NixCon NA 2024 is getting sponsored by Anduril, what to do about it

Bear in mind that Microsoft is heavily, but not primarily, involved in military, defence, intelligence or weapons manufacturing.

“Empowering militaries. Improving operations. Protecting national security.”

Amazon and Google are also involved, and both companies also provide to the Israeli military as part of its “Project Nimbus”. Project Nimbus for example has been heavily criticised by those concerned with Palestinian human rights including employees, particularly since recent events in the region.

If you’re suggesting policy, you should probably have in mind exactly what the criteria are and what companies are and are not excluded. For example, one possibility, if you want to allow these companies but not Anduril (or, say, Lockheed Martin), you could drop the “heavily”, and permit huge defence contractors provided it is not the majority of their business. Or, if it turns out the issue is really about image and not substance, you could say “companies that are primarily known for”, etc.

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Quick heads-up (this was already mentioned in other related channels, but making sure that folks don’t miss it):

  • There’s an open call next Wednesday which will be the occasion to discuss a lightweight short-term policy that we can use right away;
  • Several people asked how they could make sure that this was followed-up on and wouldn’t just die-off once the tide is over. Beyond the general discussion (which risks to die-off indeed), I think that the best way forward is to open a a pull-request to GitHub - NixOS/foundation: This is the home of the NixOS Foundation with a draft proposal.
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I think either “majority of their business” or “primarily known for”, could, for some 90+% of businesses, find a consensus fairly easily as to which side of the line they’re on. Neither is perfect, but either is at least some kind of starting point.

Biggest concern with regards to “Primarily known for” is that it’s subject to geographic disparity. Especially in the case of a military supplier, people from two different countries could “know” the same company for extremely different things.

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I do feel for the NixCon organizers, especially since I’ve been close enough to last year’s orga to have seen how shitty a situation it was for everybody involved. The processes and guidelines for sponsorships which need to be established are meant to protect future conference organizers from such situations

I don’t think processes and guidelines alone can protect from this happening again. I also think a fair share of introspection will be needed by the community itself.

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This is unfortunate. As someone who has seen how “traditional” defense procurement and development is done: seeing Nix used to solve a myriad of packaging, configuration, and integration problem is a super compelling story for Nix. I’m sure a lot of industry would be interested in how custom hardware, firmware, software, and services can be packaged and configured to deploy devices. Including per-customer modifications and extending a common “prototype” to many different variants. This is a massive headache in purely civilian contexts as well.

Without Nix, this would require probably a dozen different tools, and significantly more integration pain would be present at each abstraction (hardware, firmware, software) and service layer.

Not trying to shill a company, but rather “Nix is a super power”. And people should hear about it being a super power.

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Why would you need a company logo on your badge/giveaway swag/flyers/recruitment to tell people about Nix being a super power?

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This is a good point. One of the best things about Nix is that it has potential to be a game changer in just about any field that uses computers. There are definitely many commerical/industrial cases where a little reproducibility and stability would do us all some good.

Though to be clear, @piegames’s suggestion was that this sort of ban would apply to just “employees whose companies we do not want to advertise for” (putting aside, for the scope of this comment at least, how we determine which companies that may or may not apply to). So it’s not a total ban on businesses advertising themselves. In that sense, I think it’s a reasonable proposal.

And naturally, all of this is in the context of officially-branded NixCons. “Blacklisted” companies are of course free to talk about how much Nix has helped them in unofficial Cons, or conferences for their own industry. So I hope that being shut out of this one venue wouldn’t be too much of a hinderance on Nix adoption.

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I agree with your goal but I don’t think I agree with your conclusion. My proposal for this is to explicitly not approve sponsorships until the sponsorship candidates have been vetted by the community. You may still view this as a form of “walking back previous decisions”, but personally I don’t see this as a problem as long as the process is defined and communicated clearly to the involved parties. Expectation management is key here.

I don’t disagree, but also that’s not what I’m stating. I merely say that doing this is necessary, not that it will be sufficient.

It looks to me that you got what I was saying precisely backwards from what I meant. I meant that we do not want to advertise for certain companies. I did not mean that certain companies should not advertise for Nix.

My proposal is explicitly aiming for a policy where everybody can contribute to Nix and Nix conferences and shout how great it is for them from the top of the roofs.

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Moderation notice, for this thread as well: A couple of users complained here about not being able to edit their messages because of the slow mode. I initially could not reproduce this, but that is because the system apparently does not enforce timers on me as a moderator.

I have now found and disabled this feature, and edits will not be counted as part of the slow mode message timer anymore. The message cooldown is there to prevent the discussion devolving into a messy real-time chat. I trust you all to be considerate with your message edits and to not abuse it to reply to people who posted after you.

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Anduril is an explicitly political project. In previous discussion,@jonringer has lamented “making everything political”. I don’t think it is appropriate for Nix to be sponsored or led by political organizations: Nix should stay focused on its mission of technical excellence and prevent its contributors from being derailed by politicking in the project. For the record, if it were a similarly political Chinese or Russian sponsor I would make the same argument.

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