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

You know what? I am plenty fine if the Nix ecosystem “can’t” graduate from “hobbyists” to “force in the industry”, if the cost is making “a compromise” (but actually compromising) my deeply held moral beliefs.

And, uh, the Nix ecosystem can definitely and will definitely “graduate” [assuming like you imply it hasn’t] without having to stoop that low.


I really don’t understand the point that is brought up frequently that some people may not feel welcome. Thats why there are geographically different events. And the Chinese / Russian can also set up their own conference where they accept their corresponding MIC sponsors. At the end, I think it should be up to the organizers to decide which is a good sponsor / bad sponsor of that particular event. And I personally would love to see Anduril at Nixcon NA, because they are one of the key innovators in that space and really build meaningful and impactful technologies. That help us in the rough waters ahead. And if people are butt hurt about it, consider just setting up the pacifist nixcon NA.


I’m not influential enough to make a statement and have everyone think about it but here are a few thoughts. Before that, though, let me preface it by saying, I am not and will never be affected by any outcome/result of this discussion, whatsoever. I am not an employee at any defence company, nor will receive a single penny if the sponsorship goes ahead, nor will I lose anything if this sponsorship is dropped.

Given the following, I don’t think it’s “unethical” to accept sponsorship from Andruil, or any other such company. “We” here refers to the Nix users, community members and people in the foundation.

  1. We do not, even in the slightest, mention or encourage the use of weapons. By Andruil, or anyone else.
  2. We are not getting involved with [the packaging and/or maintenance of] any software made/designed specifically, or with the intention of causing physical harm to a living being.
  3. Everyone’s (not just Andruil’s employee’s) presentation(s) in conference(s), or contribution(s) to any Nix and/or Nix-related project, in any way, shape or form, does not involve talking about, and/or inclusion of, any such software or system that is used to injure/kill a living being.

That said, I have a few questions. Think of it as a “moral check.”

If you quote-answer one, quote-answer all questions. Don’t half-ass it. I will not be engaging with any quote-answers that do not answer all of my questions.

  1. Since we are not funding the “war,” does it make a difference?
  2. Since we are not providing any services [firsthand] about creating any weapon used in “war,” what difference does it make?
  3. You do realize that defence isn’t just about pouring money in, right? That “blood money” given to Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Andruil always comes back into the economy. The employees pay taxes on items they buy + income taxes. Is using that money (indirectly coming out of MIC) okay?
  4. What level of indirection (or changing hands, as one might say) of “blood money” is okay for you? Don’t say ‘none.’ there is none.
  5. Would it be okay to accept sponsorship from another big [tech] company, say Apple or Tesla? If yes, which ones?
  6. Speaking about Apple and Tesla, there is proof that both of these companies make incredibly, and shockingly excess use of child labour, in even more ruthless conditions. Almost every battery-powered device (other than the fair trade ones) in your home/office has a sweat and tear of a child who mined that lithium that went in your battery.

This isn’t whataboutism or a rant that says “Oh look bad things happen everywhere so we should just ignore it.” Quite the opposite, I just want to know where you draw the ethical line.

Is this bad? Absolutely. No doubts about this.
Is this a “necessary evil?” I believe so, yes. But, this answer still doesn’t mean that we accept their money, though.

The only difference in rejecting this sponsorship is making an active choice of declining one such instance of funding/getting funded by defence money. If that’s your stance, I’m with you. If you feel like accepting the sponsorship, I’m with you on that too.

End note, repeating myself once again: I don’t have a ball in this game other than being a good citizen to my country and a hobbyist (+ frustrated) Nix user.


I would like to remind everyone that militaries receive orders from governments and are financed by governments. If a government chooses to misuse the military to start a war, and the defense contractors are fine with it, then I would be opposed to having any connection to said government and its arms manufacturers. Until then, I have no issues with either.


I’m getting a bit off topic here, but I’d love if NixOS stopped advertising Google. Apart from the DoD contracts, they are a huge threat to general computing and privacy.

Then let’s cut back instead of compromising our ethical stance! Other distros can manage with much less resouces than us, so why can’t we? Fortunately work in this direction is already being done (CA derivations, the recent cache GC…).


I agree, to be honest, I don’t even think that having clear policies is inherently a hugely bad idea for attracting funds in general in this particular case. Even some private software development companies have strict rules of not dealing with certain industries (like gambling, military and etc.) and they openly and clearly state that in their license agreements, and it’s not like they go bankrupt all of a sudden because of that, despite the fact that they could have attracted a little bit more funds.

Considering the amount of people being opposed to the idea of receiving money from military contractors, this is quite a tricky case. I think people that are more aware of the financial situation of Nix project should consider all the possible reputational risks and their current financial situation.

If the project is on the verge of closure just because it needs money then taking money from anyone could be justified. If not, I mean, come on, it’s life, it’s not always black and white, and it’s not always just about the money.


It is most helpful - thank you for taking the time to respond!

Personally I wholeheartedly agree with and support both of those causes as they align very well with my personal political stances.

The challenge is that those are my political stances. For me to insist or expect the NixOS foundation to adopt those same political stances is something radically different. I assume that this is the primary reason no other proponent of the foundations new politics have had the courage to stand by their convictions as clearly as you have just now. Thank you.

Now, mind you I am not suggesting that an organisation like NixOS completely refrain from taking political stances. For example many projects tie themselves closely to the principles of FOSS. To me that stance makes a lot of sense and is commendable, but more importantly it is directly relevant to the nature and conduct of the project.

That said, FOSS does not fully align with my personal politics - which is an important part of what drew me to NixOS: Aligning with open source, but not taking a hardcore FOSS stance - striking the MIT license balance. For that reason alone, aside from the direct relevance, seeing the project adopting this new political stance is in stark opposition to core values I enjoy in the project.

This is obviously side-stepping already described probliems with the specific political stance, like:

  • The board has failed in its responsibility to communicate the stance in no uncertain terms, meaning at present nothing prevents a NixConf from sponsorthip endorsing an arms dealer supplying the opponents of the political causes you and I share.

  • Arms dealers supply many conflicts - not just the politically convenient ones.

  • The political influence of for-profit military industry regardless of the will of the people.

  • However potentially justifiable or necessary, war is messy and painful to any well-adjusted human. Inviting it into our community will never be a clean deal, will not just make “the baddies” feel unwelcome or unsafe.

  • No military industry or war campaign it supplies is reliant on sponsorship endorsements from any open source community or project. Declining to endorse it does not hurt it or the wars it supplies.

  • While it seems there is an apparent dire need to source more funding via conference sponsorships, jumping straight to an industry with this many challenges, which have all been recently called out in the community, seems at best foolishly conflict-seeking. If you want slightly less Bond-villain controversial industries, the fossil fuels sector is dying for positive PR and endorsements.

  • Declining to endorse arms dealers does not prevent anyone from participating in the project, whereas choosing to endorse them may well conflict with policies of other organisations which can then no longer contribute to or benefit from the project. Off the top of my head a, hopefully non-controversial, example would likely be the International Red Cross.


These companies (along with Microsoft and many others) are all on multiple US PORs. Unless you don’t consider software a “device,” they’re all directly involved in building for the US DoD (and directly funded by US Congress to do so).


I don’t understand why we should move towards an action that will, undeniably, alienate and offend so many in the community, when we could also just, well, not? Why should we (the foundation, con organizers, anyone really) go out of the way just to spite so many of the people that contribute to making Nix what it is today?

You can argue that everyone against the defense sector is wrong actually, but unless you can argue so effectively that you can change their minds (you won’t), the fact remains that accepting such a deal would cause a huge rift in the community, and make many people uncomfortable with the idea of continuing to contribute.

Personally, I think the social health of the community is far more important to the project in the long term than a quick cash injection. If it pushes away other sponsorship opportunities, then so what? Moving from “hobbyists” to “force in the industry” is completely pointless if it requires such a deep compromise of ideals (not that I think it really is required anyway)

If the choice is “alienate actual nix contributiors” or “possibly alienate some unknown set of potential sponsors that may or may not appear at some point in the future,” I know which one I think is more important.


Thank you, @thefossguy, those are good questions. I have asked myself some of them already and they bring us closer to the core of this discussion.
I, for once, would like a more formalized policy regarding sponsorships - drawing the line somewhere. That’s more important than the actual position of the line. And remember such policies are always fuzzy and there might be a precedent in the future with a potential sponsor just on the drawn line. Someone should get the power to draw a decision then.

I have however also some criticism to the above questions. The first two questions draw a picture of a one-way flow where only money is heading our way. I totally agree with that assessment, but for donations, not sponsorships. If a sponsor were only interested in “giving back,” they are free to donate the respective amount of money. That would be another situation and I believe it would have risen much less attention and controversy.
A sponsorship is a two-way exchange of resources. Money flows one way and recognition, attention, shoutouts, endorsement, advertisement (rough list) are flowing the other way. They are explicitly agreed on by both parties (whereas donations can be received without prior agreement of the recipient). A sponsorship therefore helps such a company. It is no far stretch that a lot of people on NixCon only become aware of such company through the logo, booth, shoutouts on this conference (or through the discussion we’re just having). There might also be a reasonable probability that someone might start working for such company only because of the sponsorship.
Therefore, such sponsorship would directly help such company, and therefore one might argue a sponsorship is supporting this industry and “war” by proxy (stuff gets fuzzy here, but you should be able to see that some people might think this way).

That’s why I would move the line just behind such companies. Companies that primarily make their money (revenue or profit, to be argued) though deals with the military (directly or indirectly, but still primarily). We could argue about a percentage here (50%, 66%, 33% as examples). But It’s clear a company only doing business with the military (100%) would fall under this definition while a tech company like Amazon or Google with only single-digit revenue/profit shall not fall under this definition.

I also wanted to give a perspective on Europe’s (German’s) relationship to companies working with the military industry. While it seems to me that every second university and company in the US works with the military industry and such this is relatively normal, in Germany such collaborations are few and far between. There are some companies like Siemens that cooperate in such a way, but they are the absolute minority. The amount of companies and universities restricting such support is much bigger (remember “Zivilkausel” regarding the NixCon 2023 location at TU Darmstadt). In this country you can think of a imaginary border between military-related activities and civil activities both in research and entrepreneurship with few outliers or holes.
Maybe that helps understanding while we are much more reluctant to support such sponsorship and are assessing it through a much more critical lens.

Also, refusing such sponsorship doesn’t mean we refuse to support the existence and fitness of our military. As an analogy think about secularization. I recognize and support the existence of different religions and want the right to practice all (peaceful) religions. But I absolutely want a segregation between all government related tasks and religion. In a similar fashion the NixOS community and foundation could not endorse this industry without touching the rightfulness and existence of it.

Finally I want to repeat two IMO important points.

  • Leaving the involved NixOS parties (foundation, NixCon organizers) without some policy on sponsors for much longer is unacceptable IMO. We should work on a agreed upon policy, however it would look like. And yes, empower an organ to decide based on the policy whenever there is ambiguity whether a potential sponsor should be accepted.
  • Taking a sponsor of this industry is positioning the community and foundation on one political side. This will alienate some people on other political sides (e.g. contributors from Russia). Not taking sponsors of this industry is also a political decision, correct. But it cannot reasonably alienate any contributors for staying neutral regarding international politics.

I think there is a difference between a software company that happens to take part in the MIC and support the military (Microsoft for example), and a company that its main business and products are is/are literally autonomous weapons of war (e.g. drones, missiles, submarines, sentry turrets).

I think a proper policy is required to make the distinction more clear.


@Mynacol: While I’m just quoting this part, I agree with most of what you said in that post.

Let me start with saying that those are some excellent points! Yes, sponsorships usually mean that the relationship between both entities is a bit more closer than donors. I actually missed that point somehow (shouldn’t have made such a serious post when I’ve had a personally bad day; my bad, apologies!).

If sponsorship is an issue, sure, then we reject the sponsorship and prevent the sponsor advertisement (a type of advertisement and an endorsement on some level, I believe).

Looking at the sponsorship tiers and the current list of sponsors, there are a few points I’d like to make.

  1. I see that all tiers of sponsors are allowed to share stickers. Now, is this a type of endorsement? Maybe. I believe that the choice still remains with the attendees and their ethics. I’m sure people attending are usually the curious crowd and will ask the Anduril folks “So, what do you guys do?” and will deny the stickers if their ethics do not line up, hopefully, with a polite response from both sides.
  2. Anduril is a Gold sponsor, which does not have the ‘Networking & Hiring Happy Hour sponsorship’ “privilege”. So far so good, I hope.
  3. Anduril, being a Gold sponsor, can however show a “promo video”. There should be a clause somewhere, where either the foundation members and/or community members and/or nix/nixpkgs/nix-adjacent-project contributors have the right to review this for obvious problems.

(actual link to this post in case Discourse can’t quote between topics: NixCon North America - Sponsorship Tracks).

So maybe we can, citing ethical issues with partaking in allowing hiring to such employers, force cap such companies’ highest tier level at the Gold (or better, to the Silver) sponsorship?

Would love to carry forward this conversation in good faith, ending up in some level of concrete guidelines for donations and sponsorships, at the result of alienating one part of the community over the other. Because, let’s face it, there are at least two extremes right now–and some in the between–which is exactly why this topic was created.


What about folks that might take offense if Anduril were not included? It could be that those of this disposition hold a fundamentally different worldview than those on the other side. One that does not insist on endlessly pushing until a goal is achieved. If that were the case, then the “apparent” consensus would be skewed by the difference in disposition.

I can speak for myself, at least, and say that I can give good arguments to support my position, and then that is it. I don’t feel the need to continue to argue, especially when the folks on the other end clearly aren’t interested in ammending their position as I always try to offer the good will of ammending mine when I can see a flaw in my own reasoning. I have mostly completely disengaged from these discussions in the community, and am posting even now against my better judgement, because I feel quite certain at this point that a great many (not all) of the folks on the other side simply aren’t interested in reason. This is self evident by the constant appeal to emotion.

I have made my stance clear in the past, but despite that, there is constant assertions of statements that I fundamentally disagree with being made as though they were indisputable fact. You think that doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable from time to time? Sure it does, but do I think that’s a good reason to tell anyone to do anything? No, I don’t.

It might be a good way to win an argument and get what you want, but in my experience, it is far from the best strategy for finding the closest approximation of the truth. And it is the truth that will ultimately guide us toward success and away from irrelevance.

Don’t get me wrong, emotion is an irrovocable part of what makes us all human, and can sometimes be a bridge by which we find common ground. But other times it can be a wall that keeps us from understanding even basic reasoning.

Due to it’s unreliable nature, and statistically random distribution throughout the population, I don’t think it is appropriate, in general, to appeal to emotion when making governance decisions. Obviously this is far from the norm and I am likely in the minority on this position, but I can only argue from the stance in which I truly believe, regardless of whether it is in vogue or not at the time. The current abysmal state of politics, in general, compared to anyone who is old enough to remember a time before the internet makes this obvious to me, at least.

Best I can tell this won’t stop unless/until all the opposition to the supposedly righteous view has been silenced through shere exhausting to continue to make it seem as though there is some consensus where there is none. So be it, but that doesn’t make your opinion virtuous or even common.


From what they advertise on their websites an a bit of Wikipedia. If this is not actually their main business, then why are they putting it everywhere on their website? or more concerning, they are proud of it enough to put it everywhere on their website (whether it’s their main business or not).

Are the two other companies you mentioned relevant here? Are they sponsoring NixCon NA?


It might be beneficial to gather a broader spectrum of perspectives from the wider community and proceed with the decision that garners the most substantial majority support. This discussion seems to be predominantly influenced by a vocal contingent from Western regions. In my opinion, it’s essential to engage a broader audience when formulating a sponsorship policy that impacts companies.


Somewhat tangentially I’ll note that NixCon 2022 was sponsored by DGNUM, which is part of the French military itself (not a company that merely does business with militaries), and as far as I know there was no corresponding discussion of this nature. I wonder why.

I have now seen this argument used by several people in several different places. Obviously from people that have not done their homework properly: DGNum in this case is the nonprofit that organized NixCon 2022 ( and that have absolutely no ties with neither any kind of military entity or the DGNUM ( that is part of the french army ministry.
Of course, one might mix them up when trying to find arguments to support their cause and spending maximum 10s on the question.


Is the central question here an empirical one, such that ‘closest approximation of the truth’ is an applicable concept? Seems to me we’re discussing ‘ought’s, not ‘is’s.


My point is that you have no way of drawing the line between “a software company that happens to take part in the MIC” and “a company that its main business and products are is/are literally autonomous weapons of war.” If the two companies I linked were to hypothetically sponsor NixOS, the idea of their “main business” you’d get “From what they advertise on their websites an a bit of Wikipedia” would not be correct.

Can you link to meeting notes or something that demonstrate this? Multiple people involved have indicated to me that it was indeed DGNUM who was involved, not DGNum, and the foundation board meeting minutes from September 9, 2022 mention DGNUM, not DGNum. So if it was indeed DGNum, not DGNUM, then even some of the people involved with this event were confused about which one it was.

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NixCon 2022 - A conference about Nix and NixOS shows the logo of

Also on that website you can clearly see Julien Malka, the person you’re replying to, is the Secretary of DGNum so they are even a primary source. I’m pretty sure he is pretty sure which DGNum is being talked about. Given he is DGNum


Of course you can? You look at the spectrum between these two extremes, and then you pick a point and draw a line. Easy as that. You don’t even have to do that right now, you can just declare the intention of having a distinction between these two, and then fleshing out the details on case-by-case decisions you get there.

All you need is an agreement that 1) there is a difference between these two points, and 2) that this distinction is relevant for the decision process, and that there is going to be a cutoff point separating the continuum into two discrete categories.

I’d assume we mostly all agree on 1) and that 2) is the controversial point here. And you very much can be against it, just also bring convincing arguments to the table.

Arguing about some hypothetical edge cases as a general argument against making this distinction in the first place, to me, is whataboutism.