Should organizations relating to the defense sector being able to sponsor NixOS?

It seems that the majority are against the open letter.

This seems to a rather bold conclusion to arrive at from a reddit thread with less than half as many comments - including those critical of the sponsor in question - compared to signatures on the open letter.

Neither of those should be regarded as representative for the community as a whole, but I do recognize more names from nixpkgs commits log on the letter. Not that it matter’s too much: It’s not a popular vote in the end, but an appeal to the responsible Foundation board members & NixCon organizers by community members, based on social trust.

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https://nixos-users-for-western-mil-and-govs.github.io/

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Following the open board call, one of my action items was to update the sponsorship tiers to reflect the most updated reality. I made the edits to the post but also sharing them here.

Made Edits to address the change of the sponsorship tiers following the discussions this week. If anyone is impacted by this please let us know at the NixCon NA team:

  1. We will not have promo videos.
  2. We will not have logo on screens during breaks

@ajaxbits tagging for visibility as you helped bring up this action item, thank you! (I hope that this is the right handle)

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I suspect this open letter was crafted with ulterior motives. Had its authors truly intended to advocate for the NixOS Foundation’s objective of accepting Anduril as a sponsor for our conferences, they would have chosen a more impartial title. Instead of “NixOS Users For Western Military and Governments Support,” a title like “NixOS Users Against Biased Political Discrimination” would have more accurately conveyed a genuine effort to address bias and promote inclusivity.

My interpretation is that it was designed to misleadingly portray the first letter as reflective of a unanimous agreement.

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I see that you’re not familiar with the concept from the Haskell world of avoiding success-at-all-costs. Free Software is prior to corporate needs, and there’s nothing wrong with an ecosystem composed entirely of hobbyists.

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Sharing for visibility:

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Familiar with the term, but was unaware it was an intentional desire of the community to remain niche. Really a shame, fell in love with Haskell in 2014, and always wondered why it just existed in a few pockets around the world; but never had any compounding adoption side-effects (pun intended).

Either way, pursuit of Haskell led me to discovering Nix. Now I’m here.

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For me this is not a desire, but just an unwillingness to grow at all costs. Also this community currently has enough growing pains already, so no need to accelerate things even further.


I just wanted to share the link to the letter for completeness. But yes, I have trouble taking the letter seriously—If not for Hanlon’s razor, I’d seriously consider it a “false flag” operation as well to be honest. Especially with the wrong links and the footer still not fixed … (my most charitable interpretation of this is “knee-jerk reaction”)

I interpret this as a three-way split in this discussion. There is a difference between opposing a ban of certain sponsors for various reasons, and full-on propagating armed western imperialism. And in my impression, the latter are only a couple of very loud people, actually harming the interests of the former position in the process.

I would like to see an open letter which both I and the people I disagree with could take seriously, and that actually aligns with the interests of a nontrivial part of this community.

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The creator of the message posted a message at the original thread at NixCon 2023 Sponsorship Situation from the NixOS Foundation - #116 by maxkokocom too. A false flag would involve fake profiles signing up.

As for the original question here: Should organizations relating to the defense sector being able to sponsor NixOS? The answer for me is yes - I’m surprised the amount of energy and bickering that has gone into this thread over a $5k sponsorship.

Though to be perfectly honest, as I read some people’s replies on this thread - I was wondering how many of them had any realization that they were basically engaging in a petty form of fascism.

There have been some attempts to come up with a general principle we can apply as a policy and some arguments made in both directions. I feel that it would be useful to give my specific reason for being against this sponsorship:

I strongly dislike the killbot hellscape future Anduril is selling, and would like to avoid helping them in bringing it about.

Smarter people than me have come up with better arguments than I could come up with. The gist is that pushing autonomous weapons capabilities on one side will cause the other sides to respond in kind. I believe Anduril to be the one pushing this line the most, which is why my arguments are specifically about them.

I’m not sure how to formulate a policy that encapsulates this problem, that everyone could agree on. Maybe excluding sufficiently controversial sponsors?

I also think people might feel more strongly about this than about a normal sponsorship because their work is in Nixpkgs and likely being used to build these systems.

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I would like to separate the questions about moral judgements about a company from the question of whether or not it is suitable as a sponsor. “Taking money from”, “advertising for” and “endorsing” a company are three related but distinct things and in my view these distinctions currently matter here.

And I understand that people who dislike military companies most likely will not want to have any advertising done for these. On the converse, this still leaves room for people who feel neutral or otherwise about these companies to still disagree with doing any sponsorships for them.

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Feel free to raise a third signature website that does not explicitly support the Western values system and Western countries’ maintenance of those. The fact that there are more than two potential positions in this debate doesn’t necessarily mean I am conducting a false flag operation.

I would be very happy if you started another repo where people can help you write a message focused strictly on anti-censorship and respecting every individual in the community, whatever their personal views are. I would still believe this is better than the current state of affairs; I simply personally believe this is not good enough anymore as it’s not only about people feeling welcomed at events anymore, but much bigger then just NixOS community events with much direr consequences if wider tech community doesn’t stop this, but this is my take.

Go and push for yours, which is more centrist. And yes, it’s probably easier to get signatures, as so far I have gotten none except for plenty of private messages of support, but none public, which tells a lot that you may be right about my approach being the wrong one. The centrist approach may be more effective, but I still believe it’s not the right one.

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They registered their NixOS Discourse account merely 14 hours ago, solely to post that single comment. This coincided precisely with the creation of their repository on GitHub and their initial commit.

This sequence of events has only heightened my suspicion that we’re dealing with a false flag operation.

Update: I’ve just read Max’s comment and find myself in agreement.

Hi @kiara

That’s true specifically because of the defence industry. If the west collectively decide to become pacifists and decommission all weapons and war machines, that would not be the case anymore. It’s a hypothetical scenario where the evil defence contractors don’t exist anymore. Of course militaries could stop using contractors and make everything in house but I don’t think outsourcing is the issue here. I’m challenging the pacifist view that calls for the demilitarisation of democratic nations. Autocratic nations won’t be affected, especially when they are the only ones left with weapons.

Hi @AngryAnt
Thank you for challenging me in my comment. As I mentioned it should be decided on a case by case basis. In those countries contractors have very close ties to the government and I personally oppose ones that actively support and perpetrate genocide and oppression among other things. It’s not about any single country.

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take a serious look at the people on the signatories list. as of 2 days ago, it covered 29% of all non-r-ryantm PRs against nixpkgs, and it’s got more signatures since then. that’s not insignificant. this isn’t some “if we persuade them to our viewpoint they’ll understand why Anduril should be a sponsor” issue. it seems rather to be a “sponsoring Anduril is fundamentally incompatible with the passions which motivate those volunteers to be here at all” issue.

you don’t have to agree with anyone’s morals. you don’t even have to understand why a large portion of NixOS holds to this line: there is no single answer to that. you only have to decide at this point whether continued Anduril sponsorship is worth more than 30% of nixpkgs. the other stuff is important, yes, but it’s this point which is immediate, and real.

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If I understand the calculation being made here, displaying advertisements for weapons manufacturers is apparently more essential to the long term future of the Nix project than the goodwill of a substantial portion of the people actually doing the work.

Seems to me like we’re gambling away quite a lot of volunteers just for the opportunity to attract more… Western Imperialism fans(?) to the project. I hope they like writing docs.

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The very point of open source software is that one shouldn’t judge on where contributions comefrom.

SELinux came from the NSA? Huawei wants to make contributions to the networking stack in the kernel? Some random defence start-up wants to contribute a patch to a webserver? Cool, does it improve the project for everyone? Awesome then, onto the next PR.

And at the same time, anyone can use the code for whatever purpose they want to. And if anyone can use, anyone can pay people to then go and make further improvements (in theory at least).

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This has exactly zero to do with the issue at hand. Don’t derail the conversation please.

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Are commits to nixpkgs the measure of how to have your voice heard in the nix community? I’ve spend countless hours in chatroom talking to people about nix, getting them oriented in the ecosystems, helping troubleshoot problems. Are these contributions worth less? Do they diminish the value of my voice compared to those with high commit counts?

Then is there really a need for discussion here after 160+ posts? If this is the feeling, then shouldn’t this group just take their next action?

It seems sort of odd that that a large minority of people would expect a foundation that represents a huge diversity of view points to adopt their specific political stance. There probably won’t be much that most people can agree on, save that the foundation should work to advance the use and functionality of nix.

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