On Lars Wirzenius, Martín Ferrari, and Debian

Now that the tsunami that followed my recent blog post has passed, I can read through all the nice comments and blogs of other people. I didn’t expect that just writing up some links to posts on LKML, plus adding my personal opinion on what has happened and about my interpretation concerning Debian could gather so much attention. Anyway, let us look at the blog posts written in the aftermath.


In particular do I want to answer to two blogs: Lars Wirzenius’ blog and Martín Ferrari’s blog, both of which are excellent examples of insults. I also want to mention that although the previous two are bad examples, there are fortunately also those who are able to resist primitive insults, in particular Gunnar Wolf (direct link to the blog does not work), and Miriam Ruiz’ blog, which contradict my blog and propose a different view, without pulling the knife.

Lars Wirzenius

Let us start with Lars (ah sorry, I have to call him Wirzenius here, strange custom has suddenly popped up in Debian!):

I think Preining mis-characterises what happens on the Linux kernel mailing list, and in Debian, in free software development in general, and what Sarah Sharp has said and done. … I continue to think he is wrong about everything on this topic.

I am very surprised that Lars^WWirzenius is in possession of a crystal ball that allows him to see and evaluate my attitude towards all these items, considering that I have presented links to posts on the LKML, and yes, my interpretation of the matter. Mind that the whole text amounts to about 130 lines on my screen, while my personal opinion was stated in two paragraphs of total 9 lines plus some interspersed comments. And in these maybe 20 lines I didn’t make general statements about open source, kernel development etc etc.

Lars, I know you have closed your blog for comments so I couldn’t ask you – but please, can you send me one of your crystal balls if you have more of them?

At least he has managed to keep a bit of proper writing and disagreed with my statement on Debian (whether there is fun or not in Debian). He is of course free to do that, but please, don’t rob me the right to state that I think Debian has changed.

All this dispute centers around people not being capable to distinguish two things: One, being against the Code of Conduct due to the inclusion of administrative actions without clear definitions, and Two, being pro offensive behavior and and insults. Now, dear Lars^WWirzenius, please listen: I never advocated abusive behavior or insults, nor do I defend it. (Did you hear that!) I simply opposed the Code of Conduct as ruling instrument. And what kind of emails I got due to my opposition was far outside the Code of Conduct you are so strongly defending.

So please, stay at the facts, and stop insulting me. Thanks.

Martín Ferrari

Concerning Martín I don’t have much to say but please, stop spreading lies. You stated:

Once again, he’s complaining about how the fun from Debian has been lost because making sexist jokes, or treating other people like shit is not allowed any more.

Could you please come up with a reference to this? Or are you just interpreting?

I am very disappointed about this level of discussion between Debian Developers. You not even cared to answer my comment on your blog. Should I say something clear here – you should be happy that this has not been written on a Debian mailing list, otherwise I hope the Code of Conduct hammer would hit you.

So yes, it seems that at least these two blogs underline exactly what my opinion is: Communication culture in Debian has changed to be more company-like. Probably due to the ever increasing amount of developers that are paid for their work on Debian (Ubuntu), the pressure to follow US company codes has taken a firm grip, so firm that even stating my diverging opinion is already enough to get branded. Good Future!

25 Responses

  1. Jonathan says:

    Why do you feel it is justified for you to interpret the writings of others on LKML, but not appropriate for Lars, Martin or anyone else to interpret yours?

    • Svena says:

      Alas, if you read the (Lars’ and Martin’), they’re one gigantic strawman. Gunnar and Myriam managed to make their point without using dirty politician tactics.

    • Anonymous says:

      …came up here to ask the same.

    • Please read the original post. The good thing about it is that it was precisely just summarizing what has happened rather than doing name calling and finger pointng.

      Sure, Norbert did, in the end, call names and point fingers but the crux of all this is that his opinion was attached to a set of facts. That is, everyone was free to ignore it and just study the summary of that LKML “incident”.

      Everyone else who had spoken up on Debian Planet responding to Norbert’s post did not present any facts and merely exercised in being dismissive in the usual “blah blah blah I don’t hear you” manner.

  2. LorenzoC says:

    Unfortunately the issue is not limited to Debian and it is not related to “company codes”. There is a bran washing propaganda running nonstop on the media, there are teachers in schools, there are new laws, it is a big plan of social engineering.

    Yes, “1984” slavery indeed but a more subtle version.

  3. Zack says:

    I am very disappointed about this level of discussion between Debian Developers. (cit.)

    As a key example: you claim that Lars claims to have a crystal ball, and that he has insulted you. But from the very same paragraph of his you quote, the use of “I think” (twice) is in clear sight. That’s not having a crystal ball. That’s not insulting someone. That’s not even insulting their thoughts. It’s just expressing counter thoughts, which is how you have debates.

    Until someone starts crying at others for insulting him, that is.

    • Hi Zack,

      Two things: First, in the countries where I lived, the existence of crystal balls is restricted to fairy tales. I assumed that is hint enough that I am sarcastic. Sorry if my assumption was wrong.

      Second, of course one can always say “I think” – I did the same in my blog. This is a so called figure of speech, and was used in much more expert way already by Seneca (whom you surely know as Itallian). The message remains the same – Lars clearly judged things completely unrelated.

      Last but not least, why didn’t you comment on Martin’s blog, then, if proper behavior is so important for you?

      Or is it because I am opposing things that are getting main-stream in Debian? Because I am uncomfortable? I don’t fit into the smooth atmosphere?

    • PS to your comment: You are a researcher and scientist like me. I ask you to adhere to the same principles you are requesting from scientific reseearch: Present your facts and references, and from there draw your conclusions.

      Now, I have presented my sources, and my reasoning, and did draw my conclusions. Others are free to do the same. But simply saying “This is wrong” is on the level of the catholic church when burning witches and despising scientists. In all my comments I provide reference to my reasoning and why I did arrive at my conclusion.

      People are free to disagree with my conclusion, but they have to provide rational explanation, instead of luke-warm blabla.

      • Zack says:

        I argue that:

        1) you have claimed that Lars insulted you. Evidence: you wrote “stop insulting me”. And that:
        2) you haven’t provided evidence that he did insult you.

        That was the main point of my comment here, and I don’t think you’ve countered it effectively.

        (Unless you want to use the argument that “being insulted” is a subjective matter, in which case you would step yourself outside the realm of rational intellectual debate.)

        I pass on all the other related-but-independent arguments you’ve used in your replies to me here. ENOTIME.

        • I did provide reference, by explaining that “I think” has an inherent meaning of stating a fact. And stating that someone else is wrong on a variety of things unrelated to the original post is generally considered an insult. Or would you consider statements like “Zack is incompetent in management” in an article about your incompetence on ancient Chinese medicine not as an insult? (Wow, that was a complicated sentence!)

          • Zack says:

            > And stating that someone else is wrong on a variety of things unrelated to the original post is generally considered an insult.

            [citation needed]

            “generally considered an insult” is nowhere near my personal bar (e.g., if I were a paper reviewer) for scientific accuracy.
            As an empirical data point, I do not consider that behavior an insult.

        • Charles Plessy says:

          Hi Zack,

          I think that you are being very unfair to Norbert. While polite, I found the blog of Lars unconstructively aggressive and fingerpointing (or “pulling the knife”, as Norbert says).

          After reading Matthew’s blog I was under the impression that Sarah Sharp had just been bullied on the LKML but out of curiosity, I had a look at the particular thread and in my impression, she is the one person who jumps in a discussion with an aggressive behaviour, makes personnal attacks and refuses propositions for a face-to-face discussion at the next conference. Well, perhaps she is a great person who just happened to have lost her nerves on that day…

          Then the question is: if Norbert had used a more polite way to express his opinion, woud have people reacted the same. Unfortunately, I can not help fearing that the answer is yes….



  4. Anonymous says:

    “my personal opinion was stated in two paragraphs of total 9 lines.”

    You are deluding yourself.

    when you say things like the following:

    “Up to now a pretty decent and normal thread with some jokes and poking,
    nobody minded, and reading through it I had a good time. The thread continues
    with a discussion on requirements what to submit to stable, and some side
    threads on particular commits.

    And then, out of the blue, Social Justice Warrior (SJW) Sarah Sharp pops in…”

    Your deciding that some comments are acceptable, and some are “out of the blue” is imposing some personal judgement. Choosing to label her as a “Social Justice Warrior” is very clearly injecting a personal opinion.

    Some other paragraphs contain “gearing up in her SJW mode and starting to rant”, “It is just the geeky SJW that was not even attacked” “a nearly endless discussion with Sarah meandering around” “Here arguments are so weak I had nothing but good laugh” “Fortunately, she was immediately corrected” “He retracted that last statement, though I don’t see a reason for it”

    You can’t tell me these paragraphs are free from opinion.

    Please don’t try to present your previous blog post as some mostly factual post free from opinion… it was a very opinionated piece. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have gotten the attention it did.

    • Yes, of course, my blog contains my opinion. I never stated anything else. Still, it seems that I was the only one going through the actual emails and checking what did go on, instead of blindly following the “woman got attacked – how can this be” road.

      Yes, whatever appears on this blog is my opinion. Not surprising though. Still, even if you add all the other lines where I mentioned something, you will probably come to 20 or max 25, of 130.

      • Anonymous says:

        would you revise your post from saying “my personal opinion was stated in two paragraphs of total 9 lines” to something more accurate. your personal opinion was not at all this limited.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sir, with all due offense–

    If you must go so far as to hunt for details this minute, it means you’re dodging the elephant in the room and arguing beside the point. That in turn is a tacit admission of agreement, which is contrary to your belligerent tones. Whether your going forward with nit-picking regardless is a honest exercise in futility, or a conscious tar-pit tactic, remains to be seen.

    As for the time being, arguments from the facts — as contrasted to arguments from emotions — against the blogger’s characterization of the LKML exchanges in question, are nil. (Indeed it’s as though some effort was being expended on keeping that discussion from occurring.) As for arguments from emotion: those can be made with equal weight in the exactly opposite direction regardless of content, and therefore they are always trumped by arguments from evidence and reason.

    Of course this current exchange isn’t about what genuinely happened on the LKML anymore, but rather about who’s entitled to take insult from whom and what for. The tactic of “sliding” into irrelevant minutiae.

  6. giselle says:

    It’s funny to see how the discussion developed to a meta-discussion 😀
    You are all too serious… 🙂

    I’ve been siting here trying to decide what to think for a while about all the situation of “rude” e-mail exchanging. It is funny that people feel the liberty to do this over the internet, but you would hardly ever see them attacking each other so aggressively in real life. Seeing how they treat each other in real life, at least for me, softens so much the tone of the otherwise interpreted as very angry messages. The problem is when we never get the chance to see these people in real life, as it is often the case in FOSS communities.
    On one side we have more experienced developers, writing that e-mail for the 1000th time, sighing and making sure all the necessary points are stressed. On the other side we have less experienced people, reading that message addressed to them and imagining a much angrier and meaner sender, blaming themselves. There is an unbalance caused by the limitations of the communication channel.
    In the end I guess that a middle ground is necessary… dial down on the aggressiveness, but also dial down on how serious and personal you take that message. The one that never had fun during a flame war may cast the first stone 😉

    But then again, this is yet another opinion!

    • Thanks Giselle,

      I cast the first stone – I *really* hate flame wars ….. hahahaha I guess everyone knows that it is different.

      I actually am enjoying all this quite a lot, and having lot of good laughs here. Seriousness is the last thing that comes to my mind here. I consider us all small children in the sandbox destroying the other’s castle and whining about my own being destroyed. That were good time, right.

      All the best


  7. Sam Hocevar says:

    Hi Norbert! Just letting you know: when I no longer have fun somewhere, I just quit, and everyone involved is happier in the end. It’s win-win. Think about it!

    • I want to give Debian users (and thus myself) a good TeX experience. That is my aim. That is why I am here. I enjoy working on TeX Live upstream (having programmed practically all of the infrastructure myself), but on the Debian side the contributors are thin, very thin, and nobody steps up to take over. I don’t want to orphan TeX Live, but if someone comes along and tries to help, this is more than welcome.

    • Fred says:

      It’s bad if people are no longer allowed to criticise the group they are a part of?
      I am cringing about the final state of the project.

      Sadly I like Debian technology-wise. Politically I consider it in a sad state for several years now. That’s why I stopped contributing. I just left. I did not complain. If everyone just left if there was something wrong, then Debian will go down withinh months.

  8. Serge Victor says:

    Dear Norbert,
    I definitely agree with your comments related to LKML and Debian.

    I am totally shocked about hostile reaction of some Debian project members, who use doublespeak in its most advanced, Orwellian form. They hate when you express yourself, but they absolutely happy with their own hate.

    Debian is really similar to a corporation now. It is natural, the project is getting old, procedures and rules got more important than anything else. This is why I like a controlled anarchy of Arch Linux, a controlled base and free AUR, where you can participate without asking anyone for a permission.

    Don’t give your free mind, don’t give free speech, be yourself and ignore those small people.

  1. 2015/10/19

    […] On Lars Wirzenius, Martín Ferrari, and Debian […]

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