I left Debian. I don't really have a lot to say about why, but I do want to clear one thing up right away. It's not about systemd.
As far as systemd goes, I agree with my friend John Goerzen:
I promise you – 18 years from now, it will not matter what init Debian chose in 2014. It will probably barely matter in 3 years.
And with Jonathan Corbet:
However things turn out, if it becomes clear that there is a better solution than systemd available, we will be able to move to it.
I have no problem with trying out a piece of Free Software, that might have abrasive authors, all kinds of technical warts, a debatable design, scope creep etc. None of that stopped me from giving Linux a try in 1995, and I'm glad I jumped in with both feet.
It's important to be unafraid to make a decision, try it out, and if it doesn't work, be unafraid to iterate, rethink, or throw a bad choice out. That's how progress happens. Free Software empowers us to do this.
Debian used to be a lot better at that than it is now. This seems to have less to do with the size of the project, and more to do with the project having aged, ossified, and become comfortable with increasing layers of complexity around how it makes decisions. To the point that I no longer feel I can understand the decision-making process at all ... or at least, that I'd rather be spending those scarce brain cycles on understanding something equally hard but more useful, like category theory.
It's been a long time since Debian was my main focus; I feel much more useful when I'm working in a small nimble project, making fast and loose decisions and iterating on them. Recent events brought it to a head, but this is not a new feeling. I've been less and less involved in Debian since 2007, when I dropped maintaining any packages I wasn't the upstream author of, and took a year of mostly ignoring the larger project.
Now I've made the shift from being a Debian developer to being an upstream author of stuff in Debian (and other distros). It seems best to make a clean break rather than hang around and risk being sucked back in.
My mailbox has been amazing over the past week by the way. I've heard from so many friends, and it's been very sad but also beautiful.