This is being posted on behalf of the GNOME Foundation Board of Directors.
Historically, it hasn’t always been entirely clear what is and isn’t official GNOME software. This uncertainty isn’t necessarily a big issue for the GNOME community, and even has some advantages, but it does pose a number of legal issues, which the GNOME Foundation has been advised to resolve.
The Board of Directors is therefore proposing a new set of arrangements for how GNOME software is defined. The initial motivation behind these changes is to clarify which software is and isn’t official GNOME software. However, we also hope to use this opportunity to better support and promote the wider GNOME community. In doing so, we want to expand the number of projects and developers that the Foundation has a relationship with.
To do this, we are proposing a new category of software for projects which, while not being official GNOME software, are closely aligned with the GNOME project and its technologies. The name we have in mind for this new initiative is GNOME Circle. Software in this category will qualify for support from the GNOME project, in the same way that contributors to existing GNOME modules do today, and contributors will qualify for Foundation membership. In this way, we want to grow the GNOME community and give a greater range of participants a role in the Foundation.
The rest of this message includes an overview of how the new arrangements are expected to work. We’d love to hear your questions, comments and feedback.
There is still time to make changes before we put the plan into action.
Types of software
Our plan is to have two types of software that are recognised by GNOME:
1. Official GNOME software
- Which software is included will be decided by the Release Team
- Will include the modules which make up the desktop, platform, core apps and primary developer tools 
- Included software is:
- Required to be hosted on GNOME infrastructure
- Can use GNOME’s trademarks to refer to themselves
- Can identify the developer as “GNOME”
- Applications are encouraged to use the org.gnome.* prefix in application IDs
- Software will be included in the GNOME group on gitlab.gnome.org
- Contributors qualify for GNOME Foundation membership
The implication is that any software that isn’t this group should not identify themselves using GNOME trademarks or state the developer as GNOME.
2. GNOME Circle
- Which software is included will be decided by a new committee
- Will include apps which use the GNOME platform and libraries which extend it
- Included projects will be required to follow some general basic requirements, including quality expectations and being Free Software
- This software:
- Can be hosted on GNOME infrastructure in a dedicated Gitlab group, but this is not a requirement
- Shouldn’t already have a sponsoring organization (such as a supporting company or non-profit)
- Can use GNOME Circle branding
- Applications can use an
- Contributors will qualify for GNOME Foundation membership, and can therefore receive support through the GNOME Foundation
We would also really like to do promotional work and marketing for projects which are part of GNOME Circle.
Will I have to change the ID of my app?
No. The guidelines for app IDs only apply to new apps.
Will I have to remove
gnome from my app’s executable name?
No. Executables would not be covered by the new policy.
Will I have to move my modules to GNOME infrastructure?
Official GNOME modules are expected to use GNOME infrastructure, and they generally already do. Projects which join GNOME Circle can use GNOME infrastructure, but this is completely optional.
What this all means
With this proposal, the Foundation is providing a clear distinction about which software is official GNOME software. We are also providing a clear set of rules about what the different types of software can and can’t do with the GNOME trademarks. At the same time, we are hoping to expand the range of projects with which the Foundation has a relationship.
Inevitably, there will be projects that don’t neatly fall into the categories of software that we’ve laid out. If you work on one of these projects, the first thing to say is: don’t panic! We anticipate there to be a transition period as we align with the new arrangements, and we can make individual exceptions. If you are in doubt, please feel free to post questions here or, assuming the plan comes into effect, to contact the Foundation. We will be happy to provide individual guidance.
The second thing to say is that the definition of whether a project is or isn’t official GNOME software is not a value judgement, nor is it a statement as to who is or isn’t part of the GNOME community. Developers of software that doesn’t fit into the definition of official software will continue to be members of our community, and the Foundation remains committed to supporting you.
 The official definition will be the following modulesets: