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2020-02-15 - Rolling back a 2020 resolution…

Well, I thought I'd be writing some more about Infiniband this weekend, but instead I'm rolling back one of my ideas for 2020. I said I'd try Guix in 2020, and stop distro-hopping, but I've decided to call it a day.

I chose to use Guix because I'm interested in functional package management, liked the idea of learning a Lisp, and enjoyed the friendly community on IRC and the mailing lists. I have spent a bunch of time getting things setup nicely how I want them on my personal desktop and laptop, and wanted to start contributing. Unfortunately I made the mistake of going and reading GNU project related things. Guix is a GNU project, and I'm the type of person who finds it impossible to avoid or disregard the political / community side of projects I think I might want to get more involved in. I already had reservations about GNU and FSF after events of last year, the fact that Richard Stallman is still the head of GNU, and regarding the lack of public communication thus far from either side about how FSF and GNU move forward.

The Guix maintainers are among those pushing for discussion about the future structure of the GNU project's leadership. Those involved are also proposing a 'social contract' which is, to my mind, a very positive thing. I'm not a contributor to anything GNU and don't have any position from which I should be able to influence the discussions - but given my interest in starting to contribute to Guix I'm naturally curious how stuff is being received and considered. The answer, at least from what's visible in public, is not pretty. If you search for the archives of the gnu-misc-discuss mailing list then it's pretty negative. I was also not previously aware how much GNU discussion happens in closed/private mailing lists, which just seems very strange for an organization heavily funded by the contributions of the very many members of the FSF, and producing software at odds with the closed nature of many commercial entities.

There's much about the situation I find sad, or just plain odd. I have the utmost respect for those who clearly care a lot about the GNU project and are investing a lot of time trying to ensure there is discussion and an inclusive, exciting future. The fact they haven't called it a day, or taken their projects elsewhere makes them better people than me. I also recognize there are, amidst all the negativity around the GNU social contract proposal, probably some good points being made - but it's hard to call it much of a constructive discussion.

Maybe what's going on in private lists etc. is more encouraging? Maybe there is a nice plan being hatched about the future of FSF-GNU. It's hard to believe that though, and I find it impossible to just discount or avoid all the painful argumentative stuff that is out there in public. Really I'd like to engage with things, publicly support the social contract proposal in whatever way I can etc. But.. I'm busy, I'm tired, and I wanted to use and start contributing to Guix as a fun, recreational hobby to learn some different stuff than I use all day for work. I'm not able to make myself avoid seeing or thinking about the non-tech bits, and I don't want to be getting angry and dejected in my 'fun time'.

Hopefully Guix goes from strength to strength. Hopefully all this negativity and argument subsides. I donated to Guix via the FSF run fund at the start of the year and am still glad I did. It's a very cool and technically interesting project, with great people involved in it.


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