespread distribution, we suggest you follow these
guidelines; if you would like to be a GNU maintainer, then it is
essential to follow these guidelines.

Please send corrections or suggestions for this document to
@email{}.  If you make a suggestion, please include
a suggested new wording for it, to help us consider the suggestion
efficiently.  We prefer a context diff to the @file{maintain.texi} file,
but if you don't have that file, you can make a context diff for some
other version of this document, or propose it in any way that makes it

This document uses the gender-neutral third-person pronouns ``person'',
``per'', ``pers'' and ``perself'' which were promoted, and perhaps
invented, by Marge Piercy in @cite{Woman on the Edge of Time}.  They are
used just like ``she'', ``her'', ``hers'' and ``herself'', except that
they apply equally to males and females.  For example, ``Person placed
per new program under the GNU GPL, to let the public benefit from per
work, and to enable per to feel person has done the right thing.''

The directory @file{/gd/gnuorg} is found on the GNU file server,
currently @code{}; if you are the maintainer of a GNU
package, you should have an account there.  Contact
@email{} if you don't have one.  (You can also ask
for accounts for people who help you a large amount in working on the
package.)  @file{/gd/gnuorg/maintain.tar.gz} is a tar file containing
all of these files in that directory which are mentioned in this file;
it is updated daily.

This release of the GNU Maintenance Instructions was last updated

@node Stepping Down
@chapter Stepping Down

With good fortune, you will continue maintaining your package for many
decades.  But sometimes for various reasons maintainers decide to step

If you're the official maintainer of a GNU package and you decide to
step down, please inform the GNU Project (@email{}).
We need to know that the package no longer has a maintainer, so we can
look for and appoint a new maintainer.

If you have an idea for who should take over, please tell
@email{} your suggestion.  The appointment of a new
maintainer needs the GNU Project's confirmation, but your judgment that
a person is capable of doing the job will carry a lot of weight.

As your final act as maintainer, it would be helpful to set up the
package under @code{} (@pxref{Old Versions}).  This will
make it much easier for the new maintainer to pick up where you left off
and will ensure that the CVS tree is not misplaced if it takes us a
while to find a new maintainer.

@node Recruiting Developers
@chapter Recruiting Developers

Unless your package is a fairly small, you probably won't do all the
work on it yourself.  Most maintainers recruit other developers to help.

Sometimes people will offer to help.  Some of them will be capable,
while others will not.  It's up to you to determine who provides useful
help, and encourage those people to participate more.

Some of the people who offer to help will support the GNU Project, while
others may be interested for other reasons.  Some will support the goals
of the Free Software Movement, but some may not.  They are all welcome
to help with the work---we don't ask people's views or motivations
before they contribute to GNU packages.

As a consequence, you cannot expect all contributors to support the GNU
Project, or to have a concern for its policies and standards.  So part
of your job as maintainer is to exercise your authority on these points
when they arise.  No matter how much of the work other people do, you
are in charge of what goes in the release.  When a crucial point arises,
you should calmly state your decision and stick to it.

Sometimes a package has several co-maintainers who share the role of
maintainer.  Unlike developers who help, co-maintainers have actually
been appointed jointly as the maintainers of the package, and they carry
out the maintainer's functions together.  If you would like to propose
some of your developers as co-maintainers, please contact

@node Legal Matters
@chapter Legal Matters
@cindex legal matters

This chapter describes procedures you should follow for legal reasons
as you maintain the program, to avoid legal difficulties.

* Copyright Papers::
* Legally Significant::
* Recording Contributors::
* Copyright Notices::
* License Notices::
* External Libraries::
@end menu

@node Copyright Papers
@section Copyright Papers
@cindex copyright papers

If you maintain an FSF-copyrighted package
certain legal procedures are required when incorporating legally significant
changes written by other people.  This ensures that the FSF has the
legal right to distribute the package, and the standing to defend its
GPL-covered status in court if necessary.

@strong{Before} incorporating significant changes, make sure that the
person who wrote the changes has signed copyright papers and that the
Free Software Foundation has received and signed them.  We may also need
a disclaimer from the person's employer.

@cindex data base of GNU copyright assignments
To check whether papers have been received, look in
@file{/gd/gnuorg/copyright.list}.  If you can't look there directly,
@email{} can check for you.  Our clerk can also
check for papers that are waiting to be entered and inform you when
expected papers arrive.

@cindex @file{/gd/gnuorg} directory
@c This paragraph intentionally duplicates information given
@c near the beginning of the file--to make sure people don't miss it.
The directory @file{/gd/gnuorg} is found on the GNU machines,
currently @code{}; if you are the maintainer of a GNU
package, you should have an account on them.  Contact
@email{} if you don't have one.  (You can also ask
for accounts for people who help you a large amount in working on the

In order for the contributor to know person should sign papers, you need
to ask for the necessary papers.  If you don't know per well, and you
don't know that person is used to our ways of handling copyright papers,
then it might be a good idea to raise the subject with a message like

Would you be willing to assign the copyright to the Free Software
Foundation, so that we could install it in @var{program}?
@end quotation


Would you be willing to sign a copyright disclaimer to put this change
in the public domain, so that we can install it in @var{program}?
@end quotation

If the contributor wants more information, you can send per
@file{/gd/gnuorg/conditions.text}, which explains per options (assign
vs.@: disclaim) and their consequences.

Once the conversation is under way and the contributor is ready for
more details, you should send one of the templates that are found in
the directory @file{/gd/gnuorg/Copyright/}; they are also available
from the @file{doc/Copyright/} directory of the @code{gnulib} project
at @url{}.  This section
explains which templates you should use in which circumstances.
@strong{Please don't use any of the templates except for those listed
here, and please don't change the wording.}

Once the conversation is under way, you can send the contributor the
precise wording and instructions by email.  Before you do this, make
sure to get the current version of the template you will use!  We change
these templates occasionally---don't keep using an old version.

For large changes, ask the contributor for an assignment.  Send per a
copy of the file @file{request-assign.changes}.  (Like all the
@samp{request-} files, it is in @file{/gd/gnuorg/Copyright} and in

For medium to small changes, request a disclaimer by sending per the
file @file{request-disclaim.changes}.

If the contributor is likely to keep making changes, person might want
to sign an assignment for all per future changes to the program.  So it
is useful to offer per that alternative.  If person wants to do it that
way, send per the @file{request-assign.future}.

When you send a @file{request-} file, you don't need to fill in anything
before sending it.  Just send the file verbatim to the contributor.  The
file gives per instructions for how to ask the FSF to mail per the
papers to sign.  The @file{request-} file also raises the issue of
getting a copyright disclaimer from the contributor's employer.

When the contributor emails the form to the FSF, the FSF sends per
papers to sign.  If person signs them right away, the whole process
takes about two weeks--mostly waiting for letters to go back and

For less common cases, we have template files you should send to the
contributor.  Be sure to fill in the name of the person and the name
of the program in these templates, where it says @samp{NAME OF PERSON}
and @samp{NAME OF PROGRAM}, before sending; otherwise person might
sign without noticing them, and the papers would be useless.  Note
that in some templates there is more than one place to put the name of
the program or the name of the person; be sure to change all of them.
All the templates raise the issue of an employer's disclaimer as well.

@cindex legal papers for changes in manuals
You do not need to ask for separate papers for a manual that is
distributed only in the software package it describes.  But if we
sometimes distribute the manual separately (for instance, if we publish
it as a book), then we need separate legal papers for changes in the
manual.  For smaller changes, use
@file{disclaim.changes.manual}; for larger ones, use
@file{assign.changes.manual}.  To cover both past and future
changes to a manual, you can use @file{assign.future.manual}.
For a translation of a manual, use @file{assign.translation.manual}.

If a contributor is reluctant to sign an assignment for a large change,
and is willing to sign a disclaimer instead, that is acceptable, so you
should offer this alternative if it helps you reach agreement.  We
prefer an assignment for a larger change, so that we can enforce the GNU
GPL for the new text, but a disclaimer is enough to let us use the text.

If you maintain a collection of programs, occasionally someone will
contribute an entire separate program or manual that should be added to
the collection.  Then you can use the files
@file{request-assign.program}, @file{disclaim.program},
@file{assign.manual}, and @file{disclaim.manual}.  We very much prefer
an assignment for a new separate program or manual, unless it is quite
small, but a disclaimer is acceptable if the contributor insists on
handling the matter that way.

If a contributor wants the FSF to publish only a pseudonym, that is
ok.  The contributor should say this, and state the desired pseudonym,
when answering the @file{request-} form.  The actual legal papers will
use the real name, but the FSF will publish only the pseudonym.  When
using one of the other forms, fill in the real name but ask the
contributor to discuss the use of a pseudonym with
@email{} before sending back the signed form.

@strong{Although there are other templates besides the ones listed here,
they are for special circumstances; please do not use them without
getting advice from @email{}.}

If you are not sure what to do, then please ask @email{} for
advice; if the contributor asks you questions about the meaning and
consequences of the legal papers, and you don't know the answers, you
can forward them to @email{} and we will answer.

@strong{Please do not try changing the wording of a template yourself.
If you think a change is needed, please talk with @email{},
and we will work with a lawyer to decide what to do.}

@node Legally Significant
@section Legally Significant Changes

If a person contributes more than around 15 lines of code and/or text
that is legally significant for copyright purposes, which means we
need copyright papers for it as described above.

A change of just a few lines (less than 15 or so) is not legally
significant for copyright.  A regular series of repeated changes, such
as renaming a symbol, is not legally significant even if the symbol
has to be renamed in many places.  Keep in mind, however, that a
series of minor changes by the same person can add up to a significant
contribution.  What counts is the total contribution of the person; it
is irrelevant which parts of it were contributed when.

Copyright does not cover ideas.  If someone contributes ideas but no
text, these ideas may be morally significant as contributions, and
worth giving credit for, but they are not significant for copyright
purposes.  Likewise, bug reports do not count for copyright purposes.

When giving credit to people whose contributions are not legally
significant for copyright purposes, be careful to make that fact
clear.  The credit should clearly say they did not contribute
significant code or text.

When people's contributions are not legally significant because they
did not write code, do this by stating clearly what their contribution
was.  For instance, you could write this:

 * Ideas by:
 *   Richard Mlynarik <> (1997)
 *   Masatake Yamato <> (1999)
@end example

@code{Ideas by:} makes it clear that Mlynarik and Yamato here
contributed only ideas, not code.  Without the @code{Ideas by:} note,
several years from now we would find it hard to be sure whether they
had contributed code, and we might have to track them down and ask

When you record a small patch in a change log file, first search for
previous changes by the same person, and see if his past
contributions, plus the new one, add up to something legally
significant.  If so, you should get copyright papers for all his
changes before you install the new change.

If that is not so, you can install the small patch.  Write @samp{(tiny
change)} after the patch author's name, like this:

2002-11-04  Robert Fenk  <>  (tiny change)
@end example

@node Recording Contributors
@section Recording Contributors
@cindex recording contributors

@strong{Keep correct records of which portions were written by whom.}
This is very important.  These records should say which files
parts of files, were written by each person, and which files or
portions were revised by each person.  This should include
installation scripts as well as manuals and documentation

These records don't need to be as detailed as a change log.  They
don't need to distinguish work done at different times, only different
people.  They don't need describe changes in more detail than which
files or parts of a file were changed.  And they don't need to say
anything about the function or purpose of a file or change--the
Register of Copyrights doesn't care what the text does, just who wrote
or contributed to which parts.

The list should also mention if certain files distributed in the same
package are really a separate program.

Only the contributions that are legally significant for copyright
purposes (@pxref{Legally Significant}) need to be listed.  Small
contributions, ideas, etc., can be omitted.

For example, this would describe an early version of GAS:

Dean Elsner   first version of all files except gdb-lines.c and m68k.c.
Jay Fenlason  entire files gdb-lines.c and m68k.c, most of app.c,
              plus extensive changes in messages.c, input-file.c, write.c
              and revisions elsewhere.

Note: GAS is distributed with the files obstack.c and obstack.h, but
they are considered a separate package, not part of GAS proper.
@end display

@cindex @file{AUTHORS} file
Please keep these records in a file named @file{AUTHORS} in the source
directory for the program itself.

@node Copyright Notices
@section Copyright Notices
@cindex copyright notices in program files

You should maintain a proper copyright notice and a license
notice in each nontrivial file in the package.  (Any file more than ten
lines long is nontrivial for this purpose.)  This includes header files
and interface definitions for
building or running the program, documentation files, and any supporting
files.  If a file has been explicitly placed in the public domain, then
instead of a copyright notice, it should have a notice saying explicitly
that it is in the public domain.

Even image files and sound files should contain copyright notices and
license notices, if they can.  Some formats do not have room for textual
annotations; for these files, state the copyright and copying
permissions in a README file in the same directory.

Change log files should have a copyright notice and license notice at
the end, since new material is added at the beginning but the end
remains the end.

When a file is automatically generated from some other file in the
distribution, it is useful for the automatic procedure to copy the
copyright notice and permission notice of the file it is generated
from, if possible.  Alternatively, put a notice at the beginning saying
which file it is generated from.

A copyright notice looks like this:

Copyright (C) @var{year1}, @var{year2}, @var{year3}  @var{copyright-holder}
@end example

The @var{copyright-holder} may be the Free Software Foundation, Inc., or
someone else; you should know who is the copyright holder for your

Replace the @samp{(C)} with a C-in-a-circle symbol if it is available.
For example, use @samp{@@copyright@{@}} in a Texinfo file.  However,
stick with parenthesized @samp{C} unless you know that C-in-a-circle
will work.  For example, a program's standard @option{--version}
message should use parenthesized @samp{C} by default, though message
translations may use C-in-a-circle in locales where that symbol is
known to work.

To update the list of year numbers, add each year in which you have
made nontrivial changes to the package.  (Here we assume you're using
a publicly accessible revision control server, so that every revision
installed is also immediately and automatically published.)  When you
add the new year, it is not required to keep track which files have
seen significant changes in the new year and which have not.  It is
recommended and simpler to add the new year to all files in the
package, and be done with it for the rest of the year.

For files which are regularly copied from another project (such as
@samp{gnulib}), the copyright notice should left as it is in the

Don't delete old year numbers, though; they can indicate when older
versions might theoretically go into the public domain.  If you copy a
file into the package from some other program, keep the copyright
years that come with the file.

Do not abbreviate the year list using a range; for instance, do not
write @samp{1996--1998}; instead, write @samp{1996, 1997, 1998}.

The copyright statement may be split across multiple lines, both in
source files and in any generated output.  This often happens for
files with a long history, having many different years of

For an FSF-copyrighted package, if you have followed the procedures to
obtain legal papers, each file should have just one copyright holder:
the Free Software Foundation, Inc.  You should edit the file's
copyright notice to list that name and only that name.

But if contributors are not all assigning their copyrights to a single
copyright holder, it can easily happen that one file has several
copyright holders.  Each contributor of nontrivial text is a copyright

In that case, you should always include a copyright notice in the name
of main copyright holder of the file.  You can also include copyright
notices for other copyright holders as well, and this is a good idea
for those who have contributed a large amount and for those who
specifically ask for notices in their names.  (Sometimes the license
on code that you copy in may require preserving certain copyright
notices.)  But you don't have to include a notice for everyone who
contributed to the file (which would be rather inconvenient).

Sometimes a program has an overall copyright notice that refers to the
whole program.  It might be in the @file{README} file, or it might be
displayed when the program starts up.  This copyright notice should
mention the year of completion of the most recent major version; it
can mention years of completion of previous major versions, but that
is optional.

@node License Notices
@section License Notices
@cindex license notices in program files

Every nontrivial file needs a license notice as well as the copyright
notice.  (Without a license notice giving permission to copy and change
the file
would make the file non-free.)

The package itself should contain a full copy of GPL (conventionally in
a file named @file{COPYING}) and the GNU Free Documentation License
(included within your documentation).  If the package contains any files
distributed under the Lesser GPL, it should contain a full copy of that
as well (conventionally in a file named @file{COPYING.LIB}).

You can get the official versions of these files from three places.
You can use whichever is the most convenient for you.

@itemize @bullet

The directory @file{/gd/gnuorg} on the host
@code{}.  (You can ask @email{}
for an account there if you don't have one).

The @code{gnulib} project on @code{}, which you
can access via anonymous CVS.  See

@end itemize

The official Texinfo sources for the licenses are also available in
those same places, so you can include them in your documentation.  A
GFDL-covered manual must include the GFDL in this way.  @xref{GNU Sample
Texts,,,texinfo,Texinfo}, for a full example in a Texinfo manual.

Typically the license notice for program files (including build scripts,
configure files and makefiles) should cite the GPL, like this:

This file is part of GNU @var{program}

GNU @var{program} is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation; either version 2, or (at your option)
any later version.

GNU @var{program} is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with @var{program}; see the file COPYING.  If not, write to
the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor,
Boston, MA  02110-1301  USA.
@end quotation

But in a small program which is just a few files, you can use
this instead:

This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
(at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along
with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc.,
51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA  02110-1301  USA
@end quotation

Documentation files should have license notices also.  Manuals should
use the GNU Free Documentation License.  Here is an example of the
license notice to use after the copyright notice.  Please adjust the
list of invariant sections as appropriate for your manual.  (If there
are none, then say ``with no invariant sections''.)  @xref{GNU Sample
Texts,,,texinfo,Texinfo}, for a full example in a Texinfo manual.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or
any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with the
Invariant Sections being "GNU General Public License", with the
Front-Cover Texts being ``A GNU Manual,'' and with the Back-Cover Texts
as in (a) below.  A copy of the license is included in the section
entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

(a) The FSF's Back-Cover Text is: ``You are free to copy and modify
this GNU Manual.  Buying copies from GNU Press supports the FSF in
developing GNU and promoting software freedom.''

@end smallexample

If the FSF does not publish this manual on paper, then omit the last
sentence in (a) that talks about copies from GNU Press.  If the FSF is
not the copyright holder, then replace @samp{FSF} with the appropriate

See @url{} for more advice
about how to use the GNU FDL.

If the manual is over 400 pages, or if the FSF thinks it might be a good
choice for publishing on paper, then please include our standard
invariant section which explains the importance of free documentation.
Write to @email{} to get a copy of this section.

Note that when you distribute several manuals together in one software
package, their on-line forms can share a single copy of the GFDL (see
section 6).  However, the printed (@samp{.dvi}) forms should each
contain a copy of the GFDL, unless they are set up to be printed
and published only together.  Therefore, it is usually simplest to
include the GFDL in each manual.

Small supporting files, short manuals (under 300 lines long) and rough
documentation (README files, INSTALL files, etc) can use a simple
all-permissive license like this one:

Copying and distribution of this file, with or without modification,
are permitted in any medium without royalty provided the copyright
notice and this notice are preserved.
@end smallexample

If your package distributes Autoconf macros that are intended to be
used (hence distributed) by third-party packages under possibly
incompatible licenses, you may also use the above all-permissive
license for these macros.

If you would like help with license issues or with using the GFDL,
please contact @email{}.

@node External Libraries
@section External Libraries

When maintaining an FSF-copyrighted GNU package, you may occasionally
want to use a general-purpose free software module which offers a
useful functionality, as a ``library'' facility (though the module is
not always packaged technically as a library).

In a case like this, it would be unreasonable to ask the author of that
module to assign the copyright to the FSF.  After all, person did not
write it specifically as a contribution to your package, so it would be
impertinent to ask per, out of the blue, ``Please give the FSF your

So the thing to do in this case is to make your program use the module,
but not consider it a part of your program.  There are two reasonable
methods of doing this:

Assume the module is already installed on the system, and use it when
linking your program.  This is only reasonable if the module really has
the form of a library.

Include the module in your package, putting the source in a separate
subdirectory whose @file{README} file says, ``This is not part of the
GNU FOO program, but is used with GNU FOO.''  Then set up your makefiles
to build this module and link it into the executable.

For this method, it is not necessary to treat the module as a library
and make a @samp{.a} file from it.  You can link with the @samp{.o}
files directly in the usual manner.
@end enumerate

Both of these methods create an irregularity, and our lawyers have told
us to minimize the amount of such irregularity.  So consider using these
methods only for general-purpose modules that were written for other
programs and released separately for general use.  For anything that was
written as a contribution to your package, please get papers signed.

@node Clean Ups
@chapter Cleaning Up Changes
@cindex contributions, accepting
@cindex quality of changes suggested by others

Don't feel obligated to include every change that someone asks you to
include.  You must judge which changes are improvements---partly based
on what you think the users will like, and partly based on your own
judgment of what is better.  If you think a change is not good, you
should reject it.

If someone sends you changes which are useful, but written in an ugly
way or hard to understand and maintain in the future, don't hesitate to
ask per to clean up their changes before you merge them.  Since the
amount of work we can do is limited, the more we convince others to help
us work efficiently, the faster GNU will advance.

If the contributor will not or can not make the changes clean enough,
then it is legitimate to say ``I can't install this in its present form;
I can only do so if you clean it up.''  Invite per to distribute per
changes another way, or to find other people to make them clean enough
for you to install and maintain.

The only reason to do these cleanups yourself is if (1) it is easy, less
work than telling the author what to clean up, or (2) the change is an
important one, important enough to be worth the work of cleaning it up.

The GNU Coding Standards are a good thing to send people when you ask
them to clean up changes (@pxref{Top, , Contents, standards, GNU Coding
Standards}).  The Emacs Lisp manual contains an appendix that gives
coding standards for Emacs Lisp programs; it is good to urge authors to
read it (@pxref{Tips, , Tips and Standards, elisp, The GNU Emacs Lisp
Reference Manual}).

@node Platforms
@chapter Platforms to Support

Most GNU packages run on a wide range of platforms.  These platforms are
not equally important.

The most important platforms for a GNU package to support are GNU and
GNU/Linux.  Developing the GNU operating system is the whole point of
the GNU Project; a GNU package exists to make the whole GNU system more
powerful.  So please keep that goal in mind and let it shape your work.
For instance, every new feature you add should work on GNU, and
GNU/Linux if possible too.  If a new feature only runs on GNU and
GNU/Linux, it could still be acceptable.  However, a feature that runs
only on other systems and not on GNU or GNU/Linux makes no sense in a
GNU package.

You will naturally want to keep the program running on all the platforms
it supports.  But you personally will not have access to most of these
platforms--so how should you do it?

Don't worry about trying to get access to all of these platforms.  Even
if you did have access to all the platforms, it would be inefficient for
you to test the program on each platform yourself.  Instead, you should
test the program on a few platforms, including GNU or GNU/Linux, and let
the users test it on the other platforms.  You can do this through a
pretest phase before the real release; when there is no reason to expect
problems, in a package that is mostly portable, you can just make a
release and let the users tell you if anything unportable was

It is important to test the program personally on GNU or GNU/Linux,
because these are the most important platforms for a GNU package.  If
you don't have access to one of these platforms, please ask
@email{} to help you out.

Supporting other platforms is optional---we do it when that seems like
a good idea, but we don't consider it obligatory.  If the users don't
take care of a certain platform, you may have to desupport it unless
and until users come forward to help.  Conversely, if a user offers
changes to support an additional platform, you will probably want to
install them, but you don't have to.  If you feel the changes are
complex and ugly, if you think that they will increase the burden of
future maintenance, you can and should reject them.  This includes
both free or mainly-free platforms such as OpenBSD, FreeBSD, and
NetBSD, and non-free platforms such as Windows.

@node Mail
@chapter Dealing With Mail
@cindex bug reports

@cindex email, for receiving bug reports
@cindex mailing list for bug reports
Once a program is in use, you will get bug reports for it.  Most GNU
programs have their own special lists for sending bug reports.  The
advertised bug-reporting email address should always be
@samp{bug-@var{program}}, to help show users that the program
is a GNU package, but it is ok to set up that list to forward to another
site for further forwarding.  The package distribution should state the
name of the bug-reporting list in a prominent place, and ask users to
help us by reporting bugs there.

We also have a catch-all list, @email{}, which is
used for all GNU programs that don't have their own specific lists.  But
nowadays we want to give each program its own bug-reporting list and
move away from using @email{bug-gnu-utils}.

If you are the maintainer of a GNU package, you should have an account
on the GNU servers; contact @email{} if you don't have
one.  (You can also ask for accounts for people who help you a large
amount in working on the package.)  With this account, you can edit
@file{/com/mailer/aliases} to create a new unmanaged list or add
yourself to an existing unmanaged list.  A comment near the beginning of
that file explains how to create a Mailman-managed mailing list.

But if you don't want to learn how to do those things, you can
alternatively ask @email{} to add you to the
bug-reporting list for your program.  To set up a new list, contact
@email{}.  You can subscribe to a list managed
by Mailman by sending mail to the corresponding @samp{-request} address.

You should moderate postings from non-subscribed addresses on your
mailing lists, to prevent propagation of unwanted messages (``spam'')
to subscribers and to the list archives.  For lists controlled by
Mailman, you can do this by setting @code{Privacy Options - Sender
Filter - generic_nonmember_action} to @code{Hold}, and then
periodically (daily is best) reviewing the held messages, accepting
the real ones and discarding the junk.

@cindex responding to bug reports
When you receive bug reports, keep in mind that bug reports are crucial
for your work.  If you don't know about problems, you cannot fix them.
So always thank each person who sends a bug report.

You don't have an obligation to give more response than that, though.
The main purpose of bug reports is to help you contribute to the
community by improving the next version of the program.  Many of the
people who report bugs don't realize this---they think that the point is
for you to help them individually.  Some will ask you to focus on that
@emph{instead of} on making the program better.  If you comply with
their wishes, you will have been distracted from the job of maintaining
the program.

For example, people sometimes report a bug in a vague (and therefore
useless) way, and when you ask for more information, they say, ``I just
wanted to see if you already knew the solution'' (in which case the bug
report would do nothing to help improve the program).  When this
happens, you should explain to them the real purpose of bug reports.  (A
canned explanation will make this more efficient.)

When people ask you to put your time into helping them use the program,
it may seem ``helpful'' to do what they ask.  But it is much @emph{less}
helpful than improving the program, which is the maintainer's real job.

By all means help individual users when you feel like it, if you feel
you have the time available.  But be careful to limit the amount of time
you spend doing this---don't let it eat away the time you need to
maintain the program!  Know how to say no; when you are pressed for
time, just ``thanks for the bug report---I will fix it'' is enough

Some GNU packages, such as Emacs and GCC, come with advice about how to
make bug reports useful.  If you want to copy and adapt that, it could
be a very useful thing to do.

@node Old Versions
@chapter Recording Old Versions
@cindex version control

It is very important to keep backup files of all source files of GNU.
You can do this using RCS, CVS or PRCS if you like.  The easiest way to
use RCS or CVS is via the Version Control library in Emacs;
@ref{VC Concepts,, Concepts of Version Control, emacs, The GNU Emacs

The history of previous revisions and log entries is very important for
future maintainers of the package, so even if you do not make it
publicly accessible, be careful not to put anything in the repository or
change log that you would not want to hand over to another maintainer
some day.

The GNU Project provides a CVS server that GNU software packages can
use: @code{}.  (The name refers to the multiple
versions and their subversions that are stored in a CVS repository.)
You don't have to use this repository, but if you plan to allow public
read-only access to your development sources, it is convenient for
people to be able to find various GNU packages in a central place.  The
CVS Server is managed by @email{}.

The GNU project also provides additional developer resources on
@code{} through its @code{}
interface.  All GNU maintainers are encouraged to take advantage of
these facilities, as @code{savannah} can serve to foster a sense of
community among all GNU developers and help in keeping up with project

@node Distributions
@chapter Distributions

It is important to follow the GNU conventions when making GNU software

* Distribution tar Files::
* Distribution Patches::
* Distribution on
* Test Releases::
* Automated FTP Uploads::
* Announcements::
@end menu

@node Distribution tar Files
@section Distribution tar Files
@cindex distribution, tar files

The tar file for version @var{m}.@var{n} of program @code{foo} should be
named @file{foo-@var{m}.@var{n}.tar}.  It should unpack into a
subdirectory named @file{foo-@var{m}.@var{n}}.  Tar files should not
unpack into files in the current directory, because this is inconvenient
if the user happens to unpack into a directory with other files in it.

Here is how the @file{Makefile} for Bison creates the tar file.
This method is good for other programs.

        echo bison-`sed -e '/version_string/!d' \
          -e 's/[^0-9.]*\([0-9.]*\).*/\1/' -e q version.c` > .fname
        -rm -rf `cat .fname`
        mkdir `cat .fname`
        dst=`cat .fname`; for f in $(DISTFILES); do \
           ln $(srcdir)/$$f $$dst/$$f || @{ echo copying $$f; \
             cp -p $(srcdir)/$$f $$dst/$$f ; @} \
        tar --gzip -chf `cat .fname`.tar.gz `cat .fname`
        -rm -rf `cat .fname` .fname
@end example

Source files that are symbolic links to other file systems cannot be
installed in the temporary directory using @code{ln}, so use @code{cp}
if @code{ln} fails.

@pindex automake
Using Automake is a good way to take care of writing the @code{dist}

@node Distribution Patches
@section Distribution Patches
@cindex patches, against previous releases

If the program is large, it is useful to make a set of diffs for each
release, against the previous important release.

At the front of the set of diffs, put a short explanation of which
version this is for and which previous version it is relative to.
Also explain what else people need to do to update the sources
properly (for example, delete or rename certain files before
installing the diffs).

The purpose of having diffs is that they are small.  To keep them
small, exclude files that the user can easily update.  For example,
exclude info files, DVI files, tags tables, output files of Bison or
Flex.  In Emacs diffs, we exclude compiled Lisp files, leaving it up
to the installer to recompile the patched sources.

When you make the diffs, each version should be in a directory suitably
named---for example, @file{gcc-2.3.2} and @file{gcc-2.3.3}.  This way,
it will be very clear from the diffs themselves which version is which.

@pindex diff
@pindex patch
@cindex time stamp in diffs
If you use GNU @code{diff} to make the patch, use the options
@samp{-rc2P}.  That will put any new files into the output as ``entirely
different.''  Also, the patch's context diff headers should have dates
and times in Universal Time using traditional Unix format, so that patch
recipients can use GNU @code{patch}'s @samp{-Z} option.  For example,
you could use the following Bourne shell command to create the patch:

LC_ALL=C TZ=UTC0 diff -rc2P gcc-2.3.2 gcc-2.3.3 | \
gzip -9 >gcc-2.3.2-2.3.3.patch.gz
@end example

If the distribution has subdirectories in it, then the diffs probably
include some files in the subdirectories.  To help users install such
patches reliably, give them precise directions for how to run patch.
For example, say this:

To apply these patches, cd to the main directory of the program
and then use `patch -p1'.   `-p1' avoids guesswork in choosing
which subdirectory to find each file in.
@end display

It's wise to test your patch by applying it to a copy of the old
version, and checking that the result exactly matches the new version.

@node Distribution on
@section Distribution on @code{}
@cindex GNU ftp site
@cindex @code{}, the GNU ftp site

GNU packages are distributed through directory @file{/gnu} on
@code{}.  Each package should have a subdirectory
named after the package, and all the distribution files for the package
should go in that subdirectory.

@c If you have an interest in seeing the monthly download logs from the FTP
@c site at @code{} for your program, that is something that
@c @email{} can set up for you.  Please contact them if
@c you are interested.

@xref{Automated FTP Uploads}, for procedural details of putting new
versions on @code{}.

@node Test Releases
@section Test Releases
@cindex test releases
@cindex beta releases
@cindex pretest releases

@cindex @code{}, ftp site for test releases
When you release a greatly changed new major version of a program, you
might want to do so as a pretest.  This means that you make a tar file,
but send it only to a group of volunteers that you have recruited.  (Use
a suitable GNU mailing list/newsgroup to recruit them.)

We normally use the FTP server @code{} for pretests and
prerelease versions.  @xref{Automated FTP Uploads}, for procedural details
of putting new versions on @code{}.

Once a program gets to be widely used and people expect it to work
solidly, it is a good idea to do pretest releases before each ``real''

There are two ways of handling version numbers for pretest versions.
One method is to treat them as versions preceding the release you are going
to make.

In this method, if you are about to release version 4.6 but you want
to do a pretest first, call it 4.5.90.  If you need a second pretest,
call it 4.5.91, and so on.  If you are really unlucky and ten pretests
are not enough, after 4.5.99 you could advance to 4.5.990 and so on.
(You could also use 4.5.100, but 990 has the advantage of sorting in
the right order.)

The other method is to attach a date to the release number that is
coming.  For a pretest for version 4.6, made on Dec 10, 2002, this
would be 4.6.20021210.  A second pretest made the same day could be

For development snapshots that are not formal pretests, using just
the date without the version numbers is ok too.

One thing that you should never do is to release a pretest with the same
version number as the planned real release.  Many people will look only
at the version number (in the tar file name, in the directory name that
it unpacks into, or wherever they can find it) to determine whether a
tar file is the latest version.  People might look at the test release
in this way and mistake it for the real release.  Therefore, always
change the number when you release changed code.

@node Automated FTP Uploads
@section Automated FTP Uploads

@cindex ftp uploads, automated
In order to upload new releases to @code{} or
@code{}, you first need to register the necessary
information.  Then, you can perform uploads yourself, with no
intervention needed by the system administrators.

* Automated Upload Registration::
* Automated Upload Procedure::
* FTP Upload Directive File - v1.1::
* FTP Upload Directive File - v1.0::
@end menu

@node Automated Upload Registration
@subsection Automated Upload Registration

@cindex registration
@cindex uploads, registration for

To register your information to perform automated uploads, send a
message, preferably GPG-signed, to @email{} with
the following:

Name of package(s) that you are the maintainer for, and your
preferred email address.

An ASCII armored copy of your GnuPG key, as an attachment.
(@samp{gpg --export -a YOUR_KEY_ID >mykey.asc} should give you this.)

A list of names and preferred email addresses of other individuals you
authorize to make releases for which packages, if any (in the case that you
don't make all releases yourself).

ASCII armored copies of GnuPG keys for any individuals listed in (3).
@end enumerate

The administrators will acknowledge your message when they have added
the proper GPG keys as authorized to upload files for the
corresponding packages.

@node Automated Upload Procedure
@subsection Automated Upload Procedure

@cindex uploads

Once you have registered your information as described in the
previous section, you will be able to do unattended ftp uploads using
the following procedure.

For each upload destined for @code{} or
@code{}, three files (a @dfn{triplet}) need to be
uploaded via ftp to the host @code{}.

The file to be distributed (for example, @file{foo.tar.gz}).

Detached GPG binary signature for (1), made using @samp{gpg -b}
(for example, @file{foo.tar.gz.sig}).

A clearsigned @dfn{directive file}, made using @samp{gpg --clearsign}
(for example, @file{foo.tar.gz.directive.asc}).
@end enumerate

The names of the files are important. The signature file must have the
same name as the file to be distributed, with an additional
@file{.sig} extension. The directive file must have the same name as
the file to be distributed, with an additional @file{.directive.asc
extension}. If you do not follow this naming convention, the upload
@emph{will not be processed}.

Since v1.1 of the upload script, it is also possible to upload a
@dfn{directive file} on its own to perform certain operations on
uploaded files.  @xref{FTP Upload Directive File - v1.1}, for more

Upload the file(s) via anonymous ftp to @code{}. If
the upload is destined for @code{}, place the file(s) in
the @file{/incoming/ftp} directory. If the upload is destined for
@code{}, place the file(s) in the @file{/incoming/alpha}

Uploads are processed every five minutes. Uploads that are in progress while
the upload processing script is running are handled properly, so do not worry
about the timing of your upload.

Your designated upload email addresses (@pxref{Automated Upload Registration})
are sent a message if there are any problems processing an upload for your
package. You also receive a message when your upload has been successfully

If you have difficulties processing an upload, email

@node FTP Upload Directive File - v1.1
@subsection FTP Upload Directive File - v1.1

The directive file name must end in @file{directive.asc}.

When part of a triplet, the directive file must always contain the
directives @code{version}, @code{directory} and @code{filename}, as
described. In addition, a 'comment' directive is allowed.

The @code{version} directive must always have the value @samp{1.1}.

The @code{directory} directive specifies the final destination
directory where the uploaded file and its @file{.sig} companion are to
be placed.

The @code{filename} directive must contain the name of the file to be
distributed (item@tie{}(1) above).

For example, as part of an uploaded triplet, a
@file{foo.tar.gz.directive.asc} file might contain these lines (before
being gpg clearsigned):

version: 1.1
directory: bar/v1
filename: foo.tar.gz
comment: hello world!
@end example

This directory line indicates that @file{foo.tar.gz} and
@file{foo.tar.gz.sig} are part of package @code{bar}.  If you uploaded
this triplet to @file{/incoming/ftp} and the system positively
authenticates the signatures, the files @file{foo.tar.gz} and
@file{foo.tar.gz.sig} will be placed in the directory
@file{gnu/bar/v1} of the @code{} site.

The directive file can be used to create currently non-existent
directory trees, as long as they are under the package directory for
your package (in the example above, that is @code{bar}).

If you upload a file that already exists in the FTP directory, the
original will simply be archived and replaced with the new upload.

@subheading Standalone directives

When uploaded by itself, the directive file must contain one or more
of the directives @code{symlink}, @code{rmsymlink} or @code{archive},
in addition to the obligatory @code{directory} and @code{version}
directives.  A @code{filename} directive is not allowed, and a
@code{comment} directive is optional.

If you use more than one directive, the directives are executed in the
sequence they are specified in.

Here are a few examples.  The first removes a symlink:

version: 1.1
directory: bar/v1
rmsymlink: foo-latest.tgz
comment: remove a symlink
@end example

Archive an old file, taking it offline:

version: 1.1
directory: bar/v1
archive: foo-1.1.tar.gz
comment: archive an old file - it will not be available through FTP anymore
@end example

Create a new symlink:

version: 1.1
directory: bar/v1
symlink: foo-1.2.tar.gz foo-latest.tgz
comment: create a new symlink
@end example

Do everything at once:

version: 1.1
directory: bar/v1
rmsymlink: foo-latest.tgz
symlink: foo-1.2.tar.gz foo-latest.tgz
archive: foo-1.1.tar.gz
comment: now do everything at once
@end example

@node FTP Upload Directive File - v1.0
@subsection FTP Upload Directive File - v1.0

@dfn{As of June 2006, the upload script is running in compatibility
mode, allowing uploads with either version@tie{}1.1 or
version@tie{}1.0 of the directive file syntax.  Support for v1.0
uploads will be phased out by the end of 2006, so please upgrade

The directive file should contain one line, excluding the clearsigned
data GPG that inserts, which specifies the final destination directory
where items (1) and (2) are to be placed.

For example, the @file{foo.tar.gz.directive.asc} file might contain the
single line:

directory: bar/v1
@end example

This directory line indicates that @file{foo.tar.gz} and
@file{foo.tar.gz.sig} are part of package @code{bar}.  If you were to
upload the triplet to @file{/incoming/ftp}, and the system can
positively authenticate the signatures, then the files
@file{foo.tar.gz} and @file{foo.tar.gz.sig} will be placed in the
directory @file{gnu/bar/v1} of the @code{} site.

The directive file can be used to create currently non-existent
directory trees, as long as they are under the package directory for
your package (in the example above, that is @code{bar}).

@node Announcements
@section Announcing Releases

When you have a new release, please make an announcement.  You can
maintain your own mailing list for announcements if you like, or you can
use the moderated general GNU announcements list,

If you use your own list, you can decide as you see fit what events are
worth announcing.  If you use @email{}, please do not
announce pretest releases, only real releases.  But real releases do
include releases made just to fix bugs.

@node  Web Pages
@chapter Web Pages
@cindex web pages

Please write pages about your package for installation on
@code{}.  The pages should follow our usual standards for web
pages (see @url{}); we chose them in order to
support a wide variety of browsers, to focus on information rather than
flashy eye candy, and to keep the site simple and uniform.

The simplest way to maintain the web pages for your project is to
register the project on @code{}.  Then you can edit
the pages using CVS.  You can keep the source files there too, but if
you want to use @code{} only for the web pages, simply
register a ``web-only'' project.

If you don't want to use that method, please talk with
@email{} about other possible methods.  For
instance, you can mail them pages to install, if necessary.  But that
is more work for them, so please use CVS if you can.

Some GNU packages have just simple web pages, but the more information
you provide, the better.  So please write as much as you usefully can,
and put all of it on @code{}.  However, pages that access
databases (including mail logs and bug tracking) are an exception; set
them up on whatever site is convenient for you, and make the pages on
@code{} link to that site.

Web pages for GNU packages should not include GIF images, since the GNU
project avoids GIFs due to patent problems.  @xref{Ethical and
Philosophical Consideration}.

The web pages for the package should include its manuals, in HTML,
DVI, Info, PostScript, PDF, plain ASCII, and Texinfo format (source).  (All
of these can be generated automatically from the Texinfo source using
Makeinfo and other programs.)  When there is only one manual, put it
in a subdirectory called @file{manual}; the file
@file{manual/index.html} should have a link to the manual in each of
its forms.

If the package has more than one manual, put each one in a
subdirectory of @file{manual}, set up @file{index.html} in each
subdirectory to link to that manual in all its forms, and make
@file{manual/index.html} link to each manual through its subdirectory.

See the section below for details on a script to make the job of
creating all these different formats and index pages easier.

We would like to include links to all these manuals in the page
@url{}.  Just send mail to
@code{} telling them the name of your package and
asking them to edit @url{}, and they will do
so based on the contents of your @file{manual} directory.

* Invoking
* CVS Keywords in Web Pages::
@end menu

@node  Invoking
@section  Invoking @command{}
@cindex generating documentation output

The script @command{} eases the task of generating the
Texinfo documentation output for your web pages
section above.  It has a companion template file, used as the basis
for the HTML index pages.  Both are available from the Texinfo CVS
@end format

Invoke the script like this, in the directory containing the Texinfo
@example @var{yourmanual} "GNU @var{yourmanual} manual"
@end example

@noindent where @var{yourmanual} is the short name for your package.
The script processes the file @file{@var{yourmanual}.texinfo} (or
@file{.texi} or @file{.txi}).  For example:

cd .../emacs/man
# download and gendocs_template emacs "GNU Emacs manual"
@end example

@command{} creates a subdirectory @file{manual/} containing
the manual generated in all the standard output formats: Info, HTML,
DVI, and so on, as well as the Texinfo source.  You then need to move
all those files, retaining the subdirectories, into the web pages for
your package.

You can specify the option @option{-o @var{outdir}} to override the
name @file{manual}.  Any previous contents of @var{outdir} will be deleted.

The second argument, with the description, is included as part of the
HTML @code{<title>} of the overall @file{manual/index.html} file.  It
should include the name of the package being documented, as shown.
@file{manual/index.html} is created by substitution from the file
@file{gendocs_template}.  (Feel free to modify the generic template
for your own purposes.)

If you have several manuals, you'll need to run this script several
times with different arguments, specifying a different output
directory with @option{-o} each time, and moving all the output to
your web page.  Then write (by hand) an overall index.html with links
to them all.  For example:
cd .../texinfo/doc -o texinfo texinfo "GNU Texinfo manual" -o info info "GNU Info manual" -o info-stnd info-stnd "GNU info-stnd manual"
@end example

You can set the environment variables @env{MAKEINFO}, @env{TEXI2DVI},
and @env{DVIPS} to control the programs that get executed, and
@env{GENDOCS_TEMPLATE_DIR} to control where the
@file{gendocs_template} file is found.

Please email bug reports, enhancement requests, or other
correspondence to @email{}.

@node CVS Keywords in Web Pages
@section CVS Keywords in Web Pages
@cindex cvs keywords in web pages
@cindex rcs keywords in web pages
@cindex $ keywords in web pages
@cindex web pages, and cvs keywords

Since @code{} works through CVS, CVS keywords in your
manual, such as @code{@w{$}Log$}, need special treatment (even if you
don't happen to maintain your manual in CVS).

If these keywords end up in the generated output as literal strings,
they will be expanded.  The most robust way to handle this is to turn
off keyword expansion for such generated files.  For existing files,
this is done with:

cvs admin -ko @var{file1} @var{file2} ...
@end example

For new files:

cvs add -ko @var{file1} @var{file2} ...
@end example

@xref{Keyword substitution,,,cvs,Version Management with CVS}.

In Texinfo source, the recommended way to literally specify a
``dollar'' keyword is:

@end example

The @code{@@w} prevents keyword expansion in the Texinfo source
itself.  Also, @code{makeinfo} notices the @code{@@w} and generates
output avoiding the literal keyword string.

@node   Ethical and Philosophical Consideration
@chapter Ethical and Philosophical Consideration
@cindex ethics
@cindex philosophy

The GNU project takes a strong stand for software freedom.  Many times,
this means you'll need to avoid certain technologies when such
technologies conflict with our ethics of software freedom.

Software patents threaten the advancement of free software and freedom
to program.  For our safety (which includes yours), we try to avoid
using algorithms and techniques that we know are patented in the US or
elsewhere, unless the patent looks so absurd that we doubt it will be
enforced, or we have a suitable patent license allowing release of free

Beyond that, sometimes the GNU project takes a strong stand against a
particular patented technology in order to encourage everyone to reject

For example, the GIF file format is covered by the LZW software patent
in the USA.  A patent holder has threatened lawsuits against not only
developers of software to produce GIFs, but even web sites that
contain them.

For this reason, you should not include GIFs in the web pages for your
package, nor in the distribution of the package itself.  It is ok for
a GNU package to support displaying GIFs which will come into play if
a user asks it to operate on one.  However, it is essential to provide
equal or better support for the competing PNG and JPG
formats---otherwise, the GNU package would be @emph{pressuring} users
to use GIF format, and that it must not do.  More about our stand on
GIF is available at @uref{}.

Software patents are not the only matter for ethical concern.  A GNU
package should not recommend use of any non-free program, nor should it
require a non-free program (such as a non-free compiler or IDE) to
build.  Thus, a GNU package cannot be written in a programming language
that does not have a free software implementation.  Now that GNU/Linux
systems are widely available, all GNU packages should function
completely with the GNU/Linux system and not require any non-free
software to build or function.

A GNU package should not refer the user to any non-free documentation
for free software.  The need for free documentation to come with free
software is now a major focus of the GNU project; to show that we are
serious about the need for free documentation, we must not contradict
our position by recommending use of documentation that isn't free.

Finally, new issues concerning the ethics of software freedom come up
frequently.  We ask that GNU maintainers, at least on matters that
pertain specifically to their package, stand with the rest of the GNU
project when such issues come up.

@node Terminology
@chapter Terminology Issues
@cindex terminology

This chapter explains a couple of issues of terminology which are
important for correcting two widespread and important misunderstandings
about GNU.

* Free Software and Open Source::
* GNU and Linux::
@end menu

@node Free Software and Open Source
@section Free Software and Open Source
@cindex free software
@cindex open source
@cindex movements, Free Software and Open Source

The terms ``free software'' and ``open source'' are the slogans of two
different movements which differ in their basic philosophy.  The Free
Software Movement is idealistic, and raises issues of freedom, ethics,
principle and what makes for a good society.  The Open Source Movement,
founded in 1998, studiously avoids such questions.  For more explanation,
see @url{}.

The GNU Project is aligned with the Free Software Movement.  This
doesn't mean that all GNU contributors and maintainers have to agree;
your views on these issues are up to you, and you're entitled to express
them when speaking for yourself.

However, due to the much greater publicity that the Open Source
Movement receives, the GNU Project needs to overcome a widespread
mistaken impression that GNU is @emph{and always was} an activity of
the Open Source Movement.  For this reason, please use the term ``free
software,'' not ``open source,'' in GNU software releases, GNU
documentation, and announcements and articles that you publish in your
role as the maintainer of a GNU package.  A reference to the URL given
above, to explain the difference, is a useful thing to include as

@node GNU and Linux
@section GNU and Linux
@cindex Linux
@cindex GNU/Linux

The GNU Project was formed to develop a free Unix-like operating system,
GNU.  The existence of this system is our major accomplishment.
However, the widely used version of the GNU system, in which Linux is
used as the kernel, is often called simply ``Linux''.  As a result, most
users don't know about the GNU Project's major accomplishment---or more
precisely, they know about it, but don't realize it is the GNU Project's
accomplishment and reason for existence.  Even people who believe they
know the real history often believe that the goal of GNU was to develop
``tools'' or ``utilities.''

To correct this confusion, we have made a years-long effort to
distinguish between Linux, the kernel that Linus Torvalds wrote, and
GNU/Linux, the operating system that is the combination of GNU and
Linux.  The resulting increased awareness of what the GNU Project has
already done helps every activity of the GNU Project recruit more
support and contributors.

Please make this distinction consistently in GNU software releases, GNU
documentation, and announcements and articles that you publish in your
role as the maintainer of a GNU package.  If you want to explain the
terminology and its reasons, you can refer to the URL

Do contrast the GNU system properly speaking to GNU/Linux, you can
call it ``GNU/Hurd'' or ``the GNU/Hurd system.''  However, when that
contrast is not specifically the focus, please call it just ``GNU'' or
``the GNU system.''

When referring to the collection of servers that is the higher level
of the GNU kernel, please call it ``the Hurd'' or ``the GNU Hurd.''
Note that this uses a space, not a slash.

@node  Hosting
@chapter Hosting
@cindex CVS repository
@cindex repository
@cindex FTP site
@cindex hosting

We would like to recommend using @code{} as the CVS
repository for your package, and using @code{} as the
standard FTP site.  It is ok to use other machines if you wish.  If you
use a company's machine to hold the repository for your program, or as
its ftp site, please put this statement in a prominent place on the
site, so as to prevent people from getting the wrong idea about the
relationship between the package and the company:

The programs <list of them> hosted here are free software packages
of the GNU Project, not products of <company name>.  We call them
"free software" because you are free to copy and redistribute them,
following the rules stated in the license of each package.  For more
information, see

If you are looking for service or support for GNU software, see for suggestions of where to ask.

If you would like to contribute to the development of one of these
packages, contact the package maintainer or the bug-reporting address
of the package (which should be listed in the package itself), or look
on for more information on how to contribute.
@end smallexample

@node Free Software Directory
@chapter Free Software Directory
@cindex Free Software Directory

The Free Software Directory aims to be a complete list of free software
packages, within certain criteria.  Every GNU package should be listed
there, so please contact @email{} to ask for
information on how to write an entry for your package.

@node Using the Proofreaders List
@chapter Using the Proofreaders List
@cindex proofreading

If you want help finding errors in documentation,
or help improving the quality of writing,
or if you are not a native speaker of English
and want help producing good English documentation,
you can use the GNU proofreaders mailing list:

But be careful when you use the list,
because there are over 200 people on it.
If you simply ask everyone on the list to read your work,
there will probably be tremendous duplication of effort
by the proofreaders,
and you will probably get the same errors reported 100 times.
This must be avoided.

Also, the people on the list do not want to get
a large amount of mail from it.
So do not ever ask people on the list to send mail to the list!

Here are a few methods that seem reasonable to use:

@itemize @bullet
For something small, mail it to the list,
and ask people to pick a random number from 1 to 20,
and read it if the number comes out as 10.
This way, assuming 50% response, some 5 people will read the piece.

For a larger work, divide your work into around 20 equal-sized parts,
tell people where to get it,
and ask each person to pick randomly which part to read.

Be sure to specify the random choice procedure;
otherwise people will probably use a mental procedure
that is not really random,
such as "pick a part near the middle",
and you will not get even coverage.

You can either divide up the work physically, into 20 separate files,
or describe a virtual division, such as by sections
(if your work has approximately 20 sections).
If you do the latter, be sure to be precise about it---for example,
do you want the material before the first section heading
to count as a section, or not?

For a job needing special skills, send an explanation of it,
and ask people to send you mail if they volunteer for the job.
When you get enough volunteers, send another message to the list saying
"I have enough volunteers, no more please."
@end itemize

@node Index
@unnumbered Index
@printindex cp


Local variables:
eval: (add-hook 'write-file-hooks 'time-stamp)
time-stamp-start: "@set lastupdate "
time-stamp-start: "@set lastupdate "
time-stamp-end: "$"
time-stamp-format: "%:b %:d, %:y"
compile-command: "make just-maintain"