Last friday saw a somewhat distressing email to the debian-devel mailinglist, wherein Joey Hess, one of Debian's most valuable contributors, announced his decision to quit the project.

For all of Joey's contributions over the years, this is an unwelcome message; I'd much rather have seen him remain active in Debian, both on a personal and a technical level. As it is, I have a feeling of not just losing a colleague in Debian, but also a friend.

For people not active in Debian, it's easy to miss Joey's contributions to the project, but let me tell you that without Joey Hess, Debian simply would not be where it is today. We would not have the debian-installer and we would not have debhelper (so we would have massively complicated debian/rules files). More than that, though, Joey has been one of those people who, on a technical level, seemed to instinctively sense the right thing to do; as in, whenever Joey Hess disagrees with you on a technical matter, you know you must be doing something wrong.

As sudden and as unwelcome as last friday's announcement was, however, I can't say that it was totally unexpected. I've noticed Joey reducing his efforts in core areas of the project over the past few years, where on the one hand he has been mostly withdrawing from debian-installer development, and on the other hand his two most recent 'large' projects (ikiwiki and git-annex) haven't really been about Debian. Still, it's a painful loss; and while Debian has lost other high-profile contributors in the past over divisive issues, and recovered, that doesn't make it any less fun.

Here's to you, Joey. May you find joy in whatever you decide to do next. May you not disappear from our collective radars. May we meet again, at some conference in the future, so I can buy you a beer. (hint: FOSDEM ;-) )