Bonum Certa Men Certa

Claire M. Connelly, Melissa O'Neill & Debian relationship rumors

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Feb 19, 2024

Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock.

18 Feb 2024

According to the Debian women project research, Claire M. Connelly (cmc) was the second woman to become a Debian Developer.

There have been a lot of false accusations about a Debian mentor in Google Summer of Code. As long as this is going on, we can simply go through each and every relationship in and around Debian, one-by-one. Or two-by-two perhaps. Less than two percent of Debian Developers are female and it looks like almost everybody has had at least one relationship. It is just part of Debian culture, for better or worse. Most organizations would let sleeping dogs lie but Chris Lamb and Molly de Blanc (Mollamby) established a culture of bringing out the dirty laundry.

Connelly's NM page and her profile in

During the introduction of the Debian New Maintainer (NM) process, Connelly contributed valuable insights into the use of identity documents with PGP. Her concerns have been proven correct over the years, for example, with the fake passport at FOSDEM.

Connelly's application manager was Joop Stakenborg. He published a report noting that Connelly's key was signed by Ryan Murray <> of Stormix.

One of the insights we want to share today is that the second female Debian Developer also appears to be the first female to disclose her LGBT status through the debian-private (leaked) gossip network. We don't want to vilify the LGBT community in any way. Chris Lamb has forced the question of relationships into the open. The lesbian disclosure is there on debian-private for over 1,000 people to read.

Subject: [VAC] UK 2001-12-22 -> 2002-01-07
Date: Fri, 21 Dec 2001 02:33:46 -0800
From: C.M. Connelly <>
Organization: Sam Hill Cabal, DS

I'll be travelling to Britain to spend time with my partner and her family. Since I'll be without personal transport and there's so much to see and do, I won't be available for keysigning. I'm also not sure what level of 'Net access I'll have, so I won't promise anything, although I will keep an eye peeled for vital messages if I can.
I have uploaded a new version of thoughttracker, which ostensibly fixes all the outstanding bugs. NMUs are welcome if there are still problems -- the author is busy and won't be able to work on the program until sometime next year. Please e-mail me about the details of any changes.
t1utils and mminstance appear to be fairly stable, so I'm not too worried about them. Should new versions appear and woody threaten to freeze while I'm still away, please NMU those packages as well!
Happy Christmas, Merry New Year, Keen Kwanzaa, Great Gita Jayanti, and a Stunning Solstice to all.
+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+ Behind the counter a boy with a shaven head stared vacantly into space, a dozen spikes of microsoft protruding from the socket behind his ear. +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+ C.M. Connelly SHC, DS +=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

Therefore, the second female Debian Developer may have been the first confirmed lesbian woman. We congratulate her but at the same time, with all the allegations of relationships since 2018 and without vilifying the LGBT community, we simply want to ask how close her partner was to Debian.

But first a detour. In our previous article, we looked at the very diplomatic style of Susan G Kleinmann in discussion about social issues. Connelly's style also appears to be very pragmatic. It is worth comparing to Kleinmann's email about the BitchX package.

Subject: Re: revocation of privileges to post to debian-devel-announce
Date: Mon, 23 Jan 2006 18:01:25 -0800
From: Claire Connelly <>
To: Debian Maintainers <>

"MT" == Matt Taggart <>
MT> I would argue that the women already participating in the MT> project are those with tough skins that can handle MT> offensive comments, if they didn't they wouldn't be MT> here. I'm worried about ones that don't. This of course is MT> all speculation on my part, I don't have any evidence.
My experience might count as evidence, although I'm not sure for which side. When I first got involved with Debian (running PPC before it was really supported), I got some flak from various people based on my gender. I responded by changing my From line and sig to just have my initials, which dramatically changed the general tone of the responses I got to postings from ``you silly girl'' to actually paying attention to what I was saying. I know other women with similar experiences in various computer-related fora over the years.
I *was* offended by Andrew's message, but only briefly, as it was (sadly) the kind of thing I've come to expect, and I just can't be bothered to get all that upset by this sort of behavior all the time.
But pulling Andrew's posting privileges seems a bit arbitrary. If we don't have a (written) policy in place to handle such events and their aftermath, we should, and maybe that's where we could have a useful discussion.

What we see in the emails from Kleinmann and Connelly are two very capable women who are able to speak their mind and not immediately rush into a crusade. On the other hand, Connelly's call for a written policy may have inadvertently been the first step on the road to the Code of Conduct (CoC) fascism we see today. We can't make this up: a lesbian gave birth to the CoC.

Connelly is one of the attackers who joined Molly de Blanc's lynching of Dr Richard Stallman in 2021.

In the US, many public doxing services have appeared showing us where people have lived and who they lived with at the same address. We took the following screenshots from Radaris and from OfficialUSA. Both suggest a relationship between Claire M Connelly and Melissa E O'Neill. They may simply be housemates, like Helen Faulkner and Ben Burton. The screenshots don't prove any more than that.

Claire M. Connelly, Debian

Melissa E O'Neill, Harvey Mudd College

We can find more details about Connelly in archived versions of the Harvey Mudd College (HMC) staff list. Connelly was a systems administrator for the maths department. She is not in the current version of the staff list.

Connelly had an extensive home page at HMC (archive).

Moreover, we found Melissa E O'Neill is also in the staff list. She is Professor of Computer Science, a different department.

Therefore, they are not in the same department but the possibility of a conflict of interest may exist, but only if they are more than housemates. We never proved any more than that. Whether or not either of them ever benefited from a conflict of interest is not something we would like to speculate about as there is no evidence.

Nonetheless, we did find an old newsletter describing how they worked together on a project. We saved a backup copy of the newsletter. The article notes that both departments are sharing infrastructure. This certainly raises the risk level associated with the conflict of interest.

In 2004, Professor Melissa O'Neill from the computer-science department and I put together a new Beowulf cluster (called Amber, after the books by Roger Zelazny) that we share with the CS department. It's currently in use by CS Clinic teams, some non-Mudd researchers, and Professor Belinda Thom's CS machine-learning class, and is available for use by researchers and students at Mudd and the other Claremont Colleges.

Incidentally, in 2018, French police prohibited a lesbian couple from giving their son the name Ambre (Amber).

Their names appear together in various places, for example, the changelog for lcdf-typetools and in the credits of the book Math Into LaTeX. What an odd coincidence, one of the most well known victims of the CoC, Dr Norbert Preining, was also big on LaTeX development.

We don't know if Connelly and O'Neill ever came to DebConf together. Male volunteers are asked to leave their partner at home and share rooms with strangers. When LGBT volunteers share rooms, they often share with their partner. This is an awkward phenomena in Debian but we don't know if it started with Connelly or if it came later.

There you have it: the Debian Code of Conduct makes no prohibition against Conflicts of Interest and the first person to suggest a Code of Conduct may have had a Conflict of Interest with a colleague. It is an odd coincidence that Chris Lamb and others have started using the Code of Conduct to spread rumors about relationships that did not exist at all.

Claire M Connelly, cmc, Debian

Melissa E O'Neill, Debian, Harvey Mudd

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