Mark Shuttleworth & Debian Day Volunteer Suicide cover-up

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of Debian. The number one thing on our minds should be the Debian Day Volunteer Suicide.

On Friday, 13 August 2010, people on the Ubuntu payroll began a new push for DEP-5. Barely 48 hours later and Frans Pop decided enough was enough. Pop's resignation email to debian-private reads like a suicide note.

I previously looked at how Debian made a release dedication to Ian Murdock after his suicide but there was no equivalent dedication to Frans Pop.

Why did they not experience the same treatment?

Within hours of the bad news, Mark Shuttleworth had sent an email to debian-private suggesting that it remain private.

The arguments made by Shuttleworth may be correct but this still feels wrong.

Shuttleworth admits that his business model poses a danger to Debian volunteers.

His participation in debian-private suggests he has a duty of care to all volunteers, whether they are his employees or not.

-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Re: Privacy of -private list ; missing even one bit of common sense and decency
Date: Sun, 22 Aug 2010 10:50:19 +0100
From: Mark Shuttleworth <>

 On 22/08/10 01:45, Russell Coker wrote:
> On Sun, 22 Aug 2010, Samuel Thibault  wrote:
>> Patrick Ouellette, le Sat 21 Aug 2010 19:10:55 -0400, a écrit :
>>> I mourn the loss of life, and I have sympathy for those left to pick up
>>> and continue on.  I will not, and can not honor the individual because of
>>> the last choice he made.
>> And I guess that quite a few people share your view.  It's considered as
>> a crime or a sin in many religions.
>> I personally do not like this point of view at all, but it unfortunately
>> probably has to be respected.
> As a general rule I don't think that we have to respect the views of a religious minority when they infringe on the rights of people who have different beliefs.

Regardless of religion, there is a proven danger in glorifying those who
commit suicide, it encourages others to do the same:

Debian's close-knit culture, and the extent to which many DD's feel a
stronger affiliation to this group than any other, amplifies the danger
substantially.  The need for validation and recognition from this group,
of this group, is stronger than any comparable organisation I can think
of. Dedicating a release to someone is the highest honour Debian can
offer, we should be extremely thoughtful about what incentives we are
creating when we do so.

As yourself this: if Frans had continued to give as generously of
himself through the release as he did in the past, would you have wanted
to celebrate that by dedicating the release to him? If not, what are you
celebrating in dedicating the release to him now?

We are all, rightly, shocked and saddened by the loss of a colleague.
None of us should judge Frans' choices: there are many valid reasons to
choose one's end. But we should be careful not to put others at risk.

Biella may be in a good position to comment on the real human dynamics
for those who are at risk.


Read more about the Debian Day Volunteer Suicide.