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

Warfare has its own lexicon: The A to Z of military terms | The Economist

The kill chain refers to the process of identifying a target, making a decision over whether and how to attack it, and then attacking it using an “effector”, which can include a lethal weapon or a non-lethal tool such as an electronic jammer. America’s armed forces use the acronym F2T2EA: find, fix, track, target, engage and assess. Armed forces generally want to shorten the kill chain, to give targets less time to get away and to paralyse an enemy. The term “kill web” is sometimes used.

I would like to avoid unproductive arguments about language used, it’s a world likely to be unfamiliar to a lot of people. So it can be jarring for some. Any defense contractor would likely use similar language when attempting to describe products to customers.

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This is not what it’s about, as it has already been said multiple times in this thread. A sponsorship is not a donation, it’s the foundation / the conference organizers receiving money in exchange for services. The terms of the sponsorship don’t seem to be public, but they at least include prominent advertising by the conference organizers.

Please don’t shift the goal posts.

(And me stating this obvious difference isn’t to be read as an implicit support of donations from weapon manufacturers either. This isn’t the question at hand here.)

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In my eyes a sponsorship from a US defense contractor associates NixOS with the US military as a whole. I don’t believe NixOS should be associated with any government entities of any country. Political situations can turn at any moment and we could end up sponsoring a company that enables genocide.

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Also I see some folks arguing that defense contractors are important for supporting Ukraine or the Western Military. Now this might be true and you might even consider good and/or important. However I don’t see the Nix community as a geopolitical organization and as such we would also have to ask ourselves if we would even be having the same discussion if it were for a Russian or Chinese Defense Contractor. It is important to keep in mind that this is an international community and as such the only plausible consequence is not to provide military or arms-related industries with publicity at all.

Also regarding the whole “Is Anduril really killing people?”: Their drones are reportedly built to be outfitted with cruise missiles. I am pretty sure those are in fact designed to kill. I would very much dislike the “This repo was used to fire a cruise missile in the middle east”-Badge on the nixpkgs Github repo. I think to some it does not seem to be clear that we are talking about real weapons designed to kill real people, not just quirky startups that fly their FPS drones around Silicon Valley.

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Phrasing this as “products” and “customers” is completely chilling. What other words do they use in their slide decks, “recipients”?

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The terms of the sponsorship for NixCon NA have always been open. See → NixCon North America - Sponsorship Tracks
Which is linked on the NixCon NA page (NixCon North America - Sponsorship Tracks)

The entire process has been open. There have been multiple posts on discourse calling for participation in planning. The meetings have been open for anyone to attend. The minutes/notes are open for anyone to look at.

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I very much disagree with the Nix foundation accepting sponsorship from Anduril or other defense contractors.

I’m open to “let them give money but we give them no awareness in return”.

I guess if the Nix foundation keeps accepting defense sponsorships those of us that disagree will have to fork Nix, NixOS, etc and create a new foundation.

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I completely agree! to go from development and sale of defense related machinery to “they kill people” is the most extreme shift I’ve experienced throughout this topic

Can you share where you reportedly got this information?

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This post was definitely an improvement, and I appreciate you for it.

But I’m calling this out. It’s not cool to minimize the group of people who are objecting by calling them ‘upset, emotional, and loud’. All three of these words carry some pretty unfortunate connotations in the context of people who are trying to make their concerns heard. Your point would not have been diminished to say that you have a problem with these decisions being made reactively and without adequate deliberation.

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Having not seen any response to it, can I assume that the people onboard with an apolitical sponsorship from Anundril would also be fine with the suggested Iranian military contractor?

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This is the great part of having an explicit policy, it makes things clearer. Under the interim proposed policy ([policy proposal]: Sponsorship · Issue #110 · NixOS/foundation · GitHub) there are established EU and US sanctions that would prohibit that particular military contractor (see Wikipedia for references). So two of the three “tests” are violated quite directly. This requires nearly no subjective decision making, or complicated legal research, and would be quite easy for us to all agree is not an acceptable sponsor under that policy.

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Ah interesting! So even when we put a blind eye to the inherent issues with the proposal of “apolitically” endorsing arms dealers, actually executing on that ideal is a technical impossibility.

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(I find the language of “defense contractor” so incredibly naive that it almost becomes funny. It is frightening to see that the lobby industry is as effective. As soon as there is a single opportunity, or money, for a “defense contractor tech startup” to enter offensive active combat, they would. Because there is currently no active threat to their country of origin they are in the business of “helping defend”. They operate in dealing arms for warfare, anything else is just putting ones head in the sand on purpose.)

But would it be pessimistic of me to say that I likely see this discussion dying and not going anywhere? To me, there are plenty of high quality responses that voice my (and probably, others) concerns very well. The majority doesn’t seem in agreement with having the sponsor, so I hope this doesn’t become just a place for people to voice their opinion, and then the foundation not doing anything with it.

Maybe I’m just pessimistic, but I still have this feeling.

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I have no problem with our defence industry advertising via sponsoring a conference. Influencing the organisation seems unlikely… so so long as there are baddies we need sticks. When my kids, or kids’ kids, are conscripted to fight the Russians etc

You do realize this project has some contributors currently living in Russia?

  1. How do you think they feel reading stuff like that? Are they really an immediate personal threat to you?
  2. Moderation team: WTF, why did you let this pass?

Ain’t free software supposed to have a universalist reach? Did we all give up on our aspirations as soon as the global geopolitical climate gets tenser? I’m disappointed.

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“As I’ve been accused of arguing in bad faith”

“As much as people here have insisted how horrible militaries are, that is not a widely held belief — large percentages of the world population support their governments having militaries. If a country ceases to have a military …”

This entire discussion is not about whether people are for, or against the concept of a military. It is entirely possible to see a militairy as neccesarry, yet being against giving an arms dealer the oppertunity to put a poster on the wall of a community you put a lot of time and energy into. It is not that difficult.

" … is a fringe belief …"

There are large societies outside of your own country, who might hold differing opinions.

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I would just say I completely agree with all of @jakehamilton 's points. I also found it meaningful that a NixCon sponsorship is an exchange of goods/services for money, not “just” an unconditional donation, as pointed out by @delroth & others in this thread.

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Can you expand on this a little? Is this line of thought based on the fact that the military is a public institution, and defense contractors are (usually) for profit companies? In this sense, would the situation be different if instead of Anduril, it was the tech branch of a government’s army that wanted to sponsor a NixCon? (Not sure if these exist for the military, but I know that e.g. the CIA has a tech investment fund, so if we relax the category of defense to include intelligence, I guess this applies?)

Asking because intuitively, I feel like if someone’s against Anduril, then typically they’re pacifists and would probably not want the community to be involved in any war-related actors, no matter if they’re public or privately owned. But maybe I’m wrong.

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“We’ll promote anyone who pays” does not seem like a good idea.

Accepting a sponsor lends them some of the credibility and goodwill we’ve painstakingly built up over time. I think it is entirely reasonable to be selective about who we share that with.

While it would probably be good to have more of a policy on what sponsors we accept, IMHO an essential part of the policy should be that sponsors should be ‘aligned with our community’. I like decision trees and binary logic as much as the next nerd, but this is an inherently fuzzy and subjective judgement call. Within broad bounds, I think we should leave this up to the discretion of the local event organizers (with a veto right by the foundation board, to be used sparingly) - even when they might land on a different decision than I would.

I know a somewhat-nuanced take like this will probably get me hate from both ‘sides’, but there it is.

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Can you expand on this a little?

No, or at least, very little. Because I would laregely be restating the initial message you are responding to. It doesn’t have to do with if it is a for profit/government/agency. I see the militairy as a necessity, but also don’t want to give them a marketing opportunity to put a poster on a wall to advertise their services and/or product.

As soon as you start going in the direction about what people identify as (a pacificst, in this case) then you leave the door open for the unfair interpretation to a form of “lol, these people live in an unrealistic fairy tale” and it becomes very easy to steer the conversation into a black and white topic.

Let’s not confound the topics about supporting a militairy with giving stage to an arms dealer.

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