NixCon 2023 Sponsorship Situation from the NixOS Foundation

For whatever university official ends up informed about the situation. Yes, I have seen German university officials forbid things because they misinterpret the regulations. And the practical instantiation of forbidding here would be kicking out NixCon, whether one day before the Con or mid-first-day, depending on when the question reaches an official who is actually in the relevant position.

The issue here was the sponsorship, not the subject matter. Sponsorships are advertising relationships - they literally get taxed as such - so the organiser and host (TU Darmstadt) get affiliated with Anduriel. The content is fine. Which is why the talk happened, just the sponsorship and advertising in print and video removed.

As above, that wasn’t the issue. The issue is if they accept sponsorship and promote the company, which they would certainly not. Directly or by proxy through an event at the campus.

I’m speaking about the university here. If there’s the feeling that an organisation acts against its own bylaws, there’s usually an investigation.

So if you ask on a short notice and the decision is in a grey area, it will land on the safe side.

There’s sponsors and organisers that strategically send a “by the way” email about 3 days before the event, informing you of something that plays against your policies. Many small organisers and administrators cave in that situation and allow it in that way. Experienced organisers and administrators act the other way and immediately shut that down.


I mean adding to that, how was the GNU project not a deliberately political project? And if you read RMSes website and a lot of the early hackers websites - they talk politics all day!

This thread has grown lengthy, and I’m still determining what threads are worth continuing. I can empathise with some of the sentiments here, or at least hold compassion for the author. Other statements: I need help to do that.

Despite this forum’s purpose being not primarily philosophy, I’m going to write my personal moral beliefs for the record:

No one is illegal
War is terrible,
an activity to oppose.

However, wars exist, and I have no control over that. As a card-carrying ACM member and ostensibly involved in organising NixCon, I’m happy to own some blame over this series of events. Given the circumstances, we made the right choice. Please write me here or to continue the conversation.

If anyone is up for putting energy towards finding common ground about a future sponsorship policy, I’m all for it! There are two excellent starting points above, by @tomberek and @cleeyv


FYI NixCon NA North America 2024 has Anduril as a “gold sponsor”

NixCon NA 2024.

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NixOS Foundation was able to get 5 gold and 5 silver sponsors. Great news! :slight_smile:


I really hope they talk about their Roadrunner-M, a “high-explosive interceptor variant of Roadrunner for ground-based air defense that can rapidly identify, intercept and destroy an array of aerial threats, including large aircraft that are up to 100 times more expensive, or be safely recovered and reused at near-zero cost.”

So cool to see all the interesting applications of NixOS, I love to know my nixpkgs contributions are making a difference :saluting_face:


Things have changed since I was in the Air Force. Ground-to-Air missile systems are pretty expensive and not-reusable once launched. Interesting to see drone-like platforms arise to potentially fill those defensive measures.


Please try to keep this on topic about the actual sponsorship for NixCon (I’d argue that 2024 NixCon NA is on-topic for now despite the topic title, but we might move this out into its own thread if deemed appropriate)


I’d really love to be able to say that I don’t care about NixCon NA, that their orga is free to pick their sponsors at will, and that this will not affect me. But the unfortunate truth is that this isn’t the case.

Especially people from outside of this community can’t see the Nix as the heterogeneous mess it is, and will not make the distinction that this was a decision by the local conference orga. Especially in the context of the last NixCon’s sponsorships.

And if you read the NixOS Foundation board meeting minutes – 2024-01-02 — 2024-02-03, you’ll see that the people involved in this decision were clearly aware of this. Last time, the Anduril sponsorship was an honest mistake. This time, it was a deliberate decision. And if I look at this in context and also who was involved in the decision making, it honestly costs me a lot of goodwill to not interpret it as a calculated provocation.

Last time, we had long debates about sponsorship policies and announcing sponsorship candidates beforehand to make sure people can have a look before it’s decided and too late. What has happened of that? How could the foundation ack this, given the obvious and forseeable negative consequences of such a decision?

NixCon NA is now throwing a big shadow onto the entire community.

The meeting notes also say “make it transparent how we made the decision and communicate”. I think that now would be a very good time to catch up on that task.


I have just cancelled my monthly donation to the NixOS Foundation. While I’m a big fan of Nix, I find myself uncomfortable supporting an organization with sponsors associated with the US military. I invite other people doing the same.


Good for Anduril! I’m glad they’ve come out publicly in strong support of Nix!


I don’t think this is the correct place to be doing this discussion, I think the scope is going from “I take offense from this particular sponsor at NixCon 2023” to “The NixOS Foundation is obligated to discriminate against potential sponsors on the nature of their business now and in the future”.

I’m prior military, so my perspective on the defense sector is probably very different. Personally I would rather have them sponsor FOSS rather than just unilaterally “use but not give back”.

Either way, this should probably be moved into a different thread.


If the topic at hand is a NixCon sponsor that the foundation let through and that people find quite troubling, and the current scenario is also a near-perfect repetition of the original inciting incident, how is it “off-topic” to discuss further here? If you s/2023/2024/ on the original thread title that’s probably exactly what I’d call a net-new thread about it.


It originally started as a After-Action-Report of the NixCon 2023 events. I still think having a separate thread precisely tackling the over-arching issue is warranted.

What if Raytheon or other members of the defense space start also trying to be sponsors?


Taken to the extreme, it’s quite reasonable that they are, aren’t foundations like this put in place for such decisions. I’m sure, even if anduril isn’t one such organization for you, e.g. taking money from Hamas or the wagner group would be a place where we all would agree that “discrimination” would be fine.

Also, discrimination is defined as follows:

the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of ethnicity, age, sex, or disability.

That is to say, a concept applied to people, not corporations. And people are hardly displeased with the anduril sponsorship because of ethnicity, age, sex, or disability, so let’s not pretend that a large arms manufacturer is the victim of discrimination.


I do wonder if any European defense contractors use Nix at all? I am glad to see Anduril is sponsoring. I do wonder what cool things they’re doing with Nix. The United States is pretty much on track to become what Kim Stanley Robinson imagined in The Gold Coast (1988). Is that good, bad or meh? I dunno I just like Nix

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Please remain on topic, this is specifically about our sponsorship policies. Discussing Anduril in that context is encouraged, but discussing whether you like or dislike Anduril outside of that context is not.


I’m sure, even if anduril isn’t one such organization for you, e.g. taking money from Hamas or the wagner group would be a place where we all would agree that “discrimination” would be fine.

Yea, there are sanctions against doing business with organizations listed as “terrorist organizations”, I agree. But even then, different parts of the world will have different lists of “terrorist organizations”. In this case, I believe the foundation had some notes stating to “adhere to local laws” for conventions. Not sure the stance globally.

Also, discrimination is defined as follows: …

There’s many definitions definition:

the act of making or perceiving a difference: the act of discriminating
“discrimination between right and wrong”

Also, in computer science, discrimination is a term which can be applied on determining a total ordering of values, achieving linear sorting behavior.

Sure in most common usage, it means what you described. But not what I intended.

Not the direction I was going in at all.

the NixOS Foundation is obligated to discriminate against filter out undesirable potential sponsors

Is that wording more palatable? Regardless, it’s orthogonal to the point I was trying to make; and not productive in the discussion.

I would like to move the conversation to Should organizations relating to the defense sector being able to sponsor NixOS?

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According to Wiktionary, «discernment, <…>, the act of discerning, <…>, noting or perceiving the differences» is the primary meaning.

those organisations are under EU and US sanctions though, so this would be a legal, not values decision.