NixCon sponsored by military

I’m not seeing any discussion about NixCon 2023 having a military sponsor on discourse.

The announcement was done yesterday on Mastodon:

Could the people responsible for accepting sponsorships comment on this PR disaster?


According to chats on Matrix and the conference website the sponsor has been dropped. Also a Discourse post is being worked on.


There’s always the PR side of things, but people often don’t realize that libre/open-source is by design allowed to be used by anyone – even “bad actors”.

And I’m not saying military is universally bad. Say, the internet was originally designed for US military purposes, as I understand it.


I suppose the difference lies in the difference between “Allowing military to use your libre software” and “Being sponsored by military”


is it just military that is the problem? or any sponsor that can have a strong opinion on project development process and use the threat of cutting sponsorship money to force it’s agenda?

1 Like

Sure, there is difference, but personally, I find it way more interesting to ask what happens with pull requests done e.g. by military. Because in communities like it’s contributions through which you get power (i.e. move things a bit towards what you want). Way more than contributing money on NixCon.

To really enforce such principles, we’d have to somehow triage all contributors and check that they’re not connected to military (for example). That’s rather hard, making it not doable in practice (for us). That’s where I’d circle back – it’s an extreme practical simplification not differentiate about what you use code for, who uses it, etc.

So I suppose it will have to stay on the mostly symbolic level of refusing their NixCon money while still accepting their code contributions which matter much more (at least if they try to hide the origin a bit). Or more particularly, they can better use the money to pay nixpkgs contributors.


I mean sure, if refusing sponsorship money from someone is good for public relations, it’s probably good to refuse. (though I’m glad I don’t decide which is which) But I just wanted to express that to me it feels… just symbolic, nothing more.


I don’t see how this is a PR disaster. Also, extracting money from the USA military complex is a positive thing.


I see a difference between contributing labor and contributing money (sponsoring). The former doesn’t give the same platform and visibility than the latter has.
Contributing code is some kind of power in our community indeed, but sponsoring is still normalization, and reach…


extracting money from the USA military complex

Sponsoring is NOT just getting money (otherwise 0 big companies would sponsor anything).
“Extracting money” at the cost of “providing a platform, increasing reach, normalizing ideas” is actually a commercial transaction: big companies buy the image they want us to see like this…


providing a platform, increasing reach, normalizing ideas

This seems exaggerated. Is NixOS shipping with military propaganda or something? By sponsoring the conference they’re just getting some visibility, showing they use modern development technologies, or hell, maybe they just did because they honestly want to help NixOS grow.


By sponsoring the conference they’re just getting some visibility, showing they use modern development technologies, or hell, maybe they just did because they honestly want to help NixOS grow.

In what you listed, what couldn’t be described as: Using the conference as a platform to reach out to tech enthusiasts? Depolitizing the impact of what they do (selling death) by putting it behind modern development technology talk?

Is NixOS shipping with military propaganda or something?

Is this the bar that we want to set for ourselves?


Doesn’t the military fund tons of OS in USA that we’ve come to know?
Although not the military , the department of energy (DOE) has done a ton in terms of OSS through it’s national labratories.


Yeah, see also the NSA releasing very useful reverse engineering and security tools like SELinux or Ghidra. Should we refuse to use them because of the unlawful mass surveillance stuff?


This is a falacious argument, as it is not what is discussed here: Contributing labor is not the same as sponsoring. Funding is also not the same as sponsoring (getting something technical in return VS getting promoted in return).
It is possible to use Ghidra without promoting the NSA. By definition, it is not possible to be sponsored by something without promoting it, as sponsoring is exchange of money for promotion…


I wonder if it’s not possible for nixcon to reserve the ability not to promote individual sponsors? If I remember correctly, pnpm got some money from a gambling company, yet said company wasn’t displayed on the website for ethical reasons

1 Like

I guess I’m a terrible person, then. I don’t see anything wrong with accepting money from bad people for a good cause.


The problem isn’t accepting money. The problem is doing their fucking propaganda work for them.


Well, it’s clear there’s no agreement and a lot of strong feelings on this issue. So, perhaps it would be a good idea for the future to make the process more transparent and even directly involing the community (a poll or some discussion) before accepting a sponsor.


I have not been very involved in Nixos matters so far but I want to bring forward a counterpoint.

Some objections have been very unspecfic. Like the subject of this post, “NixCon sponsored by military”. If that was the objection, it would be factually wrong, as military means the actual armed forces.
Instead it was a company in the defence industry that was the sponsor. Is the problem that the sponsor was from the defence industry in general, or was it this company in particular that was the problem?
Unclear when reading all the posts. Many kinds of arguments have been brought forward, often with quite emotional and broad sweeping arguments.

About Anduril in particular, I didn’t know about this company so can’t comment on it. But in general, my own opinion is that military defence is not morally wrong, national defences needs equipment as well as weapons of different kinds. I take it not everyone shares that opinion, but many also do.

Perhaps it is better to not have sponsors from this industry but it did not motivate this type of panic. I don’t think anything was gained from it. Anduril can continue to use Nixos for whatever purposes they want to, and likely, if you contribute to Nixos, you will contribute to their mission indirectly.

Finally, some words about “community”. What brings people together around Nix and Nixos is their excellence as software products. We haven’t come here because we share political opinions. No one can talk for the Nixos community as one in political terms. I think that is important to keep in mind when looking back at this.