debian-private archives leaked

On 24 December 2019, Santa Claus appeared on the debian-project mailing list sharing a link to copies of the debian-private archives from 1996 and 1997.

It is the second time in 2019 that people have made major leaks from debian-private. The first leak contained only one month's worth of data dumped on Pastebin, it has since vanished. This second leak, on IPFS, is more likely to hang around. It is nicely formatted as HTML for easy browsing.

Leak date2023-04-22 (Another Debian legal aggression)
ContentJanuary 1996 - June 1999
AnnouncementBlog about the leak
IPFS CIDQmefeQFgfeJuR6Y4VcjmCCA9cXiF51kgptyP9C1wRZLnP5
DescriptionA volunteer resigned when he lost two family members. Debian attacked him with lawyers. Supporters are leaking 17,000 messages from Debian-Private. This includes discussion about the trademark, the creation of Software in the Public Interest and Red Hat.

Leak date2022-09-20 (European Heritage Days)
ContentJanuary 1996 - December 1998
AnnouncementBlog about the leak
IPFS CIDQmZFqHNwYBgJKesM3LGibyeTMWs15dgAq74shFtQJbamD9
DescriptionAn anonymous volunteer has leaked another 14,000 messages from Debian-Private. This includes discussion about the trademark and the creation of Software in the Public Interest, Inc.

Leak date2022-03-17 (St Patrick's Day)
ContentThreads about Dmitry Bogatov (2017)
AnnouncementSee the blog post Maria Glukhova, Dmitry Bogatov & Debian Russia, Google, debian-private leaks for details

Leak date2019-12-24
ContentJanuary 1996 - December 1997
DownloadZIP file on IPFS
BrowseMirror at
DescriptionA Debian Developer posting as Santa Claus shared a link to an IPFS gateway. The download is a ZIP file containing a HTML browseable version of debian-private. The IPFS content-ID is QmNgEAYhpb3djgmZWcdNM2jN3epDmfGym89U41Jt2zr9tL.

Leak date2019-08-04
ContentJanuary 1996
DescriptionA Debian Developer posting as Debi Leaks shared a link to Pastebin. The link no longer works.

It makes interesting reading. There is a thread about impeaching Bruce Perens although it is not nearly as gripping as the impeachment of Donald Trump.

At the time, Perens had publicly stated:

That's our little private mailing list where the package developers make fun of you without your being able to see it :-)

That comment was probably not intended to be taken too seriously. Unfortunately, it has come to define the Debian organization for over 20 years since then.

In a more recent episode on debian-private, somebody made an unpleasant remark about another free software developer who isn't in Debian. When challenged about this backstab, another Debian Developer dismissed the concerns:

They won't see these comments, that's the whole point of -private. People can talk more freely in here than usual.

debian-private is a mailing list including over 1,000 Debian Developers who all work in different companies around the world. To pretend this is a private means of communication is a farce.

The former Debian Project Leader's girlfriend, Molly de Blanc, promotes whispering networks in her talk at FOSDEM 2019. Feminists have worked hard to eliminate terms like toxic woman. Sadly, de Blanc's antics have given the term a new lease on life.

Debian's public mailing lists include huge threads preaching about codes of conduct, such as this in December 2019. The mentality of operating debian-private and the things that leadership figures write there contradict all of that.

When the leaders of the organization and key figures in the cabal behave abusively in what they consider to be a safe space, it is completely unreasonable to be upset at other developers for the tone of things they write anywhere else. Human behaviour is often a good reflection of the leadership.

Improving leadership standards and diversity both require real acts of leadership and transparency, not Molly's call-to-gossip. The leaking of this particular material, if it is intended to undermine confidence in debian-private, could be classed as a leadership act.