With the Debian anniversary approaching, it is a good opportunity to look at the real history of Debian, based on the disclosures from debian-private.
There are over 70,000 messages on debian-private. They have gradually been emerging over IPFS. As more evidence appears, it will be added in the appropriate place below. Please bookmark this page and check back from time to time to see what has been added. Follow the independent Debian.News site to keep abreast of Debian disclosures that may impact you.
Thought exercise: at what point did Debian turn into a cult?.
Some of the overlords insist that all the conflict in Debian is the fault of a single volunteer. What we see in the leaked debian-private emails is 30 years of everybody fighting with everybody else.
Ironically, publishers had initially blacklisted the book.
In 1983, Dr Stallman founded the GNU Project and in 1985, the FSF.
In 1989, Dr Stallman created the GNU General Public License (GPL) which has been used for many other components in Debian GNU/Linux, including the Linux kernel itself.
Linus Torvalds began creating the Linux kernel.
The Linux kernel has been used to create complete operating systems, including both Debian and Red Hat.
Ian Murdock announces the beginning of Debian while undertaking his undergraduate studies. The name is based on the name of his then girlfriend, Debra and his own name: Deb + Ian = Debian.
The GNU Project of Dr Stallman and the FSF sponsors Debian for one year. Debian may not exist in its current form if it hadn't had this opportunity.
Ringleaders have made many promises to try and get unpaid volunteers to spend time and money on building Debian. In 1997 they promised to put our software in space.
In 1998 there was controversy around the activities of a teenage intern from the US Navy, Shaya Potter. Potter was a child prodigy.
Some people put this down to his age but I feel that is very short sighted. This is more about the perils of remote working: a teenager doing unpaid work in front of his computer screen has no real-life contact with leaders or role models. In such circumstances, it wasn't hard for him to go astray and start shifting around the WaReZ. People were happy to exploit his work but did nothing to help him develop as a person.
Chris Rutter was an unpaid volunteer doing a lot of great work for the Arm & Debian porting. Significantly, he had started doing this work as a high school student and he died shortly after entering Cambridge university. Softbank acquired Arm Ltd for £24 billion in 2016 which resulted in significant payments to some shareholding employees while volunteers received nothing.
There is a blog post by Scott James Remnant about the early days of Ubuntu poaching volunteers and dividing the Debian community.
They spent three days, Thursday to Saturday, at a conference in Valencia, followed by Sunday with another Debian Developer before attempting a 666km drive home to Sevilla overnight. They almost made it, the fatal accident occurred just minutes from their destination.
Was the lack of rest in their schedule a factor in their deaths? Similar to Chris Rutter and Thiemo Seufer car accidents.
At the end of July 2005, we heard about the death of Jens Schmalzing. He fell from the rooftop of his workplace in Germany, where there is no public inquiry into such deaths.
Ted Walther nominated for leadership elections in 2005 and 2006. He raised some serious topics that were too challenging for the groupthink brigade.
Instead of discussing the issues, they attacked the person, spreading rumors that his latina date at the DebConf dinner was a prostitute.
People have been spreading rumors that Sven Luther was expelled. In reality, he resigned:
Subject: PLEASE HELP ...
This is, probably the last, of my desesperate calls for help.
I will probably be leaving debian fully, because frankly, it is not possible for me to continue working on debian.
These resignation comments were published on debian-private.
From Jérôme Marant:
I must confess the load flamewars over the past months, along with the growing practice of public humiliation, personal attacks and hate campaigns made my last bits of motivation disappear entirely. Debian is no longer fun to me and I’m not interested in doing volunteer work in such a context one usually wouldn’t be able to avoid in real life.
and from Glenn McGrath:
Due to mostly social and some technical aspects of debian i have lost my motivation to contribute directly to debian.
Pop's second resignation would be his suicide in 2010.
Seufer was doing Debian work on Christmas Day (which is not legal in Germany) and died that night in a car accident.
As part of the election process, Zini asks each candidate:
Please write a list of 5 Debian Developers you would like to kick out of the project.
This really captures the truth about Debian culture.
Frans Pop chose to resign the night before the Debian Day anniversary. In hindsight, we can see that his resignation email was a suicide note.
Many blogs have appeared about the suicide. Some of the key messages are posted on Debian.Day.
Daniel Baumann is secretly expelled.
He is told to continue working as an apprentice under the threat that if he disobeys, the cabal overlords will publicize the expulsion.
as pointed out the last time (when I was not allowed to question a judgment call of a package rejected from NEW based on it’s allegedly too generic name (system-config vs. the now temporary name live-debconfig) and being accused of ’doesn’t respect delegates decision’ and threatened with expulsion just because I dared to think outloud about challenging a ftp-master NEW-queue decision), I find it very disturbing that being the accused, I’m (apparently still) not allowed to know who accused me and of what exactely (rather than a ’summary’).
Quoting John Hasler:
I’ve resigned. Your resignation procedure says I must announce that fact to this list. I’ve sent the requisite message to email@example.com and orphaned my packages. Please notify me if there is anything I’ve missed. Otherwise please do not respond.
Reichle explains she met her husband through Debian. Sadly, this is part of a pattern.
Generally speaking there is ample evidence of something much worse. It is extremely important for everyone on this list who is not a US citizen to understand that they’re likely individually a target if they have access to interesting resources, if they are working on usable cryptography or performing cutting edge security research. There are literally dozens of other reasons for this kind of targeting - if you maintain an interesting package, you may be the weakest link in the chain and thus, you will be targeted for whatever benefit is gained by compromising you or your systems.
Anyway, times, beliefs, and policies have changed, and the easiest path for me right now is just to retire rather than waste precious time fighting for special exemptions or being forcefully kicked out. I always thought I’d be a Debian Developer until the day I died, but I’d rather retire than be run out of town. ;)
Debian would not exist without Linus.
I enjoyed it back then, but now I like to formally retire.
words can hardly express how exhausted and chaffed I feel from the constant fighting and in-fighting. I feel confused and scared that what I always saw as the foundation of Debian, it’s social fabric, is not only tearing at the ends but that some rips are making it into the center, the very core.
by posting another message on debian-private:
by looking into my mailbox I seriously wonder what the point of debian-private is supposed to be. None of it’s (original) intentions seem to apply to what’s currently discussed on this list. Therefore, I seriously wonder, what/how much benefit it gives us as I fail to see why we would need a dedicated place to discuss the evilness involving systemd, or insult and offend each other and then discuss how much insulting those statements were, or whatever else you feel, is currently needed to be discussed on a private mailing list.
There is a perception that people are using the genuine problem of diversity as an excuse to give free trips and speaking opportunities to existing girlfriends who are part of the clique.
I wasn’t too active recently but with the latest activity of our leader and oﬀicial support for women-mini-debconf I want to retire from the project. I don’t want to be part of this anymore. Please hereby approve my retirenment statement. See you in project where everyone will be welcome. Not only women.
Tagliamonte is employed in the United States Digital Service.
There are a few people out there (and maybe in here as well) who see (parts of) this story and draw conclusions about how Debian treats contributors. Conclusions that I hope are in general false, and conclusions that I’d not like to pervade our image.
At this point in time, Baumann was still being controlled as a slave, with the threat that they would publicly disclose his expulsion if he didn't obey them.
Debian founder Ian Murdock is humiliated by a neighbor and the police. He commits suicide.
Dr Appelbaum is highly respected expert on information security.
Many of the misfits were jealous about Appelbaum's appearance in media interviews and they wanted to tear him down so they created false accusations of rape and abuse.
Paul Tagliamonte joins the attack during White House working hours.
No victims ever came forward but the damage was done by rampant gossip.
Dandrimont asks another mentor, Daniel Pocock, to consider Dandrimont's girlfriend, Pauline Pommeret.
Pommeret withdrew her application four days later.
The volunteers elected Daniel Pocock as their representative.
The knives came out and people have been out to get Mr Pocock ever since.
Elio Qoshi resigns as Fedora Ambassador around the time people started learning about his underage girlfriend.
Qoshi subsequently appears as an Ubuntu employee.
Random accusations of abuse are spread about other mentors who had no involvement at all.
The Elio Qoshi affair appears to be the only confirmed case of abuse in the open source world.
One of the Albanian women thanks Daniel Pocock for helping victims of harassment and abuse.
Arjona sent secret threats to Renata D'Avila, the last woman mentored by Mr Pocock. Mr Pocock does not volunteer to mentor again.
Mr Pocock wrote his intention to resign here.
In the manner of plagiarism, Enrico Zini begins obfuscating Mr Pocock's status as an author of Debian.
This is a continuation of the FSFE dramas.
It is a time when most non-profit organizations are showing gratitude to their volunteers and giving people the time and space to rest with their families.
On Christmas Day, Martin Krafft reveals that he is another victim:
I know that there’s been at least another case, in which DAM and AH have acted outside their mandate, threatening with project expulsion, and choosing very selectively with whom they communicate. I know, because I was being targeted. Neither DAM nor AH (the same people still active today) made a single attempt to hear me. None of my e-mails to either DAM or AH were ever answered. Instead, DAM ruled a verdict, and influenced other people to the point that “because DAM ruled” was given as a reason for other measures. This was an unconstitutional abuse of DAM’s powers, and in the case of AH, the whole mess also bordered on libel. Among others, the current DPL Chris Lamb promised a review in due time, but nothing ever happened.
Debian leader Chris Lamb announces a semi-clandestine payment from Google, rumored to be $300,000. It smells like Debian has simply become an extension of Google.
If censorship isn’t the right word (and at best, it’s not ideal), what’s the right word for the chilling effect on willingness to speak in public due to the risk of being ejected from an organization like Debian? Perhaps if we can get past ”it’s not censorship” and say what it is, then we can make some progress. ... I’m talking about declining to speak based on concern about disproportionate reaction from our leadership/delegates for doing so (I’m also not arguing that did or didn’t happen in any recent situation - I am trying to see if there is some consensus to be found on at least how to talk about it).
This tragedy was predicted and avoidable.
The former Debian leader Chris Lamb had a number of Albanian women at his table for the DebConf19 dinner.
To avoid questions about the women, Lamb started rumors about Daniel Pocock mentoring a girlfriend. The rumors about Pocock backfired when people discovered Mr Pocock's intern actually got married in the middle of her internship.
After all the deaths and conflict, people start leaking emails from the debian-private gossip network.
Over 15,000 debian-private emails have subsequently appeared on IPFS. People can now browse the early history of Software in the Public Interest, the Open Source Initiative, the relationships with Debian and the Debian Social Contract.
Dr Preining had spoken up for the civil rights of other volunteers. The cabal overlords got mad and shot him down without any discussion.
Volunteers are asked to vote about publishing a defamation of Dr Richard Stallman.
The vote failed but a lot of time was wasted by the cabal overlords.
Debian leader Jonathan Carter gives a whole lot of money to lawyers to censor the former debian.community web site.
The Debian Social Contract, point 3, tells us We will not hide problems but Carter become obsessed with hiding the problems disclosed by debian.community bloggers.
People started publishing evidence about the previously hidden Frans Pop Debian Day suicide. It looks like this triggered the resignation of Mark Shuttleworth himself.
Abraham disappeared during the kayak excursion. The official search was called off and the body was found by local residents who persisted in the search after everybody else left. Is Debian really a family?