NixCon 2023 Sponsorship Situation from the NixOS Foundation

is complicated:

You may have decided, based on your personal preference for some of these nodes, that only one of these questions is ‘the issue’, but clearly not everyone is on the same page.


I started making a flowchart in response, but I think this conversation will very quickly degrade if we all start replying back-and-forth in flowchart form. Can you try to make your case in writing instead?

I’m having trouble following the rightmost path on this flowchart – if you answer “no” to the normative question of whether nix should restrict sponsors to {some set excluding anduril}, how can that reasonably lead to a node that starts with, “Dump anduril”? There’s another decision to be made, ie: Should NixCon have been cancelled for one year to avoid forever burning a bridge with a wanted sponsor, and to avoid damaging the reputation of Nix with respect to potential future corporate sponsors? Why is that off the table?

This question isn’t represented on the opposite side of the flowchart, either – even if everyone agrees that Nix should never affiliate with defense contractors, and even if it really is the policy of TU Darmstadt that the event could not include Anduril in any way, or even if everyone agreed that this couldn’t just be a policy for future events going forward and it had to be fixed immediately due to the inherent moral hazards of weaponized declarative package managers, there’s still the option of cancelling the conference – to avoid publicly shaming Anduril, and to avoid speaking on behalf of the Nix community without a full process.

All this flowchart really intends to say, to me, is “there exists an edge where TU Darmstadt doesn’t require dumping Anduril, but if you believe that doing the right thing is more important than keeping your word, then it doesn’t matter anyway.”

Which, at least to me, is very much shirking the fiduciary responsibility you have when acting on behalf of a faceless community.

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Sure. The entirety of my case is that this isn’t a one-question issue, and that focusing on a single question and saying that you’re annoyed by people in this thread discussing other, possibly upstream questions is a perspective that closes down important discussion. If there are questions missing from my flowchart (and there surely are others), that only helps my case.

I excluded the possibility of axing the entire conference for a year because I didn’t think anyone had seriously proposed that; it seems significantly more disruptive to everyone involved than any other option. But if you think that’s what should have happened, I’m interested in reading your arguments, if they don’t round down opposing opinions to straw men.

It makes total sense to me, though, that people would be more focused on what policies to set to make future such cases less likely to arise than on relitigating the decision made in this specific case.


Note that “Nix screwed up” is not mutually exclusive with “dump Anduril.” More charitable would be “Nix did the best they could but should re-evaluate in the future.”

I think flowcharts are a bit reductive in this case, because

this isn’t a one-question issue

and may not be a binary one either.


Of course the trade-off with a decision like this is paid by the community members themselves, people having planned travel and lodging to the locale, those suddenly finding the conference is cancelled. Hope they have planned ahead and got travel insurance.


some alternatives more expansive than binary relations are multi-valued spaces, like the reals, or, changing basis/framing entirely (e.g., shapes instead of logic)

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This is only because you’re looking to justify the actions that Nix has already taken in the context of the new policy that you want the Nix community to adopt.

But it shouldn’t work that way. Adopting a new policy does not justify mistreatment of a partner under the old (read: current) nonexistent policy. Regardless of whether you can find consensus that Anduril is unwelcome as a sponsor going forward, it doesn’t fix that they were treated unfairly under the policy that was in-place at the time. The question of what type of sponsors Nix accepts in the future is orthogonal from attempting to fix the damage that occurred.

What annoys me isn’t that people are looking to discuss what standards should be imposed on future sponsors, but that those discussions are taking place without, for the time being, attempting to salvage the relationship between Nix and Anduril… which is to say, many of you are already implicitly going forward with the plan to carve-out a policy that bans Anduril from being affiliated with Nix and assuming such a policy will go into effect, as evidenced by the fact that nobody is discussing how we can make it up to Anduril or talking about formulating a public apology to them for the whiplash they dealt with.

And Anduril deserves that apology regardless of future plans, and not just as a contingency for if the community doesn’t agree that they should be barred from donating money in the future.

If NixCon organizers had issued a strong public apology to Anduril as soon as they learned about this situation and nothing else changed, I’d find this all a lot easier to swallow. But this is the first comment in this thread where the word, “apology” has been used. And that’s what I find annoying – the lack of seriousness in this thread for how Nix treated a partner. I found this thread through twitter where PalmerLuckey, a founder of Anduril, clearly didn’t get such an apology in private or public.

NixOS just dropped Anduril as a NixCon sponsor only days before the convention for being “associated with the military”, further demanding that Anduril employees in attendance not mention or market their affiliation with Anduril.

Nix should take itself seriously enough as a project for entering into an agreement to mean something. You don’t do this to your partners, but in the nightmare scenario where you are forced to, you at least apologize in a strong and clear way, and explain how it happened, and work as hard as you can to make it right, and take actions so that you don’t find yourself in that position again… You work with them as a partner, and ask them how they want to move forward. You don’t send an email at the last minute that results in them feeling like this^^.

Those follow up actions also shouldn’t start with, “making plans to have never accepted that partner in the first place,” essentially blaming the partner for having the gall to try to sponsor you. What Anduril wanted was a simple shout-out on a slide deck in exchange for a relatively large donation, and what they got instead was their employees embarrassed in public with tape covering their badges and their image damaged through no fault or action of their own.

I can’t imagine eg: LLVM allowing that to happen, or Yocto allowing that to happen, and if you want Nix to be taken seriously, those are the types of mature open source organizations that Nix should model its behavior on. Nix knew what it was agreeing to, then Nix arbitrarily changed its mind. No business should want to risk its reputation by dealing with a business or organization or project that is liable to behave like that.


I think it’s important to keep this discussion focused on discovering the facts, so I’m double-posting with these questions:

  • Is there any evidence available on the TU Darmstadt website that backs up the claim that TU Darmstadt wouldn’t have allowed Anduril to partake in the event as a sponsor?

  • Who first raised this, TU Darmstadt or NixCon organizers?

  • Who did NixCon organizers work with at TU Darmstadt, and is that individual at TU Darmstadt also a Nix community member?

  • Is there someone impartial, that can speak only for TU Darmstadt and has no affiliation with NixCon or Nix, that we could email at TU Darmstadt for clarification?

I’m starting to suspect that numinit nailed it on the head when they wrote that there is “gaslighting about intent” happening here – I’ve seen nothing credible that backs up the idea that TU Darmstadt has a policy that wouldn’t have allowed them to speak as employees and representatives of their company. What we’ve seen is a generic link to the wikipedia page for “civic clause” and an unrelated quote from the TU Darmstadt research project ethics form – sorry, that doesn’t pass muster.

I find it very hard to believe that any prominent research university would have such a restriction on speech for companies in this way – virtually every large conglomerate can be defined as a military contractor in some way/shape/form. Are you telling me that if eg: Airbus wants to go to TU Darmstadt to talk to aeronautic engineers about airplane engines, they’re unwelcome? As a north american, that just seems completely absurd, but I might just not know how things work in Europe.


I don’t really think that should have happened – and I doubt Anduril would have preferred for that to happen, either. But going off of what I wrote in my other reply, I do think that when this issue arose, Nix should have worked with Anduril and asked for their input and how they wanted to move forward.

All I really meant to say is that I feel that abandoning/shaming/embarrassing a sponsor like this should have been treated by organizers as nearly-as-bad as having to cancel the event outright. It should have been considered – not because cancelling the event is something you can do lightly – but because treating a sponsor like this isn’t something you can do lightly, either.


This is a lot of what I’m seeing. It’s an attempt to present the argument in an accidentally disingenuous way (with flowcharts, even!) and pull things like the “extremely disappointed in you, numinit” rhetoric when pointing out the negative effects a outrage mob has on the professionalism of the Nix community. The CCC is a professional organization, but outrage through social channels is not professional. And, naturally, when the behavior of those who are trying to move the goalposts of discussion to both live (and now retroactive) political bickering are pointed out, people don’t budge, because it would reduce the blast radius of the outrage they are trying to coattail.

tl;dr: look at the behavior instead of the moral outrage, and maybe read Hintjens’ work. What I’m seeing so far is an attempt to scare off anyone who wants to sponsor NixCon in the future, which is going to be destructive to a community that heretofore has avoided picking and choosing who to engage with. No company is going to want to engage with this if this is the norm.


It took me 2 minutes to find another conference organised around the same time as Nixcon, also in Germany, also at an academic institution, that was also recorded and livestreamed by c3voc and had a military contractor as a sponsor and speaker. And this shows me that CCC themselves don’t have good process for this at all either and they’re just as “guilty” in having insufficient policies as us. It shows to me that original outrage on socials was selective and arbitrary and not some policy from CCC. It also makes present itself as an unpleasant place to me. (You can try finding the recordinf yourself. I don’t want to start another mob :wink: )

My personal opinion aside (that’s that I wouldn’t like military stuff at conferences and I think a policy for that would be good) I can definitely say that I found the original interactions on a very toxic and im quite disappointed by it. And I’m definitely scared away from Mastodon due to it.

It’s now how I want to interact with Communities and how to gather feedback and handle critique.

And now I’m sad again about Hintjens not being with us anymore:(


They’re called “Chaos” and you expected a reliable process?

Now seriously: please everyone, focus on the future. We’re getting stuck in blaming or justifying that past event, but we can’t really improve what’s already happened. We can only improve future donations.


I think NixOS could set a good precedent by actually coming out and saying that they don’t have issues with defense contractors, which seems to be the implication of the original post. It’d help correct the zeitgeist that’s common in silicon valley circles (and similar places in Europe) that no, we actually really do want the most advanced technology to be working to defend democracy rather than letting economic pressures from certain unfriendly countries to decide where advanced technology can be used.


An article that notably predates the war in Ukraine when conventional thinking was that there would never be large scale wars ever again (“the long peace”) and that militaries were inherently evil, ergo if you worked for a defense contractor, or god forbid, started a defense contractor, you were also evil.

Since then there’s been a revelation moment for many and I think that article looks very dated at this point. Though there’s many that are yet still stuck with the same misunderstanding.

I would think NixOS is more rational than that however, and that definitely seems to be the case judging by what they’ve said in the top post. Even though it’s kind of a non-answer, it seems to imply they don’t actually have issues with defense contractors nor even issues with Anduril themselves. Just that this was a very short notice decision and there wasn’t time for proper wording. It would’ve been better if they’d been more clear on future policy however. What seems to be clear is that they will not host events at TU Darmstadt in the future however, or its possible they’ll work with TU Darmstadt to get their policy changed.


Two different organizations:

One organizes a conference, the other organizes a Mastodon instance.

You picked the wrong CCC here. The one you want is

Besides, AFAIK the only formal involvement of cccda in the organization was to book the rooms as proxy (and only because doing so is cheaper).

The NixCon was organized by individual people.


As multiple people here are asking for the clause of TU Darmstadt:

Forschung, Lehre und Studium an der
Technischen Universität Darmstadt
sind ausschließlich friedlichen Zielen
verpflichtet und sollen zivile Zwecke
erfüllen; die Forschung, insbesondere
die Entwicklung und Optimierung
technischer Systeme, sowie Studium
und Lehre sind auf eine zivile
Verwendung ausgerichtet.

That’s from their bylaws.

Rough translation:

Research, teaching and studies at the Technical University of Darmstadt are exclusively committed to peaceful goals and are intended to fulfill civilian purposes; research, in particular
The development and optimization of technical systems, as well as studies and teaching are geared towards civilian use.

Conferences hosted at the TU probably fall under “teaching”.

The associated press release for the introduction of this clause ( explicitly highlights the issue of dual use and the possibility of going case by case.

Probably, with enough headway, a solution could have been found for having such a sponsor at NixCon. However, going back to my post from before: in a rush decision, it’s quite reasonable that the Uni errs on the side of “no”. A wrong, rushed decision puts it in violation with its bylaws, which could have much longer repercussions. Also, it’s not uncommon to try to rush organisations to get an unloved decision through.

I also think there’s 2 important things to understand: Germany has a strong separation of the military sector and quite some distrust of it for historical reasons. There’s a reason why the Bundeswehr has no organisational history past its formation in 1955.

The second is the nature of the CCC: it’s not a coherent, hierarchical structure, very much the other way around. It works in its smallest cells and particularly the ERFAs (CCC | Erfa-Kreise) . Just because some regional group decides that something is not okay for them, doesn’t mean it’s CCC policy in general or that other groups can’t work differently.


Thanks, this is a better source than the research proposal form.

Still, the conclusion remains the same for me – nothing in that language whatsoever would indicate that someone simply working for a military contractor is not welcome on campus to give a presentation about improving a declarative package manager as a part of their work. Anduril didn’t want to teach the audience how to build a predator drone using Nix, they wanted to talk about package manager internals.

Talking about package manager internals is unambiguously something that falls under “filfilling civilian purposes”.

Why? The wording definitely doesn’t explicitly ban anyone affiliated with military contractors from speaking on campus just because of the nature of the company they work for, why is it reasonable to assume that it would be interpreted that way?

Repercussions for who? What are the potential repercussions of Nix violating a policy of a university that provided lecture halls for a developer conference? Having to host it somewhere else the following year? Would anyone have gone to jail? Would Nix have lost money?

Shouldn’t Nix as an organization feel more obligated to remain in good-standing with a corporate sponsor that’s pledging cold hard cash that could go to project infrastructure expenses, than it feels obligated to remain in good-standing with a random university in Europe that was arbitrarily chosen to host a developer conference and donated lecture halls?

What do you mean by this?

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Even better: what if we just don’t take a position on defense contractors at all, positive or negative, and welcome anyone and everyone that is excited to talk about and contribute to this quirky declarative package manager and its package definitions, which are written in a quirky purpose-built functional programming language?

As they say in Canada, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

Or perhaps you prefer a different song:

‘Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That’s not my department!’
says some guy who is just excited to work on quirky technology probably.

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