None of the below should leave this list.
On Wed, Sep 03, 2014 at 04:00:56PM +0200, Tollef Fog Heen wrote:
> While we did invite him, I don't think that anyone actually thinks that
> Linus is speaking on behalf of Debian and so we should not apologise to
> the FSF for Linus' words, be they true or not.
Neither Debian, nor the DebConf team, invited Linus to DebConf.
He was invited by a random DebConf attendee who is not a Debian Developer.
When Linus accepted this invitation, the DebConf talks team granted him
space for an "ad hoc" talk. Seeing this, and expecting this to be a popular
talk, I arranged for the larger ballroom space to be available in order to
not dangerously overcrowd one of the smaller talk rooms. In practice, the
number of people in attendance definitely exceeded the capacity of our
smaller talk rooms. However, I also got feedback from various people that
they only attended because the talk was given additional prominence by
putting it in the plenary room. So I'm not sure whether this was the right
If it had been up to me, Linus would not have been invited. In fact, more
than one person, discovering that Linus was local to Portland, asked me as a
local organizer if we would invite him, and I said no. The Q&A session went
much as I expected such a thing would; while he's a prominent figure in the
wider Free Software community, there's very little overlap between his work
and Debian's, and I believe people's interest in the session with him came
down to the celebrity factor. I don't think that's a good reason for us to
have a non-Debian speaker at DebConf.
Nevertheless, having given him the stage, it wouldn't do Debian any good to
now try to air any of this in public. It would just make us look petty, and
would do nothing to affect the general public's impression of Linus or any
associations they might perceive between him and Debian as a result of this
session at DebConf. But I say it here because I think it's worth it for
Debian to understand how this came to pass - perhaps, if nothing else, as a
cautionary tale for any future last minute celebrity speaker proposals.
Similarly, I don't think it makes any sense for us to publicly censure Linus
for his behavior. Such a statement will attract a lot of attention, but it
will all be shallow attention from people drawn to the controversy. It
won't materially impact any of the larger community relationships; it
certainly won't have any impact on what Linus thinks or does going forward.
This is why the suggestion of publicly banning Linus from future Debian
events is so absurd - the chance of Linus coming to a Debian event *not*
held in his hometown is approximately zero, so such a public pronouncement
will again just make us look petty.
Ian is correct that there were FSF people in the audience. But the FSF
people in the audience were also Debian people. If those people would like
me as an organizer to apologize for Linus being given a soapbox at DebConf,
I will do so - because I genuinely /am/ sorry that this happened. But I
think it's nonsensical for Debian to apologize to the FSF over something
that offends people who are part of *both* organizations, and who are
entirely capable of grasping the nuance of Linus being a non-Debian person
expressing views that Debian does not share towards one of Debian's partners
in the community.
Steve Langasek Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer http://www.debian.org/
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