Daniel Micay publicly steps down from GrapheneOS

(github.com)

75 points | by joemazerino 389 days ago

21 comments

  • joemazerino 389 days ago
    I completely understand where Louis Rossman is coming from. [1]

    Daniel does not apologize for anything he says or does and refuses to acknowledge any wrongdoing. He still refuses to acknowledge that how he responded to Louis was wrong.

    He hops on every thread of GrapheneOS and regularly accuses everyone of being sockpuppets and trolls. [2] He has accused me of being a Techlore and CalyxOS troll numerous times. Worst still, his community are full of psychophants that enable his abusive behavior. They refuse to see him or his outbursts as negative. They routinely collaborate to downvote comments and raid rooms to manage the narrative which I find to be underhanded.

    I was an early Copperhead customer who was very disappointed that he got up and destroyed the signing keys without providing any evidence to back his claims up. When I brought up the issue to him via email, his response was to throw his previous business partner under the bus without offering any apologies for damaging my business.

    I did use Android Hardening afterwards, used CopperheadOS for a bit and then moved back to LineageOS. I refuse to use any of his projects again.

    I wish the best for him and hope he gets well. He's not mentally stable enough to run a project and he has a long way to go for understanding the nuance of interpersonal relationships.

    1 - https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4To-F6W1NT0

    2 - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=33555221

    • ThenAsNow 388 days ago
      First of all, I genuinely wish him well. He's an extremely talented developer, and we need more people focused on securing our digital infrastructure. My sentiments mirror what others here have said, hoping he can work his way through recovery and growth to be in a better place down the road. And if there really has been crazy stuff like swatting, that punishment is dealt to the perpetrators.

      However, in his role leading a project that ostensibly wanted people to use it, he had a very offputting set of personality characteristics that worked against that goal. He was very opinionated and often condescending, frequently stating opinion as fact and being shallowly dismissive. I'm not talking about arguing with people asking that he add shiny baubles, but just generally almost annoyed the person he was talking to didn't realize the obviousness of their own stupidity in not seeing it his way.

      Then, he had a gigantic victim complex where any comment that could be perceived as negative whatsoever was seen by him as some grave personal slight deliberately intended to hurt him. It wasn't sufficient for him to explain why he thought others were wrong. It was frequently accompanied by accusations of bad faith, of potential coordination with others trying to take him down, etc. It came across as hysteria. Not to mention the needless aggression with the Calyx developers, etc.

      A few years ago, the IRC channel had a lot of this victimization and desperation-type content from him. It got to a point I was uncomfortable using GrapheneOS out of concern for the leadership and prospects of support.

      It used to be Theo de Raadt of OpenBSD and to some extent Linus were benchmarks for "prickly" open source leaders, but I think Daniel gave them all quite a run for the money.

      It's good that despite all that, Daniel managed to find some developers he could get along with and the contributor base grew beyond him. Here's to hoping the new leadership team steadies the ship and manages not to be so hostile to the community.

      Edit to add: looking over the [2] link from parent, it's clear he did provide a lot of thoughtful, helpful answers as well, so I wouldn't want to downplay the great deal of good for which he's responsible. We're significantly better off that something like GrapheneOS exists.

    • kaba0 388 days ago
      > I was an early Copperhead customer who was very disappointed that he got up and destroyed the signing keys without providing any evidence to back his claims up. When I brought up the issue to him via email, his response was to throw his previous business partner under the bus without offering any apologies for damaging my business.

      That’s a shitty situation on your end, but he was stabbed in the back, and imo did the only morally right decision in case of a security-oriented project: pulled the plug on it as it could not be trusted anymore.

      He was indeed quite paranoid, but it was not without reason — hopefully this resignation can help him recover mentally from all that.

      Nonetheless, I am very grateful to him for this wonderful project, and even if you don’t use GrapheneOS directly, you definitely use many of his contributions to both the linux kernel and android!

      • joemazerino 388 days ago
        >That’s a shitty situation on your end, but he was stabbed in the back, and imo did the only morally right decision in case of a security-oriented project: pulled the plug on it as it could not be trusted anymore.

        That is easy for you to say. Harder for me to swallow losing real life dollars to accusations that haven't materalized.

        Considering we all have ample evidence that Micay slings accusations without merit, how can you be so sure the Copperhead situation went down the way he says? Micay routinely accuses people of stabbing him in his back. Louis Rossman included.

        • kaba0 388 days ago
          So instead of making money, he decided to continue doing the exact same thing professionally for free? That doesn’t make sense.

          Especially that copperhead os continued on living on his work..

          • joemazerino 388 days ago
            According to Micay he made very little money from Copperhead. He now has over 1M in donations and $6000USD/month sponsorship from Github sponsors. Seems like a financial move rather than a virtuous one.
            • kaba0 388 days ago
              You are comparing the initial time of a startup with that of a long-running, successful open-source project which got there thanks to Micay’s work to the greatest degree.

              He couldn’t have known that it would be successful alone with it.

              • joemazerino 388 days ago
                You seem confused. Copperhead AFAIK existed since 2015. Daniel was fired in 2018. GrapheneOS has existed since 2020 when it was officially named GrapheneOS. It was named Android Hardening before that in 2019.

                You can't conflate CopperheadOS as GrapheneOS or vice versa because GrapheneOS has changed over the years since the split. I think the ex business partner makes this same mistake.

    • tinus_hn 388 days ago
      FYI where you type psychophants you mean sycophants.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sycophancy

      • cf100clunk 388 days ago
        Although it could be seen as a neologism.
    • orblivion 388 days ago
      I was very similar to you, a resentful paying CopperheadOS customer. But now that I understand just how troubled the guy is, I forgive (but don't excuse) him. I also almost installed Lineage but it was too much trouble and I took the risk and went with Graphene.

      I wonder what the psychophants are going to do now that he's not involved. Are they going to continue the same path? Is the project in the same precarious position as it was yesterday?

  • neilv 389 days ago
    Daniel Micay has been a rare powerhouse, founding and leading a great project.

    From the little I'm aware, it sounded like he was being harassed, and some of his public comments sounded like he was powering through stress.

    (PSA: Bad stress is bad. No matter how strong and resourceful and outwardly cool you are, the stress is not only unpleasant, but it's also secretly taking a toll. The smart move is to keep stress low.)

    I wish Micay all the best for health and happiness. I hope that he doesn't let recent stresses get him down, and that he gives himself a chance to recharge.

  • tholdem 389 days ago
    I strongly believe that GrapheneOS is one of the most important projects at the moment for several reasons. Nowadays it's almost impossible to live without a smartphone, it's one of the most used pieces of hardware that people use all day, and there are simply no other alternatives to GOS.

    I can't thank you enough Daniel for your work on AOSP and GOS, and all the other work you've done around security and privacy.

  • sremani 389 days ago
    I am not sure, but some context about Daniel's failings in communication may have contributed. The following is link to Louis Rossmann's video about his interaction with Daniel published today.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4To-F6W1NT0

    This is speculation of course on my part and I do not have any evidence connecting the video with the event itself.

    • chantok 389 days ago
      I’m speculating that it is 100% because of that video. He got called out in a much larger audience this time and is unable to control it like in the project’s forum and matrix channel.
    • bubblethink 389 days ago
      Wish Louis hadn't made this. The drama just detracts from the project. Louis is not really a stakeholder in any of this. He could have just moved on and forgotten about it.
      • Kwpolska 389 days ago
        Louis’ employer (FUTO) did donate to GrapheneOS.
      • mrtweetyhack 388 days ago
        [dead]
  • luuurker 387 days ago
    Very smart and talented guy, but gets into fights too easily. I understand that getting swatted and harassed online is really bad, but the way he goes after people that call his behaviour out or use/support other projects is not good.

    Stepping back for a while might do him good. Maybe he can come back later, with less stress, and focus on the code instead of dealing with the public relations (his weakness, I think).

    For those harassing him, just stop. Honestly, it's not even fun. For those who defend and almost enable his out bursts, also stop because you're not helping him or the project.

  • sendfoods 389 days ago
    The whole saga is tragic. There are so many details that I don't know about, which probably makes me unable to judge the whole situation fairly. I am a very happy Graphene user, for what it's worth.

    Thank you for your contribution. All the best, Daniel.

    • Lyngbakr 389 days ago
      Can someone provide a CliffsNotes version of what the "whole saga" is?
      • gos_user 389 days ago
        It's been sad to watch. GrapheneOS really is an amazing operating system. From a technical perspective, it absolutely is the most private and security-focused phone OS out there. Daniel is an amazing developer with an incredible understanding of AOSP and security concepts, as is obvious to anyone who's read the materials on the GrapheneOS webpage.

        But the social negativity has been building for a long time. As lead developer (until today) of a prominent security-focused open source project, Daniel receives constant harassment, including from what are likely organized campaigns. I fully believe his statements that he recently got swatted, something tantamount to attempted murder. But he reacts very badly to the anonymous trolls, ascribing their actions to unrelated people. For instance, he's been fixated on Techlore (a relatively unimportant Youtuber) ever since Techlore posted a video about GrapheneOS that was mildly positive but overall critical. Daniel drew a connection between Techlore and trollish harassment he received around the same time—falsely, IMO—and ever since has consistently accused Techlore of organizing any harassment he receives. And the story repeats itself in Daniel's relationship with other groups in the privacy space (such as CalyxOS, r/privacy...). The fallout continues to expand, as any observer who expresses any nuance is accused by Daniel of toxicity, supporting harassers and harassment, etc.

        I'm willing to grant some leeway to people in Daniel's situation. It's tough to handle aggressive harassment and stalking and behave correctly every time in response. But there's a limit to how much you can get wrong, and Daniel has exceeded it. He can't keep drawing false connections between unrelated people and the real harassment he's receiving. Doing so won't stop the harassment, and it's going to torpedo GrapheneOS if something isn't done.

        My hope has been that someone close to him that he trusts would set up an intervention. Maybe that's what resulted in him stepping down today. I hope this will improve the community situation around GrapheneOS (whose technical reputation remains, I think, totally unscathed), and I really hope Daniel will now get the mental health relief that he needs.

        • kaliqi_ 389 days ago
          Agreed. Genuinely sad, he's an absolute beast. Nothing compares to GrapheneOS.

          Louis Rossmann (1.7m subscribers) ascribing his decision to leave GrapheneOS directly to the behaviour of Daniel Micay and stating that "he will never feel comfortable running this code on my phone as long as this person is involved in it" probably began triggering real calculations within the team as to what extent he was slowly becoming more of a liability to the project than an asset. Although, it's unlikely Louis saying that was going to affect the project in any meaningful way, this is not the kind of commentary that makes your position more tenable. I'm glad Daniel pre-empted those conversations by taking the decision to step away himself.

          There is no doubt in my mind that Daniel Micay has been subjected to systematic harassment campaigns, far exceeding those of a typical open-source developer of his stature. That kind of stuff has an impact on you and as a result you behave in a less reasonable manner (i.e. more paranoid, less trusting). I just hope the dude takes a long break, gets buff and comes back stronger.

        • RealStickman_ 388 days ago
          I've only just dived a bit into the saga, though mostly on the Louis and Techlore side. Both of them have proof of negative behaviour by Micay, while one defense I found had basically no proof of Micay being harassed.

          So, my question, do you have concrete proof about Micay being harassed? Screenshot, links, whatever can back up Micay's words.

      • theFrequency 386 days ago
        basically a high profile youtuber decided to weaponize his fanbase to smear and slander a talented developer because he couldn't get what he wanted out of him. Rossmann mischaracterizes his interactions with Micay and even attempts to used his admitted diagnosis of autism against him. He claims one thing but if you actually read the interactions yourself you'll notice Micay is upset but adamant about his allegations of harassment. Rossmann quite dismissive of his entire explanation and decides he has a better narrative that most people will swallow. Rossmann tone policing a talented dev off his own open source project is the latest in a long line of unwarranted cancellations
        • dosssman 384 days ago
          Please tell us what Rossmann would want from Micay ?

          Rossmann made some of the most enthusiastic videos spreading awareness about the GrapheneOS project, and even provided funding through his work at FUTO. What does Micay have to offer to him, beside keep working on his project ?n

  • JackGreyhat 389 days ago
    • JackGreyhat 389 days ago
      For those of you that want to stay on HN, and not visit twitter:

      From @DanielMicay:

      "I've stepped down as lead developer of GrapheneOS and will be replaced as a GrapheneOS Foundation director. I'll be ending my use of public social media. I'm unable to handle the escalating level of harassment including recent swatting attacks. There will be a smooth migration."

      "I'm confident the project will be in good hands with the rest of the development team. I'll be training them to handle everything I used to do myself. I haven't been a particularly active developer for a while now and there will be little impact on ongoing feature development."

      "One of our veteran developers will be taking over administration of the server infrastructure. Local infrastructure for official builds, signing and testing will be replicated in multiple locations and verified against each other to reduce trust in any particular location."

      "I'm going to focus on recovery from everything that has transpired since 2018. I have not been doing well, particularly in the past few weeks, but there has been no break from it since 2018. The police know about the swatting situation and are preventing it happening again."

    • danjoredd 389 days ago
      https://grapheneos.social/@DanielMicay

      He is also posting the same to his Mastadon

      • CodeCompost 388 days ago
        He just added this:

        "To clarify what was said above, I am stepping down as a GrapheneOS Foundation director, not just lead developer. I won't have any leadership role in the GrapheneOS project. I plan on being entirely uninvolved but it'll take time to transfer everything that I do to other people."

  • jet_32951 389 days ago
    Daniel, I am sorry your efforts caused you pain. I hold you in my utmost respect and hope you will master the pain your efforts have cost you.
  • theFrequency 386 days ago
    It's pretty clear to me that Rossmann decided he would go after Micay to protect himself in some way. Louis has openly and proudly stated he has "no patience" for anyone with mental issues that aren't "putting in enough effort to be normal". he's made videos about this and commented to this effect. I believe Rossmann grew fustrated with Micay at some point and then decided to bait him into a reaction so he could take him out of context to.. i dont know get back at him? Its not very clear to me exactly why he would do this.. but i urge you to rewatch the original rossmann video with a sober eye. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4To-F6W1NT0& then watch this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6Pj0Z2__SI
    • dosssman 384 days ago
      To quote your "Louis has openly and proudly stated he has "no patience" for anyone with mental issues ...", I would say he has not only demonstrated a great amount of support for the GOS project, but also a fair amount of patience with Micay.

      Building upon this, I will further quote your " I believe Rossmann grew fustrated with Micay at some point and then decided to bait him into a reaction so he could take him out of context to.. i dont know get back at him? Its not very clear to me exactly why he would do this."

      How is it a bait when Rossmann privately tried to clear up the misunderstanding about GOS and Micay's situation with Micay in private, which did not pan out 8 months ago. He asked Micay to stop contacting him about his "Informative, but unfortunate comment" on Techlore's video, even offering a fresh start for Micay to give his perspective. Instead, the latter doubled down on accusations that Rossmann was supporting harassing campaign against him. Please keep in mind that this was around 8 months ago. Then Micay contacts him out of the blue in a few days ago, threatening to "ban him and expose him publicly", but this is somehow Rossmann baiting him ?

      Maybe you could share with us some missing information that shows how Micay was baited ?

      Tom Spark video is hardly fair, as it omits a lot of important information that better shows Rossmann's perspective, just like your comment seems to be doing. His comment section in my opinion is a handcrafted echo chamber that supports Micay, as I left a few comments that addresses the weak point in Tom's analysis, but they have yet to appear in public. Meanwhile, comments that echo his perspetive, which were also left after my comment were left through, and one was even pinned.

      In any case, have a nice day.

      • sciolistse 384 days ago
        I had the exact same experience commenting on that Tom Sparks video, so my guess is that you're right about the echo chamber.
    • joemazerino 386 days ago
      It isn't a good look to be a brand new account with only 4 posts all commenting on the same thread with an anti-Louis slant. Tom Sparks is clearly pro-Graphene and paints Micay as a victim. Many of us here have direct experience dealing with strcat and being accused of being trolls or part of a smear campaign.
  • revolvingocelot 388 days ago
    I know there's a lot of acrimony surrounding this fellow; the top comment is an excellent perspective on it, I suppose. That said, as awful as this may sound, that type of behaviour is indicative of exactly the sort of turbo-autism that I want aimed at hard problems like GrapheneOS.
  • solarkraft 388 days ago
    This is informative and fortunate. I was real worried about the project's future after Louis Rossman's video.

    Daniel accomplished a lot and I am thankful for it. I am also very happy about his decision to step down because it hopefully prevents splitting the community.

    Absolutely the right call. Wishing him all the best.

    Side note: Maybe a community split would've led to builds for more devices, which I would like. While of course you can't guarantee perfect security, you can be pretty sure it'll be better than the alternatives. I'm also surprised that the Play Services sandboxing hasn't been ported to other mainstream Android distributions yet.

  • dtx1 389 days ago
    Heads of to you Daniel, I am sure you are reading this. I still believe GrapheneOS to be the best custom rom out there by a mile and a half and I hope you will find a little more peace in your private life without social media! Thank you for all the work!
  • theothertimcook 389 days ago
    This is informative, and unfortunate…

    Hope the dude finds some peace.

    • Crosseye_Jack 388 days ago
      Woah, no need for such language, it’s not like he put a sticker (which was near impossible to remove) on anyone’s MacBook!!!
  • buzzy_hacker 389 days ago
  • danjoredd 389 days ago
    I am unaware of the drama surrounding GrapheneOS, though I have been using it on my Pixel phone for a while now. What happened? I understand that there was some SWATting, but I know nothing else of what caused it or why people are upset
    • kzrdude 389 days ago
      "some swatting" sounds horrible enough as it is, it seems to me.
      • danjoredd 388 days ago
        For sure! I'm just not sure why it happened
  • pshirshov 389 days ago
    I hope that there would be less drama but the quality will remain the same.

    I'm in his (extremely long) black list, but I really admire the project and use GrapheneOS. And I would prefer to keep the drama if that helps the quality to be high.

    • NoImmatureAdHom 389 days ago
      I have similar sentiments...

      Whatever's happening now seems to work, in that it results in the best we've got for privacy-respecting phones. Obviously Daniel's communication style isn't what most people would like, but we all have our difficulties in life.

      I wish him and the project well.

    • hammyhavoc 388 days ago
      What did you say/do to wind up on this blacklist? What does being blacklisted entail?
      • pshirshov 388 days ago
        I said that I'm using both CalyxOS and GrapheneOS and not care about their relationships.

        He just bans you from all their chats, github projects, etc.

        Other people got banned just for being in CalyxOS chat.

        To his credit he is definitely serious about any constructive criticism. I've been unhappy about lack of NLP and they've added an awesome NLP support mechanism into GOS. After that I switched to GOS completely.

        After his rants I told him that as an asperger I suspect that he might be on the spectrum and it might help to dig into that direction. I'm quiet surprised that now he identifies himself as an autist. That might be just a coincidence though.

        If he is lonely I would advice him to get a dog and a partner.

      • grapesurgeon 388 days ago
        if you criticize him or say anything remotely positive or cordial about techlore, calyxos or any of his other "enemies", you get blocked/banned and the matrix will relentlessly stalk your accounts, ready to pounce on you the moment you say anything else negative. its happened to me before. they have an entire matrix room where they seethe about what people say, sharing every post and account on the internet they deem harmful.
  • orblivion 389 days ago
    Seems to be some combination of inner and outer demons. Given what and how he's communicated, I'm really not sure what to think about what others have actually done to him at this point. I used to hold a grudge against him given his handling of the Copperhead situation, but now I have a lot more sympathy for him. Best of luck, and thank you for what you've built.
    • Atlas22 389 days ago
      I'm not aware of what others have done to him but his claims honestly wouldn't surprise me if they were accurate as he is quite well known for being publicly very rude regarding GrapheneOS.

      My first interaction with him was asking about how to backup all data on GrapheneOS (including secure/restricted data). He flat out called me an idiot, said that it "defeats the point of grapheneos", and refused to help. Most of the help formats that he is available on are full of responses very similar to this from him. Hardly by any stretch of the imagination professional conduct.

      I do love GrapheneOS and I'm sure managing it as he does/did is quite stressful. I don't have any Ill will towards him, just concern for him and the project. I think stepping down and getting away from social media will be a great move for both him and the project. He clearly wants some much needed time to recover and destress. Frankly, his public behavior was the biggest liability for the project but him stepping down is a good sign that at the very least he is making moves to start recovering.

      • orblivion 389 days ago
        To be clear he's claiming (among other things) that someone swatted him. Do you mean it wouldn't surprise you that someone swatted him for being rude?

        Given the way he's described certain interactions he's had with others, I take everything he says with a grain of salt. But then again, swatting is a pretty clear cut thing. So I dunno.

        • Atlas22 389 days ago
          I agree with you about his descriptions, they certainly give off the exaggeration feel. I am just saying that I also wouldn't be surprised if someone actually tried to swat him (among other things). I've seen him several times start a fight for practically no reason and continuously provoke it further, swatting really isn't that far down the line of provocation when it comes to the internet sadly.
          • orblivion 389 days ago
            Yikes. But yeah I guess you're right.
  • CodeCompost 389 days ago
    I'm out of the loop. What's up?
  • lopkeny12ko 388 days ago
    There have been several allegations in this thread of Daniel's poor behavior, condescending attitude, and false construction of a harrassment narrative, but no one has yet shared any examples of such behavior.
    • joemazerino 386 days ago
      A quick review of Daniel's comment history should suffice

      https://news.ycombinator.com/threads?id=strcat

    • theFrequency 386 days ago
      it's always interesting to me how people try to pretend someone who is 'not as nice as i'd like" is somehow now a bad person and their cancellation is justified.

      have they done anything legally wrong? Have they hurt anyone (besides feelings) You people are really something. This isn't grade school anymore, we are all adults here. Emotion doesn't translate through text, so stop being so sensitive and trying to tone police everyone.

  • dingusdew 389 days ago
    Please don't tell me we're having a CopperheadOS repeat. Not a lot of info is provided, so it's got me slightly worried.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CopperheadOS#License_change_an...

    • orblivion 389 days ago
      So long as he doesn't have an internal conflict that leads him to delete the signing keys. So far I've only heard about him claiming to have issues with people outside of the organization.
      • orblivion 389 days ago
        Actually he specifically said that he feels confident in the team taking over. I don't think this is like Copperhead at all.
        • joemazerino 389 days ago
          How are you sure it isn't? He has a history of doing this very thing. Rust, copperhead and now graphene.
          • orblivion 389 days ago
            I can't be sure of anything. However if you want to compare the situation with Copperhead, I would point to the fact that he had a very public falling out with his business partner. I see nothing of the sort here. I've only seen him say that he's handing over the reins to people he trusts.

            (And by the way, I'm saying this as someone who had a lot of apprehension installing Graphene because I was afraid another Copperhead was going to happen.)

          • tomjakubowski 389 days ago
            Daniel didn't really sabotage the Rust project though, like he did Copperhead; he just stopped making contributions, in a dramatic way.
            • kzrdude 388 days ago
              He made some really good contributions too. He went over the line in communication style and people were not comfortable.
          • kaba0 388 days ago
            There are zero parallels between being backstabbed by an investor, and stepping down from a project to avoid harassment.
            • joemazerino 388 days ago
              You or Daniel have not provided any evidence for this statement or any claim. You're replyguying this entire thread in support of Daniel without linking to any neutral source.
              • kaba0 387 days ago
                3 comments are definitely reply-guying..
  • temptemptemp111 388 days ago
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