This page should clarify about the various entities and actors around the GNU Octave programming language.

GNU Octave

The GNU Octave project was initialized 1992 by John W. Eaton <>. It consists of a software source code repository and a community of people who work on that code. The most clear cut line that can be drawn is that there is a set of people who have commit access to the source code repository: there are currently 24 committers (10 active and 14 dormant). This set of people doesn’t really define the entire project. Additionally, there are many people who are prolific contributors to the GNU Octave ecosystem but who do not have “commit bit.” The communal nature of open-source makes it difficult to precisely define where the GNU Octave project ends and the greater community begins, which is exactly how we like it. Finally, most development decisions are made by or agreed with John W. Eaton.

Contributor Agreement

By submitting patches to the GNU Octave project, you agree to the following conditions:

  1. Your contribution will be released under the terms of the GNU GPL, version 3 or any later version.
  2. Your contribution must be an independent work or derived from code that may be released under the terms of the GPL. Under no circumstances may it be based on code from Matlab or other non-free code that you may have access to view.
  3. In the Octave source code, all files are marked with a copyright statement that says

    Copyright (C) YYYY-YYYY The Octave Project Developers.

    This copyright notice is used to ease the burden of maintaining copyright information in the source files, not to diminish or remove credit for contributions. Detailed information about what changes have been made and who has made them is maintained in the revision history of the Octave sources.

    If you wish, you will be credited as a contributor in the Octave documentation.

Free Software Foundation (FSF)

The FSF is a US 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization promoting computer user freedom. With the help of the FSF, both individuals and corporations have the opportunity to donate to the GNU Octave project. How donations are spent is decided by Octave core developers led by John W. Eaton.

Despite the free usage of the FSF infrastructure for distributing the GNU Octave source code, the Octave project does not receive any direct or indirect monetary funding by the FSF.

There are organizations that people sometimes mistakenly believe have some kind of official control over the GNU Octave project. This section details three of them, but please note that they have neither any official relationship nor any governance capacity with the GNU Octave project.

Octave Forge and Octave Packages

Octave Forge is the former collection of software packages, that can be easily installed and used with GNU Octave. The Octave SourceForge project was initiated in 2000 and active development stopped in 2018. New packages are not accepted, but existing packages are still maintained. The project lists 56 members (10 active and 46 dormant) maintaining existing Octave packages, but not the source code of GNU Octave itself.

Octave Packages is another collection of Octave packages and intended successor of Octave Forge. New packages are accepted here and the development of Octave packages is independent of GNU Octave itself.

GitHub Organization

The GitHub Organization was established around 2020. It is a loose connection of currently 27 members (10 active and 17 dormant) developing software intended to be used with GNU Octave (including Octave Packages), but not the source code of GNU Octave itself.


If you have any questions about GNU Octave’s governance structure, please reach out via email to <>.

This page is inspired by the JuliaLang project.